Catholic Leader Issues Support for Israel As Sovereign State

An American Catholic leader declared yesterday that “The right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state with secure boundaries is clear and needs no further explanation,” but added that “The Palestinian Arabs must have a voice in any negotiations” because “a basic human right of any group is that no settlement in a matter which affects them so directly and intimately may be imposed on them.”

Those remarks were made by Archbishop Joseph L. Bernardin, president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Archbishop of Cincinnati, who was guest of honor and principal speaker at a dinner reception held by the American Jewish Committee and attended by nearly 100 national Jewish and Christian leaders.

Archbishop Bernardin also said that “Roman Catholics should strive to understand and respect the religious significance of the link between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.” He said, about the Middle East situation, that efforts to bring a lasting peace must continue because “a military solution is unthinkable” and “given the strategic importance of the Middle East in the global picture, war would be disastrous not only for the region but for the world as well.” He stressed that “it is only through successful negotiations, which recognize the basic rights of all parties, that this (peace) will come about.”

Archbishop Bernardin said the situation of Jews in the Soviet Union was “aggravated because the cause of their persecution runs deeper than Marxist hostility toward all religion; the cause has prejudicial roots which touch the Jews’ very being, not only their religious beliefs.”

While declaring that the persecution and harassment of Soviet Jews was “a violation of human rights which has a very special character and cannot be ignored by silence,” the Roman Catholic leader also urged that opposition to the persecution of Soviet Jews “be broadened to include all people whose human rights are being violated, not only in Russia but elsewhere.”

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