Monday, November 19, 2007

SHOAH & THE RIGHT TO JUDGE THE GUILTY

(The ) confession and apology of Pop Hadrian VI " ...delivered into the hands of the Diet of Nuremberg in 1522 a far clearer confession of sins than John Paul II at the beginning of the twenty-first century :
" We are well aware that for some years now many abominable things have taken place at the Holy See: abuses in matters spiritual, transgressions of the commandments; indeed that all has turned for the worse. So it is not surprising that the sickness has spread from the head to the members, from the pope to the prelates. All of us , prelates and clergy have departed rightway . "p. 133 Hans Kung


" ...that Catholic history, while not causing the Shoah, was a necessary, unbroken thread in the rise of genocidal anti-Semitism as well as the source of the Church's failure to openly oppose it . "
p. 603 Carroll


The " Blood Libel " was the claim of the Catholic Church til recently that Jews kidnapped Christian children and then killed them using the blood of the victims in secret Jewish rituals & this was a staple of Catholic anti-Semitism from the 12th century on to the Catholic Journal " Civilta Cattolica " published in the 19th century & up til the Second World War which remained virulently anti-Semitic.

James Carroll claims that the Jews killing of Christ which is usually referred to as " Deicide " could be viewed as the first shedding of Christian Blood :

" One might say , indeed that the first Blood Libel appears in the foundational Christian story of the death of Jesus. Thus the Church- absolving wall between anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism teeters at its base, just as the wall moves unsteadily between the sadism of Christian mobs and the nonviolent but contemptuous teaching of the Church establishment . " p. 274 Carroll



In spite of the injustices committed against the Jews under the Papacy of Pope Pius IX the Vatican began the process of making him into a saint & so we can question the seriousness & sincerity of the Vatican in regards to what now seems its half-hearted apology for the wrongs committed against the Jews by the Catholic Church & its priests for over 1700 years as James Carroll points out :

" September 3, 2000 the last pope to maintain the Roman ghetto,Pius IX ( 1846-1878), a pope who referred to Jews as " dogs "was beatified by John Paul II..." p. 380


As Eli Wiesel has said about the Catholic Church & Christians who were silent or took an active part in the Holocaust :

"How is one to explain that neither Hitler nor Himmler was ever excommunicated by the Church? That Pius XII never thought it necessary, not to say indispensable, to condemn Auschwitz and Treblinka?

That among the S.S. a large proportion were believers who remained faithful to their Christian ties to the end?

That there were killers who went to confession between massacres. And that they all came from Christian families and had received a Christian education?

How explain that the Christian in them did not make their arms tremble as they shot at children or their conscience bridle as they shoved their naked, beaten victims into the factories of death?"

Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor



The rise of Hitler & the Nazis did not occur in a vacuum but within an historical context & within a cultural tradition of intolerance especially in the form of anti-Semitism as it was fostered & promulgated by the Catholic Church & other Christian Churches . The Nazis hatred of the Jews was not new but was ,in fact, part of the European Christian tradition. There are those who wish to argue that Nazi anti-Semitism was an aberration . The argument is somewhat like claiming that Hitler & the Nazis were " evil demonic beings " who had ascended from Hell to commit those atrocities or that some " Demonic Force " had spread throughout Germany & much of Europe which led to the deaths of six million Jews & some six million non-jews ie. Gypsies, slavs, homosexuals , socialists, communists, liberals & others in the concentration camps who were considered the enemies of the Third Reich & of Christian Western Civilization.

For instance one of the arguments made is that Hitler was insane & was a madman & did not in any way represent to some extent the beliefs of European Christianity . Another part of the argument is that it is only the most extreme Nazis who are responsible for the atrocities committed by the Third Reich. But we know that large numbers of people across Europe either willingly took part in these atrocities or who knew what was going on & yet silently stood by & took no action . When examining the details of the deportation of Jews from the various countries occupied by the Nazi Germans . It is quite disturbing to realize how willing so many nations were to help the Nazis round-up & deport the Jews in their country with very little concern for what would eventually become of those Jews who were deported. The fact is that anti-Semitism was a common belief throughout Europe or to put it another way it was a common European characteristic or " trait " from the British Isles to Norway & Finland & Russia to Hungary to France & Belgium to Poland & the Balkans through to Italy to Spain & Portugal to Greece to Gibraltar . But the people of Europe prefer to characterize Nazism & Fascism & anti-Semitism as wholly the creations of the extremists of Germany & Italy. Yet Hitler & Mussolini were often depicted not just by Germans & Italians but by many Europeans as a new hope & the salvation of Christian European Civilization. Yet from early on it was decided for political reasons that the guilt for these atrocities & especially for the Holocaust be characterized as wholly a German issue of certain extremist within Germany rather than an issue which needed to be dealt with by large numbers of Germans but also a large number of Europeans who had taken part or who were silent or who claimed or feigned ignorance of the atrocities committed. One of the few exceptions during that time was the government & people of Denmark who resisted the Germans & managed to save a majority of the Danish-Jews . In doing so the Nazis did not retaliate in a wholesale slaughter of Danes . Other European countries to defend themselves after the war against claims that they should have done more to save the Jews & others marked for death claimed they had no choice but to go along with whatever the German Nazi conquerors ordered or they would face annihilation or they claimed ignorance of the death camps .

As Daniel Jonah Goldhagen in his book " A Moral Reckoning: The Role of The Catholic Church in the Holocaust and its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair " points out :

" The facts: During the Nazi period many ordinary Germans were antisemites, did support the eliminationist persecution of the Jews, and did commit mass murder. The German government, German companies, and many ordinary Germans did enslave people on a vast scale. Swiss banks ( and institutions in other countries ) did steal from the victims and did help to finance the Germans' apocalyptic onslaught . Some leading German historians served the Nazi Regime, justifying with their work , among other things, its policy of foreign conquest and subjugation which they knew included mass murder- and their students, some of the most prominent historians in Germany today kept it buried . The Catholic Church was a source of an enormous amount of antisemitism and acted badly towards Jews in many ways. " (p. 13 Goldhagen )


And the question arises about whether we have a right to judge those who in one way or another acquiesced & took an active role in the " Exterminationist Persecution " policies of the German Nazis & their affiliates throughout Eastern & Western Europe .
If one is a moral relativist extremist then all values are merely relative & who knows what is right or wrong or good or evil - such a view means that a common criminal a murderer for instance may commit an act such as murder yet we have no right to judge them that is to arrest them put them on trial & if found guilty have them imprisoned or executed - in the same way these days we hear the Bush Regime & its defenders going to great lengths to defend the use of Kidnapping & torture because the term is rather vague & according to American attorneys is difficult to define & that in some situations torture should be permitted & that the killing of innocent civilians in Iraq or elsewhere is acceptable & is termed under the Euphemism of " collateral damage " & the destruction of a country's infrastructure , its roads , hospitals, schools , Mosques , its economy its culture is all justified to punish or take revenge on the Iraqi people for the 9/11 terrorist attack & now for any resistance by the people of Iraq against the foreign occupation of their country by the Americans & British who drop bombs indiscriminately on town, villages or cities - or as was said about the Roman Empire " Where the Romans make a wasteland or desert they call it peace "

But as Daniel Goldhagen argues that :
" It is our right to judge ...it is our duty to judge. If any event cries out for a concerted moral reckoning of those involved, it is the Holocaust- which is why those who even implicitly suggest as much are attacked by those who know how devastating the judgements ought to be. If there is any institution and set of people who are fit to be the subjects of such an investigation, and who themselves ought to welcome it , it is the Catholic Church and its clergy. This is so mainly because of the Church's self-understanding as a moral institution and its prominent contemporary role as a forceful moral voice in public discourse. The Church itself, Catholics, the victims, and those who care about each of them, all stand in need of a moral reckoning with the the Catholic Church . This appears obvious. Yet, when it comes to the Holocaust people are skittish about judging the Church and its members . Why ? ( Goldhagen ,p. 15)

Now I would say that Goldhagen & James Carroll or Hans Kung & others are naive to believe that an institution as powerful as influential as the Catholic Church which has proclaimed the " Infalliblity " of the Pope could ever come clean as it were about its past mistakes & crimes against humanity . If the Popes are infallible then one cannot question what they have or have not done since all they do is divinely inspired or directed as it were by God himself . As Pope Urban II in 1095 at the Council of Clairmont in proclaiming the First Crusade argued Dieu Le Veult - " GOD WILLS IT " & that in the end sealed the argument - if god wills it then who is to contradict not just the Pontiff but also God as they are one & the same .And this attitude existed from the earliest years of the Christian Church in dealing with the various heretics & establishing the Creed of the Church to the mass killings of the Pagans who refused to convert to the Crusades against the the Muslims who like the Jews were depicted as soldiers of the anti-Christ who had to be exterminated & the numerous Crusades against other non-Christians & those Christians who rejected some part of the official Creed or the authority of Christian Rome which lasted down to the 18th Century to the Inquisitons & the killings of Jews from the time of the Crusades to the Pogroms & massacres of the Jews down to the Holocaust .

Medieval Sourcebook:Saint John Chrysostom (c.347-407) :Eight Homilies Against the Jews


The Guilt of Christianity Towards the Jewish People by Sister Pista Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, Darmstadt / Germany As Sister Pista argues that the Church must come to terms with its role in encouraging anti-Semitism & the role of the Church in the Holocaust :

After the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed, the question was raised: How could it have happened? The shocking truth is that the Holocaust was the culmination of centuries of hatred and violent persecution, often inspired by Christian theology.

I feel deeply convicted as a Christian but also as a German, for as early as the Middle Ages Jews were mercilessly killed by the thousand in German cities. Mother Basilea Schlink, founder of our community in Darmstadt, Germany, writes movingly in her book Israel, My Chosen People of how those who attack God's people attack Him, for Israel is the apple of His eye.

Considering the atrocities committed against the Jews in the name of Christ throughout much of Christianity's 2000-year history, how can we celebrate the millennium without first expressing our deep sorrow over the past in a spirit of repentance? By our unchristian attitude and behaviour we have brought shame upon the name of Jesus, making it offensive to His own people, the Jews … And so today it is our prayer that Christians all over the world will be inspired to commemorate the millennium with a service of repentance in a spirit of unity, acknowledging our common Christian heritage.


and:

Commemorating 2000 Years of Christianity by Sister Pista at the Christian Celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jerusalem, Oct. 97.

After the age of the apostles, the theory arose that God was through with the Jews, that the Church was the New Israel and that the Jews were being punished for the crime of killing God. Later, when Christianity became the state religion, this theology was used as the basis for anti-Jewish policies In time, the Jews were blamed for every calamity. A case in point is the Black Death, said to have been caused by the Jews poisoning the wells. In the name of Jesus unimaginable atrocities were committed: Jews were humiliated, deprived of their rights, baptised by force, burnt at the stake -- thousands upon thousands of them. Christian festivals, such as Easter, were sometimes chosen as a time to attack Jews. While burning the Jewish population in the synagogue in Jerusalem, the Crusaders sang 'Christ, We Adore Thee'.

Whether it was the Crusades, or, more recently, the pogroms, or, most horrific of all, the Holocaust -- Christian anti-Semitism paved the way for these atrocities. Is it any wonder that the name of Jesus is not loved by Jews -- and that the cross is, for them, a symbol of persecution?

The truth is that the Jewish people have suffered more violence from Christians in the last 2000 years than from any other group. As modern-day Christians we all share in the responsibility for the continuous persecution of the Jews down through the ages. Regardless of our Christian tradition or denomination, our spiritual roots go back to the Early Church.


also see:
ANTI-SEMITISM AND ANTI-JUDAISM WITHIN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 1st to 20th Century CE

and:
Religious Tolerance .Org

Other References:

A Moral Reckoning :The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, pub. 2002

Constantine's Sword : The Church & the Jews by James Carroll, pub. 2001

The Catholic Church By Hans K√ľng -Translated by John Bowden, pub. 2001

The Popes Against The Jews: The Vatican's Role in The Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism, By David I. Kertzer pub. 2001

THE CRUCIFIED JEW: TWENTY CENTURIES OF ANTI-SEMITISM by Dan Cohen-Sherbok , pub.1992

also see Jewish-Christian Relations.net
& of particular interest at this website on anti-Semitism in the New Testament see the article Removing Anti-Jewish Polemic
from our Christian Lectionaries: A Proposal by Norman A. Beck


see On Martin Luther's Anti-Semitism
Martin Luther's dirty little book:On the Jews and their lies A precursor to Nazism by Jim Walker


take care,
GORD.

No comments: