New York, NY, November 18, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today called on Pope Benedict XVI and Catholic leaders in the United States to repudiate outrageous anti-Jewish statements by a Greek Melkite Archbishop who contends that Jews are no longer the chosen people of God.
In recent days Archbishop Cyril S. Bustros has sent a letter to constituents and has given interviews to the news media reaffirming controversial remarks he made in Rome on October 23, stating that, "After Christ there is no longer one particular chosen people." The implication is that the distinctive relationship between God and the Jewish people, declared repeatedly in the same Scriptures held sacred by Christians, has been nullified.
Archbishop Bustros, who chaired the committee that prepared the closing communiqué of Pope Benedict XVI's Special Synod of Bishops for the Middle-East, which washeld in October at the Vatican, has reportedly been nominated to become the new Melkite Archbishop in Beirut, Lebanon. Archbishop Bustros currently resides in Newton, Mass.
"With Archbishop Bustros continuing to promote this teaching of contempt, it is crucial for the Vatican and the leadership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to stand up and respond," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "Especially in these troubled times, with the rise in global anti-Semitism and horrific terrorist attacks against Christians carried out in the name of religion, we cannot allow misrepresentations and misunderstandings to undermine our productive partnership. Reaffirming and building on Nostra Aetate is essential for the future positive trajectory of Catholic-Jewish relations and must be made clear to our two faith communities and others around the world."
ADLalso appealed to Catholic leaders to join Jewish interfaith leaders in an effort to better educate the general public about the church's accepted teachings on Judaism and the Holy Land.
During a recent meeting in Rome, the League urged Archbishop Kurt Koch, President of the Vatican's Pontifical Commission on Religious Relations with the Jews, to publicly correct Archbishop Bustros' damaging statements about Judaism and Israel.
Archbishop Bustros cannot be promoted to his Beirut assignment without the approval of Pope Benedict.
Nostra Aetate, a declaration adopted in 1965 by the Second Vatican Council, repudiates anti-Semitism and the charge of "Christ-killer" against the Jewish people and lays the foundation for subsequent theological teachings about Judaism's ongoing vitality, self-understanding and God's irrevocable Covenant with the Jewish people made at Mt. Sinai.
The 1974 Vatican document "Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate, No. 4" calls on Catholics to appreciate Judaism in its own terms. The Guidelines state that: "Christians must therefore strive to acquire a better knowledge of the basic components of the religious tradition of Judaism; they must strive to learn by what essential traits Jews define themselves in the light of their own religious experience."
The 1985 "Notes on the Correct Way to Present Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church" directly contradicts Archbishop Bustros' contentions. For example: "Christians are invited to understand [Jewish] religious attachment ["to the land of their forefathers"] which finds its roots in Biblical tradition, without however making their own any particular religious interpretation of this relationship ... We must in any case rid ourselves of the traditional idea of a people punished, preserved as a living argument for Christian apologetic. It remains a chosen people, 'the pure olive on which were grafted the branches of the wild olive which are the gentiles' (John Paul II, 6 March 1982, alluding to Rm. 11:17-24).