Pope Says Mideast Peace Will Not Come Through Simple Formula, Military Action

Pope Paul VI expressed the hope today that a “real peace” would come to the Middle East but he said it would not come through military victory or a simple formula. Addressing the College of Cardinals, the Pontiff said, “The complexity of the situation makes it delicate and difficult. Only a true interest in peace and endeavors to work for it guides our actions.” Referring to Jerusalem and Holy Places, the Pope said, “It is also our right and duty to concern ourselves with the protection of the Holy Places. We know that not only Catholicism but the whole of Christianity shares this concern. There is also the care of the Christian population, and interest for the non-Christian Arab and Jewish populations of the region so that they may lead normal lives despite their diverse character.” Continuing, he stated: “There is also the question of Jerusalem. It seems to us that it is in the interests of all that this city with its uniqueness, should be protected by a special statute and thus be better enabled to become a center of peace and no longer the object of implacable controversy and endless dispute. To that end we try to perform, with respect and friendship, a task of persuasion.” (In New York, commenting to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on the Pope’s remarks, Philip Hoffman, president of the American Jewish Committee said “the most critical aspect of the Pope’s statement is its reference to the need for a ‘special statute’ for Jerusalem. If that implies the re-introduction of the proposal for the internationalization of Jerusalem, then we fear that this argument will confound the possibilities of advancing the cause of peace. To introduce an international agency in Jerusalem will invite the intrigue, political competition and controversy that every international city in the past has foundered on.” Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, director of the AJCommittee’s interreligious affairs department, told the JTA that the “special statute” referred to by Pope Paul probably was the 1947 statute for the internationalization of Jerusalem contained in the United Nations partition plan for Palestine. Rabbi Tanenbaum said the Vatican dropped its support of that statute following Israel’s conquest of East Jerusalem in 1967. He said the Pope may have been responding, albeit very cautiously, to a recent emotional appeal by seven Jordanian bishops against Israeli rule of East Jerusalem. Rabbi Tanenbaum said that in the view of the AJCommittee there is an intense struggle within the Vatican between pro-Arab and Third World forces on one hand and elements more sensitive to the West and to relationships between Catholics and Jews on the other, with a view to determining policy on Jerusalem.)

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