[extropy-chat] embedded in open hearts

Mike Lorrey mlorrey at yahoo.com
Sat Apr 9 15:18:32 UTC 2005

> On Apr 8, 2005 5:18 PM, Hubert Mania <humania at t-online.de> wrote:
> > But here are some informations that might adjust the reputation of
> this Nope.
> > 
> > http://www.counterpunch.org/connolly04052005.html
> > "The Pope Who Revived the Office of the Inquisition"
> > An American Catholic Reflects on Papacy of John Paul II

by Rabbi Marvin Hier

In terms of reconciliation with the Jews, I believe that Pope John Paul
II was the greatest Pope in the history of the Vatican with respect to
his relationship to the Jewish people.
- Rabbi Marvin Hier, CNN's Larry King Live Show, Tuesday, April 4, 2005

As you read this, the funeral of Pope John Paul II is taking place. 
For twenty centuries, the Catholic Church has had a turbulent
relationship with the Jewish people. Jews were persecuted and held
responsible for the death of Jesus, and were often the victims of
Church-instigated pogroms and antisemitic attacks.

With the passing of Pope John Paul II, we have lost the strongest
advocate for reconciliation for the Jewish people in the history of the
Vatican. This Pope was determined to embark on a new course and leave
that shameful period behind. From the very beginning of his papacy,
when he first visited his native Poland, there were hints that this
Pope was going to break with tradition and not follow the centuries-old
script with respect to the Jews.

On his 1979 visit to Auschwitz, when he approached the inscriptions
bearing the names of the countries whose citizens had been murdered
there, he said, "I kneel before all the inscriptions bearing the memory
of the victims in their languages. In particular, I pause before the
inscription in Hebrew. This inscription awakens the memory of the
people whose sons and daughters were intended for total extermination.
It is not permissible for anyone to pass by this inscription with

The first time I met the Pope was in 1983 when I led a Wiesenthal
Center mission to Eastern Europe. There, at a private audience at the
Vatican, I expressed my concerns about antisemitism and said, "We come
here today hoping to hear from you, the beloved spiritual leader of 700
million Christians, a clear and unequivocal message to all that this
scourge in all its manifestations violates the basic creed to which all
men of faith must aspire."

Obviously, John Paul II understood that very well, but it is important
to place in proper context the considerable obstacles that he had to

During the height of the Holocaust, when millions of Jews were being
gassed, the Vatican found the time to write letters opposing the
creation of a Jewish State. On May 4, 1943, Vatican Secretary of State,
Cardinal Magaloni, informed the British government of the Vatican's
opposition to a Jewish homeland in Palestine. One day later, the
Vatican was informed that of the four million Jews residing in pre-war
Poland, only about 100,000 were still alive. Six weeks later, on June
22, 1943, the Vatican's apostolic delegate, Archbishop Cicognani wrote
to then U.S. Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, again detailing its
opposition to a Jewish homeland in Palestine and warning him that
Catholics the world over would be aroused and saying, in part: "It is
true that at one time Palestine was inhabited by the Hebrew race, but
there is no axiom in history to substantiate the necessity of a people
returning to a country they left nineteen centuries before...If a
Hebrew home is desired, it would not be too difficult to find a more
fitting territory than Palestine." To imagine then that 62 years later
a Polish Pope would have redefined Vatican thinking regarding the
Jewish people is astounding.

Twenty years after our first meeting, on December 3, 2003, together
with a small delegation of Center trustees, I returned to the Vatican
for another private audience, this time to present the Pope with the
Wiesenthal Center's highest honor, our Humanitarian Award. On that
occasion, I recapped his remarkable accomplishments, "As a youngster,
you played goalie on the Jewish soccer team in Wadowice...in 1937,
concerned about the safety of Ginka Beer, a Jewish student on her way
to Palestine, you personally escorted her to the railroad station...in
1963, you were one of the major supporters of Nostra Aetate, the
historic Vatican document which rejected the collective responsibility
of the Jewish people for the crucifixion...in 1986, you were the first
Pope to ever visit a synagogue...the first to recognize the State of
Israel...the first to issue a document that seeks forgiveness for
members of the Church for wrongdoing committed against the Jewish
people throughout history and to apologize for Catholics who failed to
help Jews during the Nazi period...the first to visit a concentration
camp and to institute an official observance of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust
Remembrance Day at the Vatican."

I did not always agree with the Pope, especially when he nominated Pius
XII for sainthood or when he met with then Austrian President Kurt
Waldheim. But one thing is clear - in the two thousand year history of
the papacy, no previous occupant of the throne of St. Peter has had
such an interest in seeking reconciliation with the Jewish people.

With his passing, the world has lost a great moral leader and a
righteous man and the Jewish people have lost its staunchest advocate
in the history of the Church.

Mike Lorrey
Vice-Chair, 2nd District, Libertarian Party of NH
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
                                      -William Pitt (1759-1806) 
Blog: http://intlib.blogspot.com

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Mike Lorrey
Vice-Chair, 2nd District, Libertarian Party of NH
"Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom.
It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves."
                                      -William Pitt (1759-1806) 
Blog: http://intlib.blogspot.com

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