Skip to comments.Opening Wartime Archives? (Pope Francis will open Pope Pius XII - Shoah - WWII-era archives)
Posted on 03/17/2013 9:43:54 AM PDT by Mrs. Don-o
The selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina to be the new pope of the Roman Catholic Church is being seen as a move that will continue to cement Catholic-Jewish relations and perhaps end the debate over the Churchs actions during World War II.
Bergoglio, 76, who took the name Francis and is the first Jesuit ever to be chosen pope, has publicly called for the opening of the Vatican archives to learn the true role Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust. There have been allegations that Pope Pius XII, who is on track to be canonized by the Church, remained silent in the face of the mass extermination of Jews and that he was friendly to the Nazis. Others have claimed that he secretly instructed Catholic clergy to hide Jews and that he did so himself inside the walls of Vatican City.
Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who co-authored a book with the new Pope in 2010, On Heaven and Earth, told The Jewish Week that they devoted a chapter in which they analyzed the attitude of Pope Pius XII during the Second World War. His answer was, in essence, that we have to wait to open all the archives and analyze all the details regarding this issue.
Asked if he believes that with his new authority Pope Francis will order the opening of the archives, Rabbi Skorka replied: I believe yes, that his attitude will be to search for all of the details and to open all the archives. He will use this opportunity to learn the truth.
Rabbi Skorka said that during his discussion with Bergoglio about this issue, I explained that I could not understand how a person a spiritual leader didnt involve himself more and more during the Shoah [Holocaust]. His answer was, Let us continue searching to reach the truth.
During his years in Argentina, there were allegations that the Catholic church there was silent and even complicit during what was known as the dirty war of the Argentine military junta in which countless people were murdered or disappeared from 1976 until 1983. Rabbi Skoka pointed out that there were even allegations that Pope Francis who headed the Jesuit order there from 1973 until 1979 was a member of the church hierarchy and supported or conspired to cover-up the juntas actions.
Our book deals with the dictatorship and in it he condemned with very sharp words the behavior of those who went along with the torture and killings, Rabbi Skorka said.
He stressed that none of the allegations against Bergoglio were ever proven and there was no evidence to support the claims.
The primary allegation against him was that he was involved in the kidnapping of two Jesuit priests who were then held under inhumane conditions. Bergoglio claimed that he, in fact, worked secretly to save the lives of the priests and others that he hid from the death squads.
Not only did he totally deny it, but he also condemned it with the sharpest words all of the clergymen and Catholic priests who stood with the killers during the regime, Rabbi Skorka said.
He said he and Pope Francis have been friends for 20 years and that last October Bergoglio arranged for him to receive an honorary doctorate from Pontificia Universidad Catolica Argentina (Catholic University of Argentina). Such an award to a rabbi was unprecedented in Latin America and was meant to stress on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) that the council had truly opened the door to a growing rapprochement between the Catholic Church and Judaism.
In his presentation of the honorary doctorate, the rector of Catholic University of Argentina, the Rev. Victor Fernandez said the councils actions as well as those or recent pope have been welcomed in Argentina, and Christian institutions can embrace the wisdom of a rabbi.
In reporting on the event, the newsletter of Catholic Theological Ethics in the World wrote that Rabbi Skorka, 62, and the father of two, thanked the university with a Hebrew verb meaning to join, connect. He evoked family memories and dialogues with Bergoglio [and spoke of the] intellectual courage of Pope Paul II. He said that `God is reached by love, and urged [the restoration of] spiritual bonds.
Rabbi Skorka told The Jewish Week that the university was founded in the 19th century under the supervision of the Vatican and that he was the first Jew so honored and through me all of the Jewish community.
Buenos Aires has the largest Jewish community in Latin America.
It was an historic moment because under his [Bergoglios] guidance they changed the relationship between the Catholic Church in Argentina and the Jewish community, Rabbi Skorka said. It was an impressive sign.
For a number of years Rabbi Skorka and Bergoglio conducted a televised dialogue related to all aspects of life, including politics, God, fundamentalism, death, the Holocaust and capitalism. They formed the basis of their book. Rabbi Skorka, who is rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Assembly, said he also invited Bergoglio to join his congregation, Benei Tikva Synagogue, for Selichot services in the days before the High Holy Days and Rosh HaShanah services.
He gave a special message in the name of the Argentinean Church to my congregants and to all the Jewish community in Buenos Aires, Rabbi Skorka recalled. He is very close to all kinds of people in power in Buenos Aires and he is very open to dialogue with us. He has condemned on several occasions anti-Semitism in a very stark way.
After the AMIA Jewish community center was bombed in 1994, Bergoglio visited the scene several times and expressed condolences for the 85 people killed, the rabbi added.
In 2005, Rabbi Joseph Ehrenkranz of the Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., praised Bergoglios leadership, saying: He was very concerned with what happened.
That year, Bergoglio was the first public personality in Argentina to sign a petition calling for justice in the AMIA bombing case, and was a signatory on a document called 85 victims, 85 signatures.
Argentine investigators believe officials and diplomats in Tehran planned the bombing, and in 2007 Interpol issued an international arrest warrant for them. Iran refused extradition but last month subject to the approval of the Iranian parliament agreed to allow Argentine authorities to question the suspects in Iran.
During a 2010 commemoration of the AMIA bombing, Bergoglio called the rebuilt building a house of solidarity and stated, God bless them and help them accomplish their work.
With Bergoglios active support, the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Chapel, the main Roman Catholic Church in Argentinas capital, erected a memorial to that bombing and to the victims of the Holocaust. Towards the rear of the main sanctuary, a large glass-enclosed case in a silver-wrought frame houses several Jewish artifacts, including a menorah, a Star of David, and sheets of prayer books rescued from Treblinka, Auschwitz and the Warsaw Ghetto.
Elsewhere in the sanctuary, are other framed cases with standard tributes to Catholic individuals and causes. The Holocaust memorial, known as the Commemorative Mural, is the only-such tribute to Holocaust victims in a Christian church, according to the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation.
Another rabbi in Buenos Aires, Silvina Chemen, told The Jewish Week she has known Pope Francis for many years and found him to be a serious man and a very intelligent person he is very measured. He takes his time in speaking and making his opinions known. He is very respected in Argentina and he reads a lot.
In fact, she said, two months ago at an event celebrating a newspaper supplement dealing with religious values he told me that he has my book of commentaries on the Torah by his night table. I said, `I read you every week.
Rabbi Chemen said she found Pope Francis open not only to Jewish-Catholic dialogue but to inter-religious dialogue in general. Every Chanukah he is invited to our synagogue and he comes and is very impressive. And he opens his house to meetings with the rabbis.
In addition, he meets with Jewish community leaders, including Jorge Burkman, executive director of Bnai Brith in Argentina, whose membership numbers 500 families.
We work with him on interfaith relations because he is very committed to dialogue, he told The Jewish Week. He was always sensitive about Jewish issues. And twice in the cathedral in Buenos Aires he has commemorated Kristallnacht, the last time in November of last year.
At that event, Bergoglio was the keynote speaker and helped to light the menorah.
We have developed a very good relationship since he came to the city of Buenos Aires, Burkman said.
Bergoglio became the archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998 and a cardinal in 2001. His selection as the 266th pontiff for the worlds 1.2 billion Roman Catholics came on the fifth ballot Wednesday of the 115 Cardinals who had gathered in Rome to elect a successor for Pope Benedict XVI, who retired last month.
We have in the cardinal a very good friend, and we hope he can develop the same as a pope, Burkman added.
Rabbi David Rosen, international director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee, agreed: There couldnt have been a better choice from a Jewish perspective or from a general perspective. We have reason to celebrate, he said in a statement.
There never, ever has been a pope with so much [previous] interaction with the Jewish community, Rabbi Rosen said. Even John Paul I [who advanced Jewish-Catholic relations to historic levels by such actions as visiting the Rome synagogue and apologizing for Christians past anti-Semitism] didnt have [the same level of] interaction with the Jewish community.
Rabbi Rosen, who said he once had a perfunctory meeting with Pope Francis, said he has heard only good things about the new Pontiff from leaders of the 250,000-member Argentine Jewish community.
Although the new pope spent most of his career in South America, he grew up in the generation of the Shoah and is sensitive to the importance of Holocaust commemoration, Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, Rabbi Rosen noted.
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said in a prepared statement that there is much in his record that reassures us about the future.
Pope Francis, who was born to a family of Italian immigrants in Argentina, was considered a favorite for the papacy eight years ago when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger succeeded John Paul II. But many were surprised by his selection this year.
A compassionate conservative dedicated to social justice, he is described as a humble man who would encourage priests to engage in shoe-leather evangelization. He is also a staunch defender of the church's traditional sexual teachings on such issues as abortion, same-sex marriage and contraception.
While problems remain in Jewish-Catholic relations, including the Churchs support for the Latin Mass that calls for the conversion of Jews to Christianity, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, spiritual leader of Park East Synagogue on the Upper East Side and a veteran of interfaith work, said he believes the spirit of Vatican II will prevail under Pope Francis.
Im confident that the track that has been laid will be continued and maybe even advanced, Rabbi Schneier added.
Rabbi Eugene Korn, American director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Israel, voiced concern that Catholic-Jewish relations might get lost in the midst of other urgent issues facing the church, including reorganizing the Curia [Church administration], dealing with the sex abuse scandals and the alienation of Europeans from church life.
We just dont know, he said.
His focus on the poor should be a good point of religious contact with Jews, Rabbi Korn added. After all, kindness and attention to the poor is a core Jewish value out of the Torah. Moreover, there are increasing numbers of poor Jews in America and Israel.
Rabbi Alfredo Borodowski, an Argentine native and executive director of the Skirball Center for Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-el, told The Jewish Week that the new pope is known in Argentina as somebody with integrity who has stood strong against the excesses of the current administration [of President Cristina Fernandez Kirchner] and has been good to the poor and needy.
Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said in a prepared statement that there is every reason to be confident Pope Francis will be a staunch defender of the historic Nostra Aetate, the declaration on the relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council, which forever changed the relationship of the Catholic Church and the Jewish people.
Rabbi Schneier said Bergoglios elevation to pope, and the growing presence of New York Citys Cardinal Timothy Dolan, indicate a shift in the Catholic Church from a focus in Europe, which has a conservative approach to interfaith relations, to the more open-spirit of the Americas.
Some 40 percent of the worlds Catholics live in Latin America, which is said to be rapidly losing adherents.
We have in a way relations that have matured much more than in other parts of the globe, Rabbi Schneier observed.
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It should be said that this has been in the works for YEARS.
From what I know, I think this will turn out fine. I believe Pius XII was a good man. But beyond that particular issue, the world needs leaders who are willing to pull back the curtain, reveal the truth of things and just let the chips fall where they may.
I believe the world has become consumed by lies, nothing is really knowable, and much goes on that we are not aware of. I want all the archives opened everywhere on the planet. What have we to lose?
Pius was a hero. He saved thousands of Jews from certain death and this is what Pope Francis wants the liberal Catholic Church haters to know.
I am looking forward to learning more of the “Vatican Intelligence Agency named “S.I.V.”, a code from “Servizio Informazioni del Vaticano”.
Some doors opened may wish to stay shut.
Thanks Mrs. Don-o.
But regarding the accusations against Bergoglio, my b-i-l told me that the two Jesuits who were imprisoned by the Argentinian government, actually WERE guilty of fomenting revolution, being supporters of Liberation Theology, but that Bergoglio was able to obtain their release, and he had them sent to Italy.
Evidently ecumania knows no boundaries. (Duh.)
Rabbi Schneir in NY is a disgrace of a leftist, a disgrace to his religion, so I read this article differently for seeing his name in it.
Maybe so....but the Church’s role in the Ustashe’s bloody reign in Croatia is a huge black mark on the Church.
I’m thinking of the end of Shindler’s List when Schindler broke down and kept crying that he could have done more. Everyone in that time could have done more.
Nobody addresses a traditional Jewish congregation “during prayers”.
I would hope not.
I still don't understand all this ecumania, and I never will.
More support for “Papa” from the Left:
The shoes of the fisherman: Pope Francis stands with the poor
Before he was a devoted husband and father, or a U.S. Senator, or a presidential candidate of historic accomplishments, Barack Obama took a job working as a community organizer for a group of eight Catholic parishes in one of the nations largest cities. With funding from the U.S. Bishops and working for three years out of an office in a Catholic church rectory, he embarked on a campaign to empower the lives of thousands of people who were suffering through economic circumstances not unlike what has befallen our country today.
And in 2008 note the Catholics For Obama boardmembers:
Since the Christmas season used to be celebrated by harassing and murdering Jews, Christians enthusiastic to celebrate Chanukah could be seen as a giant step forward.
All Popes support the poor. This is the calling from Jesus Christ. The “left” will despise him for the exact same reasons they despise all Popes, and that’s the Church’s teachings on abortion, marriage, contraception and women ordination. And, all Christians support the poor. This certainly is not the domain of democrats. Christians give more to charity than hypocrite democrats, who give nothing.
The biggest hypocrite of all is the baffoon Joe Biden, who gave about $20 last year to charitable causes. Liberals have to have something to praise the Pope about so they talk about the poor, while at the same time blasting him on 99% of other Catholic social issues, which never change.
Rabbi, if you were surrounded on all sides by Axis powers who hate you and pledge to exterminate you if you say ANYTHING negative, would you be "speaking out" more or working to save people BEHIND the scenes? If you still can't figure out the answer to this one, ask yourselves why Jewish leaders didn't "speak out" against Emperor Nero and other Roman leaders more when declared Christianity was an illegal religion were rounding up Christians for torture. Do you think Jewish temples would have accomplished anything besides getting themselves targeted for repercussions if they had "spoken out" against Roman authorities?
Since the Christmas season used to be celebrated by harassing and murdering Jews, Christians enthusiastic to celebrate Chanukah could be seen as a giant step forward.
Yes, and non-Jews (even idolators) were permitted to offer sacrifices to HaShem in the Beit HaMiqdash, but the context of the modern "ecumenical" movement is quite different, and quite sinister. The ultimate teaching is that all religions (and even all gods) are equally valid, and so they may be mixed or blended into a great human syncretic religion that is made up of portions of all of them but which is identical with none. As a Noachide I am well aware that Judaism is not conventionally proselytary ("conventionally" being the operative word), but it does not teach that all religions and all gods are equally valid. As I understand it, according to Noachide Halakhah, the creation of all religions, religious rites, and religious holidays since Mt. Sinai is forbidden. This means that all non-Jewish religions exist in defiance of Divine Law.
What, if any, effort, is being made to instruct the chrstian "partners" about this? Are they being told in even the most basic way that non-Jews are supposed to be Noachides and nothing else? Or are they implying, whether they mean it or not, that all that HaShem demands of non-Jews is that they not be "bigots" and that they acknowledge Churban 'Europa'? You will, I hope, excuse me for wondering if the Jewish partners in these "dialogues" are not being terribly naive, if not negligent of their duty. I mean, just think about it for a minute: why should two religions "dialogue" about anything? Two contradictory religions cannot both simultaneously be right. What are they doing? Sneakily trying to convert each other? Or negotiating a syncretistic merger? Because any and all such "dialogues" among contradictory religions must ultimately imply one of the two.
I have two further reservations. First, Chanukkah is the wrong holiday to have these get-togethers for the simple reason that it can so easily be (and has so often been) twisted into a celebration of the "enlightenment" notion of "freedom or religion," a concept alien to the Torah and of rationalist and Protestant origin. The second is that the only thing that tends to happen is that the Jewish partners, rather than even present the Noachide message, simply dictate changes in the non-Jews' religious beliefs and practices. Excuse me? If you can demand that other religions change their beliefs/practices, you can certainly simply tell them that their religions are WRONG and opposed to the Divine Will.
What all this invariably results in is the encouragement of the most radical, leftist, and G-dless elements of the false religions (because, quite naturally, these elements are more "tolerant") and the quiet resentment of the more conservative and "orthodox" elements (who of course aren't as "tolerant") who regard their Jewish "partners" as hypocrites and bullies. How would you feel if an orthodox chrstian or moslem refused to change his beliefs or practices while demanding that Jews stop praying in Hebrew or drop the `al hamalshinim benediction?
Vatican II was not an entirely good thing. Why is that so hard to understand? The fact that it improved the Catholic attitude towards the Jews doesn't change the fact that everything else about that subversive council was a disaster. Believe me--Jews don't need to be associated in the public Catholic mind with the Vatican II church. That's exactly like being associated with the modern Democrat party. Unfortunately, Jewish ecumenicists refuse to look at any other issue.
Here's a suggestion: how about having these leaders of other religions as guests for Shavu`ot? Wouldn't that be a much more appropriate holiday to celebrate Jews' relationship with non-Jews, since the Revelation at Sinai basically finalized religion for both groups? But no, no one ever considers non-Jews at Shavu`ot. It's always Chanukkah, because that holiday's message is more easily twisted into a celebration of the life and legacy of Thomas Paine.
Philosophy ping to wideawake.
Sukkot will be observed by all the nations in the times of the Messiah.
Agudath Israel and Chabad are two organizations whose members do not engage in ecumenical exercises. Chabad, of course, is a pioneer at publicizing the Sheva Mitzvot B’nai Noach, but now almost everyone Orthodox is on that bandwagon.