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December 18, 1981 - Image 78

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-12-18

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18 Friday, December 18, 1981


Peter Nichols' Book 'Roman Catholic Church Today'
Lauds Israel's Treatment of the Various Religious Sects

Peter Nichols, for many
years a London Times cor-
respondent, in a study of the
Vatican's role today and the
new approaches under cur-
rent leadership, The Pope's
Divisions? The Roman
Catholic Church Today"
(Holt, Rinehart and
Winston), speaks approv-
ingly of Israel's treatment of
the many religious denomi-
nations in the Jewish state.
'Outlining the discord
among Christian groups, he
makes the following in-
teresting and revealing
The Israelis deserve a
great deal more sympathy
than they are usually ac-
corded for having to deal
with a problem which, be-
fore they came to rule
Jerusalem, caused trouble
to the Turks and to the
British: the state of chronic
disagreement among the
various Christian com-
munities and particularly
those with rights within the
Christian holy places.
"In the whole of Pales-
tine there are about 35
different Christian
churches and com-
munities. Of these, six dif-
ferent Christian
churches claim rights
and privileges within the
church of the Holy
Sepulchre — Christiani-
ty's most sacred place of
The claimants, apart
from the Catholics, are the
Greek Orthodox, the Arme-
nians, the Copts, the Sy-
rians and the Ethiopians.
Because of the constant
quarreling of the represen-


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eral countries, France and
Russia in particular,
showed a propensity for
exploiting a favorable
shift in the balance of power
to further the interests of
the churches they favored
in the Holy Sepulchre. It is
more than a scandal now,
because an ecumenical
movement is officially func-
tioning and it is incapable of
inspiring less Levantine
conduct on the part of
Jerusalem's official Christ-
The scandals listed here
have been well known and
they have been an inheri-
tance of the Israeli adminis-
trative forces since - the
reunification of Jerusalem.
While Nichols does not
go into detail regarding
Israel's treatment of the
various sects, it has been
established that the
fracas has been success-
'fully averted.
In his revealing and de-
finitive book, Nichols refers
to the credibility that had
been. accorded to Ar-
chbisfiop Hilarion Capucci,
who was convicted in Israel
for transporting weapons
into the country for use by
terrorists. Nichols states:
"He was freed on the re-
quest of Paul VI who under-
took to send the bishop, who
was an active organizer for
Arafat's Palestinian Liber-
ation Organization, to work
in Latin America. He stayed
there for a time, setting up a
PLO headquarters, and was
next heard of in Damascus
and then practically super-
seded the apostolic nuncio
in Teheran in a new role as
intermediary betweeen the
Pope and Khomeini.
"He kept his official place
in the PLO, despite the fact
that at much the same time
the Pope insisted that
Father Robert Drinan, the
highly respected Jesuit
member of the U.S. Con-
gress, should give up his
seat as priests should not be
directly involved in the
political process."
In reference to ex-
Congressman Father
Robert Drinan and the
ruling by the present
Pope which barred him
from seeking re-election,
Nichols makes this addi-
tional comment:
"The Vatican sought to
explain that no criticism
was intended of Father Dri-
nan but that the move had
been taken in application of
a traditional Church policy,
given renewed emphasis by
John Paul II, that ordained
priests ordinarily should
not run for elective office or
be otherwise engaged in
partisan politics.
(Although no longer a
member of the House of
Representatives, Father
Drinan is still politically ac-
, tive, according to the New
York Times. In September,
Father Drinan became the
president of Americans for
Democratic Action. He has
crisscrossed the nation sev-
eral times giving speeches
deploring the arms race,
pleading for an effective

tatives of these historic
Christian churches, the
keys of the church of the
Holy Sepulchre have been
in the hands of a Muslim
family for the last seven
"The agreement which
the Israelis inherited on
how to deal with the Chris-
tian churches represented
in the sacred city is called
the status quo and lays
down in detail the situation
as it exactly existed in the
year 1757 and was
sanctioned by the Ottoman
government of the time.
This situation was con-
firmed by the 62nd article of
the Treaty of Berlin in 1878.
"The document on which
the Israelis work isa defini-
tion of rights and privileges
drawn up by a British offi-
cial in 1929 which sets out
to describe precisely what
the status quo is .. .
"A footnote gives an
eloquent idea, however
couched in official lan-
guage, of the type of dis-
pute which constantly
arose (and still does) — in
this case a quarrel for
possession of the Chapel
of St. Nicodemus bet-
ween the Armenians and
the Syrian Jacobites:
" As an instance, a fracas
occurred between these
communities at the conclu-
sion of the Holy Fire Cere-
mony, in 1927, when the
Syrian-Jacobite Patriarch
placed his chair in such a
way as to prevent the exit of
the Armenian procession.'
"This constant scandal
has had its diplomatic re-
percussions, because sev-


human rights policy, oppos-
ing the sale of AWACS
planes to Saudi Arabia and
publicizing the plight of the
nevertheless felt, and the
question immediately
raised of how this policy
would be implemented in
other parts of the world
where priests hold ministe-
rial posts: in Nicaragua, for
instance, the government
which overthrew the
Somoza dictatorship had a
priest as foreign minister
and another as minister for
culture, the formidable poet
Father Cardenal."
Nichols, in his treatment
of the Capucci and Drinan
incidents, conceded there is
a pro-Palestinian attitude
inthe official church circles.
In the matter of Jerusalem
he states:
"It is no bad thing to
remember that, if Israel's
conduct in Jerusalem is
criticized, and rightly,
the Christian presence is
nothing to boast about, in
the past and now. It is at
this point that he indi-
cated the fracas fre-
quently evidenced
among the Christian
sects in Jerusalem.
Nichols also takes into
account the ecumenical ex-
periences and the role in it
of Cardinal Bea. Here is an
account which adds signifi-
cance to the Nichols
"For instance, the Jewish
view of Jesus is a salutary
one because it is profes-

sional and at the same time
unhampered by the need for
awe, and thus human qual-
ities emerge more clearly.
"Dr. Nicholas de Lange,
lecturer in rabbinics at
Cambridge, gave an excel-
lent summary of how Jews
see Jesus in a lecture named
in memory of Cardinal Bea,
first head of the Vatican's
Secretariat for Christian
Unity and architect of the
Vatican Council's exonera-
tion of the Jews for the
death of Jesus:
" The Jewish followers of .
Jesus during his lifetime
were involved in a real,
fleshly encounter, and they
responded to the undoubted
power of his personality and
his message. But they were
surely mistaken if they be-
lieved he was the Messiah
who would rescue Israel and
inaugurate a new and hap-
pier age. The condition of
the Jews actually deterior-
ated after his death.
" The early Church
made brave efforts to
explain the apparent fai-
lure of his mission and to
convert it into a triumph,
but these efforts, how-
ever successful they were
among gentiles, never
succeeded in convincing
the vast mass of Jews.'
"There is a refreshing
candor untouched by cant in
these reflections and an at-
titude which the most cer-
tain Christian could do well
to consider for a moment, if
only to show strength
enough to reject such ideas

" 'In the sense in which I
understand these terms as a
Jew, I cannot see Jesus as
the Messiah, the son of
David, or as the inau-
gurator of a Messianic age. I
do not count him among the
prophets, as our Muslim
brothers do. I cannot think
of him as Lord, or as the son
of God, and I certainly do
not believe that a man can
be God.
" 'It is not the way of
Judaism to engage in a 'cult
of personality,' to elevz
any one human being abov.,
all the others. Abraham,
Moses, Isaiah were great
men, with a great and en-
during message for man-
kind., but they were merely
men and shared our human
weaknesses. I cannot think
that Jesus was greater than
these. Nor can I accept that
Jesus's purpose was to do
away with Judaism as he
found it.
" He had his criticisms,
to be sure, but he wanted
to perfect the law of
Moses, not to annul it.
The Christian hostility to
this law strikes me as a
betrayal of Jesus' teach-
ing as well as a serious
barrier to the recognition
of the Christians as truly
part of the people of
Israel ...' "
Nichols' study of the Vat-
ican in its current status is a
remarkable book. It serves a
great need for understand-
ing and it renders fairness
and justice to the Jewish re-
latiohships with the
Catholic Church. It is a
highly commendable book.

Black Jewish Freshman Sparks
Basketball Revival at Yeshiva. U.

NEW YORK — The dif-
ference between the athletic
program at Yeshiva Uni-
versity and the programs at
the NCAA's sports-minded
major schools is, both in
substance and philosophy, a
vast one.
But this year's basketball
team at the small (NCAA
Division III), religiously
oriented school, has a com-
modity which basketball
powerhouses such as In-
diana and Notre Dame often
dream about. A talented,
dynamic freshman guard,
capable of turning the team
into a winner and generat-
ing a dramatic increase in
Joey Eaves, a fourth-
generation black Jew who
averaged 29 points and 12
assists as a senior in high
school, has been instrumen-
tal in Yeshiva's 2-0 start
this season, the New York
Times reported. (Last year's
team finished with a 4-17
Eaves, whose father is
a rabbi, is the youngest of
11 children. His great-
grandfather converted to
Judaism while living in
the West Indies. The fam-
ily moved to Jackson-
ville, Fla., Boston, and
eventually Hartford,
Conn., where Rabbi Jehu

Eaves' synagogue is
Eaves rises at 8 every
morning to daven before
breakfast. From 9 to 12:30
he is immersed in Hebrew
studies and attends classes
until basketball practice,
late in the afternoon. Eaves
plans to attend graduate
school, probably for a degree
in business, although he is
sure that his father would
love to see him become a
rabbi. Among his brothers
and sisters there is a doctor
and a lawyer.
The Yeshiva freshman
says he took a lot of kidding
about his religion while
growing-up in the predomi-
nantly black Roxbury sec-
tion of Boston. The courts at
the neighborhood boys' cen-
ter provided him with his
basketball education.
"My cousin, who's also
Jewish, and I were known
as the Jewish Connection,"
said Eaves. "All my five
brothers played basketball.
"One had a scholarship to
the University of Washing-
The 5'9", 131-pound
guard has averaged 19
points and 10.5 assists in
Yeshiva's two victories, an
88-40 blowout against Bard
and a 63-53 win against
New York Maritime. The

game with Bard, played on
Yeshiva's home court, drew
150 fans; not a bad gate for a
team that has played some
recent home games in front
of crowds of 10 people.

Arab Classroom
Shortage Is Cut

While announcing a 40 per-
cent reduction of the Arab
classroom shortage, the Is-
rael Education Ministry has
also inaugurated joint
Jewish - Arab classes. Two
volunteers will instruct 100
high school students for the
Nazareth area in math and
In addition to increased
building, the shortage of
Arab 'classrooms is slowly
being eliminated by a fal-
ling birthrate among
Arab and Druze
According to the Central
Bureau of Statistics, while
non-Jews comprise 16.2
percent of Israel's popula-
tion, their birthrate has de-
clined by a third in the past
15 years. But the Arab
birthrate of 32.2 per 1,000 is
still very high compared
with the Jewish rate of 14.8
per 1,000.

Never replicate a success-
ful experiment.

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