Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Which is More Valuable: A Fetus or a Jew?

In the contest over which is more valuable, a fetus or a Jew, the results are in and the fetus wins hands down.

Just as Catholic Bishops across the United States clamp down on Catholic politicians who support a woman’s right to choose abortion (which as different from supporting abortion as supporting a Nazi’s right to march is from supporting Nazism), the Vatican brings Pope Pius XII (twelve) one (I) step closer to sainthood.

This fun loving Pope, dubbed The Holocaust Pope, was recently declared a person of “heroic virtue.” Let’s see how the Vatican defines heroic virtue.

First, Pius XII knew early on that Hitler planned to murder every Jew he could find. Heroically, the Pope remained silent. Second, as more than one thousand Jews were taken from the Roman Ghetto within sight of the Pope’s apartments in the Vatican to die in Auschwitz, our hero did nothing. Third, at the close of the war when some senior Catholic Church officials ran the “rat line” that scurried Nazis like Adolf Eichmann out of Germany and into Latin America, the Pope acted virtuously and did nothing.

But then again, Jews aren’t fetuses. Which may be why our heroic Pope Pius XII never even threatened to withhold communion from Hitler or German Catholics and Catholic Nazis if they participated in the slaughter of Jews. “Eat a Jew on Sunday, kill a Jew throughout the week” may have been his motto.

So the Church will soon have a saint whose only claim to fame is that he heroically and virtuously did nothing while 6,000,000 Jews were slaughtered under his nose.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at this. After all Pope Benedict who is pushing the sainthood of Pius XII belonged to Hitler Youth, and recently welcomed the return of Bishop Richard Williamson who is notorious for his anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.

But maybe Pope Benedict knows something we do not. After all the Vatican refuses to open its archives to allow independent scholars access to the records relating to Pope Pius XII, so maybe there is something in those records that proves he was both heroic and virtuous. But, if there was such evidence, you would think the Church would stop keeping it secret.

Until we know better, we Jews must be reminded that the Church, for all its insistence to the contrary, is not now and has never been a friend to the Jews. This is in no way a blanket condemnation of Catholics. Many risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust, but they did so independently of Pius XII, who, if he had his way, would have preferred them to be heroic and virtuous, following his lead and remaining silent and inactive, and allow themselves and thousands more like them to be slaughtered. Ah, what a saint!


Sandbur said...

I think you meant to say six million (6,000,000) rather than six billion (6,000,000,000). Like the blogs though.

dtedac said...

Rabbi Rami,

Of course you knew I would comment on this.

I am extremely disappointed (putting it politely) by B16's decision to make P12 venerable. The fact is that even if P12 had been "virtuous" in every other aspect of his life, there is a public doubt about his actions or inaction concerning the Holocaust. Due to this, B16 should not have proceeded with the process until he made clear why he has no doubt of the virtues of Papa Pacelli.

As you say, we do not know what the Vatican archives say about that era. Any proofs contained in the archives should have been presented to an impartial panel of experts for deliberation at the least. The old role of "devil's advocate", someone who raises doubts in order to be fair, should have been kept in the system.

I believe that the underlying reason for this has to do with B16 promoting a conservative and retrospective view of the church. That does not remove the crass indifference and insensitivity shown to all Jews, but it is his particular focus lately, it seems. P12 and JP2 are both darlings of the conservatives in the Church, and their canonization will be pleasing to the yes men of the Vatican.

Rami, I know that you expect this from Catholic hierarchy. I am sad that you are not alone in this. Frankly, many of us Catholics do too. You will find, if you look at the progressive Catholic blogs and sites on the internet, that not all Catholics are happy or supportive of this move.

If I were to support Popes for canonization, I would go with John XXIII, who is proven to have helped save Jews in Eastern Europe while he was assigned there. (This was when Pius XII was pope, but there is no proof that P12 was involved in any way.) Another good Pope was John Paul I, who lasted only a month and probably would have led the church down the opposite path from his successors.

One last thing: even though our leadership is wrong, wrong, wrong, the lay people of the church will be heard at some point, and the voice heard is much different from the Vatican party line.


Raksha said...

Rabbi Rami: Thanks for your articulate and well-deserved smackdown of Pope Ratzy and his "saintly" predecessor Pope Pius XII. It explains why I was so unimpressed by the celebrated "apology" of Pope John Paul II for the despicable historical behavior of "some Catholics" towards the Jewish people, even though it was understood that "some Catholics" included several popes. That was no apology at all because it deliberately fell short of being an apology on behalf of the Church for its long and shameful history of official persecution.

I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for that kind of a full apology for a number of reasons. Official Catholic spokesmen may very well be hamstrung by the Church's teachings regarding its alleged "infallibility" and sinlessness, but that's their problem. Not ours.

Re "Until we know better, we Jews must be reminded that the Church, for all its insistence to the contrary, is not now and has never been a friend to the Jews."

I have no doubt that JPII meant well by his gestures of repentence and goodwill. Even though they fell short by Jewish standards, they left him wide open to vehement criticism from the more conservative elements within the Church.

But there is no reason for Jews to extend the admiration many of us feel for JPII either to Pope Ratzy or (especially) to the Catholic Church as a whole. As you said, the Catholic Church is still no friend to the Jews. It's true that some Catholics as individuals have acted heroically towards the Jews under extremely difficult conditions. But the credit also belongs to them as individuals and the Catholic Church still deserves no share in it. After all, it's not like we're seeing Pope Ratzy getting ready to canonize Oskar Schindler!

Andrea said...

Well, as we know - a fetus is a potential human being who could go on to have a pure soul. A real Jewish adult - as we know has already sullied his soul by rejecting the savior - so there is not reason to hope on the future of a Jew.

Just to be clear - I don't believe this - but I believe it may be the world view underlying Rami's observation.

Anonymous said...

New Note 3

I love your columns in Spirituality and Health. But boy your tone is different on your blog. Honestly, I am sorry you seem so bitter and hurt. Especially with the news on Pope Pius XII.

Because he had Jews employed at the Vatican, and because he later had rescued Jews hidden in the Vatican, and at Castel Gandolfo ... I wouldn't think he could say a whole lot, and risk having the Vatican's property stormed and searched. As Stalin had said at one time, how many divisions does that Pope have?

Still, his fist encyclical Summi Pontificatus (20 October 1939) he condemned the invasion on Poland. A Time Magazine article on that, dated Monday, Nov. 06, 1939, can be viewed on-line,9171,762726,00.html?promoid=googlep

I have to add, because a fetus implies not only Jews, but all of pre-born humanity, a fetus is pretty valuable. God bless you.

Patti said...

Andrea, I think your comments do sum up why the Popes and others through history stood by and watched such atrocities. If our faith damns people to hell, what difference does it make how they get there? I know this feeling all to well, I am ashamed to say.