What happens to sheep |
when they have
inadequate shepherds ?
Can "the one true Church"
be absolved of sins which
it won't confess ?
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After having spent years studying the role of the Christian churches in the Holocaust, and having published several web pages about the Jewish victims of that horrendous tragedy, I have come to the conclusion that Roman Catholics need to be awakened to the fact that, even though very few Catholics were arrested, imprisoned, tortured and killed during the Holocaust, many millions of Roman Catholics were nonetheless tragic victims of the Nazi Holocaust, as I will show below.
The snapshot below is just one of many such mementos that were sent back home to Germany by soldiers at the front which illustrate the fact that German Catholics and Protestants in Hitler's employ had little compunction about their job of routinely slaughtering women and children whose only crime was that they had been born into the wrong race.
What makes me so sure, you may ask, that this shooter was a Christian? The reason is that 66% of Germans at the time professed to be "Protestant" and 33% "Catholic", while only 1% - which included the Jews - professed some other belief system. In order to carry out the murder of 10 million people, Adolf Hitler needed help, lots of it. He didn't find the millions of those helpers on planet Mars. Rather, he found them in the pews of the churches of Germany. So the vast majority of Germans who had innocent blood on their hands during the holocaust had to be "Christians".
Now, having spent 40+ years as a clergyman, first in the Roman Catholic church, and then in one of America's leading Protestant denominations, I can't imagine any sincere Catholic or Protestant looking at such a picture, and not viewing the Christian doing the shooting as an even more tragic figure than the Jews being shot, because the former is earning perpetual damnation, while the latter may well be destined for eternal reward. That is why I've created a special frame for this picture to show how tragic the Holocaust was for both Christians and Jews, even if in very different ways.
Although the Nazis developed a much more industrialized version of killing Jews in western Europe, the more personal Eastern European version of the Holocaust caught in this snapshot captures the very essence of this horrendous crime against humanity in both versions.
And who is to blame for the fate of the millions of Christians like this shooter whom Hitler needed to carry out his diabolical plan to exterminate millions of innocent human beings? To be sure, the individuals involved all bore some of the guilt, but not all of it. Most Christians may be unfamiliar with the bible teaching below, but every clergyman should be familiar with it, as it is addressed to them in particular.
Obviously, "the sword" of which Ezekiel warns can be any major threat to the well-being of the community. During the period of the Second World War, the Catholic Church showed that it viewed "communism" as such a threat. Pope Pius XI has issued a powerful condemnation of it in his 1937 Encyclical Divini Redemptoris And in 1949 Pius XII threatened any and all of Italy's Catholics with excommunication if they dared join the Communist Party.
Now the Catholic church viewed Nazism as such a threat in the early 1930's, and warned the faithful against joining the Nazi Party, but all of that changed totally in 1933. At the very moment that this "enemy" was at the gate, and the Nazi Party and Hitler needed just a few more votes in Germany's Reichstag in order to gain complete control of the parliament and make Hitler the country's dictator, the leaders of the Catholic church obliged Hitler by disbanding its very powerful Catholic "Center Party" and rescinding their ban on Catholics joining the Nazi Party. How could that not be viewed by the Catholic faithful as approval of Adolf Hitler and the new Nazi government?
Some believe that the R C Church adopted the political theory that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend", and since the Fascists were at war with the Communists, the church should consider the Fascists its friends. For whatever reason, no matter how much evil the Nazis perpetrated,during their 12 year domination of Western Europe, the Catholics of Europe were never warned of the mortal danger to their souls that cooperation with Adolf Hitler's plans for the mass-murder of at least 10 million innocent human beings.
Can you imagine having to explain such a work record
Were the Nazi military buried under crosses in the cemeteries above told that killing innocent people just because they were Jews was no way to achieve their dream of spending eternity with Jesus along with their fellow Christian family and friends?
Saint Edith Stein
In 1998 a famous Jewish scholar named Edith Stein who had converted to Catholicism and become a nun and was then killed at Auschwitz in 1942, was canonized by Pope John Paul II.
Sr. Stein’s letter received no answer. The Church did not release her letter publicly until 2003.
The Vicar's values vs. Christ's values:
Shortly after Pope Pius XII replaced Pius XI, he made this lofty promise: "We feel that we owe no greater debt to our office and to our time than to testify to the truth with apostolic firmness : to give testimony to the truth. . . . In the fulfillment of this, our duty, we shall not let ourselves be influenced by earthly considerations." " Summi Pontificatus (October 20, 1939)
" Do not forget that millions of Catholics serve in the German armies. Shall I bring them into conflicts of conscience?
When in October 1941 Harold H. Tittmann, the assistant of Roosevelt's special emissary to the Vatican, tried to get the Pope to issue a public protest against the Germans' mass shooting of hostages, he was told that this could not be done since it would jeopardize the situation of the German Catholics."
Yet another reason that some Catholic apologists claim that Pius XII was right to avoid condemning the Nazis publicly was because Hitler might well have "decapitated" the church by kidnapping and imprisoning its pope, etc. Hitler did indeed consider such a possibility and ordered General Otto Wolff, the supreme commander of the SS and the German police in Italy to plan for its execution. The reason this never happened is that the Nazis were afraid of Catholic backlash. But in any event, consider this:
Although popes claim to be the "vicar of Christ", you have to wonder sometimes if they have even read the words of Jesus.
"Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. "If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of stumbling blocks! Occasions for stumbling are bound to come, but woe to the one by whom the stumbling block comes!
Can you imagine, however, that Jesus would have limited his concern to "stumbling blocks", or to the spiritual well-being of children of the Catholic flock? I can't help but believe that in the middle of the Jewish Holocaust he would have said something like "Whoever saves a child (not to mention his innocent parents and grandparents) from Hitler, saves ME."
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who went before you."
"See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; . . . they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. . . . Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. . .
After the Holy See lost most of its "Papal States" in the previous century, Pope Pius XII seems to have felt that it couldn't afford to risk losing more by opposing Hitler. Whether or not it lost its soul in the bargain, God alone may know for sure. Why, in the mean time, would the Catholic Church want to canonize this man?!?
What would Jesus do ?
When Jesus was asked to clarify what the second of the two great commandments was all about, he explained in one of his the most important parables, that action speaks louder than words, and that GOD is not fooled by professions of faith, nor by what may appear lack of faith. What GOD appreciates and expects in people is a good heart which moves one to "love others as one does oneself", and to "do unto others what one would have others do unto them". Jesus went out of his way, in his "Parable of the Good Samaritan" to point out that GOD often finds what he is looking for, not in churchy people who hold the right "beliefs", but in "non-believers" who do the right "works".
One day an expert on Moses' laws came to test Jesus' orthodoxy by asking him this question: "Teacher, what does a man need to do to live forever in heaven?" Jesus replied, "What does Moses' law say about it?" "It says," he replied, "that you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor just as much as you love yourself." "Right!" Jesus told him. "Do this and you shall live!"
But a despised Samaritan* came along, and when he saw him, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his donkey and walked along beside him till they came to an inn, where he nursed him through the night. The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins and told him to take care of the man. "If his bill runs higher than that," he said, "I'll pay the difference the next time I am here."
Now if Jesus expressed this much concern for one Jew, who was only mugged and robbed, how much more concern would he feel for six million Jews (and millions of Christian and other victims as well)?
See these contrasts to the timidity of "the Holy See" :
Were the Pope & German bishops even justified in fearing Nazi retribution?
"The Germans took no retribution on the Norwegian, French, Bulgarian, or Greek churches for championing the Jews, just as they had refrained from acting against the Danes.  The Nazis also took no retribution on Bishop Antonio Santin of Trieste, in northern Italy, who during a mass in early November 1943, with Germans and Italian Fascists present, denounced in the name of Jesus the roundup of the Jews as violations of "charity, goodness, and humanity," and urged that within his diocese "every hand offer help" to them. The Germans did nothing to him, to his parishioners, to Jews married to Catholics, or to Catholics who had converted from Judaism. Having suffered no punishment for his actions, Bishop Santin wrote a letter imploring the Pope to help the Jews -- " I humbly beg Your Holiness to intervene with the German ambassador to the Holy See in favor of these unhappy people." Two weeks later he traveled to the Vatican to make the same plea -- all in vain.
That the Pope would bring danger upon himself and the Church for speaking out was then, and is now, a convenient fiction." Moreover, the Pope himself proved definitively that such considerations played no role whatsoever in his decisions to remain publicly silent while the Germans murdered Jews. (For) After the Allies liberated Rome on June 4, 1944, the Germans were in the process of gradually deporting the Jews of Trieste, which they still occupied. The Pope and the Vatican were completely safe. More than half a year had passed since Bishop Santin's appeal. Yet Pius XII still did absolutely nothing to help Trieste's Jews. Fifteen of the twenty-two trains that brought almost twelve hundred Jews mostly to Auschwitz departed Trieste when (i.e. after) the Pope was safely under Allied protection.
Quietly, behind the scenes, Plus XII personally could have also done many things to try to help the Jews, particularly of Italy, with no risk to himself or the Church. He chose not to." p.53
"The notion that had the Pope spoken out and tried to mobilize Catholics, ecclesiastic and lay, and non-Catholics to resist the Germans' slaughters, then more Jews would have died is about as bizarre and nonsensical an argument as I have read by anyone writing about the Holocaust, except of course the fulminations of Holocaust deniers and their fellow travelers who blame the Jews for their own destruction."[ A Moral Reckoning, p. 54]
I have limited myself in these pages to the Roman Catholic church's neglect of the moral well-being of its own members. That is not to say that the moral well-being of Catholics - even millions of Catholics - is more important than the loss of their physical lives by 6 million Jews and 4 million others. Far from it. I have covered extensively
A powerful summary
I know of no one who makes the case for the gravity of the moral failure of the Catholic pope and hierarchy when it came to guiding its faithful during the holocaust than Daniel Goldhagen, who wrote the following:
The Church did not tell Catholics that with every antisemitic act of omission or of participation -- most obviously by actively participating, in any way, in the mass annihilation of the Jews -- they committed a crime against humanity and a sin against God. The Church thereby allowed Catholics to place their souls at risk for an eternity in hell. According to the Church, the failure to have warned Catholics is a sin because we incur the "responsibility for the sins committed by others" by "not disclosing them when we have an obligation to do so." With this offense (and this is, of course, also true of the failure to warn Jews), the Catholic Church, its national churches, two popes, its bishops and priests offended God and failed Catholics as badly as a religious leader can fail those who look to him for guidance.
It is likely that some combination of both existed, but I find it hard to believe that the overwhelming majority of the Church's European clergy thought that Catholics were committing grievous crimes and mortal sins (including in the nonlethal phases of the eliminationist onslaught) and allowed them to do so by saying nothing. The bishops and priests would have had to be adopting this difficult and inexplicable position day after day, for years on end. After all, the Church made clear, right up front, that its fiery encyclical Mit brennender Sorge was "prompted by the desire, as it behooves Us, to secure for Germany the freedom of the Church's beneficent mission and the salvation of the souls in her care. . . By implication, the silent churchmen did not judge "the salvation of the souls in her care" to be endangered by Catholics' participation in the eliminationist persecution of the Jews. Germany's Cardinal Faulhaber had declared it "a duty of conscience to speak out" against the so-called Euthanasia program, "for as a Catholic bishop I may not remain silent when the preservation of the moral foundations of all public order is at stake." Yet he remained silent as Catholics persecuted and killed Jews, so he must have thought that in this case the "moral foundations" remained secure. Pius XII himself had proclaimed in his first encyclical that his greatest duty was "to testify to the truth with Apostolic Firmness." Surely, if there was any truth to which he had to testify, then it was to the criminality and mortal sinfulness of the Germans' onslaught against European Jews, and the peril to which Catholics who contributed to it were subjecting their souls. The Church's willingness to allow Catholics and its clergy to persecute and even kill Jews appears, therefore, more likely to have resulted from the belief that the members of their flock were not endangering their souls -- that such acts were not crimes, offenses, or sins. . .
We see then that it is not just the Jewish victims and their families who should be calling for a moral reckoning with the Catholic Church. The call should be coming (and to a small degree is coming) also from Catholics. The Church betrayed its Catholic flock by the tens of millions. Although each one, victimized Jew and morally abandoned Catholic, has a special claim on witnessing such a reckoning, we need not be Jew or Catholic to have a legitimate stake in it. We need not be afflicted Jews or Catholics, or their actual or spiritual descendants. All people have the right, indeed the duty, to engage in moral judgment of significant public events, institutions, and actors. All people have the right and the duty to urge that the conclusions that correctly follow on that moral judgment be widely known and be acted upon. Although such a moral reckoning will serve everyone, no one has a more urgent need for it than the Catholic Church itself, which does not yet know how to call for what it must."
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