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US to move embassy to Jerusalem

Discussion in 'The Signs of the Times' started by Josh Kassanchuk, Dec 5, 2017.

  1. Dolours

    Dolours Powers

    How do the funds help Christians get to Israel? Do you mean Christians moving to live in Israel?

    On a side note, I have had a yen for the past couple of years to spend Christmas in Bethlehem and was on the verge of booking the trip this year but decided to wait until I could check out which would be the best tour company - we have few options here. I'm relieved now that I didn't go ahead with it.

    Yes, I understand that the Church wants to keep Christians from leaving Israel and other parts of the Holy Land. Is the Church subsidising the university education of Palestinian Muslims and is it funding an Islamic preacher in a Catholic secondary school? If so, wouldn't that money be better spent helping Christian victims of ISIS in the Levant?

    I'm sure that Fr. Peter Vasco is a wonderful person. He has a very tough posting. May God help, protect and guide him in his mission.
    HeavenlyHosts and Byron like this.
  2. Byron

    Byron Archangels

    Photo Courtesy of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land

    CHRISTMAS JOY—Father Peter Vasko, O.F.M., president of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, helps to distribute Christmas gifts at the foundation’s Bethlehem Boys Home.
    A Franciscan organization led by a native New Yorker is investing heavily in education as the best tool to stem the steady exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.

    Father Peter Vasko, O.F.M., president of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land said the 150,000 Christians now living in Israel and Palestine are a dwindling presence. They comprise only two percent of the population of the land where Jesus was born and carried out his earthly ministry, down from 18 percent in 1948.

    In a Sept. 25 phone interview with Catholic New York while he was in New York, Father Vasko said Christians are not persecuted, but severe political and economic hardship and an undercurrent of ethnic discrimination cause hundreds of Christian families to emigrate from the Holy Land every year. Christians also have smaller families compared to their neighbors, which contributes to the population imbalance.

    A practical result of the departures is shrinking Mass attendance, although Christians are free to worship, Father Vasko said.

    Half of the Christians in the Holy Land are Roman Catholics, and the remainder are Eastern Rite Catholics in union with Rome and Orthodox Christians, he said.

    Most of the Christians living in the Holy Land are of Palestinian descent. On average, 75 percent of Palestinians live below the poverty level. Unemployment is high and is exacerbated by politically motivated closures of routes between Palestinian residential areas and Israeli areas where Palestinians work or trade, Father Vasko said.

    More than $5 billion in annual foreign aid to Israel and the Palestinian Authority “never trickles down to Christians. It goes to Muslims or Jews. Palestinian Christians have no major organization supporting them,” he said.

    According to Father Vasko, the Israeli government cut its support for Catholic schools. At one time, it covered 60 percent of the Catholic schools budget, and now contributes 30 percent.

    The Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land was established in 1994 to help Christians stay in their homeland. It raises about $2 million each year. Father Vasko said the group provides housing, employment and humanitarian assistance to those in need. Nonetheless, its primary focus is education.

    “Both St. John Paul and Pope Benedict told me education is the key to keeping Christians in the Holy Land,” Father Vasko said. The foundation supports primary, secondary, vocational and university education for students from economically marginalized families.

    “We’re building up leadership and hope for the future,” he said.

    After living in the Holy Land for more than 30 years, Father Vasko does not expect to see an end to conflict. “Thousands and thousands of Jews and Arabs have passed on hatred and mistrust to their children and their children’s children. It has become embedded in their psychological DNA, and there will never be peace,” he said.

    “There have been 16 peace accords since I’ve been in the Holy Land! Neither side trusts the other, and no one wants to implement the plan. Cooperation is deteriorating,” he added.

    “In spite of all the political turmoil, we are helping Christians. Since 1997, we’ve provided four-year university scholarships to 380 students and only one of them left the Holy Land. We’re giving Christians hope,” Father Vasko said.

    Father Vasko urged Catholic New Yorkers to pray for Christians caught in the middle of conflict. He also invited them to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, “a place of intersection with the divine.” He assured readers that it is safe to travel with people who know the area.

    Father Vasko leads two pilgrimages each year and travels extensively to promote the work of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land. He entered the seminary with a professional background in public relations and marketing. “I planned to pray, but God pulled me back in to market for God and his people,” he said.

    Information: ffhl.org.


    Sam and Carol55 like this.
  3. Byron

    Byron Archangels

    Dolours read about this foundation for the Holy Land, it really is amazing. Father Vasco is the BEST tour guide in all of Israel.
  4. Byron

    Byron Archangels

    I meant to say Arabs - (Palestinians), not Muslims.
  5. Carol55

    Carol55 Powers

    The Latest: Turkey suggests opening embassy to(in) Palestine
    Associated Press December 14, 2017

    JERUSALEM – The Latest on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the fallout from the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel (all times local):

    2 p.m.

    Turkey's top diplomat says it plans to open an embassy in east Jerusalem once the world recognizes an independent Palestinian state.

    Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Thursday there was "serious determination" among countries that have not yet recognized Palestine to do so. "We need to succeed in this."

    He says: "Once we succeed, embassies will open in the independent Palestinian state's capital, east Jerusalem."

    Turkey has been one of the most vocal critics of President Donald Trump's declaration last week that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Turkey hosted a meeting of 57 Muslim nations on Wednesday that rejected the decision and called for recognition of a Palestinian state with its capital in east Jerusalem.

    Israel considers the entire city to be its unified and eternal capital. It would be unlikely to allow any country to establish an embassy to Palestine there.

    8:15 a.m.

    The Israeli military says it has carried out a series of airstrikes on Hamas facilities in the Gaza Strip in response to new rocket attacks.

    The military said Thursday that the overnight strikes hit facilities used as training and weapons storage facilities.

    Gaza militants have fired rockets into Israel daily following President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital last week. Two Gazans have been killed in clashes with Israeli troops along the border and two others were killed in airstrikes.

    Israel says it holds Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, responsible for all fire originating in the territory. The two sides have fought three wars since Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007.
  6. Carol55

    Carol55 Powers


    Thank you for posting this. It is both uplifting and sad. Father Vasko appears to be a saint in the making,

    In spite of all the political turmoil, we are helping Christians. Since 1997, we’ve provided four-year university scholarships to 380 students and only one of them left the Holy Land. We’re giving Christians hope,” Father Vasko said.

    I think that most of us agree with the following statement but this is the very sad truth of the situation,

    After living in the Holy Land for more than 30 years, Father Vasko does not expect to see an end to conflict. “Thousands and thousands of Jews and Arabs have passed on hatred and mistrust to their children and their children’s children. It has become embedded in their psychological DNA, and there will never be peace,” he said.
    Byron likes this.
  7. Byron

    Byron Archangels

    Father was a wealthy investment banker in New York before he became a priest. He is really something.
    AED and Carol55 like this.
  8. Dolours

    Dolours Powers

    Byron, I'm sorry for not responding earlier to the above post. I want to read up some more on that Foundation and Fr. Vasco. My main issue was with Islam being preached in a Catholic school. I have no problem with giving some material aid to poor Muslims. I do have a problem with any faith other than Catholicism being promoted in a Catholic school.

    On reflection, perhaps the Franciscans are thinking long term to when the Palestinians get their own independent Islamic state. Then the Franciscans can have some grounds for objecting to Catholic children being denied a Christian education in state schools.

    If I ever do get to the Holy Land and the guide is a Franciscans, I hope he won't be the type who believes that the miracle of the loaves and fishes was really about the people sharing their packed lunches. The last time I attended Mass in a Franciscan church here, the celebrant asked us What's it all about? Why are we all here on a Sunday? His answer was: "It's all about sharing". That was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
  9. Byron

    Byron Archangels

    Lol! No don't worry Dolours not only is Father a true Catholic, but quite the capitalist too. He was once a very successful businessman. But God had a better plan for him. I can't tell you anything about Catholic schools teaching Islam in Palestine, because I don't know anything about that. All I know is that the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land helps the Christians in Israel get education. It prepares them to find jobs in Israel, instead of having to find jobs outside Israel. And it also helps by providing homes to live in. Although Father has good relations with the Israeli government, he fears the worst of times may arrive. Many in the Israeli government want to turn the Catholic Churches into museums, instead of holding Mass in them. The small percentage of Christians in Israel for him is a huge problem. We really should support them.
  10. Dolours

    Dolours Powers

    I don't care if he's a capitalist. I do care about the Catholic faith not being compromised by the modern "we're Catholic but (insert excuse for the compromise)" attitude currently prevailing in the Church. When Catholics are a minority in Catholic educational institutions, the Catholic ethos tends to be lost out of a supposed fear of causing offence to the majority; the faith is watered down supposedly to make it more attractive to non-Catholics, and far more souls are lost than conversions gained. You don't have far to look for evidence of that. The prospect of Catholics rowing in behind the likes of Hamas or their less overt but equally extremist alternatives would put me off supporting them. While I'm not levelling this accusation at the Franciscans in the Holy Land, I think it would be foolish to overlook the tendency of some Catholic charities to pitch a very orthodox fundraising message to potential orthodox Catholic donors and then spend the money on projects which orthodox Catholics would never support.

    One of our priests encourages us to visit the Holy Land because he says that it gives the local Christians some kind of moral support in addition to whatever monetary value tourism brings them. EWTN did have a programme showing how the Church tries to help Christians with housing. The two programmes that bothered me were the one with the segment about the secondary school in Israel and the overall tone I got from the Palestinian Christians in Jordan. Perhaps my concerns were unfounded. And yes, I'm well aware that the Israelis have designs on the Catholic Churches. I don't believe that the Muslims would be any better - St. Sophia's in Istanbul being an obvious example.

    Please God, someone will come up with a solution soon which enables them all to live in peace. And with God's help I'll get there some day.
  11. Byron

    Byron Archangels

    I can't answer that Dolours. I haven't taken a lesson inside a Catholic secondary school in Israel. All I can tell you is that this priest is very well educated, and incredibly devoted to true Catholicism. When he holds Mass, the Holy Spirit is with him. He is committed to God. I do believe he is one of the very best priest we have in the Church today. It is an honor for my family and I to know him.
  12. Dolours

    Dolours Powers

    I'm relieved to learn that he is a good, holy priest.

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