Shimon Peres, Israel’s president, has openly expressed his wishes that the so-called “Christian” holy sites in Israel be handed over to the Vatican, according to a report appearing in the May 4, 2009 Jerusalem Post. Many officials in the upper eschalons of the Israeli government have expressed their concern and opposition to such an idea, including the Interior Minister, Eli Yishai.
Yishai, as quoted in the Jerusalem Post, believes “Every concession like this limits the Israeli government’s ability to function as a sovereign government in the area.” Peres is attempting to use his influence within the government to give up six sites, for now. Those sites include the Coenaculum on Mount Zion, the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Church of the Multiplication on the Kinneret, and the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth.
Although many Israeli politicians oppose the idea, some officials are open to the idea and are attempting to weigh the benefits such a move would bring to the economy. They believe that if the sites are given over to the Vatican, many more “Christian” pilgrims would come to visit the sites from all over the world, which would boost Israel’s treasury.
As students of history are aware, it wasn’t too long ago that the Vatican refused to acknowledge Israel as a nation. That all changed in the late 1950s and early 1960s when it was discovered that the bones of Peter that the Vatican claimed to have found in Rome were really not Peter’s bones at all. Peter’s grave was discovered in Jerusalem during that time and ever since the Vatican has been moving to warm their relations with Israel through Vatican sympathizers in the Israeli government. Since their church is founded on Peter instead of the true rock, Jesus Christ, they feel that it is imperative that they set up headquarters wherever Peter’s bones are. Persuading Israel to give up some land would be the first step in that direction.
The Vatican’s desire for Israeli land, in my opinion, will end up being part of the peace covenant that will ultimately be established by the Antichrist and Israel will, in the peace process, once again have a temple.
But as far as these sites are concerned, neither Jesus Christ nor his apostles ever gave us any commandments or a hint of a suggestion that Christians should commemorate any holy sites by having pilgrimages. Jesus told the Samaritan woman in John 4 that true worship is to be done in spirit and in truth. It has nothing at all to do with a physical place. However, those caught up in a works-based salvation (which has nothing to do with the genuine gospel) consider pilgrimages important for the purpose of spending less time in purgatory (which doesn’t exist) or with the hope they will get on God’s good side for a greater reward in the afterlife.
–posted by Harry A. Gaylord–