Magazine article Anglican Journal

Bishop (John Baycroft), Israeli Envoy's Talks Cordial

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Bishop (John Baycroft), Israeli Envoy's Talks Cordial

Article excerpt

Embroiled in controversy over a Christmas sermon denouncing Israel's treatment of Palestinian Arabs, Bishop John Baycroft of Ottawa met Israeli Ambassador David Sultan recently in an atmosphere of cordiality underscored with tension.

Bishop Baycroft denounced antisemitism during a midnight mass at Ottawa's Christ Church Cathedral, but he also branded Israel's treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza a matter of "profound sorrow."

As later reported in the Ottawa Citizen, he noted seeing, during a trip in November 1997, "the evil, the oppression, the cruelty, the wickedness which is permitted to continue in the Holy Land today."

The bishop's sermon, together with an interview with Citizen reporter Nathan Vardi, touched off a furor as some letter writers, one member of the Israeli embassy staff and the Ottawa Jewish community denounced Baycroft.

But in the months following his sermon support has poured in, said Bishop Baycroft. "I've had letters and calls of support, including many from Jewish people. We must not forget there is a peace movement in Israel and among Jews in Canada."

The bishop has also received strong support from Palestinians, both in Canada and from abroad, who were pleased to hear a church leader voice support for their cause.

Religious leaders in Canada have frequently spoken out for Palestinian human rights, without much publicity, the bishop said. He's happy the story, which hit the front page of the Citizen two days running, and went on the wire to other newspapers, gained so much attention. …

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