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Thursday, March 03, 2011

The pope, his book, and the Jewish people

There are a couple of posts at America magazine's blog about the pope repudiating the idea of collective Jewish guilt for Jesus’ death in the second volume of his Jesus of Nazareth books - Why Are the Pope's Words on the Jews Important? by Fr. James Martin SJ, and Pope book on Jews: how original is its insight? by Austen Ivereigh. There's a post on this at Reuters FaithWorld blog too.

To me, the attention this is getting seems weird for two reasons. First reason: the idea that the Catholic Church has decided not to hold all Jewish people responsible for Jesus' death was previously stated in the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate (see my post The Mid-East Synod, Maximos IV, and Nostra Aetate ). The second reason is this: the pope has actually been the architect of a deteriorating relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people .... here's a bit from another post at Reuters FaithWorld blog, Timeline – Ups and downs in recent Catholic-Jewish relations ....

2005 – Pope Benedict, who was enrolled by force into the Hitler Youth as a boy, visits a Cologne synagogue. Jewish leaders urge the Vatican to open all its wartime archives [which it still has not done].

2008 – Pope Benedict approves a prayer for traditionalist Good Friday services that Jews say calls for their conversion.

2009 – Benedict lifts the excommunication of four traditionalist bishops [SSPX], one of whom denies the Holocaust. This leads to an outcry and deep rift with Jews, with whom Benedict expresses his “full and unquestionable solidarity.”


2010 – Benedict visits the Rome Synagogue in January and hears renewed criticism of Pius XII. In November, Jewish leaders react negatively to comments in the pontiff’s new book that his wartime predecessor Pius was a “great, righteous”man who “saved more Jews than anyone else”.

Don't get me wrong - I am glad the pope is using his book to mention the obvious truth that the Jewish people are not responsible for Jesus' death, but to hail this as some great ecumenical feat seems like a PR ploy, given how negatively the pope is actually treating the Jewish people. I'll wait to give the pope credit until he removes Pius XII from the sainthood fast-track and opens up the Vatican's secret archives for the years when Pius XII was pope.


Anonymous Henry said...

Crystal - I am excited to tell you that theme for the XIII General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops is “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian faith”.

The “Lineamenta” (Guidelines) are online here:

I glanced at it and it looks great and so I thought I'd share that good news with you my friend. I hope your back is better today!

In Christ,


8:57 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Crystal – Have you ever read the books written by Sr. Margherita Marcione, Ph.D.? She is the author of Crusade of Charity: Pius XII and POWs (2006); Shepherd of Souls: a pictorial life of Pope Pius XII (2002); Consensus and Controversy: defending Pius XII (2002); Pius XII: architect for peace (1999); Yours is a Precious Witness: memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy (1997) and of other books and articles.

If not, you might want to consider doing so.

10:03 AM  
Blogger crystal said...


Hi. Thanks for asking about my bck. It does feel better today thn yesterday.

Thanks for the link.

By coincidence, I'm reading (listening to) a book right now about an Israeli agent who's tracking down a former Nazi war criminal who managed to escape Europe after the war by sing a Catholic ratline run by Bishop Alois Hudal. The book is a novel but Hudal was real - he helped a number of Nazi war ciminals escape justice, including Adolf Eichmann.

I've read a bit about Pius XII, have posted on the blog about him (for instance - How not to be a saint and Under His Very Windows: The Vatican and the Holocaust in Italy and Michael Phayer on Pius XII).

I know there's evidence about his role in both helping and also not helping the Jews during the Holocaust - I've concluded that he did not do enough to help them.

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Crystal - please take it easy with your back and please give your body the time it needs to heal - you are a good internet friend and I want you to get better quickly and in a holistic way.

What’s a “ratline”? I’ve never heard of this term.

The beautiful thing about us human beings is that we can each look at the same facts (or the same reality) and draw completely different conclusions – it’s something I find amazing, don’t you? (I am, of course presuming that neither side wants to be ideological.)

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Hmm... you may actually be smarter than I ws in my youth so scratch what I implied in the back comment.

I said what I said about your back because I know that when I was young I used to think: "I don't need to rest, my body is storng and it will heal itself!" Well I was really stupid in my youth and paying for it know and I don't want you to suffer later if you can avoid it!

1:02 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Ahh... those damn typos are back! I just tested and my blood sugar is low so I am going to go get some food!

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Victor said...

Hey Crystal, what do you think about John Paul 2 becoming a Saint? My wife is kind of exited cause he's going to be ordained on her Birthday! Go Figure!

Take care of your back and Henry don't let your blood sugar get too low and for what it's worth, I've been there and still doing that. :)


7:54 PM  
Blogger crystal said...

Thanks, you guys. My sister bought me a back brace, which helps. Every day it feels better :)

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Henry said...

Thanks Victor. You have low blood sugar attacks too,is that because you are diabetic like me? I will pray that you don't have them often because they are really terrible.

Crystal - your sister really loves you! I hope your back has improved even more since we last chatted.

9:32 PM  
Anonymous sonja said...

Excellent points. I agree with you 100%. When the news stories started coming out about how Benedict took the time in his new book to point out that not all Jews can be blamed for Jesus' death, my first thought was, "Great to hear he finally agrees with Nostra Aetate!" But I wonder how much of these stories is attributable to the simple fact that not a lot of mainstream reporters are familiar with the documents of Vatican II, or any ecclesiastical documents for that matter.

My copy of _Jesus of Nazareth, Part 2_ is on pre-order from Amazon. If it arrives before I leave town, I'll try to have a review of it up on WIT by this weekend.

9:16 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Hi Sonja,

Yes, I guess I was in a bad mood the day I posted this :) It is a good thing, of course, that he wrote what he did.

I look forward to your post on the book. I doubt I'll buy it, so it will be nice to see what you have to say.

1:43 PM  

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