Well, did he or didn't he?

September 23rd, 2008

The question of whether Pope Pius XII did as much as he could to help the Jews during WW II has still not been answered, but it has been raised again by Pope Benedict.

Meanwhile, here is some more material on the subject: The Case Of The Wartime Pope: The Historical Controversy Of Pius XII

When Sr. Margherita Marchione discovered that members of her religious order in Rome had saved 114 Jews, she decided to research the subject, interviewing both Catholics and Jews who were there at the time.

Her findings? Evidence exists of a huge system of P.O.W. location and hiding as well as the smuggling of Jewish refugees, which originated in the Vatican. Although there are no documents to show it, interviewees told Sr. Margherita that the orders for these institutions came from Pius XII himself.

In 1998, Sr. Margherita received a letter from a Msgr. Ferofino, who told her a story about Pius XII and the Jews. Msgr. Ferofino was in Santo Domingo, serving as secretary to the bishop there under the rule of dictator Rafael Trujillo. Msgr. Ferofino received notice from Pius XII asking them to visit Mr. Trujillo and ask him for 400 visas, so the pope could send a shipload of Jews to Santo Domingo. They had visas to the U.S., but U.S. authorities would not accept them. Mr. Trujillo accepted the immigrants, who gradually went to the U.S. via Mexico after arriving in the Dominican Republic.

Meanwhile, John Cornwell, who wrote Hitler’s Pope, has somewhat revised his ideas, but is still not convinced that the Pope did enough.

Hitler's Pope has been criticized for its accuracy and dedication to objective history, and Mr. Cornwell admits that since its publication, his views have undergone revision.

"While I believe with many commentators that the pope might have done more to help the plight of the Jews, I now feel, 10 years after the publication of my book, that his scope for action was severely limited and I am prepared to state this," he said. "Nevertheless, due to his ineffectual and diplomatic language in respect of the Nazis and the Jews, I still believe that it was incumbent on him to explain his failure to speak out after the war. This he never did."

Not exactly the current Pope’s claim that Pius XII ‘spared no effort’ to help the Jews.

"I'm a Christian Zionist, a Christian feminist and a Christian socialist"

August 15th, 2008

Link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/aug/14/religion.anglicanism

Life's much quieter in Israel these days, mostly thanks to the defensive 'Wall' perhaps. As a result, Christian responses to Israel have become quieter, although some still mutter and grumble about the Wall which protects so many Israeli lives.

So, for a change, here is Julie Burchill, bravely stepping into the anti-Israel darkness of the Guardian and shedding a little light there. The article is largely about her religious journey: For the love of Christ

I'm a Christian Zionist, a Christian feminist and a Christian socialist. But the Christian part has become the most important.

If only more Christians were like her. Here's a sample:

When one considers the shocking plight of British Muslims who seek to convert to Christianity, it seems to me quite offensive that Christianity should be dismissed by Dawkins and his like in the same breath as Islam. Similarly, Dawkins' critique of Judaism seems way too aggressive, when one compares it to the excesses of other belief systems. The oldest and least evangelical of the monotheistic religions, it is also arguably the most civilised and liberal; there are female judges and rabbis in the Old Testament, which makes the C of E's foot-dragging over the ordination of women look a bit sad – and let's not even mention the Catholic and Muslim attitude to women being allowed to preach.

Palestinians suffer more than any other people in the entire world - nay, the universe - ever.

March 6th, 2008

Once again, Palestinian terrorists, their hatred carefully nurtured by their leaders, savagely murder innocent Jews in a religious school in Jerusalem.

This follows on the news that the usual bunch of suspects (Christian Aid, Amnesty, Cafod, etc) have blamed Israel for the sufferings of the inhabitants of Gaza. They fail to condemn those really responsible - Hamas - and even call on Israel to engage with that rabid organisation.

Just to put their claims that the Palestinians are suffering terribly - one might think more than anyone else in the whole wide world has ever suffered since time began - here is an interesting article from the admirable Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey.

In other words, Palestinians are about in the mid-average range for
third-world countries, and rank almost the same as Mexico (the USA's
bordering country and trade ally) on the poverty index. Interesting.

For some perspective

Human Poverty Index (HPI-1) 2004
Palestinians have a better time than:

Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Africa and most of South Africa, Central America and Asia

Probability of not surviving past age 40(%)2004
Palestinians have a better time than:

Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Africa and most of South Africa, Central America and Asia

Adult illiteracy rate (%ages 15 and older)2004
Palestinians have a better time than:

Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Africa and most of South Africa, Central America and Asia

People without access to an improved water source (%) 2004
Palestinians have a better time than:

Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Africa and most of South Africa, Central America and Asia

Children underweight for age (% ages 0-5) 2004
Palestinians have a better time than:

Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, Yemen, Morocco, Africa and most of South Africa, Central America and Asia

Zionists! *shakes fist in the air*

Who will speak up for Palestinian Christians?

February 20th, 2008

Palestinian Christians live in constant fear according to this rare article about their plight in Gaza. And no, it's not fear of the Israelis.

Here with an item from last week's news that you might not have heard about: Unidentified gunmen blew up the YMCA library in the Gaza Strip on Friday morning. While no one was hurt, two guards were temporarily kidnapped while the offices were looted, a vehicle stolen and all 8,000 books destroyed. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, although Fatah accused Hamas of being behind it. Hamas, for its part, strongly denied any responsibility and condemned the attack. Meanwhile, confidential sources in Gaza told the Jerusalem Post that the attack was in response to the reprinting of the Muhammad cartoons in Danish newspapers last week.

The supposed motivation for the attack, and the fact that it was not big news, illustrates the dire situation faced by many Christians living in the Palestinian territories.

So where are all the protests by Church leaders, Christian Aid, Caritas, Christian Peacemakers, etc? Admittedly, they might hear little about this problem, because of absence of freedom of the press in Gaza, and control of information for propaganda purposes by Hamas. But surely they have some awareness of it - could it be that they don't really care?

Even if the reporters came, what would they be told? It is well known that Christian Palestinians who have been subject to firebombings, seizures of homes and businesses, assaults and death threats still tell foreign visitors that they have excellent relations with their Muslim neighbours. After the foreigners go home, these Christians must remain, and are loath to give any reason for jihadist extremists to think that they are stirring up trouble.

Occasionally, though, the truth is told in articles like this one, but they make little impact. The usual protesters about the defence barrier and the inconvenience it causes to Palestinians (mostly Muslim) in the West Bank, seem to take little notice. Which is why some of us suspect that prejudice underlies their behaviour. They seem so willing to condemn the Jewish state for any problems it might cause its largely Muslim neighbours, and unwilling to speak up for fellow Christians suffering oppression by those same Muslims. As for the Christian Arabs, apparently largely abandoned by Christian organisations which seem to take little interest in their plight:

It is an awful way to live. It is more awful still that so few know, or care about it.

Has the wind changed direction?

February 18th, 2008

Has the wind changed direction? Is a balmy breeze of common sense beginning to blow across the icy wastes of prejudice surrounding Israeli-Palestinian issues? Just a few years ago, you might have expected Catholic Church statements to be biased in favour of the Palestinian view, and show little or no sympathy for Israelis.

Now read Speaking a Word of Hope at a Critical Time for the Holy Land by the snappily named Co-ordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land and the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land and feel a sense of hope. They recognize the security concern of Israelis as well as the difficulties suffered by Palestinians. The contribution to the latter in Gaza by Hamas could have been mentioned, perhaps, but at least a recognition of the rights of Israelis is an improvement.