Tuesday, April 19, 2005

ADL on the New Pope

Just recieved this in the mail from the ADL:

Pope Benedict XVI: The Successor to John Paul II

Jews can never ignore the announcement of a new Pope. Too much of Jewish history for two millennia was affected, often negatively, by the policies and attitudes of the individual who sat on the throne of St. Peter. And now, following the papacy that represented the high point of Catholic-Jewish relations, the appearance of Pope Benedict XVI stirs interest in how John Paul's legacy of reconciliation with the Jews will be carried on.

To start with, the new Pope will not have to be educated anew about all that changed over the last two decades. He has been intimately aware of all that has transpired.

As a European and as a German, his sensitivities to the horrors committed against the Jews of Europe in the 20th century are pronounced. He has written that because of the Shoah "a new vision of the relationship between the Church and Israel has been born: a sincere willingness to overcome every kind of anti-Judaism and to initiate a constructive dialogue based on knowledge of each other and on reconciliation."

He has spoken about the history of Christianity which gave birth to many cases of anti-Jewish attitudes which "throughout history have led to deplorable acts of violence." And he acknowledged that many Christians did not resist the Shoah because of "an inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few Christians."

Pope John Paul II's reconciliation with Jews was profound and multilayered. He expressed it through symbolism and dramatic gestures. He spoke to Jewish insecurity. He understood that the debasement of Jews by the Church through the centuries required statements and decisions showing respect for Jews and Judaism. And he knew that doctrinal positions were vital to institutionalize change.

There is every reason to believe that the new Pope will sustain the reconciliation that his predecessor introduced. What forms this will take is unknown and uncertain. He is a different personality but his task will be to both maintain the kinds of remarkable breakthroughs of the past few years as well as to broaden and deepen what has taken place.

Finally, much has been made of the fact that as a teenager, Cardinal Ratzinger was a member of the Hitler Youth in Germany. What is far more significant is that all his life he has atoned for this fact. ADL has had opportunities to work with Cardinal Ratzinger and we look forward to continuing that relationship.

I would have to agree for the most part, but not knowing much about the former Cardinal Ratzinger I hestitate to comment out of ignorance. As to the last paragraph concerning the Pope's membership in the Hitler Youth, I think it has been established pretty well that this was at a time when membership in that organization was compulsary for youths of a certain age and should not be taken as an endorsement of Hitler's activities.

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The background image on this page is a Hebrew translation of the verse from Bob Dylan's song  It's Alright, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), from which the title of this blog is taken. Translation courtesy of Yoram Aharon of Hod-HaSharon's page--found via YudelLine-- which has many Dylan lyrics in Hebrew.