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Klincz. Debata polsko - żydowska cz.21

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Tekst jest traktowany jako integralna całość, można go cytować, ale zgodnie z prawem z podaniem źródła, tzn. autora książki i jej tytułu, osoby udzielające wywiadu, no i tłumacza amatora:). Tłumaczenie jest moje (z pomocą Google Translate), dlatego jest pewnie w nim dużo błędów:), pro publico bono, całkowicie bez wynagrodzenia.


Franciscan Holy Land
With Father Narcyz Klimas OFM (Stanisław Klimas)


As for the Polish realities, Father has a rather unusual first and last name. Where are you from?
When once at the airport they saw that my name is Narcyz Klimas, they said: "You are Greek! Where did you get your Polish passport?" My family comes from Greece, they were merchants who came to the Transylvanian highlands. They had to be a significant family because they had their own castle there. I remember that a Romanian student came to me after the lecture and said that he associates my name with a castle in Romania. After some time he brought me a picture of the castle with the name Klimas on it. Also from Greece, my ancestors went to Romania. However, after Rakoczi's rebelion, the family felt threatened and migrated to the south of Poland, where they settled permanently.
In a small town, Lubień, between Krakow and Zakopane, there are 30 families with this surname. We even have a mountain there, which is called Klimas. I always laughs when my sister asks me where I'm going, because when I go to this mountain I answer: "I'm going to greet old Klimas."
Not everyone, however, Klimas stopped in their journey to the south of Poland. The part traveled to the northern border of the then Rzeczpospolita. Some people are surprised and say that this is the Lithuanian name, because it has the ending “as”, and indeed this surname is also can be found in Lithuania. My professor of Latin diplomacy in Rome also thought I was Lithuanian because the Lithuanian ambassador in Paris was called Klimas. It turned out, however, that the origin of the ambassador was completely different than he had thought, so some of my ancestors stopped in southern Poland, and some moved on to the terrain of today's Lithuania.

Where does the name Narcissus come from?
Narcissus is my convent name. My secular name is Stanisław. The name Narcissus is in some sense symbolic in relation to my origin. There is also a bit of historical irony, because my convent name comes from the bishop of Jerusalem - Saint Narcissus. At the beginning I wanted to call myself Kacper, as I was born on January 6. However, the Magister didn’t agree to this name, because his name day is to be celebrated in the convent. You change your name to change your life. So I didn’t know who would be my patron. Magister left only two names to choose from. I don’t know whether he did it on the characteristics of a given person or was it caused by other reasons. In any case, I have possibility to choice between Rudolf and Narcissus. More than Rudolf I liked the name Narcissus. I didn’t associate this name with mythology, but with a flower, with nature. It turned out later that Bishop Narcissus was a patriarch of Jerusalem and lived 116 years. During his rule at Caesarea, it was decided that Easter will be celebrated not after the fourteenth day of Nissan, but on Sunday following it. So contrary to the Jewish Passover, but according to our Sunday Passover, so when Christ rose from the dead. It was then that there was an argument between the Roman Church and the eastern churches about how to celebrate this Passover. Therefore, it was decided for the bishop Narcissus that the Passover would be celebrated on Sunday.

Now the Father lives and works in the Holy Land. How did your find himself there?
When I finished philosophy in Krakow, I was offered the continuation of theological studies at the international seminary in the Holy Land. It was a chance to learn the language well and see the world. It was in 1988. There is a practice that the clerics are invited to the Holy Land, and those who enjoy it will be offered to remain in service. That's how it was in my case. I went to special study in Rome and returned to the Holy Land. I wanted to stay there. However, this is the Holy Land and it feels like it. Of course, there were difficult moments, such as the Gulf War and the war in Lebanon, but we survived and are still there. With the rest, if someone asks me why I stayed in Israel, I always answer: "Because I liked it."

What is the Franciscan Commissariat of the Holy Land?
It is a unit dedicated to the organization of pilgrimages, advertising and promotion of the Holy Land, as well as collecting donations for the Holy Land. In Poland, this Commissariat is located at Reformacka St. in Krakow. So these are the units established at the Franciscan religious provinces, which are spread all over the world and help in the functioning of the Franciscan Province in the Holy Land.

And what is the Custody of the Holy Land?
This is one of the first provinces of the Franciscan Order. In Assisi, in 1217, eleven provinces were created, primarily in Europe. One of them, however, was the province of the Holy Land and the Middle East, the so-called pearl of the mission for the Franciscan Order. So it is a unit of the Franciscan Order. The task of the Custody of the Holy Land is to guard and protege holy places on behalf of the Vatican, the Holy See.

Why did the Church entrust the protection of holy places in Palestine to the Order of Franciscans?
In 1217, Saint Franciszek sent to Saint John of Akko, where the headquarters of the Crusades, the first provincial of the eastern province, brother Elijah. Later, in 1219, Franciszek himself went there. From Akko he went to Egypt, where he met with Sultan Melek el-Kamel. He also came back later by Akka. It is uncertain whether he was returning through the Holy Land, that is Jerusalem, but we know for sure that he was in Egypt, Palestine and Syria. And from it begins the story of the Franciscans in the Holy Land.
It was the dream of Saint Francis that the brothers would stay in the Holy Land. And this dream came true. The Franciscans were the only order in the Holy Land. After the crusades, they returned to Holy Land and served in the presence of God's grave. Later, the General of the Order and the Queen of Naples with his wife, they bought for the Franciscans, the Cenacle on the Mount Syion, and there the first official monastery, where they lived, was located. From there, the Franciscans began their activities. From 1342, as the Franciscans were the only representatives of the Catholic world after the Crusades in the Holy Land, the pope gave them a privilege in bull and at the same time the duty to care for holy places. Therefore, the Franciscans as representatives of the Catholic Roman rite world were the only order in this place until 1847, when the bishopric and Patriarchate in Jerusalem were restored. It is for this reason that most places important to Christians in the Holy Land are now in the hands of the Franciscans.

According to one of the jokes that I heard in Israel, God knows everything but three things: how many women's orders there are, what the Jesuits think and how much money the Franciscans have.
In fact, that's how it can look there, because it's our responsibility to manage all these properties. He was once in the convent of the Holy Savior in the Old City of Jerusalem, brother of Ovidio, a Spaniard who was famous for the fact that if you wanted to buy something reliable and cheap, it was said: "Go to the Franciscans, to Ovidia." Unfortunately, he died. He was a good company. It had original and good things at a good price.

Do Poles living in Israel actively participate in the life of the local church?
The lay Catholics are practically invisible. Therefore, there is neither hostility towards them, nor is anyone impressed by them. In the church offered by the Franciscans to the church in Jaffa, only a group of about fifty people attends a mass in Polish on Sunday evening. There is a library at the church where Poles can borrow books, although I have recently seen that for health reasons, the librarian doesn’t come there anymore. However, this is, after all, a place where Poles can really feel at home. They can drink tea and talk to each other in Polish. I remember when I take in a Christmas ambassador to Tel Aviv from the Polish embassy in Tel Aviv. They were a bit surprised and shocked by this invitation, but they didn’t say no. People opened their eyes in amazement when they saw the ambassador and her husband singing carols to the rhythm of the guitar and me as a conductor. So this is one side of Polish life in the Holy Land. The other side is a group of clergy from Poland who lives and works in Jerusalem. About 24 Franciscans from Poland are currently working in the Franciscan Order in the Holy Land. There are also Polish priests from other convents and dioceses. There are also a few religious houses. There are, for example, the Sisters of St. Elizabeth, who run pilgrim homes and orphanages. In this respect, it must be said that there is a large number of us and we are involved in the life of the local church.

You got involved, among others in ordering the archives in the Monastery of the Holy Savior in Jerusalem. What is this archive?

I think it is one of the most important archives in the Middle East. There are documents that have been collected since the beginning of the mission of the Friars Minor in the Holy Land, and it is known that this is about links with sanctuaries. In our archives all battles for these sanctuaries have been recorded over the centuries, whether with Muslims or followers of other religions. This is extremely important not only for the history of these places, but also for their legal status. If the Israeli government has a problem regarding a given place, eg Mount Tabor, then the first thing it does, it asks us if we have any documents, so-called. Turkish companies in which we are attributed the ownership of this place. If we have such a thing, we have absolute permission and nobody will move it. The English didn’t move, and Israel didn’t move after 1948. Therefore, these documents have both historical significance and legal significance, because they testify that we are the owners of these places. Negotiations on property rights and taxes related to them are one of the main problems in Israel's relations with the Holy See.
Sometimes, we find documents written in Turkish in the Archives, but in Arabic alphabet. Therefore, not everything is translated yet. For omitting in such a document at least one line, or even a word, can have huge consequences, for example, it can be written to whom the ownership right of a particular place belongs to.
We also have in our archives various letters and diplomatic lists in which European countries have intervened in the matter of sacred places, and also how they helped economically and diplomatically Christians in the Holy Land. The oldest document that we find here is a papal bull from 1230, i.e. from the time of the Crusades.

Since we are already at the crusades, it is hard not to ask the Father to assess them. It used to be said that apart from social and economic factors, the Crusades lay primarily on the imperial policy of the Church. Meanwhile, all indications are that the main motive of the crusades to the Holy Land was primarily the desire to defend the Christian Middle East against Islamic invaders. Thus, the Crusades were to be strictly defensive in nature and were aimed at stopping Islamic jihad. What does the Father think about it?
This is a chapter from the history of the Church, which raises a lot of controversy. Did they bring anything to us? Hard to say. How to judge them? Certainly it was one of the first and one of the largest movements that showed that Europe can be united. Thus, the European Union existed already in medieval times and was based on the religious idea imposed by the pope. It was an ideal, the liberation of the Holy Places from the hands of Muslims and making them available to pilgrims who wanted to come here and pray. However, the Pope didn’t have so much power to persuade everyone to move to the fight. It had to happen in two directions, so also from the bottom up. This mass of people moved to take back holy places, because they felt that holy places were desecrated. Someone compared the crusades of that time to the creation of Israel in 1948. The Crusaders, for example, came there for an expedition, but most knew that they didn’t settle there and returned back to their countries. The Jews returned to Palestine, as they believed that their homeland was there. The Crusaders came there for religious purposes and only later did these expeditions change their faces to expeditions connected with the personal interests of the leaders. The Jews after the war were based much more on Zionism and the will to build their own state than on religious factors, which were only an argument for rebuilding Israel.

Today, however, Israel articulates and emphasizes the religious argument. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for example, has recently called for Israeli students to study the Bible carefully, because they can find answers to questions about why the Jews returned to their land, why they are still present in Israel and why they will remain in it. According to the ultra-orthodox Jews gathered in such movements as, for example, the Neturei Karta, religious factors speak for something completely different from what the Zionists and followers of religious Zionism proclaim. "Zionist Israel" arose against their divine plan. Instead of waiting patiently and humbly for a Messiah who would restore the Jewish nation and its power at the right time, the Zionists themselves usurped the right to resurrect Israel, thus making themselves and Israel a false messiah. In their opinion, the Zionists showed God the same disobedience by creating Israel as they did in the days of Moses, when they created a golden calf to worship. They also say that they have much more to do with the Palestinians oppressed by Israel, which they call brothers than "Zionist Amalekites", as they call Jews supporting Israel. According to them, Zionists have stolen the identity of real Jews and use Judaism in an instrumental way. This is also the reason for such bizarre situations that, after some ultra-Orthodoxs, they go to pro-Palestinian demonstrations on which the Israeli flag is burned and anti-Israel slogans are shouted. Some of them also squeeze the hands of Hamas and Iran leaders who deny the Holocaust and don’t hide the fact that their goal is to erase Israel from the map of the world. I saw myself, in the ultra-terrodas neighborhood of Mea Sheareim, a huge banner, on which it was written: "Every day we pray to God that Israel will cease to exist!"
Not only Jewish ultra-Orthodoxs undermine the Zionist concepts underlying the construction and existence of Israel. The controversy among the Jews, a professor of history from the University of Tel Aviv, Shlomo Sand, for example, claims that the idea of the Jewish nation emerged only in the second half of the 19th century. Before, Jews had never been a nation but a religious group. Most importantly, in his opinion, the Jews were never expelled from Palestine, but they adopted Christianity and Islam there. The expulsion of Jews was created by the Zionists-for the purposes of propaganda-myth, which was to justify the "return" of Ashkenazi Jews from Europe to Palestine. In fact, European Jews are supposed to be converted to Judaism as members of other nations. In his opinion, most Polish Jews don’t have of the Semitic origin, but Khazar origin with an admixture of Slavic and Mongolian blood, which means that most of them didn’t come to Poland as a result of persecution from Palestine through Western Europe, but came to us from the East. So Zionists' claim of their own state in Palestine wasn’t to have any justification in their ethnic origin.
Professor Sand also thinks that when someone once claimed that Jews are guests in Europe, he was exposed to accusations of anti-Semitism. Today, however, those who claim that Jews aren’t a separate nation, but an integral part of the European nations in which they have lived for generations are exposed to charges of anti-Semitism and recognition as an enemy of Israel. Shlomo Sand also claims that in Israel the idea of Nazi identity based on biological factors has won, and today most Israeli Jews are convinced that Israeli Jews have the same genetic origins, which isn’t true, because there is no such thing as a Jewish gene or one Jewish nation. There is only an Israeli nation, which Israeli Jews don’t want to be aware of, because in this way they would lose their legitimacy to the land on which they now live. Despite presenting such revolutionary theories in their pronunciation, prof. Sand, however, isn’t an opponent of the existence of Israel. In his opinion, with Israel, as it is with a child conceived as a result of rape - he has the right to life. Theories of prof. Sanda are very interesting and intriguing. However, they have many critics who believe that they were created under a pre-established anti-Zionist thesis and, above all, they have no basis in historical facts. By challenging the official version of the story of prof. Sand, on the other hand, gave only anti-Semites and anti-Zionists a powerful weapon that would serve to draw up more anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and deny the Jews' right to own their own state.
However, if one really rejects the legitimacy arising from the ethnic roots of European Jews, which gave them the right to return and resurrect their homeland after exile, and base the right to the Holy Land only on religious roots, and therefore in the case of Jews on the roots of rabbinic Judaism, it should be recognized that the same right to it has rivals with Jews for the title of real Israel - and thus the only follower of biblical Israel - Christians. Of course, Christians don’t present their claims to the Holy Land - for which they often fought bloody wars - and it seems that in the twentieth century, they gave it to the Jews and Muslims a walkover. However, if only Christians would like it, based on religious continuity, and thus that Christianity flows from the biblical trunk of Israel, they would still be able to claim Jerusalem or make the international community recognize it as a free city .

It is true. The situation has fundamentally changed over the centuries. For Jerusalem, as an individual, like other Holy Places, which should be covered by an international mandate, that is to belong to all religions, was being reminded during the mandate of the British World War I. At present, no Christian state is interested in this. This, however, began already at the end of the French Revolution, when France, previously the protector of Catholics in the Holy Land, ceased to be interested, because liberalism caused France's reversal of the Church and Catholicism. England was also not interested in the defense of Catholics, as Anglicanism was opposed to Catholicism in the British Isles. In Germany, there were too strong divisions for Protestants and Catholics to intervene in the Holy Land. The only episode of the intervention of the European state in modern times in the defense of Christians was the intervention of the Italian government in the 1920s, when Italy wanted to recover the Cenacle and give it to the Franciscans. For almost nothing, and the Cenacle would return to the Christians. Unfortunately, however, the Christians themselves, who gave it too much publicity. This is why the Muslims themselves joined in, who in this place had their mosque commemorating the so-called The grave of the Prophet David, as well as Jews who usurped the same rights to this place, due to this so-called Grave of David. In 1948, this place, after the liberation war. passed under the Jewish administration, and so-called David's grave was turned into a Synagogue.

A few years ago, the Cenacle the Jews wanted to occupy.
Yes, Jews prohibit Christians from loud prayer and singing. It used to be done and now it isn’t. The Jews also disagree on the celebration of the Eucharist here.
There was such an interesting situation when the mayor of Jerusalem was Ehud Olmert. He stated that if John Paul II comes to the Holy Land and celebrates Mass in the Upper Room, he will do everything in his power" that the Christians may perform masses there. That is, they wouldn’t give us the Upper Room, but they would give it to us for service. The Pope, however, left and nothing has changed.

Has recently any country helped somehow Catholics in Israel?
France intervenes only in exceptional situations. For example, she intervened in the case of the Church of Our Lord of the Mount of Olives, where there are Carmelites, or in the case of the church at the Jaffa Gate, in the Birkat Mamilla district. For when the Jews wanted to regain and completely remodel that place, the French government said: "No, this is our property!" And the church that was there, stands there to this day, the French flag hangs everywhere in these places. The French are able to claim their own, this is the untouchable property of France.

Is a Polish flag waving in one of the churches or holy places?

It happens that she hangs in the Pilgrim's House at the Sisters of St. Elizabeth in Jerusalem.

Is there a chance for it to hang elsewhere?
For centuries, the Franciscans bought places connected with the life of Jesus with the help of European powers. In the times of Jan III Sobieski, there were also Polish influences in the Holy Land. The Republic, at the request of the Pope, influenced the Ottoman Empire to regain some of the sacred places for Christians. It is suspected that it could have been Nazareth and Mount Tabor. Later, a grotto next to Gethsemane joins it. This is a very important sanctuary for us. However, I don’t see any chance of a Polish flag waving in one of these places.
Through the partitions Poland as such did not contribute anything to the Holy Land. In our registers, of course, it isn’ted that a pilgrim Polonus, a Pole from some partition, has arrived. This is just that.

And the memorabilia after the march of the Anders Army of Palestine?
In fact, they are in various places, such as at the Third Station of the Way of the Cross in Jerusalem, as in the case of the beautiful Monument located at the monastery-church of St. Peter's in Tiberias, or plaques commemorating the stay of Polish soldiers in Ain Karem and Nazareth. In addition, there are also Polish war cemeteries from this period, in Tel Aviv-Jaffa, in Ramle, Jerusalem or Haifa, orderly and neat, visited by Poles coming to the Holy Land to this day. There is also a beautiful souvenir (already from the 21st century), which was moved from the IV Station of the Cross to Bethlehem to the Milky Cave, where the sisters perform the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament. It is a triptych made in amber with a monstrance. There are also other Polish accents. In the church of St. Peter's Primate there are doors donated by Cardinal Wyszynski. There is also a field altar with mosaics of John Paul II. In Bethlehem in the church of St. Catherine, in turn, is a representation of the family of David dedicated by Benedict XVI, which was donated by the Riflemen's Association

Apparently, in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, where there are three primary and three additional rites, there was once a dispute over the right to change a burned out light bulb. Because of the right of ownership to the place where it so far shone, several churches competed with each other, none of them wanted to let a representative of one of them to screw in a new light bulb. It would mean taking over this place for ownership. In the end, Jew came to the Basilica from the Ministry and turned on the light bulb himself. Apparently, it was also because of the constant controversy of Christians about the right to care for the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, in 1246 the function of opening and closing the door to the Basilica to two Muslim families was delegated. By this day, it is the believers of Islam who hold the key to the heart of Christianity. Are Christians really so divided there that we need followers of other religions to find a common language and reach an agreement on trivial matters?
Perhaps with this Jew it was as you say. In three churches: in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher, in the Basilica of the Nativity and in the Basilica of the God Mather Grave in Jerusalem, the principle of status quo prevails. In the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher there is an Israeli police who guard the safety of this place.
In the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher there is even a comic-tragic situation, like when everyone finally came to an agreement and renewed the dome above the God's grave, and in 1997 a beautiful ceremony took place. It was possible to carry out this renovation only because the money was transferred to him by an American family from California. They were Catholics. They proposed that they would give even greater sums to the renovation of the floor, etc. However, a reminder was given to the Greek Patriarchate in Jerusalem, which warned that the money donated for renovation was Catholics' money and that Catholics could have usurped the right to this part, saying that they did it's out of my money. Recently, however, something has also moved in this matter, as the agreement of the Chapel of God's Holy Sepulcher, the famous Edykula in which the three main communities that look after this Holy Place: Orthodox, Catholic (exercised by Franciscans) and Armenian were settled. there is the Tomb of Christ. I was present in the place where, on October 26, 2016, the stone covering the rock on which the body of Jesus was placed was removed and I could see the burial place of Jesus and the rock itself, which is still there. All this, however, is carried out with respect for the sacred principle of the status quo.

Who introduced this principle?
Disputes between Christians about who actually has the right to care for holy places have been going on for a very long time. In 1797, the Orthodox Church seized most of the main Franciscan sites. As Greece was part of the Ottoman Empire, the Orthodox were subjects of the Sultan. The Franciscans came from the West. The Greeks then explained to the Sultan: "We are your subjects, and they are your enemies." And so, one by one they managed to wrestle those places that were once in our hands, that's how they took over God's Tomb, Bethlehem and the Tomb of the Mother of God. In 1852, sultan Abdülmecid I, who was tired of the war and pressure from both the Western Empires (France, England) and, above all, the Russian Empire, issued a solemn sultan decree that from this year such a situation prevails the sanctuary is to remain forever and can’t be changed. On the one hand, Russia was pushing the sultan, and France on the other. Russia taking the Holy Land under her tutelage, for she was the guardian of the Orthodox, while France was the protector of Catholics. The Sultan knew that tilting the scales to one side or the other would threaten war with one of the powers of the time. (This happened in the next, 1853, at the outbreak of the Crimean War). He decided, therefore, that the status quo should be maintained, which is why all these grotesque situations arise, that if somebody restores some part of the basilica, he or she becomes its owner. That is why one isn’t allowed to do anything to another and one of the most important Christian temples is so neglected.
In Jerusalem, you can see all the divisions that exist - both among Christians and among Jews and Muslims. For us, of course, the most mournful divisions within Christianity. However, we must somehow function in this world and, above all, observe specific rules in order not to exacerbate the situation. If, for example, we conclude our liturgy at a given hour, we can’t prolong it, because then the Grave takes over the next community.

My friend was smashed in a glass window in Jerusalem and tires were punched. The policemen summoned up decided that he was guilty because he had not only parked his car - on which there was a sticker with a fish that symbolizes Jesus Christ - in the Jewish quarter, in addition to the synagogue. A few days ago, he wrote resignedly that he would probably take off the rosary hung on the front mirror because he had pierced his tires for the third time. In 2013, the Radwański sisters during a tennis match in Eilat were in turn called by Jews as Catholic bitches. I myself met in Israel with anti-Catholic prejudices. The secular Jew from Poland, with whom I maintained cordial relations, immediately broke up contact with me as soon as I learned that I was a practicing Catholic. Are the examples presented by me only insignificant incidents that can happen in any other country, or is it part of a larger problem that makes up the sad everyday life of Israeli Christians?
Unfortunately, such situations can happen to Christians in Israel. It all depends on the part of Israel and who you meet with. I live in Jerusalem, in the New Town, through the wall with the home of the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. There, I have security guaranteed. When I go to the nuns or Holy Mass in the morning, the prime minister's security service always greets me saying "Shalom" or "Shabbat shags." It depends on the day, I remember Christmas Eve, the protection of the prime minister was screaming from afar to me, "Merry Christmas". So we feel safe there. When I go to the Old Town, I wear the habit and move there in the habit, it is safer, because our Franciscan habit is known there.
You need to know how to move and know how to adapt to the situation. In the New City of Jerusalem, it is better to walk without a habit, because otherwise you can be offended. I have often heard offensive words addressed to me. In the Old Town, near the Wailing Wall, it happened to me several times that the Jews spat on my feet.

This is a very sensitive place for Jews. The rabbi responsible for taking care of the Wailing wall, even called for Pope Benedict XVI to take off the cross during the visit to the Western Wall, because this symbol hurts the religious feelings of the Jews. Earlier, this rabbi had twice prevented the Australian and Irish bishops from getting close to the Wailing Wall because they refused to hide their crosses46. Of course, Israel later denied the demands of the rabbi and Benedict XVI, just like John Paul II earlier, he prayed under the Weeping Wall with a cross on his breast 47. It seems, however, that the rabbi taking care of the Wailing Wall at that time articulated what many Jews really thought about the cross. A friend work at Technion in Haifa, he once showed me a mathematics textbook from an Israeli elementary school, from which his daughter learned. The plus sign '+' has been replaced with '┴' in it. Plus appearance is too much like a Christian cross. Some Jews with the New Testament have a similar problem. Fr. prof. Chrostowski indicates that Israeli schools aren’t allowed to bring and use the Bible in which the New Testament is located. In 2008, students of one Talmudic school burned several hundred copies of the New Testament 48. In reaction to being sent by mail to the Israeli New Testament parliamentarians, a member of the religious right-wing party Halhud Ha Leumim, Michael Ben-Ari, torn up one of the copies of the New Testament in 2012 and dropped it in a trashcan 49. At the time, his action met with a clear condemnation of both the then chairman of the Knesset, and current Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, as well as the director of ADL, Abraham H. Foxman, who called Ben Ari to apologize. Returning, however, to the wearing of the habit by monks. Some Catholics think that the cassock or the collar of the priest is what the spouse rings, so it shouldn’t be taken off. Can similarly be perceived by wearing a habit by a religious?
There is no such obligation in the Order. There is respect for the habit and an invitation to wear it as often as possible. However, it isn’t the habit that makes a man a real religious. You can be a friar without a habit. The issue of wearing the habit is left to the conscience of each of the religious. Removing the habit stems from something other than religion. This is due to my personal well-being. If I go as a monk, I go in a habit. However, when I go for a walk, and want to rest, I take off my habit. Nobody looks at me then and doesn’t pay attention to me. If I don’t take it off, I will be nervous and will not rest. If, however, I will not be in a habit in the Old City of Jerusalem, then someone can stab me with a knife. So, going to the Old Town of Jerusalem, I put on a habit for security reasons as well as for religious reasons. This is especially appreciated by pilgrims coming here from all over the world, and especially miles by Catholic pilgrims who also see their "man" in this City. In the case of the New City in Jerusalem, the opposite is true.

46 http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1886525-2,00.html.
47 http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/israeli_ambassador_confirms -pope_benedict_may_wear_cross_at_western_wall/.
48 http://www.haaretz.com/news/orthodox-jewish-youths-burn-new-tes taments-in-or-yehuda-1.246153.
49 http://www.timesofisrael.com/knesset-speaker-condemns-tearing-of new-testament-by-mk/.

Would Saint Francis take off his habit because of the danger that threatens him?
Probably not. Saint Francis had such courage that he went to the sultan and risked his life. He even had the courage to persuade him to convert to Christianity, for which he was immediately threatened. The Sultan sensed, however, that he was a man of God, something like their old dervishes and released him free, giving him, in addition, his safe-conduct that allowed him to travel and protected him from harassment from Muslim caravans.

How do Islamic Muslims react to seeing a religious?

I have often met their hostile looks. Especially after the events in Nazareth in 2000, when a new mosque was opened there. We didn’t have a problem with the Muslims of Nazareth themselves. The problem was primarily with Muslims who came to this city from nearby villages. We also had trouble on the Mount of Olives, because a Muslim organization caring for various holy places believes that the entire Mount of Olives belongs to Muslims. There were even clashes against this background. When I was there with a pilgrimage group, I saw them looking at me mad. They looked with surprise that I was going there in the habit, that I had courage. I saw their menacing looks.

Are there attacks on Christian places of worship in Israel?

Yes. Over the years there have been several such attacks. In the Taboo, the Jews burned the vestibule of the church. In Jaffa, to the church of St. Anthony, in turn, entered the Israeli soldier and began to shoot at the paintings and statues there, because he recognized that they are symbols of idolatry and should be destroyed.

Who in that case is Israeli Christians more afraid of, Jews or Muslims?
It all depends on where the person is. If these are strictly Israeli areas, then it is known that Jews. If you are in areas inhabited by Palestinians, then it is known that Muslims. It is known that in Israel, Muslims don’t have much to say. Because Jews aren’t as controlled as Arabs, sometimes there are various incidents. Recently, for example, insulting inscriptions appeared at the Center for Judaic-Christian Dialogue. It often happens that stones fly from the Yeshiva to the Cenacle. In Bethany or Betfage, where the monastery is located in the center of the Arab village, there are problems with Muslims.
Although I came to Israel during the first intifada in 1988, and have experienced a lot since then, I estimate the current situation as worse than it was then. Although there were shops closed and stones were flying, it was safer there than it was today. We are still between Jews and Palestinians. We are in the middle. In our parishes, the majority of the faithful are Arab people and we know what they are going through. Also, some of the monks are Arabs. On the other hand, we have a Jewish world in which we turn and we have to do everything. On the Jewish side, we also have a small group of Catholics professing faith in Jesus Christ. So, Christians are in some way in a way between the hammer and the anvil. Between two nations and two great religions: Judaism and Islam. More than once, this has a negative effect on Christians. Both those in the occupied territories and those in Israel.

My wife was attacked twice in Jerusalem and once in Hebron by Palestinian children only because she was taken for a Jewess.

This is just one example of how dangerous it is to live between the two sides of the conflict. Christians are often forced to vote for the Palestinians (only in the territories of the so-called Palestinian Autonomy). As Arab Christians don’t join the fight against Israel, and some Christians even serve in the Israeli army, wanting to be loyal to the state in which they live, Muslim Arabs often perceive them as collaborators and traitors. Everything is so complicated that you take someone's side and say that one of them is absolutely right is impossible.

Less than a week ago, I met a Muslim named Abdullah in an empty, dark street in Jerusalem's Old Town. Despite the evening season, which is usually not conducive to peaceful and substantive theological disputes and interreligious dialogue in Jerusalem, a conversation about the divine and human nature of Jesus arose between us. Abdullah tried to convince me that Muslims love Jesus more than Christians because they love true Jesus and false Christians whom we mistakenly think of as God. Abdullah could not understand at all how to consider a man a God who ate, drank and had the same physiological needs as other people. He even believed that the claim that God became a man is blasphemy and idolatry. It was hard for him to bear the idea that God might want to make such a close and personal relationship with his creature. Christ became "to the Jews an obstacle they cannot get over, to the gentiles foolishness "(1 Cor 1:23) The scandal and protest associated with it are evident not only in the Synagogue but also in Islam, but the Muslim attitude to Jesus seems, from a Christian perspective, incomparably superior to the ratio how are these orthodox and ultra-orthodox Jews who have their knowledge about Jesus from the scorning Tole doth Jeszu. Do you see in the Holy Land this difference in the attitude of Muslims and Jews to Jesus?
Muslims don’t allow Jesus to die on the cross at all. In their opinion, the duplicate of Jesus was nailed to the cross, because the prophet can’t die on the cross. This is what the Old Testament says. Muslims, however, emphasize that Jesus was an extraordinary prophet and his characteristics even outweigh the qualities of Muhammad himself. They also believe that Jesus is to come again to earth in the last days. For this reason, when they see me in a habit, they know who I am and despite the sometimes hostile looks I have mentioned before, I know that they will not attack me. They use the word abouna "or father." This is a word that means a great respect for the person, and since Muslims consider Jesus a very important prophet, unlike Jews, they don’t write on the churches inscriptions that would offend Jesus. In the Gaza Strip, where the extremist group is ruling, there are no attacks on Christians. The parish there is served by the Servants of God's Word. This is the Argentine congregation in which two priests and four sisters from Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who lead there Catholic mission, school, kindergarten, etc.

How does the Father mention the pilgrimage of John Paul II to the Holy Land in 2000?

I noticed incredible enthusiasm then. About 70 percent Jews were positive. Orthodox Jews were simply not interested in her.
There was such an unpleasant situation on the Muslim side. In Notre Dam an ecumenical meeting took place. The chief rabbi, the chief sheikh of the Imam of Jerusalem and the Pope were there. At one point, the Sheikh read his speech and left. A sign of peace was to be handed over, but he wanted to show ostentatiously that there would never be any agreement with the Jews.

Some believe that John Paul II, kissing the Koran, crossed the boundaries of religious dialogue with Islam. What do you think about it?
It was just a sign of respect that was directed outside. Although, of course, it often happens that others are able to present their reasons, and we constantly bend the neck, but in the Holy Land, religious dialogue and ecumenism have a completely different face. In the Holy Land, not only is nobody ashamed of his faith, but he tries to demonstrate it to others. Here, everyone tells who he is.

In the Catholic Church, we celebrate the Day of Judaism and the Day of Islam. Jews and Muslims, however, aren’t eager to celebrate in their communities the Day of Christianity. Of course, both the world of Islam and the world of Judaism is intrinsically complex and heterogeneous, which makes it significantly different from the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church, thanks to which such events can be introduced from above. Despite the awareness of these differences, many Catholics - including clerical people - are hurt by this asymmetry and how the Father noticed the "constant bending of the neck." Is there hope for any change in this matter?

I have recently seen a speech from 28 Jewish rabbis who, on December 3, 2015, stated that Christianity is a gift for the world. For me it was a sign that there is hope that something can finally be changed.

Does Father have friends among religious Jews?

Yes, those moderate, practicing and working (we know that the ultra-Orthodox Jews don’t work, but only pray). But above all among the laity, just like on the Arab side.
March 12, 2016

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