Christian exodus from the Middle East is a pretty old story at this point. But it’s been resurrected this week because the Vatican is convening a summit on the subject. Has Christianity in the cradle of Christianity reached a crisis point? And is the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict to blame?
Some bishops have singled out the emergence of fanatical Islam for the flight. But others have directly or indirectly accused Israel of discriminating against Arab Christians and impeding solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In fact, the working document of the two-week synod accused the Israeli “occupation” of Palestinian territories for creating difficulties in everyday life for Palestinian Christians, including their religious life since their access to holy sites is dependent on Israeli military permission.
Pope Benedict XVI called the two-week synod, which continued Wednesday, to try to encourage Christians in the largely Muslim region, where the Catholic Church has long been a minority and is shrinking as a result of war, conflict, discrimination and economic problems.
Israel has certainly made, and continues to make, mistakes that stunt the peace process. But they aren’t responsible for Super Rats, and the Palestinians have hardly been peacemakers. (It’s not even clear who wants peace.) Further, I’m pretty sure it was Palestinian gunmen who blew up the Gaza YMCA after Israel left the Gaza Strip.