Rome Trying to Regain Cenacle

The Cenacle in the building on Mount Zion


The Church of Rome is getting closer to re-attaining a prize that it has wanted for some time.  And that is the location of the site that it is believed that Jesus held His last Passover, commonly referred to as the Last Supper.

Israel’s Control of Mt. Zion in Danger

Israel National News – April 26, 2009

Ten-year-long negotiations between Israel and the Vatican appear to be drawing to a close, with concerns rising that Israel will cede control of the building housing King David’s Tomb in Jerusalem.

The Bilateral Permanent Working Commission – a team of negotiators representing Israel and the Vatican – released an upbeat press release at the end of last week, speaking of “meaningful progress,” “great cordiality,” and a mutual commitment to reaching a final agreement “as soon as possible.”

Tellingly, a plenary meeting has been announced for this Thursday, April 30, at the Foreign Ministry. The meeting will be chaired by the two states’ deputy foreign ministers, Danny Ayalon and Monsignor Pietro Parolin. It is widely believed that the agreement will be signed then.

Church Demands Parts of Mt. Zion
The two states have been negotiating a treaty since March 1999 on matters having to do with Church-owned or Church-claimed property in Israel. Among the most significant issue under negotiations is the Vatican’s demand for the Last Supper room, located on the second floor of the ancient Mt. Zion building that also houses the tombs of Kings David, Solomon, and Hezekiah.

In addition, the Vatican is claiming areas around Lake Kinneret, as well as in Caesaria and Jerusalem.

Hints and implications in the Vatican and Catholic press have long indicated that the negotiations are expected to end successfully, from the Catholic vantage point, in time for Pope Benedict’s visit to Israel two weeks from now.

“This is a shame and a disgrace of unequalled proportions,” said Daisy J. Stern, M.D., who has been leading an information campaign on the topic. “Giving away these important areas has no Halakhic [Jewish legal] validity, of course, but signing it away will definitely make it very difficult to ever reclaim them.”

Mt. Zion – International Center for Catholics?
At present, since shortly after the Six-Day War in 1967, the Diaspora Yeshiva has run the Mt. Zion compound, on which it is located, and warns of the catastrophic implications for Israel and the Jewish People if the deal goes through.

The director of the yeshiva explained that if the Catholic Church receives control of the area, just a few hundred yards from the Temple Mount and adjacent to the Old City walls, it will turn it into “the international center for Catholics all around the world, and if the pope just gives the word, Christians will be flocking over here en masse.”

“This is an enormous issue that is being pushed through without any public debate whatsoever,” he said.

Vatican Signs Agreement with Arab League
Dr. Stern notes that though there had been reports that an agreement might be signed last week, “nothing happened – except that while they [the Vatican representatives] were talking with Israel, they signed an agreement with the Arab League. This is very worrisome. There are no details on the agreement with the Arab League, except that it aims to promote ‘peace, security and stability.’ Who knows what that really means? Are they dividing up the spoils of the future Vatican agreement with Israel – or perhaps they are preparing for the next Arab war with Israel? We don’t know.”

“This new agreement with the Arab League renders the Vatican, most gravely, an interested party in the Israeli-Arab dispute,” said Prof. Hillel Weiss of Bar Ilan University, who has been closely following the issue.

Of further concern is the fact that Israel is investing some 6 million shekels in improvements and renovations to various sites in preparation for the Papal visit.  Work at the Last Supper room has been underway for some time.

Blueprint of an Agreement

A Foreign Ministry official confirmed in 2005 that a “blueprint of a possible agreement with the Vatican has been received.”  The proposed contract, as Arutz-7 reported at the time, read as follows:

“The State of Israel hands over to the Holy See the use of the Cenacle [the room of the event known as the Last Supper, above King David’s tomb – ed.], of the access path to it, and of the spaces adjacent to it… It is the Holy See’s intention to inform the Bishops – and through them the world’s Priests – that the Catholic Church has been given the use of the Cenacle, inviting them to visit the Holy Place together with their faithful…

The Holy See hands over this use of the Cenacle to the Custody of the Holy Land [which acts on behalf of the Holy See]… [which] will keep the Cenacle open from 6 AM to 8 AM for the celebration of the Holy Mass… Official liturgical celebrations of non-Catholic Churches can take place only upon prior written permission by the Custody of the Holy Land.”

The proposed agreement also stipulated that the Holy See will preserve the historic character of the site and keep it open to pilgrims and tourists, and that Israel will provide for the safety of the site. The Foreign Ministry official said at the time that “Israel is not prepared to relinquish its jurisdiction over this area.” The world will find out later this week whether this position is still valid.

Rabbi Mordechai Goldstein, who founded and still runs the Diaspora Yeshiva, officially known as Yeshiva Toras Yisrael, told Arutz-7 in the past that “according to their bible, the Land is to return to the Christians, and 144,000 Jews are to return to Mt. Zion. Their plan is for them to take control of the site, and then to announce that they are holding a mass reenactment of the Last Supper, with [all types of religious rituals], and to invite millions of Christians to come to Jerusalem and celebrate.” Rabbi Goldstein said that this means much tourism money for Israel, and that someone in the Israeli government is apparently very interested in making this happen…

The King David’s Tomb complex, some 100,000 square feet, is “certainly one of the holiest spots in the Land of Israel,” a yeshiva source said. “David, Solomon and others kings of Judea are said to be buried here. We’ve already given away the Temple Mount and the Machpelah Cave, except for here and there when we’re allowed in; now they want to give Mt. Zion away as well? For thousands of years, this area was almost always totally closed off to Jews.

Dr. Stern and others are attempting to organize a public protest, beginning with an email and fax  campaign to Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon, who will represent Israel at the Thursday meeting.

The the root of word Cenacle, cena, means dinner.

Perhaps, for historical purposes, I should mention that this location is believed to have been the site of perhaps the earliest Christian church.  But it was not a Roman Catholic location originally, it was a location that the Nazarene Christians held their services until it was forcefully taken over by supporters of Emperor Constantine in the fourth century.

To enforce persecution against Christians who did not accept Constantine’s doctrines, around 332, Constantine issued what is known as the Edict Against the Heretics (Eusebius of Caesarea. The Life of the Blessed Emperor Constantine, Book III, Chapters LXIV, LXV.—Constantine’s Edict against the Heretics. Volume I, Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 2nd Series, ed. P. Schaff and H. Wace, Edinburgh: repr. Grand Rapids MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1955; the digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas). Because of this edict, the Greco-Roman confederation gained power and took over some of the places that the “Judeo-Christians” had. Catholic priest Bagatti reported:

In 333 the Bordeaux pilgrim found there a basilica erected “by order of Constantine”. By then the holy place had passed from the hands of the Judaeo-Christians, who had held it until then, to those Gentile Christians (Bagatti,  Bellarmino. Translated by Eugene Hoade. The Church from the Gentiles in Palestine. Nihil obstat: Ignatius Mancini, 1 Februari 1970. Imprimi potest: Herminius Roncari, 26 Februari 1970. Imprimatur: +Albertus Gori, die 28 Februarii 1970. Franciscan Printing Press, Jerusalem, 1971, p. 61).

The holy place mentioned above was a meeting place for the Christians. It has been called Sion and Cenacle. Some believe it is wear, or near, where Jesus was buried and resurrected. The Greco-Romans eventually added a shrine and a variety of relics (But notice that it seems that the Constantinian Christians tried to imply that their shrine practices were original even though they were not.

This is also from Catholic scholar, Bagatti, who wrote:

In light of this evidence, which shows two rival communities, we can understand the curious information supplied by Gregory Asharuni (7th cent.) regarding the ordering of the functions and religious pilgrimages established in the 4th century in the different shrines. He says that St. Cyril bishop of Jerusalem (313-386) sent a request to bishop Peter of Alexandria to have the ancient lectionary compiled by St. James. bishop of Jerusalem; Peter found it in the monastery of St. Anthony and sent it to the Holy City. With the diffusion of this news, probably, the idea was to insinuate that the functions established in Jerusalem in the church after the erection of the various shrines, went back to the time of St. James himself, although they were not practiced by those who occupied the mother church of Sion (Bagatti. The Church from the Circumcision, pp. 11-12).

So, the Catholic scholar Bagatti realizes that there were no shrine ties to the original Jerusalem church that James had in the first century. He believes that the Constantinian Christians wanted to imply that their pagan shrine practices were original, although there is no way that they could have been. Sadly, I believe that he is correct about that. Most people simply do not realize that Justin, Tertullian, and others were all aware that there were two significant groups of those who professed Christ until the 4th century. One retained the original Jewish-Christian practices, like the Passover on the 14th, and the other, a confederation of Greco-Roman locations that distanced themselves from those practices and instead implemented shrines and other practices that the original Christians would have condemned.Notice that Constantine ordered faithful Christians in Jerusalem killed if they would not violate biblical dietary guidelines:

That there existed strife between the different branches of the faithful can easily be gathered from the expression of the anonymous pilgrim of Bordeaux in 333, who says that the three basilicas were erected by the gentile Christians “at the command of Constantine”, that is by force, and from the late account of Eutychius (PG 111,1012-1013) that, just at this time, the faithful while they were leaving the church on Easter day, were forced to eat pork under the pain of death. We know how the Judaeo-Christians refused this in order not to transgress the Mosaic law to which they held there were bound ( Note: There was NO Easter day observed by the true Christians. Easter is an Anglicized mistranslation of the Greek term for Passover. True Christians observed just Passover, the Sabbath, and the days of unleavened bread that time of the year. Ordering Christians to be killed if they would not eat biblically-unclean meat is NOT Christian, but is terrible persecution!

Interestingly, even The Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges that the Roman and Orthodox Churches got the emperors to persecute those who did not accept what became beliefs of mainstream Christianity and that Constantine declared himself a bishop:

When Constantine had taken upon himself the office of lay bishop, episcopus externus, and put the secular arm at the service of the Church, the laws against heretics became more and more rigorous. Under the purely ecclesiastical discipline no temporal punishment could be inflicted on the obstinate heretic, except the damage which might arise to his personal dignity through being deprived of all intercourse with his former brethren. But under the Christian emperors rigorous measures were enforced against the goods and persons of heretics. From the time of Constantine to Theodosius…Theodosius is said to be the first who pronounced heresy a capital crime; this law was passed in 382 (Wilhelm J. Transcribed by Mary Ann Grelinger. Heresy. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII. Published 1910. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York). Of course, if these emperors were truly Christian, they would not have killed and persecuted those faithful to apostolic teachings, nor endorsed carnal warfare. Real Christians do not kill, torture, or persecute, it is Constantinian ones who do.

Furthermore, according to the Bible (cf. Acts 8:18-23;20:28), and even Greco-Roman church teachings, one is not supposed to be able to make oneself a bishop. Furthermore, Constantine did not meet the following biblical requirements:

2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; 3 not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; 4 one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence 5 (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); 6 not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. 7 Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:2-7).

Emperor Constantine was a novice, did not display good behavior, was violent, apparently did not rule over his house well, etc. Thus, by honoring him as they do, the Greco-Roman churches are admitting that their religion was based upon a leader who was unacceptable according to biblical standards.  And one who helped distort the history of the Nazarene Christians.

Notice what is essentially an admission from Catholic scholar Bagatti commenting on how little Eusebius ( a contemporary of Constantine) reported about an early, Judeo-Christian, church in on Mount Sion in Jerusalem:

In the latter text Eusebius takes Sion for the whole city and so does not intend to describe the state of Sion as such…To explain the silence on the mother church which certainly was in Sion, we can only identify this synagogue mentioned by the Bordeaux pilgrim with the church adapted for use by Judaeo-Christians, and therefore according to their usage, a synagogue. This is confirmed by St. Cyril, who some half a score of years later…calls the place “a church of the Apostles”…

Perhaps, I should add here that Catholic scholar Bagatti believed that non-reporting about the Judeo-Christians was intentional.

St. Epiphanius, also a witness to the situation…In the Ancoratus, (40, PG 43,89-90) written in 373, the saint enumerates the Holy Sites of the Passion…Since the Cenacle, which is not mentioned, is of prime importance…and other places are of little importance, we must admit that the omission is intentional. We guess that he did not wish to record it because he held the Judaeo-Christians as heretics. (Bagatti. The Church from the Circumcision, p.11).

In other words, the place that probably was the original church location in Jerusalem was a Judeo-Christian place, but essentially the historians of the Catholic Church, Eusebius and Epiphanius omitted it. If their history was of the TRUE church, it is rather limited. Both of these “histories” de-emphasized the faithful biblical Christians in Asia Minor and elsewhere.

I suspect that full coverage of what really happened with the true church would have disclosed significant doctrinal differences from Rome that his emperor, Constantine would not have liked. I do not think that Eusebius wanted to tell Constantine that the faithful in Asia Minor and Palestine never accepted the Greco-Roman confederation nor the authority of the “Bishop of Rome”.

This suppression/destruction of early information also explains much of why early Church of God views still are not fully known by many today—documents that emphasized differences from the 4th century Greco-Roman confederation of churches were often suppressed or destroyed.

Those interested in what really happened to create what is now called Christianity and the two differing original groups, should consider carefully and prayfully studying the following articles:

The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church.
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Should Christians be Nazarenes today? What were the practices of the Nazarenes.
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view?  Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches?  Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter!
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
The New Testament Church and Unclean Meats Are foods considered to have been unclean in the Old Testament considered to be food in the New Testament? This article discusses this from the perspective of the New Testament. It also has a list of clean and unclean animals. It also answers the question, is pork healthy or is pork dangerous?

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