The Church And The Holocaust

Ha’aretz reports:

Government sources have called statements made by a senior Vatican official condemning the silence of the Holy See during the Holocaust “unprecedented.” 

Sources in Jerusalem said it is still too early to tell whether the statements made Tuesday by Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land, reflect a change in Vatican policy about the silence of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust.

Speaking in Hebrew at a conference at Tel Aviv University on the actions of the Church during the Holocaust, Pizzaballa criticized “church leaders, including those of the highest level, who did not adopt a courageous stand in the evangelical spirit in the face of the Nazi regime.”

Pizzaballa said that after the Holocaust, the Church struggled with “the question of how it failed at the task of molding the conscience of the faithful so they would refuse to cooperate with the Nazi machine of destruction. How so many of the faithful cooperated and even more stood and did nothing.” Pizzaballa added that the 1965 Vatican declaration absolving the Jews from killing Jesus was a “response to the deep crisis created after World War II.”

He said the Church subsequently had made a number of far-reaching changes, among them emphasizing the Jewish identity of Jesus and recognition of the Hebrew Scriptures as an inseparable part of Christian tradition, and that “preachers and the greatest of teachers” had presented Jews in a distorted way, which laid the groundwork for modern anti-Semitism.

“I cannot avoid the horrific thought that if Jesus were alive in the Holocaust, he would have been condemned to the same fate as the Jewish people, as would his mother, his family and his disciples.” Pizzaballa said.

Rabbi David Rosen, a member of the Permanent Bilateral Commission of the State of Israel and the Holy See and brother of Rabbi Jeremy Rosen, does not believe this indicates a change in Vatican policy. Rabbi Rosen argues that Father Pizzaballa is simply more attuned to Jews because of living in Israel and his familiarity with Jewish and Israeli culture. That accounts for what appears to be a more wide-reaching statement.

Will Pious XII be beatified? Should we as Jews care? And does it matter that 85% of Italy’s Jews survived the Holocaust, many of them under the protection of the Church?

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19 Comments

Filed under Blogs, History, Religion, The Church and the Holocaust

19 responses to “The Church And The Holocaust

  1. Isa

    Many Italian Jews were members of the Fascist party. However after Mussolini allied himself with the Hun, Mussolini declared these Jews honorary ‘Aryans ‘ It was only after Mussolini was overthrown and the Nazis took over Italy, then the Jews were rounded up,

  2. Anonymous

    Interesting. I seem to recall that this Website recently praised the Catholic church’s actions during WWII.

    Oh well, consistency was never the great virtue that it is made up to be.

  3. Anonymous

    Interesting. I seem to recall that this Website recently praised the Catholic church’s actions during WWII.

    Oh well, consistency was never the great virtue that it is made up to be.

  4. Lawrence M. Reisman

    “And does it matter that 85% of Italy’s Jews survived the Holocaust, many of them under the protection of the Church?”

    No question, the Italians were among the best when it came to resisting the final solution and helping the Jews. However, this occurred totally independent of the Vatican. Pius XII had no more to do with saving Jews in WWII than he did with the efforts of Bishop Alois Hudal who saved countless SS war criminals after WWII by hiding them in the Fransiscan monastery in Rome and spiriting off to South America.

  5. “Interesting. I seem to recall that this Website recently praised the Catholic church’s actions during WWII.

    Oh well, consistency was never the great virtue that it is made up to be.”

    No, idiot, it’s called “honesty” and “accurate reporting,” two concepts foreign to you and your community.

  6. “No question, the Italians were among the best when it came to resisting the final solution and helping the Jews. However, this occurred totally independent of the Vatican. Pius XII had no more to do with saving Jews in WWII than he did with the efforts of Bishop Alois Hudal who saved countless SS war criminals after WWII by hiding them in the Fransiscan monastery in Rome and spiriting off to South America.”

    Jews were hidden in the VAtican itself, in the Pope’s summer house, in monestaries, etc. Very hard to believe the Pope didn’t notice this, especially since the people who hid the Jews included high officials of the Church, posted in the Vatican.

  7. Isa

    In the 1970s I met this Jewish guy at work that was saved by the Catholic Church. I never asked what country though. Both he and his mother (never asked what happened to the father) were Baptized and therefore ‘officially’ Catholics.

  8. Chozer B'She'ela

    Fascism, while (like communism) universally vile, was not universally anti-Semitic. Hitler was alone among fascists in his anti-Semitism. Both Mussolini and Franco disagreed and saved Jews during the Holocaust. Stalin, by contrast, was as anti-Semitic as Hitler, though not nearly as deadly.

    Today, Jews have more to fear from the far-left than from the far-right.

  9. Anonymous

    Do you really have to call me an idiot?
    I though that one of the rules of this Website is to refrain from calling names.
    Or did I misunderstand the words “no name-calling, please.”

    You never answered my questions about your academic credentials, what are they anyway?
    (Recall, I have a doctorate from NYU.)

    when you said my community, are you talking about the NYU community? If not, what community are you talking about. The community I belong to only cares for objective truth seeking discourse. It also enjoys civilized give and take on issues. You obviously have me mixed up with somebody else.

    You owe me an apology for the name calling.

  10. Look, you just don’t get it. You have a PH.D.? So what. It is *not* a doctorate in this field. Further, you have shown no understanding of history. I owe you an apology? Perhaps I do. And perhaps you owe me one for the obnoxious comment you left? No, of course not! You can hurl insults with impunity, right?

  11. Anonymous

    Since you consider my comment obnoxious, I apologize. I did not mean it to be. I will tone down my comments in the future.

    All I meant to say was that if somebody from the Church recognizes that there was something grossly wrong with its actions during the Holocaust, perhaps you should not be so adamant in your views defending it.

    There is something you learn if you are a true academic. That is you listen to all sides and you draw your conclusions based on evidence, not bias. You also learn to be rigorous in your thinking. This is a lesson that transcends the particular field you studied in.

  12. First you wrote: “Interesting. I seem to recall that this Website recently praised the Catholic church’s actions during WWII.

    Oh well, consistency was never the great virtue that it is made up to be.”

    Now you claim: “All I meant to say was that if somebody from the Church recognizes that there was something grossly wrong with its actions during the Holocaust, perhaps you should not be so adamant in your views defending it.”

    No serious person can believe you. You write a sniviling, obnoxious comment an then lie about its supposed “meaning.”

    I posted this story because it ***CONTRADICTED*** what I wrote previously. It’s called honesty and accuracy in reporting.

    If you do not understand this, there is nothing I can do to help you.

  13. Anonymous

    Thank you for your answer. Your website states that persons should refrain from name calling.

    Obviously, you either do not consider yourself bound by the same decency you demand of others or you are unable to control yourself.

    I do not snivel and you can not spell.
    For the record, and in the interest of total honesty, I meant my first comment to be snippy, not obnoxious. Since you took offense where little or no offense was intended, I apologized and told you what my substantive point was. I did not lie.

    You have not accepted my apology, which is unfortunate, because it was sincere. I will, however, not apologize again because I think that one apology for an offense of this kind is enough.

    I seem to recall that when I made the point that your most recent post appears to make, you called it a child-like view of history.

    Well, is it still child like? If it is not still child-llke, what changed, except that this time it is a Catholic priest expressing the view?

  14. 1. The comment rules state “no anonymous comments.” You comment anonymouly and then cite those rules because I called you an idoit. I could have banned you outright based on those rules.

    2. You may have a Ph.D., but you certainly do not understand this world.

    3. YOUR view of history is childlike. As for what Father Pizzaballa said, we’ll see exactly what he was referring to in the not too distant future. Right now, he has said what every historian, even David Dalin knows: That some Catholics, even some high up in the Vatican, did not help and some even worked to deport and exterminate Jews.

    But many other Catholics, including many high up in the Vatican, did exactly the opposite and risked their lives to save Jews.

    You understand and promote the former and completely ignore the latter. That is childlike.

  15. Isa

    Franco:
    Franco saved close to 70,000 Jews either by confiring honorary Spanish citizenship or by letting almost 100% of the Jews who made it to the Spanish border in. The Left never recoginized Franco for this because of Franco’s rabid anti-communist stance. Franco’s diplomates passed out passports in the day and wined and dined the Hun at night.

  16. Anonymous

    As for whether some persons in the Vatican risked their lives to save Jews, I know that some Catholic prelates did. I do not know of any person high up in the Vatican who risked their lives to save Jews, but I certainly do not deny this is so, especially since I have no idea who was or was not high up in the Vatican during that time.

    Your post, however, is the first time that you have acknowledged that some high up in the Vatican worked to exterminate Jews. Certainly many Catholics did.

    As to what to emphasize, I objected to your one sided view rose colored pollyanish view of history which was contained in the original post. I dare you to point out any statement there where you even remotely
    stated that some high up in the Vatican worked to exterminate Jews, as you now do.

    As for etiquette and rules, I do not see what posting an anonymous post has to do with calling somebody an idiot, which is just plain immature.

    I will, however, save you the trouble of banning me. I will no longer post anything on this site. That way your readers will not be exposed to views which contradict yours. I am sure they will be better off.

    I do, however, reserve the right to respond if you direct a comment to this post.

  17. 1. ***I*** posted this post, which appears to contradict my own views. I did this to fair, as I noted above. Of all the commenters on this site, you are alone in the inability to process this,

    2. My point about the rules was clear. No amount of whining on your part will change that for anyone reading this exchange.

    3. About half of the comments on this site are comments that disagree with me or with my positions. I do not ban people for disagreeing.

    4. You misrepresent what I wrote. To recap: Evidence we now have supports Dalin’s book. Could there have been, was there, someone in the Vatican – even someone in a leadership role – who wanted to help Hitler and may even have done so? Sure, there most likely was – just as there were men like that in the British government, American government, etc.

    But the ***RECORD*** is clear: 85% of Italy’s Jews survived the Holocaust, most by hiding in Churches andin other Church property under the direct ausdpicies of the Church. Further, of the 15% who were caught by the Germans and deported to death camps, the vast majority were caught because they tried to flee rather than hide under Church auspices.

    So the ***EVIDENCE*** is in Dalin’s favor.

    As noted above by Isa, Franco saved a lot of Jews. Yet, if one were to examine his “public record” of speeches, etc., this would not be clear.

    The problem with your argument is that you disregard the actual facts on the ground and instead demand a great press release from Pious XII attacking Hitler. Without it, Pious XII is doomed.

    It is also quite interesting that Dalin’s critics are rarely (if ever) on record criticizing the other extreme – those who brand Pious XII “Hitler’s Pope” and decry the Church as “Nazi clerics” without ever mentioning the good the Church actually did.

  18. Anonymous

    I did reserve the right to comment on a direct comment on my post, so I will.
    Calling somebody an “idiot” and “sniviling” [sic] has nothing to do with rules, it has to do with civility and maturity.

    You now have gone from stating that persons in the Vatican participated in the extermination of the Jews of Europe to saying it may have been. Make up your mind.

    I have not yet read Dalin’s book, but I plan to, as soon as it is available in the public library. However, I did read his review of Goldhagen’s book on the same topic, and Dalin admits to wanting to participate in a “conspiracy” (his exact wording, not mine) against Goldhagen.

    It was obvious from his review that he was a man with a mission. It was also obvious that he is not a true academic, at least not what I consider to be a true academic. I suspect his book is a polemic.

    I do not expect anything from Pius XII. He is dead, and I expect little fron dead persons, even popes.

    Let me put it this way. If fellow orthodox Jews were putting millions of Budhists in India in gas chambers under the influence of a madman based upon perverted racial theories, I would expect the rabbis of America to publicly tell them that it is absolutely forbidden. And so would you.

    I am also revolted by your latest post which clearly, and wrongly, places the blame on the Italian Jews for their own murders, as if they refused asylum.

    This is disgusting. I will only comment again if there is a dire3ct answer to this post.

  19. 1. I have been consistant. You just do not process.

    2. “I am also revolted by your latest post which clearly, and wrongly, places the blame on the Italian Jews for their own murders, as if they refused asylum.”

    Ahh, here is another good example of your thick-headedness. What I wrote is a FACT. Do you mean to say that, if given the choice of two differing escape routes, noting that the choice of one of those routes failed, is wrong? Of course not. All you are doing is attempting to make me look insensitive by twisting my words.

    I did not BLAME Jews for choosing to flee. Further, Catholics also helped Jews flee. But fleeing turned out to be much more dangerous than hiding in the Vatican. Where in my statement do you see it written that Jews who fled are “to blame” for being gassed by the Nazis?

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