Friday, August 19, 2005

The Pope in the Synagogue

The Pope's trip to Germany got a lot of coverage in the media, and his reception in his home country was very positive.

Benedict XVI is being very smart about his transition, referring often to his predecessor, John Paul II, in the best possible terms. It's good to see the transition working well, given the tremendous influence of the papacy.

Benedict XVI spoke to the Jewish community of Cologne in their synagogue, becoming only the second pope in 2,000 years to visit a Jewish place of worship. The first, of course, was John Paul II, who spoke in the central synagogue in Rome in 1986. It's noteworthy that the home countries of both popes were responsible for or complicit in the deaths of huge numbers of Jews in the Holocaust. In his visit to the synagogue, Benedict XVI said:

The history of relations between the Jewish and Christian communities has been complex and often painful. There were times when the two lived together peacefully, but there was also the expulsion of the Jews from Cologne in the year 1424. And in the twentieth century, in the darkest period of German and European history, an insane racist ideology, born of neo-paganism, gave rise to the attempt, planned and systematically carried out by the regime, to exterminate European Jewry. The result has passed into history as the Shoah. ... The holiness of God was no longer recognized, and consequently contempt was shown for the sacredness of human life.

Eventually this Pope has to openly acknowledge that the Church was passive--and in some cases collaborative--during the Holocaust. Had the universal Church been true to its own teachings during that terrible time, it would have thrown off its own history of anti-Semitism and aggressively opposed the Nazis. Many lives could have been saved, perhaps millions. The Church has yet to fully cleanse that stain from its history.

Note: For detailed discussion see Remembering the Holocaust, including the comments.


Blogger Esther said...

A friend of mine who is a survivor of the Holocaust was taken in by a Church, along with many other kids. She watched as a priest raped a 10 year old girl next to her (my friend was hiding under her cot) and to muffle her cries, laid a pillow over her face, killing her. He later raped my friend, who was only 4 years old at the time. What he did made it so she could never have children. The fact that someone in such a position could do something to the most vulnerable, sickens me to the depths of my soul. And this was protection?!

Yeah, you can certainly say that the Church could have done a lot more to help.

That being said, I'm glad the Pope is worried about what happened to Jews during World War II, but he could do a lot for the future good by speaking up now for Israeli victims of that same (or probably worse) ideology -- as it's carried out by Palestinian terrorists.

6:15 PM, August 20, 2005  
Blogger MaxedOutMama said...

The problem is that the Catholic church is doing far better on this issue than the mainline Protestant churches, which are attacking Israel.

8:52 PM, August 25, 2005  

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