THE accusation by Urbanus, July 18, against Archbishop Capucci using his office as Apostolic Visitor to Melkites as a cover for an alleged PLO agent and promoting Iran's muderous antiZionist campaign is totally unfounded.
-Fhe visits to Iran by thc Archbishop have been purely pastoral and intermediary. His visit made to the American hostages held in Teheran earlier this year was an unsuccessful attempt to secure their release, and however was not the first visit made to the hostages by Catholic prelates.
Archbishop Bugnint Pro-Nuncio in Iran, Cardinal Duval of Algiers, and Bishop Gumbleton of Detroit, have been among others, Mgr Capucci's next visit to Iran involved the delicate task of escorting the bodies of those killed in the failed American rescue attempt, to the Red Cross. in Switzerland.
Hilarion Capucci has maintained his innocence against his sentence by an Israeli court on the grounds that the court had no jurisdiction in the occupied territory of the Wcst Bank. A condition for release was hiE exile from Israel and a guarantee that he would not visit any neighbouring Arab territory bordering Israel, As Iran does not encroach the Israeli borders. this condition has been met.
However, after his release the Archbishop stated that he would continue witnessing for the legitimate right of the Palestinians.
If Iran is accused of persecuting minority groups, surely Israel must fall closely behind. The Israeli government has consistently destroyed the Palestinian community by forced Jewish settlement in their midst, banned Christian missionaries from proselytising, and destroyed the cultural heritage of Jerusalem by modern redevelopment.
In the wake of this, the Vatican has recently been concerned by Israel's threat to make Jerusalem its capital. During the recent audience given to President Carter, the Pope spoke of Jerusalem as being "Pivotal to a just peace in the Middle East".
Furthermore the Vatican delegation at the United Nations warned Israel against changing the status of Jerusalem without taking into account all three religions represented there, and asked for safeguards for religious freedom and equal treatment for the three religions. C. J. Williams Northampton IF THE United Kingdom were occupied by a foreign and nonChristian power a number of Catholic and Anglican Bishops would surely support the resistance: and I cannot believe that Rome, Canterbury or even Urbanus would expect them to do otherwise.
Yet Urbanus (July 18) accepts without question the verdict of an Israeli court on Archbishop Capucces alleged gun-running activites, when many Christians in Jerusalem, including Anglicans, were convinced that he was framed. (Framing often takes place in Israel and the occupied territories — as was demonstrated by the recent attempt to deport Mayor Shaqa'a.) It seems unlikely that Paul VI would have intervened with such vigour on the Archbishop's behalf has the Vatican not had reason to doubt the justice of the conviction. Urbanus stoops to sneer at the Archbishop's "rapid recovery" from illness after his release: in fact, he was on hunger strike in protest against the illegality. as he saw it, of his trial.
Urbanus asserts, without evidence, that the Archbishop's recent visit to Iran was undertaken to aid and abet' "the judicial murder of Jews". Is Urbanus a reader of the tatly+ltc Herald') If so he might have learned from the issues of Feb. 2, 15 and 29 that the Archbishop's purpose was to visit the American hostages in prison.
Although the media "eagerly plunged him into hot water" alleging that he had infringed promises made to the Vatican. the Catholic Herald notes that he emerged "with a clean record". that "theaerms of his parole have not been infringed, and Iran is outside the area within 'which he had agreed to abide by Vatican supervision", — he is, in fact, "a caring ... mediator."
Further reading. May 2, elicits the fact that it was to the Archbishop that Ayatollah Khomeini surrendered the bodies of those unfortunate airmen killed in the abortive American' rescue attempt. The Archbishop was received by President Bani Sadr, and spoke of his mission us "humanitarian, religious, non-political in character". .
There are many other instances of ill-informed prejudice in this bitter little item, but space prevents comment — other than my belief that Urbanus should refrain from quoting malicious gossip garnered at an otherwise serious gathering.