In the Eyes of the Catholic Church, God’s Covenant with the Jews Remains Unbroken

In 1965, the Second Vatican Council issued a document titled Nostra Aetate, which repudiated the accusation—long believed by many Catholics although never official doctrine—that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus, and condemned anti-Semitism in general. Pope John Paul II expanded further on the groundwork laid by Nostra Aetate, as the Catholic thinker Robert P. George explains:

It is important to understand that what concerned John Paul in this matter was above all theological, not sociological or political. He sought to understand, and to teach, the truth about how the Church properly understands and relates herself to Jews and Judaism. There were options on the table here—judgments to be made, if the topic was to be addressed at all.

One option would have been to say that God’s covenant with the Jews had been abrogated when the Jewish people as a whole did not join the Christian Church, but we should be nice to Jews anyway, and avoid speaking disparagingly of their religion, since after all, we’ve been awfully cruel to them over the centuries, and we’d have a better chance of winning them over by being kind. This was not the path he took or the judgment he made.

Rather, he spoke of the Jews as “the people of the original Covenant.” Indeed, his exact words were “our kindred nation of the original Covenant.” To make himself even clearer, he formally declared that God’s covenant with the Jews “has never been revoked.” In 1986, speaking to leaders of the Australian Jewish community during a visit to that country, John Paul went still further, declaring the covenant to be not only still in force, but irrevocable.

Obviously, this does not mean that a faithful Catholic may not criticize individuals who happen to be Jewish on the same grounds that he would criticize anyone else. Nor does it mean that Catholics must agree with, or may not criticize, policies of governments of Israel. Jews themselves, including Israeli Jews, do not refrain from criticizing such policies when they believe criticism is merited. At the same time, a faithful Catholic will be very careful never to accept anti-Jewish animus masquerading as policy differences with governments of the Jewish state.

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Read more at Public Discourse

More about: Anti-Semitism, Jewish-Catholic relations, John Paul II, Second Vatican Council

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy