Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 16, 2003
Catholics should back Israel -- Kenney
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
The best way to appeal to Catholics to be more supportive of the plight of Israel is to "re-shape the debate," says Canadian Alliance MP Jason Kenney.
Describing himself as a "Catholic Zionist," the Alberta MP says Catholics instinctively tend to support the underdog and that many believe the Palestinian community is the underdog in the Middle East conflict.
"The threats which face Israel are not about simply a just peace for Palestinian refugees or those Palestinians who suffer," he said. "Rather it is about the destruction of the state of Israel and yet one step further, the destruction of the Jewish people."
Kenney, the Alliance's foreign affairs critic for Canada-U.S. relations, was speaking at St. Paul University as part of a conference June 2-4 sponsored by Christians for Israel (Canada).
The organization believes God's covenants were made with Israel and that gentiles were "grafted in."
Introduced in brochures and before his talk as "representing the Catholic community," Kenney said Pope John Paul has made it clear that the old covenant with the Jewish people was not revoked by the new covenant.
He was the first pope to make it clear that the old covenant has never been revoked and the first pope to visit the Roman synagogue "where he said the Church deplores the hatred, persecution and display of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews at any time and by anyone. I repeat, by anyone," Kenney said.
The MP also said the pope understands Israel as part of "God's plan in history" and noted that John Paul was the first pope to give diplomatic recognition to the state of Israel.
During his talk, Kenney also made it clear he was not speaking for all Catholics.
Catholics in the Western world tend not to be as fervent in their support for Israel as evangelical Christians, he said. "Yet after the Second World War and certainly after the Second Vatican Council, the Church has come to a recognition of the moral obligation that the world in general - and the Christian community in particular - owes the Jewish community."
The highest expression of that moral obligation is recognition of a Jewish homeland, he added.
The Church needs to lead Catholics to understand that "Israel exists, not because Jewish people came in as new immigrants and stole land from their ancestors, but rather because it is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people," said Kenney.
The Rev. John Tweedie, chair of Christians for Israel (Canada), said that the return of the Jewish people to the land "is perhaps the greatest sign in modern times that God is not finished with Israel and the Church never replaced Israel in the plan of God."