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June 04, 2009

EWTN’s Skewed Commentary on the Pope’s Holy Land Trip

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The Pope’s 2009 May 8-15 Holy Land trip to Israel, Jordan and the West Bank was covered live by Eternal Word Television Network with archived video clips provided. While EWTN is the pre-eminent Roman Catholic TV network, it’s important to realize that it does not officially speak for the hierarchy of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church since it is not under the authority of the U.S. Conference of Bishops.

EWTN’s May 15 8PM broadcast of The World Over, hosted by news director Raymond Arroyo and with guest Brother Aloysius Florio (Vicar of the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in Washington, D.C.), provided a 30-minute review of the trip with video clips and featured commentary by Florio who had spent many years in Israel. Unfortunately, Florio’s commentary was unbalanced and unfair.

The May 11 meeting at the Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem had been seriously marred by an anti-Israel outburst by Sheik Tamimi, the Chief Islamic Judge of the Palestinian Authority, who falsely accused Israel of several crimes. Arroyo described the meeting:

In the evening that same day, the Pope held an inter-religious dialogue. You’ll remember - there was a Christian representative and then the Pope spoke and then suddenly there was an unscheduled speaker - and this was Sheik Tayseer Tamimi – who interrupted the proceedings - and you’ll recall – this is the same cleric who interrupted John Paul II in the year 2000.

Florio, commenting on Tamimi’s May 11 diatribe, condemned Israel’s alleged mistreatment of Palestinians but showed no concern whatsoever for the safety or well-being of Israeli Jews:

He criticized, of course, very strongly, in strong language, not diplomatically, what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians – depriving them of their rights, tortured, imprisoned, etcetera, etcetera.

Florio’s skewed commentary elicited no response by Arroyo. Neither Florio nor Arroyo had adequately informed viewers. A May 12 Jerusalem Post article said:

Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, responded to Tamimi's tirade by e-mail. "The intervention of Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi was not previewed by the organizers of the interreligious meeting that took place at Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem. "In a meeting dedicated for dialogue this intervention was a direct negation of what dialogue should be. We hope that such incident will not damage the mission of the Holy Father aiming at promoting peace and interreligious dialogue as he has clearly affirmed in many occasions in this pilgrimage. "We hope also that interreligious dialogue in the Holy Land will not be damaged by this incident," Lombardi said. Haifa Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, the only Jewish representative on the stage with the pope, attacked Tamimi afterwards for "cynically exploiting the media opportunity to incite and disparage the State of Israel." Cohen, who is also the cochairman of a joint Chief Rabbinate-Holy See interreligious committee, said he would refuse to meet with Tamimi again.

Later in World Over, Florio commented on the May 13 West Bank visit in which the Pope expressed sorrow for the need for the security barrier. Florio said:

This wall is a source of great suffering for the Palestinian people because it deprives them from crossing over into Israel where many of them found work. Consequently now, they are suffering the affects of that. There’s a lot of problems with people – even our own Christian people - the every day need for food and so forth.

Unfortunately, Florio and Arroyo failed to inform viewers that the security barrier has minimized the number of Palestinian terrorist incursions into Israel, thus saving many Israeli lives and, as well, reducing Palestinian casualties which would have resulted from Israeli incursions responding to the attacks.

Furthermore, while Florio described hardships endured by Palestinian Christians, he neglected to inform viewers that while Christians are emigrating from Muslim-dominated countries (including Palestinian areas) surrounding Israel - largely as a result of systematic Muslim persecution - it's not the case in Israel itself where the Christian population has thrived and steadily increased.

Posted by MK at June 4, 2009 12:20 PM

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