In a certain sense, Americans are all Jews, that is, if we only consider our Judeo-Christian heritage and disregard the millions of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, etc. who are American citizens.  Semi-Jews at heart or no, it hasn’t been smooth sailing between those who adhere to the religion of Abraham and Christians. 

   The late Pope Pius XII and, by inference, the entire Catholic Church, have long been accused by Jews and the Jewish media of not merely sympathizing with WWII fascists and Nazis but of actual complicity in the Holocaust. 

That calumny still exists three generations after the Holocaust and despite the historical record that Pope Pius condemned anti-Semitism, interceded on behalf of Rome’s Jews and Jewish people in Slovakia and other nations, and was even cited as a conspirator in the attempted assassination of Hitler in 1944.  Still, he was accused of not doing nearly enough and not publicly denouncing the Nazis.  

Living in Benito Mussolini’s fascist, an ally of Adolph Hitler’s Nazi Germany, it’s entirely possible that had he protested much more the Vatican could have been reduced to a mass of rubble. 

Not to be forgotten either is that hundreds of Catholics protected and saved the lives of thousands of Jews and literally hundreds of thousands of Catholics surrendered their lives during the Second World War in the cause of freedom and, not incidentally,  freed millions of Jews from oppression and concentration camps. 

The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) marked a watershed in Catholic-Jewish relations by instituting reforms which included an outreach to Jews in an attempt to salve the wounds of centuries of antipathies, misunderstandings, and lack of inter-communication.  

Whether all of Vatican II’s reforms and changes were beneficial to the Church is still a matter of conjecture although the effort to institute a dialogue with Jews and dispel age-old beliefs of Jews as Jesus-killers who subsequently committed atrocities against Christian children in the Middle Ages was clearly a step forward but some Jewish people wanted more and bigger steps.  

Some years ago, the radical Jewish Defense League adopted the slogan “Never Forget!” meaning Jews would never forget the horrors of the Holocaust and, by implication, would never tolerate its repetition.  Both were eminently reasonable, if unnecessary, goals. 

They were reasonable for obvious reasons but unnecessary since Jews and Jewish groups the world over have never forgotten and, in fact, all too often invoke memories of Hitler’s “Final Solution” whenever an issue arises which they perceive as somehow exhibiting anti-Semitism. 

A major drawback to those repetitive, kneejerk reactions is that they serve to worsen rather than alleviate the problem, especially today when anti-Jewish sentiment and incidents are becoming increasingly common in various European nations.   

In addition, when Jews use the Holocaust as an instrument to interfere with the internal affairs of the Catholic Church, they are foolishly overstepping the bounds of reconciliation. 

Unfortunately, some Jewish groups have done precisely that by protesting the Vatican’s attempt to heal its own house by engaging in dialogue with the traditionalist Society of Pius X and trying to reunite that “breakaway” sect with the Church.  In large part, objections center on alleged anti-Semitism within the Society and the so-called “Holocaust-denying” Bishop Richard Williamson.  

Society of Saint Pius X   See what the Society of Pius X actually believes: http://www.sspx.org/. 

What the Society professes are beliefs shared by millions of “mainstream” Catholics and go far beyond dissatisfaction over the abandonment of the Latin Mass and with other promulgations at Vatican II.  What the Society does not profess or indoctrinate is anti-Semitism.  If anything, they stand as a rare Christian voice in the contemporary wilderness declaiming societal corruption and disintegration.       

Yet, according to Ynet.com and Jewish World, the U.S. Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, lectured Pope Benedict XVI and the Holy See on requiring the Society’s acceptance of the Church’s “positive teachings” about Jews before any reconciliation. 

In Foxman’s words, “It would be unthinkable for the Vatican to allow a Catholic breakaway sect that includes a Holocaust-denying bishop, Richard Williamson, to be reintegrated into the church while still being allowed to promote anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism.”  

What’s more unthinkable is for any non-Catholic American to attempt to influence the policies of the Supreme Pontiff and leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide.  

In what seemed more a threat than an offer of advice, Elan Steinberg of the American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants, went even further to exert pressure on the Catholic Church’s efforts to promote Christian ecumenism. 

Steinberg predicted “catastrophic effects” on Catholic-Jewish relations unless the Vatican required compliance with Jewish demands. 

He added a distinct note of condesecension and moral superiority when he also said, ”We mustn’t allow the moral imperative of Catholic-Jewish amity to fall victim to a policy of appeasement or blithe expediency,” thereby implying the Vatican would act on reunification with the Society of Pius X based on expedience instead of principle.  (http://bit.ly/mXcgIw)  

Rosh Hashanah Comments   The comments by Foxman, Steinberg, and others in the Jewish community reinforce the standard stereotype of Jews as a people who tend to overstep and manipulate in their own interests that which is beyond their purview and competence.  It would be far better for all concerned for Jews to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and attone on Yom Kippur for presuming they have the right to run the Catholic Church and dictate Church doctrine.