Vatican Seeks Control Over Jerusalem Holy Sites
In an article in Arutz Sheva last month, Italian journalist Giulio Meotti explained how Catholic authorities in recent months have “increased their political initiatives for Catholic control over some sites in Jerusalem.”
In December, for example, the head of the Vatican’s Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, said that “peace negotiations in the Middle East must tackle the issue of the status of the holy sites of Jerusalem.” According to Tauran, it’s time that some of Jerusalem’s holy places, including the City of David, were put under Vatican charge.
After all, “it’s practically just the Holy See who is concerned about [Jerusalem],” Tauran stated.
One especially intriguing development has been the Catholic Church’s emergence as a seemingly ardent supporter of Palestinian statehood, including Arab control of Jerusalem. Last fall, the Vatican sided with most of the international community in supporting the Palestinian bid for statehood at the United Nations. In a statement last September, retired Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Michel Sabbah, together with representatives from various Christian communities in Israel, pledged “support for the diplomatic efforts being deployed to win international recognition for the State of Palestine.”
In his sermon on Christmas Day, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem reiterated Catholic support of Palestinian statehood. “We want a just and comprehensive peace to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We adhere to the position taken by the Holy See, clearly acknowledging the two-state solution with security and internationally recognized borders,” he stated.
In December 2009, Twal and other high-ranking Catholic officials released an overtly anti-Israel, anti-Jewish document detailing the “injustices” against Palestinians by Israel. In it, the Catholic officials implored the international community to “stand by the Palestinian people who have faced oppression, displacement, suffering and clear apartheid for more than six decades.” There was no recognition of the multiple suicide attacks on innocent Jews, or the thousands of missiles launched at Israeli schools, homes and hospitals. The document also included a lengthy section reconciling Palestinian “resistance,” a polite term for violence or terrorism, with the biblical instruction to abstain from violence and war. “The aggression against the Palestinian people which is the Israeli occupation, is an evil that must be resisted,” the officials claimed. “It is an evil and a sin that must be resisted and removed.”
In other words, no measure of Arab “resistance” is too extreme, or morally or spiritually wrong.
In another instance, Twal and his counterparts, who operate under the direction of the Vatican, stated explicitly that they endorse the “establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Al-Quds [Arabic for Jerusalem] as its capital.”
If you know your history, such effusing support of the Palestinian cause—to the point of ceding Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian nation—is more than a little odd.
After all, can you name a moment in history when the Vatican sincerely endorsed Muslim control of Jerusalem? In fact, history is full of examples of the Vatican opposing, often violently, Muslim control of the Holy Land. Remember Pope Urban ii, the man who set off the crusades in the Middle Ages? “The continued occupation of the holy places—and above all Jerusalem itself—by the infidel was, [Pope Urban ii] declared, an affront to Christendom,” wrote historian John Julius Norwich.
Pope Urban ii delivered his fateful speech November 27, 1095 in the countryside just outside the French city of Clermont-Ferrand. “This royal city [Jerusalem] … situated at the center of the world, is now held captive by His enemies,” he lamented. “It is in subjection to those who do not know God, to the worship of the heathens. She seeks therefore and desires to be liberated, and does not cease to implore you to come to her aid.”
Inspired by Urban’s call to arms and intent on earning “salvation,” tens of thousands of Europeans set out for Jerusalem. In the first crusade alone, Catholic crusaders slaughtered some 70,000 Jews and Arabs, all in pursuit of their goal to pry Jerusalem from the “infidel.” The first crusade was followed a few decades later by another, then another, then another—each an attempt to purge the Holy Land of Muslims. History is clear. The Vatican has never supported Muslim control of Jerusalem!
So why is it doing so now?
It is not! There are two reasons the Catholic Church for now is making it appear that it supports a Palestinian state, and greater Muslim influence over Jerusalem. First, the Vatican supports Palestinian statehood because this effort undermines Israel’s control over the city. When it comes to diminishing Israel’s grip on Jerusalem and its holy sites, Catholic officials are happy to let the Palestinians do the dirty work.
Second, the Vatican’s endorsement of Palestinian statehood provides ideal cover for its own ambition to wrest control of Jerusalem. Don’t forget, Jerusalem is as important to the Vatican as it is to Jews and Muslims. For Catholics, Jerusalem is the birthplace of Christianity and the setting of many important biblical events. The Holy City, as Catholic dogma states, is its universal headquarters. Does anyone really think the Vatican is genuinely interested in ceding control of these sites to Muslims?
At the very least, the Vatican’s endorsement of Palestinian statehood is political chicanery. More than likely, it’s a calculated ruse, and part of a Trojan horse strategy by which the Vatican gains the trust of the Palestinians and international community before more actively staking its claim to Jerusalem and its holy sites. Whatever happens, don’t expect the Vatican to stand by and cheer as Muslims assume control of Christianity’s holy sites. That’s never going to happen.
Keep an eye on Jerusalem, and especially on the Vatican’s dalliances in the city. Bible prophecy tells us Jerusalem is the nucleus of end-time events, and that the Catholic Church will make a play for the Holy City in the final days before Christ’s return. We’ve often pointed to Daniel 11:40, which describes a gigantic clash between Catholic Europe and Iran and its radical Islamic supporters. In verse 41, we read that after Europe’s army defeats the king of the south it is invited into “the glorious land [Jerusalem in biblical terminology], and many countries shall be overthrown.”
According to this prophecy, the climactic events that precede the return of Christ revolve around Jerusalem. This city, as Gerald Flurry has explained, is a thermometer for measuring the imminence of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming. The more the tension rises between Jews and Palestinians, and the more the Catholic Church interferes in Jerusalem, the closer we are to this awesome event!