January 07, 2010
Can't we all just get along?
By Louie Verrecchio *

By Louie Verrecchio *

With Pope Benedict’s recent declaration of Pope Pius XII as “Venerable,” it is becoming clear once again that the true nature of the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Jewish people is widely misunderstood as an effort to promote a “can’t-we-all-just-get-along” brand of diplomacy, though it is really nothing of the sort.     

The Second Vatican Council’s treatment of the subject, which is frequently misrepresented in the media, concerns an inter-religious relationship that is animated by the shared spiritual patrimonies of respective faith traditions; united as they are in covenant with the God of Abraham.  

Attentive observers will notice that while many of the most vocal so-called “Jewish leaders” (like Abraham Foxman of the ADL) have managed to turn the sullying of Pope Pius XXII’s reputation into an effective PR gimmick, they are not and have never been a party to this inter-religious relationship. They are often little more than secular activists that march under the Mogen David while substantially sharing a heritage of faith with neither traditional Judaism nor the Roman Catholic Church.

Father David Neuhaus, S.J., Secretary-General of the Hebrew-speaking Catholic Vicariate in Israel, offered insight into Jewish sensibilities in an interview with the Zenit news organization last year saying, “The Shoah and its memory is one of the most central issues in Jewish consciousness. Together with a sense of solidarity with the state of Israel, the Shoah defines who many Jews are in the world, how they define themselves.”

In other words, the self-identity of largely “cultural Jews” is not primarily based upon a covenant relationship with God at all - in fact, it appears for many to be based upon political ideology as much as anything - and it is these who seem to be crying out the loudest over the prospect of a future Pope St. Pius XII.    

In spite of those who wish to draw distinctions between Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II, a preponderance of these Jewish protesters are not the “elder brothers in faith” to which the latter referred; they are enemy combatants in the culture war that is being waged against the traditional moral values that both Judaism and Catholicism have perennially held dear; those shared tenets of faith that stand in uncompromising opposition to the Left’s hell-bent determination to construct a society built on such planks as abortion-on-demand, radical environmentalism and gay “marriage.”
Make no mistake about it; this deeply rooted tension is the primary fuel source that sustains much of the opposition faced by Pope Benedict XVI on matters ranging from the "Traditional Latin Mass" to the canonization cause of Pope Pius XII, even as many, both within the Church and without, fail to realize it. 

As Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the outspoken representative of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis and the Rabbinical Alliance of America, shared with me in a conversation concerning tensions in the Church’s relationship with the Jews during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, “There can be no question of this Pope’s affection for traditional Jewish morality, and this is where the real problem lies.” 

As for Pope Pius XII, anyone with access to a public library and an interest in history knows that he was widely hailed by his contemporaries – numerous Jews included – for his heroic actions in defense of the Jewish people during World War II. The controversy surrounding his legacy came of age only years after his death; sparked largely by the imagination of a controversial playwright, Rolf Hochhuth, whose 1963 fictional drama, The Deputy, painted a nefarious picture of papal anti-Semitism during WWII.

While the play’s premise, which has given rise to a veritable industry of slander, has since been soundly debunked by both Jewish and gentile scholars alike, the temptation to leverage the passions of the uninformed and unsuspecting by labeling as "anti-Semite" popes both dead and alive remains too great for some to resist.

Speaking of the current Roman pontiff, Rabbi Levin concluded, “Anyone who understands the Vatican knows that in the last three decades, one of the moral and intellectual underpinnings of the papacy of Pope John Paul II was Cardinal Ratzinger. Whoever doesn't understand this doesn't realize that this man, Pope Benedict XVI, has a decades-long track record of anti-Nazism and genuine affection for the Jews.”

Both Catholics and Jews must be careful not to be fooled into thinking otherwise lest they become little more than useful pawns in a game of political conquest.    

Author and speaker Louie Verrecchio was a columnist for Catholic News Agency from April 2009 to 2013. His work, which includes Year of Faith resources like the Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II Faith Formation Series, has been endorsed by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney, Australia; Bishop Emeritus Patrick O’Donoghue of Lancaster, England; Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, IA, USA and others. For more information please visit: www.harvestingthefruit.com

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