Friday, November 7, 2008

"The Vatican is Not a Democracy"

The Vatican has been making steps towards the canonization of WWII-era Pope Pius XII, and Jewish and Israeli spokesmen have been decrying this. This issue has been going on for well over a decade; in recent months it seemed to flare up and then die down again, but yesterday the flames were stoked again by none less than Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State:
Speaking at a ceremony marking 50 years since Pius' death, Bertone castigated those who say Pius did nothing to save Jews. He said historians who espouse such views "are infuriating and historically inaccurate." He called the allegations against Pius a "defaming legend."
Earlier this decade the Vatican and Jewish organizations set up a joint commission of historians to clarify the issue, but shortly thereafter the Jewish historians on the panel, who included world-class scholars, all resigned when the Vatican refused them free access to the documentation. Given that historians, unlike journalists or bloggers, try to base their contentions on documents and not merely hearsay, this was a bit of a problem.

As the news item thoughtlessly parrots:
It is believed the process of cataloging and releasing the Vatican's documents from the World War II era will take another six or seven years.
Who exactly is doing the "believing"? We're not told.

I'm reminded of an instance in December 1998, methinks, when the US State Department convened a gigantic conference of folks from dozens of countries who all came to Foggy Bottom to talk about "Holocaust Era Assets", which were all the rage in those days. There were many of hundreds of us there, in a mostly cynical attempt to demonstrate, I don't know, that everybody was great or something. Though we weren't more cynical than politicians diplomats and power brokers generally are, so perhaps there wasn't anything particular about this convention.

Anyway, one of the panels I participated in was made up of archivists, and we were talking about ensuring that all archives be open to research and so on. If memory serves, I was sitting right next to the Monsignore from the Vatican's archives. Given that by 1998 his archive was one of the very last ones anywhere in the relevant parts of the world that were still closed, you don't have to envy him, and indeed he read out a statement that was unusually cynical even by the standards of the general context. At the end of the discussion I remember that I said to him that in democracies, opening archives is a hallmark of the freedom of investigation, and that as a general rule one shouldn't fear the truth that careful investigation of archives will bring forth.

He look straight at me and said "The Vatican is not a Democracy, Dr. Lozowick". End of that discussion.


Anonymous said...


Catholicism gave birth to the idea of "special men," disinterested in marriage. Who lord it over "the flock."

Imagine this. WOmen are told to "accept" whatever crap gets dished out their way. (And, for the longest time, it was the grandmas that forced the kids to go to Church. Oh, and to learn the art of "confession." And, lighting candles ... so "God can see your wishes.") As if God hangs around, waiting for "instructions."

While the Vatican grew in pomp and circumstance. And, all their sexual activities got hidden.

In another good book: FLUSHED by Hodding Carter; he goes back to the ancient Romans, to discuss bathing.

BUD. Bathing, urination, and defacation. And, how, when the Church began to grow ... following Rome's demise ... THE LIGHTS WENT OUT!

Religions always set themselves up to be "oppositional forces." The Romans liked to bathe. So, the old church told the peasants there were two times they could bathe: At birth. And, at death.

Meanwhile, when the money and power flowed in, the Catholic Church turned to CATHEDRALS. These took about 100 years to build. And, this employed the locals. And, it gave these peasants a "purpose."

Inside the cathedrals, the monks got showers! And, toilets! But nobody else! Plus, the monks, bathed and cleansed, had no trouble going out among the peasants, with the recommendation that "bathing was a sin." By God!

Lunatics. But it shows ya how a few like to lord it over the many. Flocks and stocks.

I bring this up because it's only recently many of you discovered that the priests were fond of fondling young boys. Were you surprised?

What should surprise ya is how long it took to put this into language.

In today's American Catholic world you'd see a real depletion in attendance. (Fewer people hear the diatribes against the Jews. And, even fewer people believe in the "holy crap.")

Civilization has moved ahead.

As to the pomp and circumstance? Well, if truth be known Pius wasn't. And, Pius, just like Gandhi, LOVED HITLER! Wrote him love letters! Were besotted with the way he could control people.

Of course, Hitler crapped out.

But to put a gloss on this? You went from a Polish pope to a German one. (Yeah, with a dwindling White population) ... and an attempt to make pius a saint.

You believe in saints? A saint or a paint? One letter difference.

All the things that men do ... where you're sure there's been no heavenly responses to date ... just means that some men still like to tell the world they have these powers. Personally? I think these powers are as powerful as a fart. And, if you don't smell the pope's, doesn't mean he doesn't pass gas.

Only means his range is very limited.

The other thing that gets interesting?

Professor John Sutherland, whose lectures have been recorded on tapes; for the Teaching Company. Does an excellent job discussing CLASSICS OF BRITISH LITERATURE.

On his lectures covering Shakespeare to the King James version of the Bible. (He's the kind that follows Elizabeth the First) ... He notes ...

HOW LANGUAGE once was identified through the ears.

Both Shakespeare and the Bible were used WEEKLY ... to teach.

People who wanted to be entertained, went to the theater. And, all English speaking people (other than Jews), went to Church. Where the spoken language was heard.

LESSON: In the past, people used their ears to hear information. They could take in hours and hours worth of information. Through their ears.

And, Professor Sutherland states, this is no longer true! Today's youth take information in through their eyes.

The Internet sped things up.

Our eyes don't have "hours and hours" worth of time to waste.

As to the vatican? Their pomp and circumstance has met its match.

Heck, it must have been understood when they stopped doing masses in Latin? In other words? People had no idea what the words meant. But they could have a "magical" effect.


We're in a new garden.

Can't go back to Eden anymore. Either.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

At the end of the discussion I remember that I said to him that in democracies, opening archives is a hallmark of the freedom of investigation, and that as a general rule one shouldn't fear the truth that careful investigation of archives will bring forth.

Here's a suggestion for the Israeli democracy: open the archives of the Israel Defense Forces where the photographs of Deir Yassin on the day of the massacre are stored.

In fact you should be campaigning for them to be opened, because (a) you believe in open democracies, (b) you're a former archivist, and (c) you believe Israel is morally right.

That said, I'd like to contribute a reflection on the Catholic Church during WWII. While I have a profound contempt for the Church in view of its alliances with dictatorships of all persuasions (including the military dictatorship of 1976-83 in Argentina), the often-made claim that they should have excommunicated Hitler is ludicrous. Nothing would have been achieved by that symbolic gesture, and it would have endangered the lives of tens of thousands of German clergymen.

Did the Church rush to help the Jews? It did not. Did Israel rush to help the Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide? It did not either. With the small difference that the Church doesn't have any military power, while Israel has one of the best armies in the world.

In Spanish we have a proverb about glass houses and stone-throwing -- does it exist in English too?