Church worried Israeli policies could affect Catholics in West Asia
Concern for Catholics in West Asia led the Vatican to call into question Israel's policies regarding Palestine, extending Church support to Palestinians, according a confidential cable made available to The Hindu by WikiLeaks.
In a July 24, 2002 meeting, U.S. Acting Deputy Chief of Mission George Frowick and Archbishop Antonio Veglio, Secretary of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, shared worries that “the Eastern Churches — the 22 Christian Rites that are not Roman Catholic but are in communion with Rome — face a number of challenges that cast long shadows over their future” (3387: confidential, dated July 26).
According to the cable, Archbishop Veglio told Mr. Frowick that his “congregation, as elsewhere in the Holy See is deeply troubled by Israeli policies vis-à-vis the Palestinians,” which they viewed as a potential threat to Catholics in West Asia.
“The congregation will remain active in seeking to support the Palestinians as a means of preserving the remnants of the Catholic presence in the region,” the cable says.
Eastern Churches in “Arab countries are coming under increasing pressure, and have ‘a big question mark' over their futures,” according to the cable.
“According to Archbishop Veglio, the lack of separation between faith and state is the chief hurdle,” and, the cable says, “Veglio observed that the mixing of state and religion…caused problems in Israel,” though he did note the Jewish state was “the only country in the region with ‘democratic aspects.'”
“Where ‘national faiths' are close to or indistinguishable from political power, Archbishop Veglio observed, the Catholic faithful face persistent discrimination and the Church finds it difficult to conduct its pastoral duties,” according to the cable.
Archbishop Veglio, who was “returning to Rome after nearly 30 years of overseas Holy See diplomatic work, said his congregation's primary duty was to ensure that these [Eastern] Churches are able to carry out pastoral care of the faithful wherever they are,” the cable says.
(This article is a part of the series "The India Cables" based on the US diplomatic cables accessed by The Hindu via Wikileaks.)