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Vatican paper: Allies failed to stop Holocaust
August 212009£1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
Assumption of Mary offers us hope of eternity, says Pope
THE VATICAN ’S newspaper has accused Britain and America of complicity in the Nazi extermination of six million European Jews.
It alleged that the Allies deliberately did nothing to either rescue Jews or to destroy the machinery of the death camps.
An article in L’Osservatore Romano offered evidence to show that the British and US governments “knew that the Nazis were planning to exterminate all the Jews of Europe” within months of Adolf Hitler authorising the Final Solution at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin of January 1942.
But instead of bombing the concentration camps and the railways supplying them, they reacted by first suppressing the reports of eyewitnesses and then by claiming they were exaggerated, the newspaper said.
Britain later proved hostile to offering sanctuary to any Jewish refugees fleeing the Holocaust, said the article, which will be seen as having the support of the highest figures in the Vatican.
The newspaper reproduced a US government telegram of August 24 1942 that reveals detailed claims that the Nazis aimed to poison between 3.5 million and four million Jews, possibly by using cyanide.
It also drew on the diaries of Henry Morgenthau, former US Treasury Secretary, who said American officials had “dodged their grim responsibility, procrastinated when concrete rescue schemes were placed before them, and even suppressed information about atrocities”.
Morgenthau had also claimed that when the Americans began to rescue some Jews they met resistance from British officials who refused to give money to the project.
He said that a Foreign Office cable speaking of “the difficulties of disposing of any considerable number of Jews should they be rescued from enemy occupied territory” amounted to “a satanic combination of British chill and diplomatic doubletalk, cold and correct and adding up to a sentence of death”.
The extraordinary attack on the Allies will inevitably be seen as part of a wider push by the Vatican to restore the reputation of Pope Pius XII, who many Catholics believe is a saint.
The wartime pontiff has been criticised since his death for so-called “silence” over the Holocaust and even dubbed “Hitler’s Pope”.
The L’Osservatore Romano article dismissed such claims as a “radically false” characterisation and said that Pius carried out “the only plausible and practical form of defence of the Jews and other persecuted people” –hiding them in various Church-run institutions.
In the end, although more than 2,000 Jews were deported from Rome and killed, about 10,000 Jews of Rome were saved, it said.
The article received a mixed reception with some readers immediately noting a “political context” for its justification.
Dr Edward Kessler, the executive director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish and Christian Relations at Cambridge University, said the article was an “odd way” to promote the sainthood of Pius XII.
“It is not new that the Allies knew about German plans to exterminate Jews and there has been a debate about whether Churchill should have bombed the railway lines,” said Dr Kessler. “If it is part of a campaign to promote the canonisation of Pius XII you would have thought that L’Osservatore Romano would have been better off supporting the strengths of Pius XII rather than attacking the Allies.
“Did Pius XII do enough and did he do it quickly enough? That seems to be the fundamental question of the relationship between Pius XII and the Jews,” said Dr Kessler, adding that the same question applied to the Allies as well.
He said: “It is too easy to say Pius did nothing because that is false and it is too easy to say that he did everything because that is also false.” He added that the truth was more complex and that a sensible dialogue was needed to arrive at the correct conclusion about the conduct of Pius during the war.
Concerns over Allied inaction against the concentration camps were dealt with in the aftermath of the conflict by Anthony Eden, the wartime Foreign Secretary, who explained that only the “speedy victory of the Allied nations” could have ultimately saved the Jews and that all warplanes were deployed to that end.
But Sir Martin Gilbert, the British Holocaust historian and biographer of Winston Churchill, has since questioned such arguments in his book Auschwitz and the Allies .
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Editorial comment: Page 13
Nuns pray outside the Church of St Thomas of Villanova as the Pope celebrates Mass for the feast of the Assumption in Castel Gandolfo CNS
THEASSUMPTION of Mary is a sign of hope for all Christians that through baptism and by faithfully following Christ they will have eternal life, Pope Benedict XVI has said.
“In the Virgin assumed into heaven we contemplate the coronation of her faith, of that journey of faith that she indicates for the Church and for each of us –she, who at every moment welcomed the word of God, has been assumed in heaven,” he said.
Pope Benedict, his right arm still in a cast, celebrated Mass for the feast of the Assumption in the tiny parish church of St Thomas of Villanova at Castel Gandolfo.
A woman, shouting in Ger
man, interrupted the liturgy and was led outside by Vatican security, who later described her as being overcome by religious emotion.
The Pope also recited the Angelus prayer at noon on Saturday and Sunday with visitors gathered in the courtyard of the papal villa. In both Angelus addresses he continued reflecting on Mary’s life and her Assumption into heaven.
In his homily he said that even in moments of “darkness and suffering” Mary continued to follow God’s plan of love, placing her life totally in his hands.
For Mary and for every Christian, he said, “all of life is an ascent, all of life is med
itation, obedience, trust and hope, even amid the darkness”.
Pope Benedict said life involved struggles between good and evil and was like “a voyage on often stormy seas; Mary is the star that guides us toward her son Jesus, the sun that rises over the darkness of history”.
Mary’s life and her Assumption “gives us the hope we need: the hope that we can win, that God has won and that, through baptism, we have entered into this victory”, the Pope said.
In his Angelus address after the Mass the Pope tied the feast to the Year for Priests and asked the world’s priests to teach their faithful about Mary, using as their
model St John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests.
He said the saint repeatedly consecrated his parish to Mary, entrusting each parishioner to her care. St John also recommended “especially that mothers do the same with their children”, the Pope said.
Welcoming visitors to the villa, the Pope looked at the connection between Mary and the Sunday Gospel in which Jesus said: “I am the bread come down from heaven.”
Jesus was able to become human and give himself for the nourishment and salvation of all people because Mary said “yes” to God’s plan that Jesus be born of a human mother, the Pope said.
“It is a kind of exchange in which God always takes the initiative but, in a certain sense, one that needs Mary in order to prepare the material for his sacrifice: the body and blood to be offered on the cross as the instrument of eternal life and, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, as spiritual food and drink.”
God also needs every man and woman to welcome him so that Christ can live in the world, Pope Benedict said.
“And if we say ‘yes’ like Mary, or rather to the extent that we give our ‘yes’, that which happened in that marvellous exchange also will happen with us: we will be assumed into the divinity of the One who assumed our humanity,” the Pope added.
American Sisters demand changes to conduct of Vatican investigation
NUNS AND SISTERS in the United States have called for changes to be made to a Vatican investigation into female religious orders.
Members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which represents 95 per cent of America’s female religious, said that while they would collaborate with the Church, they wanted “those conducting the inquiries [to] alter some of the methods being employed”.
Leaders of female congregations belonging to the LCWR discussed their approach at their annual assembly last week to both a doctrinal assessment being conducted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a larger apostolic visitation into the “quality of life” of all women religious in the United States.
After their annual assembly in New Orleans they said: “Following analysis of the experience of these studies thus far, the leaders noted that
while their orders have always been fully accountable to the Church and plan to collaborate with the Vatican in these studies, they request that those conducting the inquiries alter some of the methods being employed.
“Among the expressed concerns are a lack of full disclosure about the motivation and funding sources for the studies. The leaders also object to the fact that their orders will not be permitted to see the investigative reports about them that are being
submitted directly to the Vatican.”
Both the assessment and the visitation were announced earlier this year, causing a media storm. While the visitation deals with two umbrella groups for the women religious, the LCWR and the considerably smaller Council for Major Superiors of Women Religious, the doctrinal assessment is aimed solely at the LCWR.
Feature: Page 8 Editorial Comment: Page 13
Bishop says lottery fever is idolatrous
Poles protest against Madonna concert
ABISHOP has warned Italians that the gambling fever that has taken hold of the country is a form of idolatry.
Through its SuperEnalotto game, the state has encouraged Italians to “trust their lives to fortune” and deceive themselves that a winning number will solve all their problems, Bishop Domenico Sigalini of Palestrina said.
“It is not moral to continue to promote this kind of hope,” the bishop said.
The jackpot of £115 million prompted millions of Italians to buy tickets in the lottery, which pays the prize in one tax-free lump sum.
The draw is held three times a week, and the winner must hold all six correct numbers.
Bishop Sigalini said the hope of living off a jackpot reflects the false idea of a God who “gives us everything when we don’t deserve it”. “Clearly this is a form of idolatry,” he said.
POLISH Catholics held protests outside a Madonna concert before the controversial singer performed on the feast of the Assumption.
As the singer prepared to take to the stage at Warsaw’s Bermowo Airport, Poles held flags and icons to express their outrage. While the concert proved popular with thousands of
Madonna fans who saw it, many Polish Catholics have been furious that Madonna was performing on the day
they celebrate the Virgin Mary’s Assumption into heaven.
The event was part of Madonna’s “Sticky and Sweet” concert tour and took place the day before the
singer’s 51st birthday.
Fr Stanislaw Malkowski, a leader of
the protests, said: “Madonna’s concert on August 15 is an attack of the Devil on our untouched Catholic nation.”
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