This week, Washington, D.C. will bear witness to an ideological fusion of Christian anti-Semitism (repudiated by the Vatican a half-century ago) and Palestinian nationalism when the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) holds its annual international conference. One could say many things about the conference, but based on the speakers, it will be anything but holy. Most unfortunate will be the presence at the conference of the Archdiocese of Washington through its Auxiliary Bishop, the Most Reverend Barry C. Knestout, a scheduled speaker. His appearance will be perceived as an official endorsement for HCEF and its agenda.
The “Palestinization” of Christian theology has gained a degree of popularity in some Christian circles. It is traceable to what its proponents call “Palestinian Liberation Theology,” created by Christian Palestinian nationalists for deployment in the political war against Jewish national sovereignty. We saw an example of this last week on Washington’s National Mall, when Rev. Jeremiah Wright continued the long and shameful history of de-Judaizing Jesus when he declared that “Jesus was a Palestinian.” The Church Fathers did it, as did German Protestant theologians who “Aryanized” Jesus during the Third Reich.
This bigoted tone and substance is likely to be encountered by Auxiliary Bishop Knestout of the Archdiocese of Washington when he attends the HCEF conference. His presence would contradict and undermine the message and spirit of the Second Vatican Council, which 50 years ago repudiated centuries of Christian anti-Semitic teachings. Remaining on the program would give sanction to the HCEF and its history of condoning anti-Semitism. It is not too late for the Archdiocese to disengage from this HCEF conference and thereby send a clear and much needed repudiation of anti-Semitism.