Pope rewriting history in the name of the Father

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For good reason Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center hastened to commend the pope for his statements against new expressions of anti-Semitism, and for closer links between Jews and Christians. However, the interpretation that the pope offered for events of the past is more troubling and less exact. In reference to World War II and the Holocaust, Ratzinger said that "In the darkest period of German and European history, an insane racist ideology born of neo-paganism gave rise to the attempt to exterminate European Jewry."

He went on to explain the roots of this ideology. "The holiness of God was no longer recognized, and consequently contempt was shown for the sacredness of human life," he said.

This interpretation is very convenient for the Church, of course. It distinguishes between what he calls a secular, pagan, "insane" Europe, which does not recognize the holiness of God, and a religious, sane, peace-mongering Europe. As far as Ratzinger is concerned, the Holocaust took place because of non-recognition of the Christian faith.

There would seem to be a basis for accepting the principle argument, that the rise of secular movements in the 20th century, those which brought down the Holocaust on the Jews and the entire continent of Europe, has to do with the weakening of religious faith. But the attempt to create such a distinction and to clear the Catholic Church just like that of the role it played for hundreds of years, preaching and educating toward hatred of Jews, is far from convincing.

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