a different side of Israel

Tag: Pope Benedict XVI


The Catholic Church has been in a curious light as of late. The world community was like way grossed-out by several salacious sex scandals. The ball started rolling over in Ireland and the Pope began to sweat — not too sweet. Then more was uncovered from under the covers, that is, in: Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and even Brazil, priests and other members of the Roman clergy were accused of molesting youngsters — and, well the rest is really too terrible to tell.
The Vatican
They say that Pope Benedict, while still a German archbishop, knew of such activities but kept them in the dark. There were rumors that he would be forced to step down now that the past has been brought to the light. The likelihood of that is not good.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is something of a hero – he is to me anyway. His Website calls him, “America’s Rabbi“, and I wonder if that is not untrue, a kind of post-Lubavitch religious hipster with clout and growing at that, minus one red string on wrist – thank God. You had to love his show, Shalom in the Home, on The Learning Channel.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach
He debates everybody! He debated Christopher Hitches at the 92nd street Y in Manhattan about the existence of God, and sounded like a brilliant post-enlightenment, science age Theologian – an Orthodox rabbi steeped in all kinds of philosophical and scientific fact – cold hard facts. Yes we checked out the Taliban and the current state of extreme Islam, we’ve read Darwin, Einstein and that other loud-mouth Briton with all of the books and documentaries – what’s his name? No we won’t stop believing in God, as Americans, Jews and human beings! And have you reduced your carbon footprint today?

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach knows that Pope Benedict has an ambiguous stance about Jews. The one-step forward, two-step back kind of post-Holocaust Pope. Pro-life and pro environmental reform who was photographed last week dozing off in the middle of Mass. God bless him.

So Boteach’s reaction to the Pope, now sweating in embarrassment over the sex scandal, who brought back to Catholic liturgy a call for Jews to save themselves by converting to the religion of the cross – the old one, the Roman one – has gone to console the panicky Vicar in the Vatican. The Vicar who quietly protests on behalf of Palestinians but kisses Kotels and visits Manhattan synagogues – and who knows what happened to the Jews of Italy during the Second World War? Anyone?

Boteach’s suggestion was that the church – in all of its glory – promote family Shabbat dinners on Friday nights, similar to the Jewish custom. Rabbi Shmuley claimed it would be a good way for the church to re-establish its pro-family image. This initiative, said Boteach, would help the church demonstrate that it is not only concerned with opposing same-sex marriages and abortions – other issues which have found it further damned by disagreers and offendees – (?) and they who hate their family (?)

No real response was received on the matter.

After meeting with the Pope Boteach received an invitation to have lunch with Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is responsible for the Vatican’s relations with Jewry.
During this meeting the rabbi harshly criticized the church for covering-up the sex abuse scandals – surprising, that’s all he could think of criticizing the Vatican for?

Abbas Comis?

So often tidbits of news and history become philosophical mind-benders…so as beholders of the Truth, as we at happen to be, we try and leave our stories open to the good rational minds of our readers…that is to say, we respect you.

So here’s the scoop, readers:

Pope Benedict XVI insists on a “great respect” between Catholics and Jews. Here’s a pocket-full of benefit of the doubt for the good Vicar…

The Pontiff is on his way to visit a synagogue in Rome… even as we speak. He says the visit will be a “further step on the path of harmony and friendship between Catholics and Jews,” he says there is a “climate of great respect and dialogue” between the two religions. This Roman synagogue is said to be the spiritual home of the oldest Jewish community in the Diaspora.

Jewish groups are divided however, due to Benedict’s praise of Pius XII – the World War II Pope. Some say, that this Pope did not do enough to save the Jews of these years from their fate of Holocaust. Now Pope Benedict is moving to Canonize Pope Pius.

In his 1940 encyclical Summi Pontificatus, Pius rejected anti-Semitism and he did protest to save certain Jewish populations from deportation to Poland. Despite this, many are still skeptical. He could not or did not save the fate of one-third of Italy’s Jewish population, who were murdered or expelled.

Jewish skepticism about the current Pope was sparked when it became known his German origins and service in the Hitler Youth program, beginning in 1941. But it became known that the program was compulsory for all German boys, and that the Pope witnessed firsthand, Nazi brutality towards German Catholics.

On one hand, Pope Benedict visited the Park East synagogue in New York City, during the eve of Passover in 2008 – and this came after his 2006 visit to Auschwitz and later Jerusalem and Yad Vashem.

He also visited a West Bank refugee camp during one of these trips, and spoke out about the need for a sovereign homeland for the Palestinian people. Needless to say this left many a questioning Zionist brow…

In 2007, Benedict issued the Summorum Pontificum, which allows wider use of the Tridentine Mass, which includes this Good Friday Prayer:

Let us pray also for the Jews: that almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us pray. Let us kneel. Arise. Almighty and eternal God, who dost also not exclude from thy mercy the Jews: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Then, in 2009, he lifted an excommunication off of a British Bishop who denies that Jews were killed in Nazi gas chambers.

Me thinks, this guy is about as hard to decode as the Latin language. Nicer then some Popes have been, but tricky, yeah? Does he do it on purpose? Sorry Father, but Israel will not be embracing Jesus any time in the near future…at least, not on any sweeping basis…


No Perdone Por Il Papa

Pope In Israel 2009Criticism is still being heard following Pope Benedict XVI’s visit Monday to Yad Vashem, in which a short speech he gave appeared to be a bit lackluster. The Pontiff had begun his visit to Jerusalem with a formal call to President Shimon Peres at his official residence, followed by an entertainment program in which a number of singers and choir groups took part, including children representing the three monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The Yad Vashem visit, which took place at the end of day, appeared to be let-down for a number of Rabbinical and other leaders, including Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, a former Chief Rabbi and the present head of Yad Vashem.

Although the Pontiff did say expressions like “I have come to stand in silence before the monument erected to honor the millions of Jews killed in the horrific tragedy of the Shoah,” he didn’t make mention of the Nazis as such and didn’t go far enough to express his sincere regret that the Church did not do enough to save Jews during the Holocaust – especially his predecessor, Pope Pius XII.

Knesset speaker Reuven (Ruby) Rivlin, who was present during the Hall of Remembrance ceremony added that Benedict’s visit there was not enough to receive forgiveness in the eyes of the Jewish People.

“I came to the memorial not only to hear historical descriptions or about the established fact of the Holocaust. I came as a Jew, hoping to hear an apology and a request for forgiveness from those who caused our tragedy, and among them, the Germans and the church. But to my sadness, I did not hear any such thing” Rivlin said.

No doubt that the Pontiff, as the official head of his faith’s 1.2 billion adherents, was not at liberty to express any personal pleas of forgiveness – not that any might have been forthcoming. The words he did say were probably carefully reviewed by church officials, and even practiced beforehand prior to the visit.

For a pope born and raised in Germany, and who was a member of the “Hitler Youth” as a child, his visit to this scared shrine, in which the ashes of unknown Jewish victims are buried under it’s black granite floor, it might be said that his words did at least commemorate their deaths, and raised sincere hope that this horrible tragedy will never happen again. No mention was also made of the Church’s long persecution of Jews, including the 400 year long “Holy Inquisition” in which perhaps millions of Jews were either vanquished from lands such as Spain, Portugal, and Italy; or tortured and put to death in the most cruel and barbaric fashion if found to be practicing their faith in secret after converting to Christianity.

The Pope’s agenda on Tuesday, included visits to the Temple Mount Dome of the Rock, the Western Wall and other holy sites and held an audience with both Jewish and Muslim leaders. Perhaps he will be more forthcoming during this visit, and will say a bit more regarding his church’s responsibility for so much suffering.

Pope’s Visit Anticipated Amid Property Disputes

Pope Benedict XVIThe arrival in Israel of Pope Benedict XVI on May 14 is already being prepared for in earnest by Israeli and Catholic Church authorities. The visit of the Pontiff will include a formal call to Israel President Shimon Peres at Beit Hanassi, and to the Beit HaShoah Holocaust memorial as well as the usual holy places in the Old City and elsewhere. Benedict’s visit to Yad Vashem will be the second by a reining Pontiff following Pope John Paul II ‘s historic visit there in March, 2000. Being of German descent, and due to his membership in the National Socialist Youth Movement as a child, his visit to Israel and to Yad Vashem takes on an even more significant aspect.

The visit will not be without its problems, however, as the Catholic Church is presently in dispute with the Israeli government over the ownership of some church properties in Jerusalem and other locations, including the building on Mt. Zion which is known by the Church as the Coenaculum, where Jesus and his disciples held the Last Supper. Other disputed properties include the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, the Church and Gardens of Gethsemane at the foot of the Mount of Olives, the Monastery on the summit of Mt. Tabor; and the Church of the Multiplication, which is located on the shore of the Sea of Galilee

Church JerusalemPresident Peres, in a gesture of good will is trying to persuade the government to abide by the Church’s requests (demands?), hoping that this will enable more tourists and pilgrims to visit Israel and the Holy Land. So far, however, the government including the Interior and Tourism ministers are not ready to give these places up. As was noted to a Haaretz reporter by Tourism Minister, Stas Misezhnikov, “If we were certain this great gift would bring millions of Christian pilgrims to visit here we would have good reason to agree to these demands. But since we are not certain this will happen, why should we give out gifts?”

A considerable amount of Christian church property is in the control of various religious denominations, but these particular properties have been in dispute for some time, especially ones located in East Jerusalem since the Six Day War of 1967. The Pope’s visit in itself will be a logistical challenge, and some protests are being planned against the temporary closure of some of the holy sites he will visit, including the Church of Annunciation in Nazareth and the Kotel or Western Wall in the Old City.

Pope John Paul II’s visit in 2000 had hoped to bring millions of pilgrims to Israel, due to it heralding the 2nd Millennium. But not only did this not happen (less than 100,000 actually came) but the Second Intifada broke out in September of the same year. Many people wonder now what will be the outcome of this papal visit, taking the current political and security state of the region into account.

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