Saturday, July 7, 2012

Vatican Appeasement of Islam - Pius XII Still Falsely Accused of Holocaust Silence

As I have noted on previous posts, I am a Catholic and have engaged Evangelicals and Fundamentalists in debate for over twenty years.

None of this, though, has stopped me from hammering the Church when they fail, such as their miserable conduct in dealing with pedophile Priests. Although this takes me away from the points that I want to make today, I must note that Clerical Celibacy never had a single thing to do with Priests committing acts of pedophilia. Pedophiles are exactly that - not grown men who were once attracted to adult women. The latter do not engage in sexual acts with children no matter how long they go without any physical intimacy. Pedophiles seek positions of power and trust to gain access to children. They become Boy Scout Leaders, Camp Counselors, Cops, Clergy, etc.

Today I came across a news link in Gates of Vienna that detailed the atrocious amount of appeasement that the Vatican and other Catholic "leaders" have engaged in with Muslims, often enough with some of the worst of these.

A note of caution -  the article concludes with the old and patently False Witness claim that Pope Pius XII was silent and did little or nothing to help the Jews during the Holocaust. This flies in the face of the overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary. Some may be aware of Stalin's rhetorical question "How many Divisions has the Pope?" that he offered in response when his cronies told him that the Catholic Church was opposed to what he was doing. Stalin was basically asking "Well, what can the Pope do about it?". The same point rings true for Pius XII. He could not challenge Hitler as a Statesman of a nation that had much in the way of human and material resources. What he could do, though, was save as many Jews as possible. These acts will be noted after the appeasement part of the post.

The charge aging Pius XII leads me to suspect that some of the information that I quote from the Front Page Mag site  may not be accurate. I did not have time to check the accuracy of all of the claims.

The Catholic Church seems to be locked in a state of denial when it comes to Islam. The leaders of the Church are either complete fooled by some soft words offered by Islamic spokespersons are are complete fools period. They refuse to admit to themselves that they are next on Islam's hit list. Rome, the Seat of the Patriarch of the West, is the last Patriarchal Seat form the early Church that has not fallen to Islamic rule* (Link at bottom). Apparently thinking that Muslims will appreciate the effort, they are all too willing to find scapegoats upon which blame can be placed for Islamic hate and anger. Israel is the easiest target.

Note also that there is clearly no "alliance". It is simply a terribly poor case of judgement, one that blames the victim for the acts of the aggressor.

"Many Catholic groups worldwide already embraced the Palestinian myth. Pax Christi, one of the most famous Catholic organizations, on its website, repeatedly calls the Jewish site [Rachel's Tomb - a particularly Holy Site for Jews. Rachel  was Jacob's favorite wife and Jacob was the Father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel] a “mosque.” Then there is the Bethlehem University of the Holy Land, the only Vatican-run educational institution in the area and whose founding can be traced back to the visit of Pope Paul VI in the holy land in 1964. The Catholic University recently launched a project about the Rachel’s Tomb. The document calls it “a historical religious site for followers of Christianity and Islam,” whose location is “on Palestinian lands.” The Vatican institution seems to ignore that all of Rachel’s Tomb belongs to Area C, which the Oslo Accords gave to Israeli jurisdiction. The very title of the Catholic project, “Rachel: An Alien in her Hometown,” suggests that the tomb is a spot hijacked by the Israelis. The tomb, the Catholic report says, “is also known by Muslims as the Bilal Ibn Rabah Mosque.” According to the Vatican university, the Jewish shrines are Arab treasures stolen by the Zionists and the Israelis are no more than invading colonizers.

A few months ago, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Fouad Twal, welcomed enthusiastically the agreement reached between Hamas and Fatah, despite both the PLO and Hamas covenants’ call for the use of violence against the Jews. Last September, Patriarch Twal, named by Pope Benedict XVI, was at the White House for a meeting with the American administration — as well as for the purpose to support the PA statehood bid at the UN.

Last January eight Catholic bishops from Europe and North America, including UK Archbishop Patrick Kelly and French Archbishop Michel Dubost, visited Gaza under Hamas control. “I asked prisoners in the largest prison in Europe (in Evry) to pray for you,” Dubost told Gazans. The inference is clear: Palestinians are living in a big prison terrified by Israel. In the same period, Father Manuel Musalam, head of Gaza’s Catholics, met with Hamas leader, Mahmoud al Zahar, and declared that “Christians are not threatened by Muslims” but that everyone faces the same problem, that of Israel’s “humiliation.”

A few weeks earlier, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales offered the Palestinians another piece of powerful propaganda: the comparison with Jesus’ passion. “We are to be freshly attentive to the needs of those who, like Jesus himself, are displaced and in discomfort,” Archbishop Vincent Nichols said during his last Christmas Mass sermon at Westminster Cathedral. “A shadow falls particularly heavily on the town of Bethlehem tonight … We pray for them tonight” It would have been more in keeping with Nicholas’ mission to mention hundreds of Christians losing their lives to Islamic terrorism and oppressed by Palestinian dictatorship.

........ the Catholic Church is adopting a tragic appeasement on Islam. As the brave Andrew Bostom explained, the Vatican embraced “groveling Islamophilia, accompanied by criticism of the U.S. ‘war on terrorism’ as an ‘injustice’ to Muslims, and constant scapegoating of Israel, often expressed with strident animus towards the Jewish State.”

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, who is known for having a pro-Islam position, has been appointed by Pope Benedict as the head of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. In a letter addressing his “Dear Muslim friends,” Tauran asked for Islamic help to form an alliance against atheism. The Vatican promoted “Love of God, Love of Neighbor,” the first three-day forum with Islamic leaders. The Pope agreed to meet one of the most dangerous Islamists in the Western world, the grandson of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, Tariq Ramadan – the Swiss scholar who denies Israel’s right to life and who has been banned from entering the US because of his alleged association with extremists.

In the last year the Vatican also built a strong friendship with Iranian authorities and clergy. The Holy See’s course with Iran’s Ahmadinejad began in 2009 at the United Nations, when at the first day of the “Durban II” Conference, the Iranian president made a speech blasting Israel as “totally racist” and referred to the Holocaust as an “ambiguous and dubious question.” When Ahmadinejad began his rant against the Jews, all the European delegates left the conference room. The Vatican delegation didn’t say a word.

Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai, head of the Lebanon’s Catholic Church, then sent his envoy, Father Abdo Abou Kassem, to Teheran for a conference in support of the Palestinian Intifada and of a “Zionist-free middle east.” The conference was attended also by Hezbullah ideologue, Mohammad Raad, and by the Hamas’ leader Meshaal."

OK, enough of that. Now for some real facts about Pius XII and his work for the Jews. That Pope was, during WWII, referred to by none other than the New York Times as the only European leader who was saying or doing anything to help the Jews. Of course the same periodical took the opposite position on the same issue in the 90's. Golda Meir and the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem both publicly noted their appreciation for his labors. The latter was quoted as saying "Israel will never forget you".

"Hochhuth’s fictional image of a silent (though active) pope has been transformed by the anti-Catholic rumor mill into the image of a silent and inactive pope—and by some even into an actively pro-Nazi monster. If there were any truth to the charge that Pius XII was silent, the silence would not have been out of moral cowardice in the face of the Nazis, but because the Pope was waging a subversive, clandestine war against them in an attempt to save Jews.

"The need to refrain from provocative public statements at such delicate moments was fully recognized in Jewish circles. It was in fact the basic rule of all those agencies in wartime Europe who keenly felt the duty to do all that was possible for the victims of Nazi atrocities and in particular for the Jews in proximate danger of deportation to ‘an unknown destination.’ "[9] The negative consequences of speaking out strongly were only too well known.

"In one tragic instance, the Archbishop of Utrecht was warned by the Nazis not to protest the deportation of Dutch Jews. He spoke out anyway and in retaliation the Catholic Jews of Holland were sent to their death. One of them was the Carmelite philosopher, Edith Stein."[10]

While the armchair quarterbacks of anti-Catholic circles may have wished the Pope to issue, in Axis territory and during wartime, ringing, propagandistic statements against the Nazis, the Pope realized that such was not an option if he were actually to save Jewish lives rather than simply mug for the cameras.

The desire to keep a low profile was expressed by the people Pius XII helped. A Jewish couple from Berlin who had been held in concentration camps but escaped to Spain with the help of Pius XII, stated: "None of us wanted the Pope to take an open stand. We were all fugitives, and fugitives do not wish to be pointed at. The Gestapo would have become more excited and would have intensified its inquisitions. If the Pope had protested, Rome would have become the center of attention. It was better that the Pope said nothing. We all shared this opinion at the time, and this is still our conviction today."[11]

While the U.S., Great Britain, and other countries often refused to allow Jewish refugees to immigrate during the war, the Vatican was issuing tens of thousands of false documents to allow Jews to pass secretly as Christians so they could escape the Nazis. What is more, the financial aid Pius XII helped provide the Jews was very real. Lichten, Lapide, and other Jewish chroniclers record those funds as being in the millions of dollars—dollars even more valuable then than they are now.

In late 1943, Mussolini, who had been at odds with the papacy all through his tenure, was removed from power by the Italians, but Hitler, fearing Italy would negotiate a separate peace with the Allies, invaded, took control, and set up Mussolini again as a puppet ruler. It was in this hour, when the Jews of Rome themselves were threatened—those whom the Pope had the most direct ability to help—that Pius XII really showed his mettle.

Joseph Lichten records that on September 27, 1943, one of the Nazi commanders demanded of the Jewish community in Rome payment of one hundred pounds of gold within thirty-six hours or three hundred Jews would be taken prisoner. When the Jewish Community Council was only able to gather only seventy pounds of gold, they turned to the Vatican.

"In his memoirs, the then Chief Rabbi Zolli of Rome writes that he was sent to the Vatican, where arrangements had already been made to receive him as an ‘engineer’ called to survey a construction problem so that the Gestapo on watch at the Vatican would not bar his entry.
[This reminds me of the Hebrew midwifes in Egypt who told the Egyptians that the Hebrew women delivered their babies too quickly to kill the male newborns] He was met by the Vatican treasurer and secretary of state, who told him that the Holy Father himself had given orders for the deficit to be filled with gold vessels taken from the Treasury."[12]

Pius XII also took a public stance concerning the Jews of Italy: "The Pope spoke out strongly in their defense with the first mass arrests of Jews in 1943, and L’Osservatore Romano carried an article protesting the internment of Jews and the confiscation of their property. The Fascist press came to call the Vatican paper ‘a mouthpiece of the Jews.’ "[13]

Prior to the Nazi invasion, the Pope had been working hard to get Jews out of Italy by emigration; he now was forced to turn his attention to finding them hiding places. "The Pope sent out the order that religious buildings were to give refuge to Jews, even at the price of great personal sacrifice on the part of their occupants; he released monasteries and convents from the cloister rule forbidding entry into these religious houses to all but a few specified outsiders, so that they could be used as hiding places. Thousands of Jews—the figures run from 4,000 to 7,000—were hidden, fed, clothed, and bedded in the 180 known places of refuge in Vatican City, churches and basilicas, Church administrative buildings, and parish houses. Unknown numbers of Jews were sheltered in Castel Gandolfo, the site of the Pope’s summer residence, private homes, hospitals, and nursing institutions; and the Pope took personal responsibility for the care of the children of Jews deported from Italy."[14]

Rabbi Lapide records that "in Rome we saw a list of 155 convents and monasteries—Italian, French, Spanish, English, American, and also German—mostly extraterritorial property of the Vatican . . . which sheltered throughout the German occupation some 5,000 Jews in Rome. No less than 3,000 Jews found refuge at one time at the Pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo; sixty lived for nine months at the Jesuit Gregorian University, and half a dozen slept in the cellar of the Pontifical Bible Institute."[15]
Notice in particular that the Pope was not merely allowing Jews to be hidden in different church buildings around Rome. He was hiding them in the Vatican itself and in his own summer home, Castel Gandolfo. His success in protecting Italian Jews against the Nazis was remarkable. Lichten records that after the War was over it was determined that only 8,000 Jews were taken from Italy by the Nazis[16] —far less than in other European countries. In June,1944, Pius XII sent a telegram to Admiral Miklos Horthy, the ruler of Hungary, and was able to halt the planned deportation of 800,000 Jews from that country.

The Pope’s efforts did not go unrecognized by Jewish authorities, even during the War. The Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Isaac Herzog, sent the Pope a personal message of thanks on February 28, 1944, in which he said: "The people of Israel will never forget what His Holiness and his illustrious delegates, inspired by the eternal principles of religion which form the very foundations of true civilization, are doing for us unfortunate brothers and sisters in the most tragic hour of our history, which is living proof of divine Providence in this world."[17]

Other Jewish leaders chimed in also. Rabbi Safran of Bucharest, Romania, sent a note of thanks to the papal nuncio on April 7, 1944: "It is not easy for us to find the right words to express the warmth and consolation we experienced because of the concern of the supreme pontiff, who offered a large sum to relieve the sufferings of deported Jews. . . . The Jews of Romania will never forget these facts of historic importance."[18]

The Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, also made a statement of thanks: "What the Vatican did will be indelibly and eternally engraved in our hearts. . . . Priests and even high prelates did things that will forever be an honor to Catholicism."[19]

After the war, Zolli became a Catholic and, to honor the Pope for what he had done for the Jews and the role he had played in Zolli’s conversion, took the name "Eugenio"—the Pope’s given name—as his own baptismal name. Zolli stressed that his conversion was for theological reasons, which was certainly true, but the fact that the Pope had worked so hard on behalf of the Jews no doubt played a role in inspiring him to look at the truths of Christianity.

Lapide writes: "When Zolli accepted baptism in 1945 and adopted Pius’s Christian name of Eugene, most Roman Jews were convinced that his conversion was an act of gratitude for wartime succor to Jewish refugees and, repeated denials not withstanding, many are still of his opinion. Thus, Rabbi Barry Dov Schwartz wrote in the summer issue, 1964, of Conservative Judaism: ‘Many Jews were persuaded to convert after the war, as a sign of gratitude, to that institution which had saved their lives.’ "[20]

In Three Popes and the Jews Lapide estimated the total number of Jews that had been spared as a result of Pius XII’s throwing the Church’s weight into the clandestine struggle to save them. After totaling the numbers of Jews saved in different areas and deducting the numbers saved by other causes, such as the praiseworthy efforts of some European Protestants, "The final number of Jewish lives in whose rescue the Catholic Church had been the instrument is thus at least 700,000 souls, but in all probability it is much closer to . . . 860,000."[21] This is a total larger than all other Jewish relief organizations in Europe, combined, were able to save. Lapide calculated that Pius XII and the Church he headed constituted the most successful Jewish aid organization in all of Europe during the war, dwarfing the Red Cross and all other aid societies.

This fact continued to be recognized when Pius XII died in 1958. Lapide’s book records the eulogies of a number of Jewish leaders concerning the Pope, and far from agreeing with Jack Chick that he deserved death because of his "war crimes," Jewish leaders praised the man highly:[22]

"We share the grief of the world over the death of His Holiness Pius XII. . . . During the ten years of Nazi terror, when our people passed through the horrors of martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the persecutors and to commiserate with their victims" (Golda Meir, Israeli representative to the U.N. and future prime minister of Israel).
"With special gratitude we remember all he has done for the persecuted Jews during one of the darkest periods in their entire history” (Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress).

"More than anyone else, we have had the opportunity to appreciate the great kindness, filled with compassion and magnanimity, that the Pope displayed during the terrible years of persecution and terror" (Elio Toaff, Chief Rabbi of Rome, following Rabbi Zolli’s conversion).

Finally, let us conclude with a quotation from Lapide’s record that was not given at the death of Pius XII, but was given after the War by the most well-known Jewish figure of this century, Albert Einstein: "Only the Catholic Church protested against the Hitlerian onslaught on liberty. Up till then I had not been interested in the Church, but today I feel a great admiration for the Church, which alone has had the courage to struggle for spiritual truth and moral liberty."[23] "

* - On the last remaining freely-held seat of one of the five Patriarchates of the early Church and what Muslims likely want to do with it

One last note - Can we imagine what will happen to the artwork in the Sistine Chapel if Rome falls under Islamic domination? If Hagia Sophia was ravaged in 1453, along with the nuns and other women, I expect that the same will happen with Saint Peter's Basilica.

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