CWNews.com - Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, has distanced the Vatican from comments on Israel made by Melkite Archbishop Cyrille Bustros at a press conference on October 23, the day before the closing of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. Archbishop Bustros served as president of the commission that prepared the synod’s message to the People of God.

At the press conference, Archbishop Bustros was quoted as saying, “The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians, to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands,” adding, “We Christians cannot speak of the 'promised land' as an exclusive right for a privileged Jewish people. This promise was nullified by Christ. There is no longer a chosen people-- all men and women of all countries have become the chosen people.”

In response, Father Lombardi said that the archbishop was speaking only for himself and that the message itself was the synod’s “only approved written text.”

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Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.