"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Common Friend to Both: Visit with Melkite Archbishop Chacour in the Holy Land

(Thanks to CatholicOnline)

By Deal W. Hudson, Ph.D

Archbishop Elias Chacour of
the Melkite Catholic Church in Israel.

JERUSALEM (Inside Catholic) - Archbishop Elias Chacour of the Melkite Catholic Church in Israel is a remarkable man. Nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize, the author of three books on religion, and now in his early 70s, he's an internationally recognized leader in the effort to find a peaceful solution to the hostilities between Jews and Arabs.

"We don't need anyone else to become the enemy of the Jews or the Arabs," he told us. "We need people to become the common friend of both."

He kindly received our small group at his residence in Haifa and spoke with us for well over an hour. "Why are you here?" he asked with a smile. By the time we'd left, we all had a better idea of how to answer that question.

Chacour was eight years old when the Israeli soldiers entered his Palestinian village in 1948, the year of Israel's founding. The village of Biram is in the region of Galilee near Nazareth. His father had prepared a banquet for the soldiers -- he fed them and they slept in the family's beds. After enjoying the hospitality, the soldiers ordered everyone to leave the village; their land and homes were being "annexed."

The residents fled up into the adjacent hills and lived for several weeks until a group of the village fathers ventured back to ask if they could return. The men wouldn't return for months. Eventually the fathers, including Chacour's, found their way back to the families living in the hills near their confiscated village. The men had been put into trucks and taken to the other side of the West Bank, dropped off, and told never to return. They walked through Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon to rejoin their families.

The Palestinians took their case to the Israeli Supreme Court, which ruled three times in their favor . . . only to have the military continue to block their homecoming. Finally, in 1952, they descended the hills to return to their houses, only to watch Israeli bombers level the town in front of their eyes.

"My father told all his children never to hate, never to seek retribution," the archbishop said, choking back the strong emotions he obviously still felt from that experience so many years ago.

Chacour was the only one of the four sons to become a priest, thus fulfilling his father's fervent wish. He studied in Paris for six years, returned to Galilee, and became a parish priest in a small village much like the one he was born in. His book Blood Brothers, first published in 1984, brought Chacour into the public eye leading to his appointment as archbishop (archimandrite) in 2001.

Before we left, I asked "Abuna," as he is also called, if he had a personal message I could record for Catholics in the United States. You can find it here: YouTube.

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