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ROME – An Italian edition of Kairos Palestine, a controversial document authored
by representatives of Middle East Christian Churches and first presented in
2009, was launched in the Italian capital last week, on the sidelines of a
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The former Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah,
together with the Pax Christi and Franciscan “Terra Santa” publishers, presented
the book at a conference center in a Vatican-owned building run by Pax Christi,
Catholic Action and the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy Land.
the semi-official setting, no other synod bishops attended the presentation, as
if in unspoken agreement with the prevailing Vatican policy to keep politics
away from the synod.
Signed by representatives and members of Christian
churches in the Middle East, the document calls for “resistance” against Israeli
occupation and has been strongly criticized on several points.
these are calls for “the beginning of a system of economic sanctions and boycott
to be applied against Israel,” efforts defined as “tools of nonviolence,”
accusations that Israel is guilty of “clear apartheid” and “racist separation,”
ambiguous use of the word “resistance,” which seems to encompass terrorism in
statements such as “if there were no occupation there would be no resistance...”
and “we respect and have high esteem for all those who have given their life for
our nation,” and, finally, criticism of the international community for not
accepting “the outcome of democratic and legal elections” in Gaza that were won
Previously attributed to leaders of Middle East churches, the
Kairos Palestine book was carefully presented in Rome as a document written by
“lay people” and “some religious [people].” The publisher specified that this
was “not an official document” and that the Franciscan Custodian of the Holy
Pierbattista Pizzaballa, “did not help write
However, the semi-official nature of the Italian book is accentuated
by the new preface written by the current Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad
Twal, while Pizzaballa’s name appears at the beginning of the document in a list
of “Patriarchs and heads of Churches in Jerusalem” who signed an acknowledgement
that “We hear the cry of our children” and an expression of “support” for “the
call to all our faithful as well as to the Israeli and Palestinian Leaders, to
the international community and to the World churches, in order to accelerate
the achievement of justice, peace and reconciliation in this Holy
“The document is a reflection by some Christians but not an
official Church document.
All our names are always automatically inserted
in statements we issue,” Pizzaballa told the Jerusalem Post. “Since Kairos
Palestine is seen as somewhat political, I find it is not my duty to elaborate
In an Italian radio interview, he commented, “I am not
Palestinian and don’t want to pass judgment, but as a religious [man], it makes
me feel a bit uneasy.”
Following the book launch, a missionary press
agency accused “Tel Aviv’s ambassador to the Holy See” of having pressured the
Vatican regarding the document and organizing reprisals through increased
Israeli denials of visa for priests.
Ambassador Mordechay Lewy replied
that he did not want “to be dragged into a promotional tour of the anti-Israel
propaganda booklet called Kairos Palestine” and that the “so-called retaliation
of Israeli diplomacy and pressure is untrue.”
He also pointed out that
his credential letters were sent from Jerusalem, not Tel Aviv.