ROME (Aug. 28)
Melchite Patriarch Maximus V, who arrived here yesterday, vigorously defended as a hero Greek Catholic Archbishop Hillarion Capucci arrested by the Israeli security police and accused of smuggling arms to Fatah terrorists operating in Israeli-administered territories.
The Melchite Patriarch, here to discuss the affair with Vatican authorities, said as of now there is “no certain proof” of Capucci’s guilt. He further implied that Israeli security officials had planted weapons in the Archbishop’s car after he was taken into custody and then claimed they had discovered the weapons.
Maximus noted that even if Capucci were guilty of aiding the Palestinians, “what the Israelis call guilt the Arabs call heroism.” He added: “It is possible that the bishop might have made contacts with those the Israelis qualify as terrorists and which in Arab nations are called fedayin, that is, those who sacrifice their lives to save their country.”
He then drew a parallel between Capucci’s illegal action and the bishops “who did many illegal things to save the lives of Jews during the Nazi occupation. I do not see why a man should be condemned for wanting to save Arabs.” The Melchites are Arab-speaking Catholics of the Byzantine rite in Egypt, Syria and Israel.