Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Pope vs American Jews (1987)

1987 Dry Bones cartoon - Confrontation with American Jewry during the 1987 Papal visit to America.
There was a confrontation between the Pope and American Jewry during the 1987 Papal visit to America? Yes, indeed there was.

Just to understand the mood at the time, here's a NY Times report from back then.

THE PAPAL VISIT; Pope Defends Vatican's Response To Holocaust in Talks With Jews

"In a public encounter with American Jewish leaders, Pope John Paul II defended the conduct of Pope Pius XII today against assertions that he failed to publicly condemn the persecution and extermination of Jews by the Nazis.

The Pope also used what was anticipated as a ceremonial exchange to assert that the Palestinian people have a right to a homeland.

For their part, the Jewish leaders expressed their ''pain and distress'' at the Pope's meeting last June with President Kurt Waldheim of Austria. And Rabbi Mordecai Waxman, honorary president of the Synagogue Council of America, told the Pope that the Holocaust was ''the culmination of centuries of anti-Semitism in European culture for which Christian teachings bear a heavy responsibility.''Impressive Candor Noted The themes sounded at the meeting today in a small, gray Miami auditorium filled with 200 representatives of American Jewish organizations, were not themselves new to the Pope or to Catholic and Jewish conversations: The Vatican's response to the Nazi Holocaust remains, 40 years later, one of the most contentious issues separating Jews and Catholics.

But Jewish and Catholic spokesmen agreed that the fact that such touchy matters were confronted at a papal ceremony in front of the international press indicated that an impressive level of candor had been reached since the Church began formal conversations with Jews after the Second Vatican Council in 1965.

Nevertheless, it was unclear why the Pope chose to make such provocative comments directly to his Jewish hosts." -more

If you'd like to read Waxman's address to the Pope on behalf of American Jewry and the Papal response. click here.

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