Filed under: opinion, religion | Tags: benedict, benedict XVI, catholic, german, holocaust, joseph ratzinger, nazi, pope, posted by elan, vatican, Yad Vashem
Pope Benedict XVI, the current leader of the Catholic Church, is currently making a high-visibility pilgrimage to the Middle East. He first met with Jordanian monarch King Abdullah II and offered mass to Catholics in Amman. The Pope then traveled to Israel, touring holy sites, engaging in inter-religious dialog and meeting President Shimon Peres. (Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is in Egypt for a conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.)
After briefly surveying the international media, it seems that the most contentious part of the Pope’s trip has been his visit to Yad Va’Shem, Israel’s national holocaust museum. Though not a religious or historic site, the Israeli government generally insists that all visiting foreign heads of state visit the solemn commemoration in order to appreciate and understand the necessity of a Jewish state and refuge. The Pope has been criticized for avoiding certain elements of the museum, including an exhibit that highlights the silence of the Vatican and Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust. In addition, Benedict has taken fire for his broad, general remarks at the museum and a general lack of acknowledgment and reference to the horrors of the calamity.
Whether the Pope was specific enough is a difficult call to make. Some go so far as to claim that the Pope spoke in generalities to mask his own involvement in the conflict. Benedict, then known as Joseph Ratzinger, was a member of the Hitler Youth and later, the German Army. However, it is clear that the Pope was never a Nazi. He was conscripted into the Hitler Youth like every other German teenager. As the German war effort collapsed, he was drafted into an anti-aircraft artillery group. One could hardly claim that a minor, forced against his will to fight, embraced the Nazi philosophy. Furthermore, it is dishonest to label the entire Wermacht as Nazi foot-soldiers. While the relationship between Catholics and Jews may not be particularly warm, it is disingenuous to lambast the Catholic leader.
My aunt, who lives in Jerusalem, sent me an e-mail, in which she mentioned that the Pope will becoming. Her first thought was that it will be a huge inconvenience because random streets will be blocked, and there might be times when it is easier just to get out of the car and walk to where ever she is going.
An opinion article in Yediot Achronot, stated that the author would not like the pope to come. Mainly based on the hazy anti-Semitic past of this Pope. Pope Benedict XVI was a memeber of the Hitler Youth during WWII, but denies that he is actually anti-Semitic, saying instead that he did it because he was young and that everyone was doing it. I can understand why someone would say that they don’t want the Pope in Israel. To me it is fairly clear that the visit is religiously motivated, rather than politically
Instead of griping, Israel should take advantage of this opportunity. If the Pope enjoyshimself, then it could boost tourism in Israel. A positive experience could also make for better diplomatic relations with the UN and the EU (Italy, Poland, and Spain are all more than 94% Roman Catholic, by population) Lets take advantage of this opportunity to make Israel a better and more respected country.