No Other Plans
Instapundit takes to task
the Catholic Church, and particularly Roger Cardinal Etchegaray
, for both antisemitism* and appeasement. I do not take Instapundit’s comments to be a smear on the Church.
That said, to answer Professor Reynold’s question
, I think why the Church is “always” coming out “against” Israel is that, whatever else its problems, the Church is not ignorant to the affairs of man. It knows that, Israel is the one calling the shots in the Middle East - Israel can make a separate peace with a willing partner, as it has with Jordan and Egypt, but the Arab world cannot ultimately be at peace without Israel's leadership. For good or ill (and almost certainly for good) Israel is the most powerful country in the Middle East – it could drink from the Euphrates if it so chose. It knows full well that the government of Israel is a greater friend to Christianity – and a bigger advocate of a just peace – than many governments in Europe.
Robert Heinlein cautioned “do not appeal to a man’s better nature, he may not have one.” I take the Vatican’s challenges to Israel to be, like Ghandi’s challenges to London, a tacit recognition that Israel not only has power to change the world, but has a better nature that can be appealed to. The Vatican knows corruption and anti-semitism are rife throughout the Middle East and, ultimately, has faith that there is a peaceful solution. But if there is a peaceful solution to be had, it cannot be had without Israel. Israel has a moral obligation to lead for peace in the Middle East, even if the rest of the Middle East isn’t ready for it.
For all its many, many faults, it is faith
, Good Professor, that drives the Church. And while I do not believe Yasser Arafat cares for peace – I know Baghdad and Damascus ad Riyadh do not, the Church knows
Israel is the vehicle for peace. The Vatican speaks to Israel...because Israel alone is listening.
In 2000, Cardinal Etchegaray delivered this homily
at the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. This passage jumped out at me:
Do you know the legend that deserves to be a true story, which I was told by an Orthodox monk? Here it is. After Easter, when Christ was about to ascend into heaven, he lowered his eyes to the earth and saw it plunged in darkness, except for some small lights over the city of Jerusalem. As he ascends he meets the Angel Gabriel, who was used to earthly missions and asks him: "What are those tiny lights?". "They are the Apostles gathered around my Mother, and as soon as I reach heaven my plan is to send the Holy Spirit to them so that these small sparks will become a great blaze that will enflame the whole earth with love". The angel dares to answer: "And what will you do if the plan does not succeed?". After a moment of silence, the Lord replies: "I have no other plans!".
The temporal governments in the rest of the Middle East are darkness. The Church knows the lights are in Jerusalem, Professor Reynolds. It doesn’t intend to let Israel forget it.
* I do not care to enter into a discussion of the Church's long, unpleasant history of antisemitism. So long as it is addressed to the Vatican itself and not to all members of the Catholic clergy, I'll stipulate to almost any indictment against the Church.