Theophilus George Saliba, the Syriac Orthodox archbishop of Mount Lebanon, said last week that the Jews killed Jesus Christ and the prophets who had been sent to them.

“I am completely convinced that these Jews have committed a crime against Jesus Christ and the Church,” he said.

“I am not saying this out of vengefulness. This is the truth,” he doubled down. 

Saliba does not mention whether he was aware of the fact that Jesus himself and most of the prophets mentioned in the Bible were Jewish.

In an interview with Iranian TV channel Al-Alam, the archbishop stressed that he opposed the Vatican’s decision to “absolve the Jews.”

The interviewer wondered whether Saliba views the Jews as enemies regardless of Zionism – the ideology that supports a homeland for the Jewish people in the territory of Israel and views Judaism as both a religion and nationality. 

Saliba replied by citing a biblical verse, Matthew 23:37: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.'” 

“This was not ascribed to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ said this himself. Therefore, we, as Christians, have a certain stance regarding the Jews,” he said.

Saliba believes that the Vatican made an outright political decision in 1965 when it adopted the “Nostra Aetate” declaration, according to which the Jews as a people were no longer to be blamed for the death of Christ. 

“When 40 or 45 years ago the Vatican decided to absolve the Jews for killing prophets, stoning those who were sent to them, and crucifying Jesus Christ we did not agree with the Vatican,” Saliba stressed. “As I always say, this is the opinion of the Catholic Church. They are free to think so. But they do not represent our opinion about the Jews and or the Zionist movement. This has to do with politics.”

On Oct. 28, 1965, Pope Paul VI put the document into effect after it was approved by the Second Vatican Council. The “Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions” represented a change: anti-Semitism was rejected as having any support from church doctrine.

Saliba is known for past anti-Semitic rhetoric. In 2011, he blamed Jews for the problems in the Arab world, saying “any intelligent person who reads The Protocols of the Elders of Zion will see the extent of its influence on the politics of our region and the world.” 

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