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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Didn't the Catholic Pope during World War II help the Nazis?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

Many of us have encountered some anti-Catholic whoppers in the past, and this ranks up there with one of the best of them. I recently heard another one during Lent that the Church instituted its meat-free Fridays because one of the popes had family in the fishing industry.  Really.  And I also heard a good one about the Vatican funding the Italian Mafia because it owns the BankofAmerica (not sure why it would own a bank in America but fund the Italian Mafia, but I'll look into it! ;) winking)  However, I digress...     

Regarding the claims that Pope Pius XII assisted the Nazis:  one cannot simply dismiss this accusation with, "That's ridiculous!"  I suppose the question of whether Pope Pius XII legitimized the regime of Hitler and pursued an anti-Semitic agenda ought to be addressed, because there really are people who are influenced by such stories.

Here is an example of an author who is proposing that the Church and the Nazis were in alliance:
"The Vatican had no excuse for its Nazi partnership or for its continued commendation of Hitler on the one hand and its thunderous silence regarding the Jewish question on the other hand. . . . [The popes] continued in the alliance with Hitler until the end of the war, reaping hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from the Nazi government to the Vatican."

In reality, Pope Pius XII did much to aid, protect, shelter and save the Jews from the Nazis.

Excerpts taken from this article:  Pius XII's Efforts to Save Jewish Culture Revealed (permission granted)

NEW YORK, JULY 1, 2010 ( The recently opened sections of the Vatican Secret Archives have revealed that Pope Pius XII not only helped save thousands of Jews, but also their patrimony, from the Nazis...
The foundation added that Cardinal Pacelli* specifically requested in his letter: "Care should be taken that sanctuaries are provided to safeguard their spiritual welfare and to protect their religious cult, customs and traditions."...
It too was sent to over 60 prelates, and the instructions, written in Latin, "leave no room for doubt about the intentions of the Holy See and about Eugenio Pacelli's thoughts," the scholar said.
The letter, he reported, reads, "Do not engage in saving only Jewish people but also synagogues, cultural centers and everything that pertains to their faith: the Torah scrolls, libraries, cultural centers, etc.)."...
Ronald Rychlak, author of "Hitler, the War and the Pope," acknowledged that this discovery by the foundation is "another confirmation" of the "good works of Pope Pius XII and the Catholic Church."
*Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli became Pope Pius XII.

Additionally, a book called "Hitler's Pope" caused much damage by spreading inaccurate and unsubstantiated information about a fictional collaboration between Hitler and Pope Pius XII.  (The author has, in fact, now retracted many of his original accusations.)
Jewish historian, Saul Friedlander, however, disputes these allegations:
"While some say he did little to protest the deportation of Jews and the Holocaust, written records and witnesses tell another story.  They testify to his actions in defense of the Jews.  Accounts of his intervention to save 4,000 Jews from a ghetto in Rome and place them in convents and Catholic schools refute claims of his passiveness."

From Rabbi David G. Dalin:
"During the Nazi occupation of Rome, three thousand Jews found refuge at one time at the pope’s summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. Amazingly, Castel Gandolfo is never mentioned or discussed in the anti-papal writings of many of the pope’s critics. Yet at no other site in Nazi-occupied Europe were as many Jews saved and sheltered for as long a period as at Castel Gandolfo during the Nazi occupation of Rome. Kosher food was provided for the Jews hidden there, where, as George Weigel has noted, Jewish children were born in the private apartments of Pius XII, which became a temporary obstetrical ward."

Finally--and I believe this is HUGE--the fact that, at the end of the war the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, converted to Catholicism, and took as his baptismal name:  Eugenio, the birth name of Pope Pius XII speaks volumes.  One has to wonder why a Jewish rabbi would give such honor to a man who had allegedly collaborated in slaughtering 6 million of his people.
  Rather, this gives great testimony to the truth of Pope Pius XII's repeated interventions on behalf of the Jewish European communities.

Now, it may certainly be argued that more could have been done by the Church.  And no one disputes that there were Catholic Nazi sympathizers and Catholics who, horrifically, participated in this holocaust either directly or indirectly.  But to say that the Church and the Pope were cowardly silent on this slaughter or collaborated with the Nazis is unsubstantiated and baseless.

For more in-depth study visit these websites:
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Why did Pope John Paul II call Jews our "elder brothers and sisters in the faith"?

“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,

and with all your MIND”--Matt 22:37

"You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.--John 4:22
Question:  Why did Pope John Paul II call Jews our "elder brothers and sisters in the faith"?
This is one of my favorite phrases attributed to Pope JPII, as it clearly speaks of unity between the great monotheistic religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam).  We all have the same roots--one God--and Abraham is considered the forefather Christians, Jews and Muslims.  God chose Abraham to reveal the name of God to all the nations, and our Jewish brethren were, as we proclaim on Good Friday Liturgy, "the first to hear the word of God."

Thus, it is true and wonderful that we can call all Jews our elder brethren in the faith.  As Jewish convert (via evangelical Christianity initially with strong anti-Catholic sentiments) Sr. Rosalind Moss says, "The most Jewish thing a person can do is to become Catholic. 
When I was trying to save my brother from becoming Catholic, I went to Christmas Mass with him. Afterwards, I told him, ‘That’s a synagogue, but with Christ!'"

I have not had the privilege of attending any Jewish services, but it is my understanding that I would recognize much of Jewish liturgical language. The Amidah is recited:   "Blessed are you, Lord God of creation" and "
'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!" and "We give thanks to you that you are the Lord our God and the God of our fathers forever and ever."   Sounds like we could be at a Catholic Mass, eh?
Not only are there similarities in liturgical language/prayers, but the
"priest’s vestments at Mass have ancient origins. His outer garment, the chasuble, a large cone-shaped cloth with a hole for the head, was often worn in Palestine during the Creek and Roman occupations. Its beauty and adornments go all the way back to Aaron. God had told Moses, “You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. These are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a girdle; they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve Me as priests. They shall receive gold, blue and purple and scarlet stuff, and fine twined linen” (Ex 28:2, 4). “Of the blue and purple and scarlet stuff they made finely wrought garments, for ministering in the holy place; they made the holy garments for Aaron, as the Lord had commanded Moses” (Ex 39:1).

Every Catholic church has a tabernacle, where lives the Word Made Flesh. In the synagogues, the tabernacle holds the Word of God in ancient Torah scrolls. Beside the Catholic tabernacle, and beside the synagogue tabernacle, is a candle. Both go back to the time of Moses. “The glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. For throughout all their journeys the cloud of the Lord was upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel” (Ex 40:35). Today we still see that fire, now a steady candle, and know that Jesus Christ is truly present.
That blood-red tabernacle candle, reminding us that Jesus who died to redeem us is present, reminds Jews as well of the yahrzeit or memorial candles they light each year to remember the departed."

See this photo below of a Jewish tabernacle which holds the scrolls of the Torah inside a synagogue.  Looks like it could be a Catholic tabernacle, doesn't it? As with the Catholic tabernacle, the Jewish tabernacle is the holiest place in the synagogue. 

Incidentally, Pentecost, which we celebrate this weekend, not surprisingly has Jewish roots.  When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place together.--Acts 2:1. The Jewish feast of Shavuot was observed 7 weeks (or 50 days) after the Passover in which people celebrated the harvest.  Christian Pentecost also celebrates the "harvest"--the "harvest of souls" by the Holy Spirit.

For more in-depth study visit these websites:
Salvation is from the Jews

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15