April 20, 2005

Welcoming Benedict XVI

I don't care very much what the new Pope thinks about say, homosexuality or abortion or celibacy; those things don't affect Jews like me a whole lot. On the issues that do, though, he seems like a good choice:

"I view him as our most serious partner in the Catholic Church, and he has been for the last 26 years," said Rabbi Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress...

As head of the Vatican office that enforced church doctrine under John Paul II, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was a leading force behind the Vatican's recognition of Israel in 1993 and John Paul II's atonement at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2000, Rabbi Singer said.

"I believe that he is the man who created the theological underpinnings for the good relations between Catholics and Jews during the last papacy," Rabbi Singer said. "He writes what's kosher and what's not kosher for Catholics. He said, 'Not only is it kosher to like Jews, but it's kosher to like the state of Israel.' "

In his memoirs, Cardinal Ratzinger wrote of being forced into the Nazi youth movement when he was 14 in 1941, when membership was compulsory, and of being drafted into the German Army in 1943.

"He's never denied the past, never hid it," said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. "His whole life has been atonement for those few years. His whole life is an open book of sensitivity against bigotry and anti-Semitism."

Mr. Foxman cited a column that Cardinal Ratzinger wrote for L'Osservatore Romano in 2000 attacking Christian complicity in the Holocaust. "It cannot be denied that a certain insufficient resistance to this atrocity on the part of Christians can be explained by an inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few Christians," the cardinal wrote.

Mr. Foxman said that as a European of the World War II generation, Cardinal Ratzinger would probably be more sensitive to Jewish concerns than many other cardinals who were on the short list for the papacy. Many others expressed similar thoughts.

"This pope, considering his historical experience, will be especially committed to an uncompromising fight against anti-Semitism," Israel's foreign minister, Silvan Shalom, said in a statement...

Not everyone is satisfied, though:
[Ratzinger] was the force behind a 2000 church document, "Dominus Jesus," that called for new Catholic evangelization and argued that beliefs other than Christianity were lesser searches for truth.

Rabbi Michael Lerner, the editor of the progressive Jewish magazine Tikkun, wrote yesterday on the magazine's Web site that the cardinal's criticism of other religions "is a slippery slope toward anti-Semitism and a return to the chauvinistic and triumphalist views that led the church, when it had the power to do so, to develop its infamous crusades and inquisitions."

It is, of course, impossible to imagine that any anti-Semitic sentiments might be ginned up by the spectacle of a Rabbi denouncing Christians for believing in, um, Christianity. (Lerner's whole demented rant is here.)

If Lerner honestly thinks that what Jews really need to worry about is a new Inquisition, then he must have already forgotten what he noted two years ago about some of his own leftist allies.

Posted by John Tabin at April 20, 2005 01:58 AM

Since when is being opposed to the Butcher Sharon anti-semitic have you lost your mind or merely your morals. Since when is being opposed to policies of the current Israeli government anti-semitic. You should stop throwing your terms around so flippantly or they will certainly lose their meaning and effectiveness. It doesn't surprise me that a Sharon supporter would find comfort in an autocratic,suffocating,intolerant,and Jew hating Pontiff who perhaps did or did not embrace the nazis. I find your logic morbid and curiously fascinating in a freakish sort of way. It imparts the same kind of creepy feeling the commandant in Schindlers List evoked.

Posted by: Dwight Armstrong at April 21, 2005 03:16 AM

Mr. Armstrongs comments are so ignorant but sadly typical of an certain midset. Why would a Sharon supporter like a Jew hating pontiff? That is like saying black is white. The thinking among Israeli analysts is pro Benedict XVI.

Armstrong's comments I suspect betray the not so secret hope among the left that if only Israel was overrun it would be better for everyone, as if these fanatical Muslims would stop there. Take a gander at Europe, Dwight.


Posted by: jim at April 21, 2005 08:49 AM

If the Pope didn't think Catholicism was superior, all of us, Jews included, would have reason to be concerned. Frankly, I'm most interested in someone who has enough courage to believe that Catholicism is superior to Islam in Europe, where the immediate test is taking place.

Posted by: Attila (Pillage Idiot) at April 21, 2005 12:07 PM

Dwight: I'm extremely curious to know where I wrote anything that could possibly be read as saying that opposing Sharon is anti-Semitic.

Posted by: John Tabin at April 21, 2005 12:22 PM

"I don't care very much what the new Pope thinks about say, homosexuality or abortion or celibacy; those things don't affect Jews like me a whole lot."

I can only assume from that remark that you belong to a very small and specific sector of the Jewish community, because these issues have affected both myself and nearly all of my Jewish family and friends at various points in our lives.

For me, what is really critical is not to look at how this new Pope will impact on our own religious beliefs or lives, but how his "reign" will impact on those who do not have voices and are not even neccesarily catholic. I, for one, am deeply concerned.

Posted by: Christopher at April 27, 2005 07:23 AM

Christopher: What the Catholic Church says about abortion and homosexuality and celibacy affects all the Jews you know? I can only assume you misread what I wrote, because otherwise you're fibbing.

Posted by: John Tabin at April 27, 2005 05:21 PM