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Monday, April 28, 2014

Edith Stein and the dual papal canonization

I don't know much about Edith Stein, but I do dislike her extreme complementarianism ... she thought women had different kinds of souls than men (she influenced JPII and his complementarian Theology of the Body) ... so I was interested to see her mentioned in this article by Susan Jacoby about the canonization of the two popes yesterday ...

Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

[...] I am an atheist, raised as a Catholic by an Irish Catholic mother and a Jewish father who converted to Catholicism. I greatly admired John XXIII, though I was already an atheist at the time of his death, and I consider John Paul II to have been a disaster for Catholicism in the western world. It is no accident that during John Paul’s conservative papacy — when the church refused to reconsider sexual prohibitions applying to the laity but covered up sexual abuse of children by priests — millions of practicing Catholics decamped in the United States and Western Europe. According to a Pew poll conducted in 2009, more than one out of five native-born Americans raised in the church no longer consider themselves Catholics.

John XXIII, by contrast, generated immense enthusiasm among my contemporaries, who had known only the dour Pius XII as pope. Tears came to my eyes at age 15, in 1960, when I read that John had greeted a delegation of American Jewish leaders with the words from Genesis, “I am Joseph, your brother.” This was a reference to his name, Angelo Giuseppe (Joseph) Roncalli before he became pope.

The American delegation was presenting the pope with a Torah scroll honoring him for his work, as papal nuncio in Istanbul during World War II, in saving many Jews from the Holocaust by providing them with false documents for immigration to Palestine.

Just as clearly, I remember my anger when, in 1998, John Paul II canonized Edith Stein, a Jewish convert to Catholicism who became a Carmelite nun, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, and was gassed at Auschwitz in 1942. The canonization of Stein was considered an insult by many Jews (despite improvements in Catholic-Jewish relations during John Paul’s papacy) because it explicitly claimed that she was martyred at Auschwitz because she was a Catholic.

Of course — like all of Jewish birth — she was murdered by the Nazis because she was a Jew. She was taken from her convent in the Netherlands and placed on a train to Auschwitz, while all of the Catholic-born nuns were undisturbed.

The Stein case, as it happens, sheds considerable light on the nature of the canonization process ....


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