Musings of an Orthodox Jew

Thoughts on Torah and the Jewish world today.

The Pope and the Jews

The past history of oppression of the Jews at the hands of the Catholic Church is not going to come as a shock to anyone.  Forced conversions, massacres, expulsions and more can be laid at the door of the church, resulting in the loss of millions of Jewish lives in the over millenia of persecution.  In the last century, under the guidance of Pope John Paul II Vatican and Jewish relations seemed to draw closer.  A lot of animosity was released with the vatican finally recognising Israel, prayers offensive to Jews were amended and several ecclesiastical stances were taken to remove some of the hatred of Jews that had been promulgated in the past.

Sadly, under the new pope, Pope Benedict XVI, it seems that this detente is not going to continue.  He has not been in office long, but already has damaged relations with his reinstatement of the call for Jews to be converted in the Catholic liturgy, and now in his latest move, the removal of an excommunication from Bishop Richard Williamson who denies the gas chambers ever existed and states that 9/11 was not committed by Muslims but by the American government (a conspiracy theory that frequently then goes on to allege that it was Jews/Israel in collusion with the USA government.  Since he hasn’t publicly stated that bit, we can give him the benefit of the doubt for now…)  So yet another blow to relations between the Vatican and the Jews, along with the moves to canonise Pope Pius the XII, the Pope during World War II that many see as being in quiet collusion with the Nazis or, at best, to turning a blind eye when he could have helped ny speaking out- considering that Germany is largely a catholic country.

Of course, adding fuel to this fire is the Pope Benedict’s (formally Cardinal Ratzinger’s) past.  It is well known, and admitted to by him, that as a child in Germany he was a member of the Hitler youth.  We are told that he never believed in their philosophy but did it because he had to, but one has to wonder.  Considering the latest actions emanating from the Pope in office, is his denial of any idealogical connection to his childhood membership of the Hitler youth really believable?  Yes- maybe I’m too willing to believe the worst of a Catholic Pope based on the past history of the Catholic Church; but as many say- actions speak louder than words, and his current actions seem rather questionable in the light of his own personal past.  After all, all this does is bring to mind the thesis postulated by Daniel Goldenhagen in “Hitler’s willing Executioners” that the bulk of Germany either knew of, or deliberately turned a blind eye towards, Hitler’s genocidal agenda against the Jews.

Link to the story

Comment on it by Deborah Lipstadt

Chief Rabbinate in Israel cuts ties with the Vatican

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February 3, 2009 - Posted by | Weekly Question/Issue | , , , , ,

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