Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Pope at Auschwitz

I thought this story had died, but apparently it has life amongst the liberals. NCR's John Allen reported on it here and Commonweal commented on it here.

John Allen's coverage of it is pretty well balanced. There were people who liked what Benedict had to say and others who didn't. Those who liked it weren't terribly vocal; those who didn't were -- as is usually the case.

But Commonweal was less than pleased. They even took the unusual step of slapping their liberal brother, John Allen, for not being liberal enough. Apparently, you see, the Catholic Church is still supposed to be flaggelating herself over her many failures regarding anti-Semitism. It's not enough, apparently, that John Paul led the Church through a recollection and repentence of her various sins during Lent of the Jubilee Year. It's not enough that John Paul went to Israel and put a petition in the Wailing Wall seeking forgiveness for our sins. It's not enough that Pope Benedict, as a German went to Auschwitz to show Catholic solidarity with those who died there.

Now the German people, on the other hand, they've done enough. One Israeli columnist, Sever Ploker, said they've said enough:
Not that we Jews, the remnants of those destroyed communities, still need German apologies. That was done in 1953, when the chancellor of the "new Germany", Konrad Adenhauer, offered such an apology to Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. The theme of atonement has been repeated in the statements of many German public figures, and the decisions of many official German institutions.

No, the Catholic Church has to do more:
The German pope's apology at Auschwitz, over the graves of a million murdered Jews, should have had a different purpose: To warn against renewed anti-Semitism, and to atone for the sins of the German Catholic church, which in the best-case scenario was silent in the face of the Nazis, and in the more probable one – collaborated with them.
Collaborated with them?? Of course, there were those who did. But to say that the entire German Church is guilt of collaboration with the Nazis is simply wrong because it's simply not true, and Mr. Ploker knows it.

So to many, Benedict didn't do enough. Who knows what "enough" means. Would they want him to flaggelate himself or let them whip him? Do they want to empty the Vatican Museums? Do they want to bankrupt the Church? I'm sure some do.

But what puzzles me is why these people are not hearing what Benedict said -- to kill the Jews is to try to kill God. Now if that doesn't condemn anti-Semitism, I don't know what does. If Benedict's foes had opened their ears, they might have heard this and proclaimed to the media, "See how well he thinks of us? To try to destroy us is to try to destroy God." If they had done that, then that would have been the headline and then everyone would have known that anti-Semitism is wrong.


Scott said...

I would also refer folks to dotCommonweal, the blog for Commonweal, in which in Fr Robert Imbelli, a Commonweal contributor, takes issue with the tone of the editorial. A good discussion has been going on as regards the Pope's performance. I believe there are three threads pertaining to the issue

john f. said...

I was very impressed with the Pope's visit and his admonishments. Thank you for this update.