Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Vatican Council for Culture, commenting on the war between Israel and Hamas, delivered a severe attack on the Jewish people: “I think of the ‘massacre of the innocents’. Children are dying in Gaza, their mothers’ shouts is a perennial cry, a universal cry”.
The Catholic Church high official equated Israel’s operation in Gaza against terror groups with the New Testament story of Herod’s slaughter of Jewish babies in his effort to kill Jesus.
Ravasi, who is one of the most popular Catholic cardinals and the director of the Church’s policy on culture, called Israelis baby-killers in a shameless form of anti-Semitism which subtly accuses the Jewish State of trying to murder the new Jesus, symbolized by the Palestinian people.
The Vatican official’s modern blood libel against Israel was delivered during the presentation of Pope Benedict’s new book about the life of Jesus. However, Ravasi's theme – the Jews as Herod, who killed all the innocent babies because his heart was set on killing Jesus – was much beloved by Medieval organizers of pogroms.
The vicar-general of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, William Shomali, said on Vatican Radio that “what is happening in Gaza now is a vicious circle of violence”. The auxiliary bishop then declared that “it’s difficult to know who started it”. How difficult?
A few weeks ago, in an interview with the Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana, Shomali claimed that “hatred of Christians” is the Talmud itself. "The Talmud, the holy book studied by the ultra-orthodox, more highly venerated than the Bible itself, invites religious hatred, speaks badly of Jesus, and even worse of Mary and, in general, of Christians,” the bishop said, adding that “in Israeli schools, love for the other is not taught, but rather the destruction of the other”.
Talking to the Vatican News Agency, Michel Sabbah, Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem, said that the Gaza Strip for many years “has been living under the weight of an absurd embargo, which makes the daily lives of a million and a half of people inumane”.
Sabbah signed the recent appeal by more than one hundred Christian leaders who have asked the international community to support the recognition of the Palestinian State as a full member of the United Nations. Among the signers is the Greek Orthodox Archbishop Atallah Hanna, a self professed anti-Semite who blessed the suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.
As yet, no condemnation has come from the Pope of the barrages of rockets fired by terror groups on southern Israeli cities before Operation Pillar of Defense. The Church authorities, and Benedict XVI himself, raised their voices in condemnation of the violence that has broken out in the Gaza Strip only after Israel began bombing the installations of the terrorist movements in that territory. Not a word was heard before that.
During the Cast Lead operation in 2009, the Vatican officials called Gaza "a concentration camp". After the Nazi comparison did its work, the Jesus-killer motif has now returned to the Catholic Church.
The writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book "A New Shoah", that researched the personal stories of Israel's terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. He is at work on a book about the Vatican and Israel.