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EDITORIAL: Can the Vatican leopards change their spots? PDF Print E-mail
Apr 11, 2010 at 08:28 PM
Is the Roman Catholic Church anti-semitic? Well, not of course in its entirety and certainly there has been considerable change from the days when Mary Ann, my 10-year playmate in Manhattan where we both grew up, used to come back from parochial school and tell me, with pointed finger, "you killed Christ". But now we've rolled back in time, with the Bishop Emeritus of Grosseto (Tuscany) finding nothing better to say about the pedophile scandal which has finally burst full upon the scene at the Vatican, after being downplayed here for years, than that the media coverage on the issue is only "a Zionist attack" and that "historically" the Jews are God-killers. And, in the interview he gave to a website called Pontifex, Monsignor Giacomo Babini went on to more or less imply that because they killed Jesus, the Jews deserved what they got. And, he added, that although the Holocaust was a blot on humanity as a whole, that Hitler had been forced to take action because of the "the excesses and the embezzlements" with which the Jews had strangled the German economy. Oh boy!

It is quite disconcerting that the recent criticism of the current Pope for allegedly failing to take vigorous action in past accusations of pedophilia against priests in both Germany and the US, in general has led the Vatican and partsof the Roman Catholic hierarchy not to address the issue openly and directly but to charge that Roman Catholicism is under attack by its various enemies, including - it was recently suggested -- the New York Times.

Since Mary Ann's day (I'm talking about the 1950s) the Roman Catholic Church has repeatedly sought to make amends for the anti-semitic behavior of the past to which some Jews still attribute what they see as the failure of Pope Pius XII to take a clear, anti-Nazi stand back in the days of the Holocaust. Starting with the papacy of John XXIII, a rich dialogue between Catholics and Jews grew apace and since then, two popes, John Paul II and the present pontiff, Benedict XVI have visited the synagogue of Rome and have been warmly welcomed there.

But old habits die hard and to many Jews there is nothing all that surprising in the reactions that have emerged from parts of the Roman Catholic world in recent days. Only a few weeks ago another priest called Cantalamessa (which believe it or not means "sings the mass") offended some Jews by saying that the recent criticisms directed could be compared to anti-semitic attacks on the Jews. What?

I come from a Jewish family but personally, if it weren't for the weight of the past, I would find a lot of this stuff simply ludicrous. I have repeatedly been amazed by the ignorance of many Roman Catholics where Judaism is concerned something that can only be blamed on the Church's hierarchy, in the Vatican and throughout the world. Even today, for example, many Italian Catholics almost don't seem to realize that Jesus and his disciples were Jewish. And if they do know that, they still are unaware that the Last Supper was a Passover Seder, that the Easter lamb was a Jewish tradition long before Jesus died, and that it wasn't all that surprising that the Passover crowds in Jerusalem chose Barabbas, the insurrectionary, over Jesus since back in those days would-be messiahs, who rode into town on a donkey were, if not a dime a dozen, then at least a fairly regular phenomenon. But the past does have a weight which cannot be ignored and when high-ranking Roman Catholic prelates spout out such crap one fears it is true that the leopard cannot (will not) change his spots.

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