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Pope Benedict Under Attack – Part III:
Homolka’s Outrages

by Christopher A. Ferrara

In my last column on the revised Good Friday prayer controversy I reported on complaints against the prayer by Walter Homolka, a representative of the World Union for Progressive Judaism in Germany, which has 1.6 million members in 46 countries and is the world's largest Jewish religious organization. With the subtlety of a bulldozer, Homolka suggested back in February that the Pope’s revised prayer, which repeats the Church’s perennial request to God that He enlighten the hearts of the Jewish people so that they may acknowledge Christ, should be viewed in the context of Nazism.

Not content with this outrageous suggestion, Homolka has upped the ante in an interview with the German daily Der Spiegel, published online — appropriately enough — on Good Friday (March 21, 2008).

Providing Homolka with a forward pass, Spiegel comments that “In contrast to his predecessor Pope John Paul II, who was feted for his efforts to build bridges with other religions, Benedict has succeeded in alienating members of other faiths on several occasions since he took office in 2005. He offended Muslims with a 2006 speech at the University of Regensburg in which he quoted a Byzantine emperor who described Islam as violent. Many Jews were disappointed with Benedict’s 2006 visit to Auschwitz, having hoped for a stronger message on the Church's role in the Holocaust. More recently, Jewish groups criticized Benedict’s meeting with a notoriously anti-Semitic Polish priest in August 2007. The latest incident is likely to further jeopardize efforts to promote Catholic-Jewish dialogue.”

Get it? John Paul II good. Benedict bad. Taking the ball and running with it, Homolka complains that Pope Benedict

“has lost his sensitivity. It is insulting to Jews that
the Catholic Church, in the context of Good Friday of
all things, is once again praying for the illumination of
the Jews, so that we can acknowledge Jesus as the
savior. Such statements are made in a historical
context which is closely connected with
discrimination, persecution and death
. Given the
weight of responsibility that the Catholic Church has
acquired in its history with Judaism, most recently
during the Third Reich
, this is completely inappropriate
and must be rejected to the utmost degree.”

Read those words carefully: The representative of the world’s largest Jewish religious organization, advancing beyond his more tentative suggestion in February, is now explicitly declaring that Pope Benedict’s action in revising the Good Friday prayer further adds to what he claims is the Catholic Church’s responsibility for the Third Reich.

It is hard to imagine a more despicable form of demagoguery. Homolka is simply shameless. But wait: it gets worse — much worse.

Commenting further on the new prayer, Homolka protests that its text “indicates that he [Pope Benedict] believes that the path to salvation, even for Jews, can only go through Jesus, the savior.” In other words, Homolka attacks the Pope for believing in the infallibly defined dogma of the Catholic faith that no one can be saved except by Jesus Christ.

Homolka then takes it up another notch: “The Internet is already full of comments by conservative, right-wing Catholics [including this columnist, perhaps?] who say: ‘Wonderful, now we finally have the signal to convert the Jews.’ This kind of signal has an extremely provocative effect on anti-Semitic groups. The Catholic Church does not have its anti-Semitic tendencies under control.”

So, Pope Benedict is not only adding to the burden of the Church’s (imaginary) complicity in the Third Reich, but is also unleashing the Church’s “anti-Semitic tendencies” — those being defined as the belief of Catholics in the Church’s traditional teaching on the conversion of the Jews.

When asked point blank: “So Benedict is encouraging anti-Semitic tendencies?”, Homolka replied: “He is accepting them, at the very least.”

At the very least! In other words, the Pope is not only encouraging “anti-Semitic tendencies,” but may also have those tendencies himself.

Is that really what Homolka means to suggest? There is no question about it. When asked whether the new prayer is not an improvement — from the Jewish perspective — over the old one, he replied:

“I consider Benedict’s version, too, to be more than unfortunately worded. He is making, on a central liturgical occasion, namely the Good Friday liturgy, a theological statement that Jews cannot help but perceive as aggressive and crass. Throughout history, Jews have repeatedly been subjected to persecution and death on Good Friday. Christians have often translated the message of Good Friday into the question: ‘Where are the murderers of Christ?’”

So, according to Homolka, by revising the prayer the Pope is sending a “message” that calls for a return of the mythical Catholic practice of persecuting and murdering Jews on Good Friday!

But surely not even Homolka is contending that there could be any such danger to Jews today. On the contrary, that is exactly what this shameless demagogue is suggesting. When asked “But wasn’t this danger [what danger?] eliminated long ago?”, he replied:

“any approach to the possibility of a mission by the
Church to convert Jews is essentially a hostile act — a
continuation, on a different level, of Hitler’s crimes
against the Jews
.”

Yes, incredibly enough, Homolka dares to assert that Pope Benedict’s revision of the Good Friday prayer is an act akin to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews! This would be hilarious if Homolka were not so deadly serious. He clearly means to incite worldwide fear and loathing of the Pope among Jews.

When asked if he was not exaggerating just a bit — after all, only a few Catholics will be using the revised Latin prayer — Homolka answered: “The issue is not where this extraordinary form of the prayer will be used. The pope, by choosing the wording himself, has made an important, precedent-setting change and has given it his personal seal of approval.” That is, the Pope has personally given his seal of approval to “the anti-Semitic tendencies” of the Church. Read: Pope Benedict XVI is an “anti-Semite.”

Homolka would rather the Pope had mandated that Latin Mass-attending Catholics use the vapid and utterly ambiguous 1970 version of the prayer employed in the New Mass of Paul VI, which states: “Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant” — whatever that means.

By personally devising instead a revised traditional prayer that retains the call for the divine illumination of the Jewish people, says Homolka, the Pope “deprives the acceptable 1970 form of the prayer of its credibility.” Ah, so the Pope should have used the prayer Homolka deems “acceptable” instead of providing a revision that smacks of Hitler and the Third Reich.

Is there no limit to this man’s arrogance? No, there isn’t. For it gets still worse.

Asked this question: “Christianity is a missionary religion. Isn’t it logical that it would also seek to convert Jews?”, Homolka gives this answer:

“No, because the controversial Good Friday Prayer completely ignores the unique status of the Jews as God’s chosen people. God called us Jews to be a ‘light for the nations,’ so we certainly do not require illumination by the Catholic Church. The younger sister has clearly struck the wrong chord here.”

So, as Homolka would have it, the Catholic Church’s prayers must acknowledge her theological inferiority to “the light of the nations,” including “progressive” rabbis like Homolka, who condone abortion, contraception and divorce.

Pressing further, Homolka’s interviewer points out, quite reasonably, that “Jesus himself was of course a Jew and he proselytized among the Jews.” This prompts Homolka’s next outrage:

“Jesus put forward his arguments within the context of an internal Jewish dialogue. What the Church turned this into was something completely different. It made Jesus the rabbi into a deity. On top of that, it claims that the crucifixion of this rabbi is relevant to my personal salvation. Such teachings would have been news to Jesus.

Simply incredible. The self-proclaimed representative of the “light for the nations” assures us that Christ would be surprised to learn of the Catholic teaching that He is God Incarnate, as opposed to a rabbi who debated with other rabbis.

There we have it: This is why Homolka loathes the new Good Friday prayer. He loathes it because he rejects the divinity of Christ and considers it “anti-Semitic” for the Church to preach the divinity of a mere rabbi who lived and died 2,000 years ago. He loathes the Good Friday prayer because he loathes the Catholic Church that makes of this mere rabbi a divinity. As he asks his interviewer contemptuously: “What is the value of a church that could not assert God’s fundamental teachings during the Third Reich?”

It takes a lot of malice to utter a lie like this. Jewish spokesman after Jewish spokesman following World War II, including Albert Einstein and Golda Meir, praised Pius XII for his courageous actions to defend and protect Jews during Hitler’s persecution. No less than the chief rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, was so inspired by Pius XII’s example of heroic Christian charity that he converted to Catholicism, taking Eugenio — the Pope’s given name at birth — as his own baptismal name in honor of Pius.

Quite simply, Homolka is a hater and a bigot whose interview with Spiegel is hate speech. And the Pope’s actions have flushed him out. Hence, whether or not Catholics would have preferred to remain with the old prayer — and I understand their misgivings — the Pope’s revision of it is a providential development in the sense that it has revealed for all to see the burning enmity toward the Catholic Church that people like Homolka have always harbored in their breasts throughout decades of Catholic-Jewish “dialogue.”

In a way, we owe Homolka thanks. For he has provided the proof that, when all is said and done, it is Catholic teaching itself that his ilk views as “anti-Semitic” and wants to see repealed forever, and that “dialogue” is the way they thought they could prevent the Church from reaffirming what she believes on the authority of God speaking.

Indeed, Homolka seems to think the Church’s teaching on Jewish conversion was repealed at Vatican II, only to learn from the Pope’s action that the Church does not and cannot repeal revealed truth, does not and cannot repudiate the divinity of her own Founder, does not and cannot deny that He is the Saviour of all men.

Homolka concludes his interview by expressing his contempt precisely for what he sees as Benedict’s attempt to end the post-Vatican II drift of the Church and steer a course back toward Tradition:

“What we have here is a captain on the bridge of his supertanker. A new course was set with the Second Vatican Council. Now the captain wants to turn around and set another new course within a short period of time. And one or two explosive devices are needed to get the ship into its new position. For the pope, the Church of the Second Vatican Council has lost too much of its power to retain the faithful, and university theology has become too feeble. This is why we are seeing these massive changes in the Catholic Church.”

What could be more revealing of the true intentions of “dialogue partners” like Homolka? For them, “dialogue” was the means by which the illusory “Church of the Second Vatican Council,” the Church that “lost too much of its power to retain the faithful,” would be kept in this condition of weakness. “Dialogue” was a weapon deployed against the Church by her worst foes.

Homolka’s last words include these:

“Good Friday this year will be a black day in relations between Jews and Catholics…. Four Jewish speakers have already cancelled their participation in the German Catholic Convention. Nerves are raw on the Jewish side. A few months ago, (Jewish intellectual) Micha Brumlik warned of an ‘ice age’ and now it has arrived…..”

And all of this, mind you, because of a prayer that merely repeats the Church’s traditional petition to God for the conversion of the Jewish people, along with all the other peoples of the earth — a prayer that is an act of supernatural love.

That this kind of hate-mongering, juvenile pouting and quasi-hysteria is the end result of some forty years of Catholic-Jewish “dialogue” is but another indication of why the dialogue must cease. For “dialogue” clearly has not served the cause of the Gospel, but rather the cause of the Church’s enemies, whose hatred and contempt for her is coming to the surface now that they suspect that “dialogue” might no longer serve their aims.

Our Lady of Fatima, protect the Pope!

Pope Benedict Under Attack: Part II
Pope Benedict Under Attack