Encounter with the Religions of Jerusalem - 2nd session, October 31st, 2007
Encounter with the Religions of Jerusalem
Encounter with the Religions of Jerusalem
Bi-weekly course jointly organized with Mevakshei Derech Community
The second session of the course took place on October 31st with Fr. Dr. David Neuhaus who presented the Catholic Christian community.
The next session will take pace on Wednesday 14.11.07 at 19:30 with Fr. Samuel who will present the Armenian community.
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The man who is responsible for the existence of the Christian religion was not a Christian but a Jew. At the heart of the Christian faith is that in spite of his crucifixion – he came back to life after three days.
During the time of the New Testament there was one, very small church, and its apostles were very proud in its unity. But already towards the end of the first century arguments started and in the forth century splits began. Now this course requires four different speakers to present Christianity… Splits were caused by differences in beliefs – in the nature of Jesus, his relations to God etc. All Christians are united in the belief in Jesus but they differ in explaining who he is.
The Catholic Church is until today the biggest church. Catholics all over the world are united in their reference to three pillars: the Bible, the tradition and Majesterium – the teachings of the church.
The Bible: in Christianity is comprised of two parts – the first is basically the Hebrew Bible but in different order of the books (for example: after Jushua and Judges comes the book of Ruth and after Kings comes Chronicles) and with addition of seven books that in Judaism are external to the Bible. The second part is the "New Testament" and both parts are considered two parts of the one unity.
Jesus himself did not write anything. The Christians read the first part as a prophecy about his coming and the second part as a testimony about his life. According to the church it is impossible to understand the second part without the first.
The tradition of the "Church Fathers", who after the time of the bible interpreted it and mainly set the framework of the faith and formulated its wording, which are used till today.
In the Catholic Church these are many writings in Latin that were adopted by the center in Rome . In parallel a separate set of church fathers developed in the east, mainly in Greek, and in the 11th century the two split. The Protestant church that started in the 16th century went back to the Bible and deemphasized the importance of the tradition.
Majesterium: In Catholicism there is a special third pillar that is manifested in the Pope. Only in the Catholic Church there is such emphasis on the centrality of one special teacher in each generation who defines the connection between the Bible and the tradition to the everyday life, which are changing every generation. In each region there is a "small pope" called Bishop who is responsible to guide the local communities.
There are special situations when the Pope calls upon all the Bishps for a discussion about the state of the church in the world. During the years 1961-5 such a convention took place in Rome and in it the general guidelines for the teachings of the church for the modern world were set. Many changes occurred, for example: every Catholic can now pray in their own language and are not required to pray in Latin.
An important change took place in the attitude towards the Jewish people and an official document that was published in 1965 determined that the Church: a. asks for forgiveness for the Teaching of Contempt during the ages; and b. requires that the whole church will go into a new era that acknowledges the covenant of God with the Jewish People and calls for cooperation in all that the church and the Jewish people have in common, so that the two will be partners and not rivals.
The Catholic Church in the Holy Land
Unlike the usual situation both Jews and Christians are used to, in Israel the Christians are a small minority of 2% (and similarly in the Palestinian Authority). The historical church in Jerusalem is the Orthodox Church but since the times of the crusades new forms of Christianity were introduced. Today most of the Christians in Israel are Catholics – however: not Latin but Greek-Catholic: they recognize the Pope but their liturgy and the structure of their church are similar to the Greek-Orthodox. One clear difference is the fact that priests can be married, as in the Eastern Churches. The Catholics of the Latin tradition are 15% of the Christians, 40% are Greek-Orthodox, 35% Greek-Catholics, 8% Maronites (who are also Catholic) and the rest belong to the Protestant churches and other eastern churches.
Most Christians in Israel are Arabs, mainly in the Galilee : the "capital" Nazareth , Haifa and different villages. There are also communities in West Jerusalem , Ramla, Lod and Jaffa and a small community in Beer Sheba .
In the Holy Land we also have a Bishop but here he is called "The Patriarch of Jerusalem", as is the custom in the east. He has 5 deputies: a Bishop in Jordan – responsible for the Catholics in Jordan, a Bishop in Nazareth – responsible for the Catholics in Israel, a Bishop in Jerusalem – responsible for the Catholics in the Palestinian Authority, a non-Bishop deputy in Cyprus, and since 1990 a fifth deputy who is responsible for the Hebrew speaking Catholic community. When this community started in 1962 it included three to four thousands of people (mainly Catholic spouses of Jews who came with them to Israel ) but today there are between 200-400 people: the others have assimilated in the Israeli society.
In parallel t the structure of the Patriarchate there are two more structures:
- The structure of the monasteries, where the most prominent is the Franciscan Order that is responsible since the 13th century for keeping the holy sites and its head is also called the Keeper of the Holy Sites.
- The ambassador of the Vatican, called Nuncio – messenger.
The Interfaith Encounter Association
P.O.Box 3814 , Jerusalem 91037 , Israel
Sr. Karmela Farrugia, Chair
Ms. Rafiqa Othman, Vice-Chair
Rabbi Dr. Dov Maimon, Vice-Chair
Mr. Adnan Trabsha, Vice-Chair
Mr. Dotan Arad
Ms. Saheer Siam
Ms. Nada Abu Zaidan
Dr. Yehuda Stolov, Director
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