You’d think the pope at least might be in President Donald Trump’s court on the whole Tel Aviv-versus-Jerusalem thing — the announced move of the U.S. Embassy from the former to the latter and the ensuing recognition of the latter as Israel’s true capital.
After all, the guy’s the voice of the Catholic Church. If anyone might rise above lowly human politics to side with the spiritual on this matter, it’d be Pope Francis, yes?
“I cannot remain silent about my deep concern for the situation that has developed in recent days,” Francis said, after the White House announced intent to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “And at the same time, I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations.”
He spoke of the sacred nature of the city to Jews, Christians and to Muslims.
And then he said this: “I pray to the Lord that such identity be preserved and strengthened for the benefit of the Holy Land, the Middle East and the entire world, and that wisdom and prudence prevail, to avoid adding new elements of tension in a world already shaken and scarred by many cruel conflicts.”
Those are fine statements to make — if you’re a politician.
But the pope is supposed to be the spiritual leader of a church. He’s supposed to put religion first, politics second — matters of Christ first, matters of humankind, second.
So throwing in with the type of arguments the political world has against this move just doesn’t seem to be in line with the whole pope position description.
Take a look. This is what U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres said of Trump’s announcement: “Jerusalem is a final-status issue that must be resolved through direct negotiations between the two parties on the basis of the relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, taking into account the legitimate concerns of both the Palestinians and the Israeli sides. In this moment of great anxiety, I want to make it clear: There is no alternative to the two-state solution. There is no Plan B.”
Now this, from the religious front.
“It is David’s capital, the site of the First and Second Temples, the focus of the historians’ accounts, the Psalmists’ songs and the prophets’ visions,” said Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas, in praise of Trump’s plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Gospel Herald reported. “It is the place where Jesus, a Jew himself, was crucified, and where he was resurrected. It is the place where he will set foot again on earth at his second coming.”
See the difference?
One’s all about the human concerns — the worldy worries, the politics and fear. The other speaks of Jewish heritage and Jesus Christ.
Now who’s the pope sound more like?
The pope could use less of the first in his viewpoint and more of the second. It’s quite OK for the pope to have and express political opinions. He is, of course, still in this world. But it would be far better if his political opinions stemmed from a spiritual viewpoint first — if the filter was Heaven first, human concerns second. And on that score, on the Jerusalem matter, he sounds more like a mouthpiece for the United Nations than any spokesperson for a Bible-based faith.
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