So the Pope revoked the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop. So the Jewish defense world was up in arms. Wall to wall criticism, as JTA’s Telegraph blog puts it. It is easy to get worked up about this. Holocaust denial is one of those hot buttons that necessarily must evoke a response. But does the Pope’s action require such a stern response?
As the Telegraph reports, in On Holocaust-denying bishop, a voice of dissent,
Rabbi Irwin Kula has produced a dissenting opinion that, in a nutshell, amounts to this: Get over it.The Jews overreacted, Kula writes in the Huffington Post. They haven’t labored to understand this through Catholic eyes. They don’t understand what it must be like to run a spiritual community of more than a billion people. The bishop is irrelevant and lacking power anyway, a crotchety old uncle. And given that the Catholic Church has condemned Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism and showed great respect for Jews in recent decades, the rantings of an unknown bishop really shouldn’t matter that much.
Something is off kilter here. Is it possible that the leadership of Jewish defense agencies, people with the best of motivation who have historically done critical work in fighting anti-Semitism, have become so possessed by their roles as monitors of anti-Semitism, so haunted by unresolved fears, guilt, and even shame regarding the Holocaust, and perhaps so unconsciously driven by how these issues literally keep their institutions afloat, that they have become incapable of distinguishing between a bishop’s ridiculous, loopy, discredited views about the Holocaust and a Church from the Pope down which has clearly and repeatedly recognized the evil done to Jews in the Holocaust and called for that evil to never be forgotten.
Moreover, writes Kula:
Finally, when the Pope as well as key Vatican officials said within a day that Williamson’s views are “absolutely indefensible” and that in the Pope’s own words, the Church feels “full and indispensable solidarity with Jews against any Holocaust denial” where was a little humility in response? Wouldn’t it have been interesting, yet alone ethically compelling, for those who initially lashed out to have acknowledged that perhaps they did overreact and that they do know that the Church and specifically this Pope are very sensitive to these issues.
Gives you pause for thought…