Friday, October 10, 2008

Missing the Point

What I do not understand about this story is why it matters. The pronouncements of esteem, affection and gratitude to Pius XII, whose praise was in the mouths of everyone from Einstein to Golda Meir are part of the historical record, as the recent conference held in Rome under the sponsorship of the Pave the Way Foundation has amply demonstrated.

The evil of the Holocaust has left some people so badly broken, that no amount of persuasion, no argument, no fact, no matter how cogently presented, will sway them. We ought to pray every day for such people, and can never harbor animus toward them.

That said, the historical record is the historical record. The idea that the Catholic Church ought not to beatify the man who, arguably, did more than any other head of state and/or government to save Jews, because some Jews with an inadequate or poisoned view of the historical record might be offended, is frankly beyond the pale.

Philip Pullella has been getting some serious mileage out of his question to Rabbi Cohen, who explained to Vatican Radio that he was not representing his private views, but those of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. Everyone has been concentrating on the Rabbi's remarks to the effect that some people did not do enough to bring the holocaust to an end, including some religious leaders - and this is entirely unexceptionable.

Yes, Rabbi Cohen did make those remarks in the Synod Hall, while the XII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was in General Congregation. Scilicet, dixerunt patres conscript, that the importance of the visit - an official visit - says much more about the present and the future of Catholic-Jewish relations than any more or less harsh words spoken in a set-piece, and certainly more than the Rabbi's answer to an obviously uncomfortable question, about which there may or may not be contention within the Rabbinate, itself. Fr. Zuhlsdorf at WDTPRS has been covering the story since it broke, and ought to be consulted.

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