Thursday, March 12, 2009

So you see, the Vatican isn't anti-Semitic! Some of its best friends, maybe -- but no, that's a misunderstanding too. If you took offense, sorry!

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Stop the presses! It appears, from the testimony of no less than Pope Cardinal Ratguts himself, that at some point inside the Vatican, um, er, mistakes were made.

"I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them."
-- un-excommunicated Bishop Richard Williamson, in a Feb. 26 "apology" for his holocaust-denying remarks on Swedish TV in January, several days before his un-excommunication

by Ken

In my house, growing up, the standard way of expressing disagreement with a public figure's politics was to call him/her "a miserable anti-Semite." Needless to say, the range of offenses that qualified a person for the charge was exceedingly broad, not to mention hair-triggered. With the passage of time I came to disagree with many of the imputations, though not necessarily aloud. On the charge of "miserable anti-Semitism," my mother was pretty much judge and jury.

Well, my mother seems pretty much past that now. When I speak to her on the phone, I think she knows who I am, but not much more. So let me say it for her: Pope Cardinal Ratguts I is a miserable anti-Semite.

I was just reading on the NYT website where His Holiness "has written an unusually personal letter to bishops worldwide," scheduled for release today, "explaining why he revoked the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop and admitting mistakes in how the Vatican handled the case."

These are the four bishops, you'll recall, who were excommunicated by that flaming liberal, Pope John Paul II. I devoured Rachel Donadio's account, in feverish expectation of hearing the current pope's explanation of the Vatican's mistakes in handling the case.

However, as far as I can tell, the mistake consisted of not handling the flow of information better -- notably the embarrassing circumstance by which one of the "traditionalist" bishops (members of the Society of St. Pius X, founded in 1970 to wipe out the liberalizing "reforms" that had crept into the Church), including a Swedish TV interview this past January, several days before the scheduled un-excommunication, in which former Bishop Richard Williamson (according to a useful NYT online account updated to February 27) "denied the existence of the Nazi gas chambers and the scope of the Holocaust."

As best I can tell, what Pope Cardinal Ratguts regrets is the unfortunate coincidence in the timing -- that and the regrettable circumstance that, thanks to modern technology (i.e., YouTube), the bishop's indiscreet remarks quickly lit up the Internet.

Well, there seems to be one other thing that PCR regrets: the failure of those damn hot-headed Jews -- unlike the friendly ones who by contrast have been so understanding and supportive in this trying affair -- to understand that the excommunication and the un-excommunication were merely fairly trivial matters of doctrinal technicalities. The four bishops, you see, had been ordained without the blessing of the pope, in whom they don't believe, of course. Well, that was a big fat "oops!" as far as the Vatican is concerned. (Apparently. It was enough to send John Paul II into an excommunicating hissy fit, throwing around nasty words like "schism.")

Now, you see, the Schismatic Four haven't been un-excommunicated because of their views about the Holocaust. Oh, no no no no! As Ms. Donaudio put it:
In passages from the pope’s letter posted Wednesday on the blog of a veteran Vatican reporter, Andrea Tornielli, Benedict said he considered revoking the excommunication “a modest act of mercy” toward the bishops, whose ordinations were “valid but illicit.”

“Instead,” Mr. Tornielli quotes the letter saying, “it suddenly appeared something completely different: as the denial of reconciliation between Christians and Jews.”

You see, then, it was all a misunderstanding. Nothing to do with the holocaust to begin with! And really, the pope apparently believes, there are Catholics who should have known better. And those trouble-making Jews, what, really, is such a philo-Semitic pope to do about them?

By the way, the above-quoted "apology" issued by Bishop Williamson on February 26 was, according to the NYT account, judged by the Vatican "not sufficient to restore him to full communion with the church." Even though it included this heartfelt addendum: "To all souls that took honest scandal from what I said, before God I apologize."

Bishop Williamson holocaust-denying on Swedish TV in January -- he later apologized "to all souls that took honest scandal" from what he said. So that's OK, right?

Perhaps this small matter will be cleared up with the release of this virtually unprecedented letter of the pope's, deigning to explain his, er, "thinking." But on the whole I think we've got the basic points down:

* Um, mistakes were, you know, made.

* If anyone was offended, well, the bishops are real, real sorry.
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1 Comments:

At 9:59 AM, Anonymous Lee said...

Ken,

sounds like we grew up in the same home.

Growing up in the 50s and 60s I did experience real anti semitism. I'm old enough to remember being turned away from the Traymore hotel in Atlantic City because there were "no rooms". It was restricted.
But its not the 50s anymore although these yutzs?? still hate us and probably still think of us as christ killers

 

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