It astonishes me that the church took eleven years to produce this
document for atrocities 50-60 years ago. Granted, it's not the 300
years it took to forgive Galileo. I wonder if anyone's done a plot of
Vatican apologies to see if they are in fact taking shorter and shorter
amounts of time (and one day around the 22nd century we may see
convergence: apologies within a day of the atrocities).
Speaking of atrocities, two otherwise unrelated book recommendations
that are also completely unrelated to each other:
1. Okay, the first book recommendation is marginally related. _The Rape
of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II_, by Iris Chang.
Rohit and I saw an interview with this Sunnyvale, CA author on Booknotes
and she was quite articulate about the atrocities committed by the
Japanese against the Chinese during WW2. She won the Pulitzer Prize for
_Making of the Atom Bomb_, and she has quite a way with humanizing the
unthinkable systematic rape and extermination of 250,000 people:
2. From the sublime to the almost ridiculous, I also found compelling
the autobiography by shock rocker Marilyn Manson (aka Brian Warner) and
Neil Strauss (of "Generations" fame), _The Long Hard Road Out of Hell_.
Manson is one articulate sumbitch, and his honest emotional anguish in
this book resembles that of a tortured geek (couldn't get a date if his
life depended on it, couldn't fit in and was rejected by everyone male
and female, yet was molested, and so on). I really feel for the guy --
and it's nice to know his shock rock tactics are just an act to sell
records that question the establishment. He comes across as a geniunely
nice guy (as big a surprise as discovering that Howard Stern is also a
genuinely nice guy)...
Oh yeah, here's that Vatican article:
> Vatican Document Seeks to Weave Several Themes
> By GUSTAV NIEBUHR
> New York Times International news, 3/17/98
> The Vatican's statement on the Holocaust, released on Monday after 11
> years in the works, seems to speak with more than one voice. It opens
> with a ringing declaration that the "unspeakable tragedy" must never be
> forgotten, follows with a cautious look at historic Christian attitudes
> toward Jews, adds a defense of Pope Pius XII and closes with a call to
> In its central section, the document acknowledges that hostility toward
> Jews existed for centuries in "some Christian quarters." But it draws a
> line between religious "anti-Judaism" and nationalist anti-Semitism,
> saying it was the latter that produced the genocide practiced by the
> "neo-pagan" Nazis.
> The document credits many Catholics, including Pope Pius XII, with
> saving Jews during World War II, but it avoids mention of the long
> debate over whether Pius XII could have done much more.
> Near its conclusion, the document seeks a "call to penitence" on behalf
> of the many who were silent in the face of the Holocaust. "We deeply
> regret the errors and failures of those sons and daughters of the
> church," it states.
> Perhaps because of its seemingly different emphases, the document
> produced a wide range of reactions among Jews and Catholics who read it.
> Those who expected something like the self-critical statements put out
> by the Catholic bishops of France and Germany were disappointed. The
> German bishops declared in January 1995 that Christians had not carried
> out "the required resistance" to the Holocaust and now held a special
> responsibility to oppose anti-Semitism.
> Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai
> B'rith, said: "We expected a lot more under the leadership of this pope.
> He's been so courageous in reconciling the church with the Jewish
> But Rabbi Jack Bemporad, director of the Center for Interfaith
> Understanding at Ramapo College in Mahwah, N.J., called the document
> "spectacular." He added, "They are repudiating anti-Semitism."
> Pope John Paul II accompanied the statement with a message of his own,
> calling the Holocaust "an indelible stain on the history of the
> century." But the document itself was written by the Vatican's
> Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews, and as such, some
> said, it resembled the work of a committee, rather than an individual.
> The Rev. Richard McBrien, a professor of theology at the University of
> Notre Dame, said he thought the document "too subtle."
> "Even if you analyze it rhetorically," McBrien said, "the language is
> very, very cautious, very restrained, very diplomatic."
> But McBrien also said he thought it left Pope John Paul II ample room to
> weigh in later. "I think he could write a much stronger, heartfelt
> statement than this commission did," he said.
> A warmer appraisal was offered by Rosann Catalano, a Catholic theologian
> at the Institute for Christian-Jewish Studies in Baltimore. "I applaud
> it," she said. "It makes me proud."
> Prominent Catholics with long experience of interfaith relations said
> the document should not be compared to the French or German statements,
> nor even with certain writings and speeches by Pope John Paul II.
> Instead, they said, it should be seen as unique, meant to instruct
> Catholics worldwide.
> "It's a teaching document for the whole church," said Cardinal William
> Keeler, archbishop of Baltimore, who added that the document would be
> directed toward colleges and seminaries "that haven't dealt with this
> material in many parts of the world."
> Eugene Fisher, director of Catholic-Jewish Relations at the U.S.
> Catholic Conference, said he saw a single, consistent argument running
> through the document. "What they're building up to is the call to
> repent," he said. "It makes a very strong case that the whole church has
> to repent, and assume not guilt but a sense of responsiblity."
> The document twice refers to Pius XII, saying that on several occasions
> after World War II, Jewish leaders thanked him for what he "did
> personally or through his representatives to save hundreds of thousands
> of Jewish lives." In a footnote, it mentions four such incidents, three
> in 1945, the fourth in 1958.
> But Pope Pius XII has been faulted for failing to act or speak publicly
> on behalf of Europe's Jews, a criticism that has grown since production
> of a highly critical play, "The Deputy," by Rolf Hochhuth, in 1963.
> Keeler said that what the document said about Pius XII was an attempt to
> "correct the impression" left by the play. It was a first step, he said,
> toward a dispassionate appraisal of the pontiff. "There's a corrective
> there," the cardinal said. "Now you can have more discussion, more
> Similarly, Fisher said the document was intended to foster a
> "reconciliation of memory" between Catholics and Jews through research
> into the church in World War II. "It should spark some discussion," he
> said. "There's massive data to be worked through, that should be worked
> through together."
Yesterday President Clinton called for a new standard for drunkenness.
I got one. How about when Paula Jones starts looking good to you?
-- Jay Leno