Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

17 Cheshvan 5760 - October 27, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
What Does the Catholic Church Really Want from Jews?

To The Editor:

I fear that the article entitled "New Book on Wartime Pope's Antisemitism" by R. E. Gruber in the issue of 28 Tishrei (October 8) can be terribly misunderstood.

First of all, there is no question that Pope Pius XII was blatantly antisemitic, believed the Jews were responsible for their tragedy by rejecting Christianity, and facilitated Hitler's rise to power. It is also well established that the Vatican helped high ranking war criminals escape justice after the war. This is obvious from records that have been known for many years. Apparently, Pius XII put the Roman Catholic Church in an uncomfortable position after the war: to condemn Pius XII would acknowledge that the foundations of the Church leave much to be desired. To admit the truth about Pius would put the Catholic Church in a very bad light. Decent Roman Catholics would also be disgusted that their religion could tolerate mass genocide. The Church therefore resorted to rewriting history and claimed that Pius XII saved many Jews.

Now John Cornwell comes along with his book Hitler's Pope: The Secret History of Pius XII, and proves from the Vatican's own archives, including letters, the truth that an unbiased person already saw years before. To rewrite history is one thing, but you can't rewrite the Vatican's own letters. Therefore, they had no choice but to attack Cornwell.

The basic tenet of the Vatican is that whoever does not accept J.C. is doomed to suffer forever in Purgatory. According to them, even people like Moses and King David were suffering there until J.C. brought them out. According to them, the Jews, as keepers of the old faith, are a cursed people doomed to suffer. Obviously, Pius acted the way he did. Any pope, even the present pope John Paul II, would have acted the same way.

Gruber's article mentions that "John Paul II has made improving Catholic-Jewish relations a priority of his papacy. He is the first pope to have visited a synagogue, he has visited Holocaust sites, and he has spoken out eloquently and frequently against antisemitism. He also oversaw the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Vatican."

John Paul II has the same beliefs that every pope before him held, only the times have changed the way of expressing those beliefs. Previously, Roman Catholics showed their brotherly love by putting the sword to Jewish necks in order to bring them to their "salvation." John Paul II wants us to recognize the authority of J.C. by, among other things, visiting a synagogue and condemning antisemitism (without mentioning that his church created the antisemitism in the first place).

The only Holocaust site that I know John Paul II visited is Auschwitz, where he planted a very large cross in the Auschwitz compound during a Mass in January 1979. John Paul II's act symbolizes that the Jews suffered there because they rejected the cross, and can only be redeemed through the cross.

I have nothing against the Roman Catholic people. I may suppose that the majority of them are decent people. You must keep in mind, however, that all through the centuries the Vatican has kept its true intentions hidden even from its own adherents. I assume that just like the vast majority of the American people would be sickened if they knew of some of the policies of their CIA, the vast majority of Roman Catholics would be sickened to know of some of the policies of the Vatican.

I also have nothing against the present pope. I heard a story that before he was pope a Catholic couple brought him a Jewish baby whose parents entrusted him to their care to save him from the Nazis. This couple wanted the future pope John Paul II to baptize the baby, and he refused. (This is certainly a far cry from days gone by when Catholics would baptize Jewish babies, and the pope ruled the child is Catholic, whereupon he would be taken away from his parents.) If this story is true, John Paul II certainly deserves a great deal of credit. However, it is unreasonable to think he is like Avrohom Ovinu and has smashed the idols of his fathers. John Paul thinks the same as his predecessors and wants to bring us "salvation." Unfortunately, John Paul's approach has been much more successful than his predecessors.

"He also oversaw the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Vatican." I suppose this is referring to The Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel. I was told that The Tablet, a Roman Catholic magazine, in its issue of Jan 13, 1994, states that in this agreement it was decided, among other things, that Christians can proselytize in Israel with the full protection of Israeli Law. Given that the Yated has reported many times that missionaries are afforded protection by the Israeli police while anyone who tries to stop them is harassed by the police, it looks as if The Tablet has told the truth.

John Paul II truly wants to improve Catholic-Jewish relations. In his mind that means convincing us to become Christian. This is a far cry from the Jewish ideal to love all people because we were all created betzelem Elokim, in G- d's image.

Sincerely yours,

Pinchos Leitman

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