Tuesday, June 6, 2006

The Pope goes backwards on the Holocaust

I posted a few days ago over at The Blue Voice on The Pope at Auschwitz 05/31/06.

Today I see the James Carroll focuses on much the same issues as I did, and expressed himself more strongly, in The Roots of the Holocaust CommonDreams.org 06/05/06.  He writes:

The question about the Holocaust has a special edge because Benedict is German, and it first surfaced during his visit to Cologne last August. In addressing an audience of Jews in that city's synagogue, the pope roundly condemned the Nazi genocide campaign. But then he defined the lethal Nazi anti-Semitism that spawned the genocide as having been "born of neo-paganism." He made no mention of anti-Semitism's other parent, the long tradition of Christian contempt for Jews and the Jewish religion, which both fed the hatred of the perpetrators and justified the inaction of the bystanders. Little was made of the pope's omission of reference to such Christian responsibility, as if to give him time to make his position clearer.

Last week, the time came. At Auschwitz, again, he was unsparing in condemning what the Nazis did. But now he implicitly exonerated the German people, effectively defined the Nazis' ultimate target as having been not Jews but Christianity, and complained not of the church's silence in the face of the horror, but of God's.  (my emphasis)

He also noted, as I mentioned in the earlier post, that Ratzinger/Benedict's description of broader responsibility was considerably less expansive than what has become a commonly accepted view across the political spectrum in Germany:

Benedict went to Auschwitz, he said, "as a son of the German people, a son of that people over which a ring of criminals rose to power by false promises of future greatness and the recovery of the nation's honor, prominence, and prosperity, but also through terror and intimidation." In Germany itself by now, there is an established tradition of a much fuller recognition of national complicity in the Nazi project. For a generation, Germans have declined to portray themselves as mere victims and dupes, and German church leaders in particular have been forthright in confessing their culpability in relation to the Holocaust. In his portrayal of the past, both at Cologne and Auschwitz, Benedict is becoming a German apart.   (my emphasis)

Carroll sees this as yet another sign that Benedict is retreating from the ecumenical position, especially toward Jews, that was Pope John Paul II's most positive legacy.

No comments: