Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pope Benedict Disagrees with Jason Kenney

With the demands for a two state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict heating up, Jason Kenney's initiatives, and those of his fellow Conservatives, are being left in the dust.

Kenney, who under the direction of the Christians United for Israel (CUFI), has been setting the stage for John Hagee's biblical solution, or as he puts it "God's Foreign Policy", is being outnumbered; as those with level heads and sound judgement, look for peace, not nuclear war.

Pope Benedict has joined with U.S. President Barack Obama's and Vice-President Joe Biden, this week, in calling for a two-state solution, not a 'final solution'; to establishing peace in Middle East.
Jason Kenney received a cloistered faith based education at a Catholic boarding school, so hopefully he'll start listening to the Pope. I Mean, he's the POPE!
Wed May 6, 2009
By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Friday ventures into the political, cultural and religious minefield of the Middle East, starting a trip to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories that may prove his most difficult yet.

Benedict's own past controversial comments on relations with Jews and Muslims, which some members of both faiths have perceived as insulting, will weigh on him as he starts a trip which some Church observers see as a chance to mend fences.

On Wednesday he told the people of the region he wanted to share "your aspirations and hopes as well as your pains and struggles. I will be coming to you as a pilgrim of peace". Ever present in the background of the trip will be the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Both the political and the Church situation in the Middle East are anything but easy," said Cardinal Walter Kasper, a German -- like the pope -- whose office includes the Vatican department on relations with Jews.

"A balance will have to be found between the Pope's encounter with Israel and the Jews on the one hand, and with the Christians, who for the most part live in the Palestinian territories, on the other. A difficult task - but all the more necessary for that," he told a German Catholic news agency.

The May 8-15 trip mirrors the historic journey made in 2000 by the late Pope John Paul, who managed to achieve the personal feat of being equally admired by Jews and Muslims.

It starts in Jordan, where Benedict will be greeted by King Abdullah, who has been active in Middle East peace efforts and has stressed that Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious leaders must play a leading role in achieving a settlement.
All ears will be on what the pope says when he visits an Amman mosque and addresses Muslim religious leaders, the diplomatic corps and Jordanian academic leaders.

It will be only his second visit to a mosque -- the first was in Turkey in 2006 -- and will give him another chance to put matters straight with Islam. Catholic-Muslim relations nosedived after Benedict delivered a 2006 lecture in Germany that was taken by Muslims to imply Islam was violent and irrational.

After more than three days in Jordan, the real papal tightrope walk begins when Benedict moves on to Israel and the Palestinian territories.

"We affirm the state of Israel and maintain diplomatic relations with it, and our relationship with the Jews has improved enormously. On the other hand we must do justice to the Palestinian Christians, who do not have an easy life," said Cardinal Kasper, who will accompany the pope on the trip.

"The Holy See is in favour of a two-state solution but that does not seem so important to the Israeli government at the moment. The diplomatic high-wire act will therefore be not to accept any false compromises," Kasper said.

Since being sworn in as head of Israel's new, right-leaning government on March 31, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not specifically discussed establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, a U.S. and Arab priority.

Anything the pope says on the subject will echo around the region, particularly when he visits a Palestinian refugee camp within sight of the barrier Israel has built near Bethlehem in the occupied West Bank.
The Vatican established full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1994, something that Jews around the world pushed hard for, saying it would help show that Israel was here to stay.

Israeli officials say the trip could be helpful in the broader Middle East context. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in Rome this week that Jewish-Christian dialogue could serve as an example for dialogue between Judaism and Islam, "so we accord infinite importance to the pope's visit".

In the 45 years since the Second Vatican Council repudiated the concept of collective Jewish guilt for Christ's death, Catholic-Jewish relations have lurched up and down, haunted by the Holocaust and the questions of what the Church did -- or failed to do -- in one of the darkest periods of human history.

They went through one of their worst periods several months ago when the pope lifted the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops, including one who denied the Holocaust.
The Vatican says it did not know enough about the bishop's past and both sides now hope the issue can be definitively closed with the pope visits Jerusalem's Yad Vashem memorial to the victims of the Holocaust on Monday.

The status of Jerusalem, which Israel unilaterally declared its capital in 1980, remains sticky, both for Vatican-Israel relations and in the broader context of Middle East peace.

The Vatican wants an internationally guaranteed special statute safeguarding its identity and sacred character for the three great monotheistic religions. Palestinians see East Jerusalem as a future capital of their state.

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