Judaism and Catholicism may not seem to go together, but the Catholic Church begs to disagree. In an attempt to show that the papacy isn’t hiding any self-incriminating archives from World War II, the Vatican will open up some World War II-era private archives for public consumption within the next six years.
First of all, why not immediately? While it does take time to put on a public exhibition of the sort Cardinal Walter Kaspar mentioned, I highly doubt it would take six whole years to type up documents. Even if there were thousands of texts to be distributed and catalogued, with the popeâ€™s wealth and influence, I have no doubt that the project could be done in two or three years. The longer they wait in putting out the material that will â€œredeemâ€ the allegedly anti-Semitic Pope Pius XII, the more those beliefs about Pius will become cemented. If the Church wants to redeem itself as fast as it can, they should get to work and be more ambitious in the timing of their release.
The press conference held to promote the booksâ€™ release shone some interesting lights on the Churchâ€™s view of its relationship to Judaism. The half-hearted nature of the Churchâ€™s desire for â€œredemptionâ€ with the Jewish community is seen in Kasparâ€™s pathetic explanation of why the Church didnâ€™t help more in the Holocaust. The Church, Kaspar said, had cut itself off so far from the Jews in past centuries that they were either unable or loath to come to Jewsâ€™ rescue again. For the sake of humanity, I find that dubious. Either Kaspar just admitted the Church was still anti-Semitic during World War II and implied Pius was intolerant, which seemingly refutes his own argument, or the Church wasnâ€™t willing or was afraid to recognize the gravity of the Jewsâ€™ plight for fear of Hitlerâ€™s reprisal. Iâ€™m not sure whether itâ€™s brave of Kaspar to admit the Church sunk so low or reprehensible that heâ€™s denying Piusâ€™s anti-Semitism, if it is indeed true.
Kaspar went on to say that Israel, without Catholic support, is in danger of becoming â€œtoo particularistic and reclusive.â€ I donâ€™t know what he means by â€œparticularisticâ€ in this context, but Israel can use all the friends it can get. Even if it does not intentionally seclude itself from the rest of the world, as Kaspar seems to imply, being surrounded by hostile countries is a predicament that can be bettered by the help of friends overseas. The international presence of Catholics could prove to be a boon to the existence of Israel if better relations were established.
If the Catholic Church doesnâ€™t seek the friendship of Jews, moreover, he says, it is â€œin danger of losing its historical grounding and becoming ahistorical and Gnostic.â€ Again, Kasparâ€™s terms are vague. What does he mean by â€œahistoricalâ€? Does he mean to imply that spurning Israel and Jewish alliances would be out of line with the Churchâ€™s past actions? If so, then he needs to take a Catholicism 101 course. The possibility of the Church becoming â€œGnosticâ€ needs more elucidation, as well, and would take up pages of writing, but one thing is true: no matter how much the Church tries to gloss it, it did not help the Jews sufficiently during the Holocaust. If it can learn to admit the truth, then perhaps Jews and Catholics can make progress in establishing a better groundwork.