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Should Pope Pius XII Become a Saint?

August 29, 2010 2 comments

By Fred Reiss, Ed.D.

Fred Reiss

WINCHESTER, California — The Catholic Church has over 10,000 saints and “beati,” or blessed on the roster. Does it really make a difference if there is one more?

The answer is probably not for most rank-and-file Catholics. They already have three  saints per day from among whom they can choose for feasting.

It matters to Jews who remember the actions and lack of actions by Eugenio Pacelli, Vatican Secretary of State until 1939, at which time he became Pope Pius XII. Prior to 1963, the world generally viewed Pius XII as a faithful shepherd to his people during a dark period in the world’s history. The liberal-Catholic writer Graham Green characterized Pius XII as, “a pope who many of us believe will rank among the greatest.”

In 1963, Rolf Hochhuth published his play, The Deputy, which condemned Pius XII and the entire Vatican hierarchy for failing to act to save European Jewry from death camps and the atrocities of the Nazis. John Cornwell’s 1999 book, Hitler’s Pope, continued the condemnation of Pius XII for supporting National Socialism and for failing to act on behalf of Jews. Gabriel Wilensky, author of Six Million Crucifixions, argues that Pope Pius XII actions during World War II can be attributed to the belief that he had more to fear from the survival of godless Communism then from the Nazi regime.

Many Jews and non-Jews believe that making Pius XII a saint is a disgrace. In Israeli’s Holocaust museum, Yad Vashem, there is a plaque that delineates the perceived anti-Jewish actions of the Pope during the war. The plaque lists such things as the 1933 Concordat with Hitler to preserve the Church’s rights in Germany in exchange for recognizing the Nazi government, pigeon-holing a 1939 letter against anti-Semitism that his predecessor prepared, abstaining from joining the allies’ denunciation of the extermination of Jews, and failing to intervene in the deportation of Jews living in Rome to Auschwitz.

The sainthood of Pius XII certainly matters to the Vatican. Most Catholic scholars have cautioned the Vatican to move slowly with regard to his sainthood. Yet, for the papacy and the church hierarchy there seems to be a need for urgency. According to Celestine Bohlen, Pope Benedict’s December, 2009 decree moving both John Paul II and Pius XII closer to sainthood is filled with Vatican politics. She wrote that, “Benedict had hoped to satisfy both the conservative and the liberal wings of the Catholic Church”. Pope Benedict’s outward position is simple: Pius XII worked quietly and behind the scenes to rescue Jews from the hands of the Nazi war machine. Benedict is also quick to point out that many Catholics risked their own lives to save Jews.

It also matters to the Pave the Way Foundation, whose website declares, “We are a non-sectarian public foundation, which identifies and eliminates non-theological obstacles between the faiths”. From September 15 through 17, 2008 the foundation held a symposium in Rome to examine the papacy of Pius XII. At the conference, lawyers, linguists, researchers and foreign correspondents, priests and nuns, and even a Rabbi met to report on deeds and acts of Pius XII during World War II. In the proceedings, published under the title, Examining the Papacy of Pope Pius XII, the conference examined twelve commonly-held beliefs about the Pope. These beliefs included such things as the Pope was: anti-Semitic, obsessed with atheistic Communism, did not believe that the Church has an obligation to either protect or care for non-Catholics, and should be condemned for signing an agreement with Hitler in 1933. They also responded to the annotations on plaque at Yad Vashem.

The proceedings concluded that “the controversy about Pius has to a large degree been generated by those who ignore his endless efforts over many years to help victims of Hitler.” For example, the proceedings argue that Pius’ Concordant with Hitler occurred before he became Pope and was actually at the direction of his predecessor, Pius XI. There never was a letter opposing anti-Semitism, only drafts.  The Pope did protest the deportation of the Jews from Rome to Auschwitz. Cardinal Maglione, his Secretary of State, delivered the first protest and the second was delivered through an assistant to German General Stahel.

Since John Paul II abolished the “devil’s advocate” portion of the canonization process, the question of whether or not Pope Pius XII becomes a saint may be more a result of politics than theology. If it is true that Pius’ strategy to save European Jews was to work behind the scenes, then that strategy failed. That alone should disqualify him.

Thousands of Catholics fall into the category called righteous gentiles, Christians who personally risked their lives and the lives of their families to save Jews. Perhaps they are more qualified for sainthood.

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Dr. Fred Reiss is a retired public and Hebrew school teacher and administrator. He is the author of The Standard Guide to the Jewish and Civil CalendarsAncient Secrets of Creation: Sepher Yetzira, the Book that Started Kabbalah, Revealed; and Reclaiming the Messiah. The author can be reached through his website, www.fredreissbooks.com.

Was the Holocaust the legacy of the Church’s teachings?

August 28, 2010 2 comments

Six Million Crucifixions: How Christians Teachings About Jews Paved the Road to the Holocaust by Gabriel Wilensky, Qwerty Publishers, San Diego, CA. ISBN 978-0-984-33467-4, ©2010, $27.95, p. 309, plus appendices. Available in Kindle edition

 By Fred Reiss, Ed.D.

Fred Reiss

WINCHESTER, California–Twenty-two of the highest ranking Nazi Party officials were tried from November 20, 1945 to October 1, 1946 in Nuremburg, Germany for crimes against humanity. In the Palace of Justice, the site of the trials, a large wooden cross looks down over the four judge’s chairs. Why a cross? Did it represent right’s triumph over might? The victory of good over evil? Did it symbolize the truth that God was on the side of the allies? Gabriel Wilensky, a life-long student of why the Holocaust happened, and author of Six Million Crucifixions, might reply that the cross deflects the truth that the teachings and preachings of Catholicism built the path to the Holocaust.

In part one of his four-part book, Wilensky begins building his case through descriptions of the actions of the early church, the time when Christianity separated itself early from Judaism. The time when early Christians accepted Jesus as the Messiah, whereas mainstream Judaism did not. To make Christianity acceptable to pagans, Saul of Tarsus, who changed his name to Paul, abolished the Jewish dietary laws and male converts no longer needed to be circumcised. In the fourth century, Constantine forbade Jews from seeking converts. The Council of Nicea replaced resurrection, which stood at the heart of Christianity, with crucifixion. As such, the council focused responsibility on the Jews, and from this point forward sermons excoriated Jews, which often led to violent actions against them.

In the second part Wilensky focuses on Christian anti-Semitism.  Now that crucifixion is Christianity’s centerpiece, the words in Matthew (27:25), “His blood be on us and on our children,” form the basis of the church’s systematic effort to denounce the Jewish people. The church attacked the Jews through sermons, through discriminatory laws, and with symbols. As examples, a belief emerged in the mid-fifteenth century, that the intermixing of blood (Jews marrying Christians) defiles “old” Christians. Two statues stand at the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. The first, Ecclesia, the church, wears a crown and holds a scepter and the Challis of Christ. The second, Synagoga, is blindfolded. Blind to the knowledge that Jesus is God. A crown lies at her feet. The Jews have been dethroned as God’s people. According to Wilensky, there are over four hundred and fifty anti-Semitic verses in just the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. As often happened, these verses became ground for priests to sermonize and stir Christian against Jewish neighbor.

In Part III, Wilensky notes the similarities between the anti-Jewish actions of the Church and Nazism. The Catholic Church prohibited intermarriage between Jew and Christian (4th century). So did the Nazis. The Church did not allow Jews to hold public office (6th century). So did the Nazis. The Church burned the Talmud and other sacred books (7th century). So did the Nazis. Christians could not patronize Jewish doctors (7th century). So did the Nazis. Jews were distinguished from their Christian neighbors by markings on their clothing (13th century). So did the Nazis. Jews were compelled to live in segregated ghettos (13th century). So did the Nazis. Jews could not obtain academic degrees (15th century). So did the Nazis.

The final part focuses on the actions of the Pope and the Catholic Church during World War II. Wilensky notes the Eugenio Pacelli, first as the Vatican Secretary of State, and later as Pope Pius XII intervened on behalf of Jews who converted to Christianity, but not the Jews. He neither denounced the persecution nor the extermination of the Jews by the Nazi government. He spoke out against the treatment of Polish Christians, but not Polish Jews. He sought clemency for the convicted war criminals. He did not recognize the State of Israel.

Six Million Crucifixions brilliantly explains the anti-Semitic attitude of the Catholic Church and how, over the centuries, its repeated railings against the Jewish people created brutal waves of anger, which led to repeated mass murders of Jews in various locals throughout Europe. More importantly, Wilensky meticulously leads the reader down the Road to Hell, which he unmistakably shows was built by the Catholic Church. If nothing else, Six Million Crucifixions clearly demonstrates that if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth!

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Dr. Fred Reiss is a retired public and Hebrew school teacher and administrator. He is the author of The Standard Guide to the Jewish and Civil CalendarsAncient Secrets of Creation: Sepher Yetzira, the Book that Started Kabbalah, Revealed; and Reclaiming the Messiah. The author can be reached through his website, www.fredreissbooks.com.

Has Everyone Weighed in on the Mosque Mess? Have You?

August 20, 2010 Leave a comment

By Jeanette Friedman

Jeanette Friedman

NEW YORK — It seems that there isn’t a spin doctor, media pundit, columnist, politician or Jew who hasn’t offered an opinion about the Park51 Cordoba Community Center  under development two blocks from Ground Zero in Manhattan.

In 2009, when the proposal was put forth, there was little or no objection to what is now called “The Mosque at Ground Zero.” There are already many mosques in the city, and a few of them are even in that same neighborhood, with no objections.  The location was chosen almost as a matter of chance, after another site on 23rd Street fell through.

So why is this “mosque” different than all other New York mosques? The heat began in May, 2010, and to explain how an interfaith community center morphed into a terrorist center, Howard Kurtz did an admirable job in The Washington Post, as he traced the evolution of a local zoning issue into a national political and constitutional tinderbox. 

The match that lit the fires was struck by right winger Pamela Geller on her blog, Atlas Shrugged, which was then picked up by Andrea Peyser in The New York Post, and off went the right wing, into that special land where constitutional rights have no meaning.

Geller says Steve Emerson, Executive Director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, claims he has tapes of Imam Feisal Rauf, interim program manager of Park51 and the leader behind Cordoba House—the center for multifaith dialogue and engagement within Park51’s broader range of programs and activities—that will reveal Rauf defending Wahhabism, calling for a one-nation state, meaning no more Jewish State, and defending Bin Laden’s violence.

The Hudson Institute, a right wing think tank, posted The Mosque at Ground Zero: Who Is Behind It? by Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury  on July 30, in which he implies that there is trouble ahead, and essentially pours gasoline on an open flame.

The issue, a local zoning issue, was then picked up by conservative Republican Party members and Tea Party types in Congress, who ratcheted the fear factor up another few notches. These were the same congressmen who voted against providing health care to first responders who have been suffering since 9/11. 

Then cable news shows picked it up, and milked it for all it was worth, never identifying the fact that those opposed to the mosque also opposed helping 9/11 families. The fear factor was so great by then, Fox News pundit Dick Morris said they were building a terrorist training center on the site. President Obama himself stepped in to remind everyone that this is still America, and that we embrace freedom of religion as part of our Bill of Rights. The following day he questioned the wisdom of choosing that particular site for Park51, but still upheld the US Constitution, as he had sworn to do on the day he took office.

After watching all the news clips and finding some unexpected useful footage from days of yore, Jon Stewart then summed up the situation in his own wacky way, last Thursday night, by making a very serious point.

On Friday, Governor David Paterson offered to step in to see if there could be a resolution to the problem and ask if he could help with finding an alternative site. The developers of Park51 said that they had no plans to meet with him.

And what did the Jews have to say about all of this? There were some who said we should stay out of it and let others fight this battle because we ourselves have been in places where it took major battles to get Jewish places of worship approved by zoning boards with agendas of their own.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, head of the interdenominational New York Board of Rabbis, a key interfaith leader in New York City who works with the Police and Fire Departments, lost many friends on 9/11. In a telephone interview he said that he had spoken with leaders at the Archdiocese of New York and the Council of Churches.

“We suggest that the faith communities of New York use this crisis as an opportunity to elevate the conversation among the parties, without staking out positions. We should all gather together in one room and have a serious and substantive discussion that will result in one of two things: either there will be a compromise [accepting Governor Paterson’s suggestions] or the mosque will go forward as planned. Whatever decision will be made, we will know that we will have tried as diligently as possible to have people talk to each other instead of against each other.

“The religious community,” he continued, “has a responsibility to use the best of religion to promote discourse and a workable decision. That also means that probing questions must be asked and answered—and not avoided—by either side.”

Rabbi Ben Rosenberg of Congregation Beth El in Edison, NJ, spent most of last week talking to media about the rash of swastika graffiti that has plagued his community. As a son of Holocaust survivors and a naturalized American citizen, he says, “The Muslims legally have every right to build a community center at that location, but the wisdom of doing so, in light of being considered insensitive, is questionable. It would make sense to accept Governor Paterson’s offer.”

The Jewish Standard, the weekly that serves Bergen and Rockland counties, major bedroom communities that many in Jewish leadership call home (Abraham Foxman of the ADL, Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, co-founder of EDAH and Shvil Hazahav; Rabbi Shmuley Boteach; Michael Miller of the Jewish Community Relations Council and Rabbi Jack Bemporad of the Center for Interreligious Understanding, are only a few of the leaders who live there.) Many of them had much to say and laid it out for the editors in this past weekend’s edition.

Bemporad had just returned from bringing eight imams to Auschwitz when it all hit the fan.  In his opinion calling Rauf a terrorist is a great travesty of justice.

Everyone has an opinion, all agree there are constitutional issues that must be considered, and many, besides Rabbi Potasnik, want real answers to hard questions.

And finally, there is this article in The Washington Post by Jason Horowitz that pretty much tells the rest of America what New Yorkers think of this whole mosque mess. Basically, whether they for or against, they are telling outsiders to mind their own business.

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Jeanette Friedman is New York bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World and co-author with David Gold of  Why Should I Care? Lessons from the Holocaust.

Christian anti-Semitism subject of author’s talk at library

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

SAN DIEGO (Press Release)- San Diego author Gabriel Wilensky will give a talk about antisemitism in Christianity and the role that played in the Holocaust on Tuesday, September 14 at 6:00 pm at the Mission Valley branch of the San Diego Public Library, 2123 Fenton Parkway.

Wilensky is the author of the book Six Million Crucifixions: How
Christian Antisemitism Paved the Road to the Holocaust
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Wilensky is a local veteran of the computer software industry.  As a
result of a life-long fascination and years of study into the question of
why the Holocaust happened, he used his technical background to methodically research and write Six Million Crucifixions.

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Preceding provided by Yazmin Ghonaim in behalf of the author

Romanian coin honoring Miron Cristea denounced by ADL

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release) — The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has condemned the decision of the Romanian National Bank to honor an anti-Semitic former Prime Minister and Patriarch with a commemorative coin. The League urged Romania’s President to ensure that information about the anti-Semitic actions of Miron Cristea be included with each coin.

In a letter to Traian Basescu, Romanian President, Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director condemned the Romanian National Bank’s decision to honor Miron Cristea, a past Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church and Prime Minister, in its series of commemorative coins of the church’s Patriarchs. 

Foxman urged President Basescu to ensure that the National Bank include an educational pamphlet with each coin that describes the anti-Semitic actions of Cristea.
 
“We are shocked and disappointed that the National Bank of Romania has decided to honor Miron Cristea, even after consideration of his anti-Semitic actions and statements.  As Prime Minister on the eve of World War II, Miron Cristea called upon Romanians ‘to fight the Jewish parasites’ and stripped 225,000 Jews of their Romanian citizenship.  Having been a Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church does not excuse his anti-Semitism and the crimes he committed against Romanian Jews.
 
“While we emphatically condemn the National Bank’s decision to persist with the Cristea coin, we hope the effort to promote Holocaust education and remembrance among the Romanian people can benefit from the National Bank’s lapse of judgment.
 
“Since 2004, Romania has committed itself to Holocaust education and remembrance, and you, Mr. President, have been a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism.  Today you can provide yet another example of that leadership and help fulfill Romania’s commitment by using all authorities at your disposal to ensure that the National Bank includes an educational pamphlet with each coin of Cristea, so that no one who gazes upon him in appreciation can claim ignorance of his crimes.” 
 
ADL’s partner and affiliate in Romania is “MCA Romania – The Center for Monitoring and Combating Antisemitism in Romania.” 

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Preceding provided by Anti-Defamation League

8 American Muslims tour concentration camps, oppose Holocaust denial

August 19, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (WJC)–Eight Muslim American leaders, who visited the sites of former Nazi concentration camps and met with Holocaust survivors earlier this month, have signed a statement condemning Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism. The trip, intended to teach the participants about the Holocaust, featured visits to the Dachau and Auschwitz camps.

“We stand united as Muslim American faith and community leaders and recognize that we have a shared responsibility to continue to work together with leaders of all faiths and their communities to fight the dehumanization of all peoples based on their religion, race or ethnicity,” the statement read. “With the disturbing rise of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other forms of hatred, rhetoric and bigotry, now more than ever, people of faith must stand together for truth.” 

Marshall Breger, a Jewish former member of the Reagan and Bush administrations, launched the trip to educate those who may not have had the opportunity to learn the history of the Holocaust. Breger said this would help combat Holocaust denial among Muslims.

The leaders on the trip were five imams – Muzammil Siddiqi of California; Muhamad Maged of Virginia; Suhaib Webb of California, Abdullah Antepli of North Carolina, and Syed Naqvi of Washington DC – along with Sayyid Syeed of Washington, Sheikh Yasir Qadhi of Connecticut, and Laila Muhammad of Illinois. US government officials, the State Department’s special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism, and an official from the Organization of the Islamic Conference also participated in the trip.

According to the ‘Forward’ weekly newspaper, several of the leaders had a history of anti-Semitic comments. Laila Muhammad is the daughter of American Muslim leader W.D. Muhammad and granddaughter of Elijah Muhammad, leader of the controversial Nation of Islam. The trip was co-sponsored by a German think tank and the New Jersey-based group Interreligious Understanding.

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Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress

Justin Beiber, Gwen Stefani help cause of aging Holocaust survivors

August 17, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK (Press Release)- Two American pop singers,  Justin Beiber and Gwen Stefani, came to the aid of aging Holocaust survivors
when guests of iVolunteer bid for concert tickets and a meet and greet with Bieber and for Stefani’s signed guitar at a special silent auction.

The soiree was held at the Inc Lounge in the Time Hotel in the heart of Times Square and raised thousands of dollars for the New York City  visiting program for homebound Holocaust survivors.

iVolunteer’s young leadership board organized this first annual summer
get-together to celebrate the group’s founder, Sheva Tauby, who was chosen as one of New York’s top 36 leaders under the age of 36 for 2010 by the New York Jewish Week. About 75 young professionals gathered to taste new kosher wines with imported cheeses while they placed their bids and did meet-and-greets of their own.

In addition, guests also bid on designer handbags, personal training
sessions, beauty treatments, Shabbat table settings, a week at an Italian
villa, Gold passports to Chelsea Piers and “Hopper” tickets to Disneyworld.

Jimmy Falon’s warmup man, Seth Herzog, was on hand to offer the crowd a few laughs. The evening’s sponsors were Andrew Barovick, PC; Buckman, Buckman and Reid; Jemb Realty and Metro Spaces.

Founded in 2007, iVolunteer is a social network that brings Holocaust
survivors and volunteers together at home and at social events. These
programs include monthly luncheons for survivors and
Friday night dinners for iVolunteers. iVolunteers come from all walks of
life. Many are professionals who want to make a difference; others are local high school and college students who want to reach across the generations and establish unique friendships with lonely seniors.

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Preceding provided by iVolunteers