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The death of Pope Pius XII

The death of the Pope today reminded me of an incident in 1958 when Pius XII died.

I was in my MIT dorm room in Baker House listening to the radio which was playing many fine masses. Mr Arsennian, the night watchman, walked by and since I often chatted briefly with him about something or other, I said "well, the good thing about the Pope's death is that there is lots of good music".

He replied emphatically: "There is absolutely nothing good about the Pope!" We talked a bit more and it turned out that he had been in a concentration camp for about a year. That Pope's reputation about ignoring the mistreatment of Jews was well known so it was clear that this kind man's feelings about the Church and its now dead Pope were full of dismay and disdain.

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I tend to agree with Mr. Arsennian's assessment. I'm not too fond of the late JP2's papacy either, though I'll concede he wasn't as terrible to Jews as P12 was.

"As terrible"??? P12 was a complete scumbag in the way he acted towards the Jews in WWII. But JP2? He has done nothing but reach out to other religions and religious communities in a spirit of unity and conciliation. Let's not forget his trip to the Holy Land where he officially apologized on behalf of the Catholic Church for attitudes and behaviors by many against Jews and Judaism. Let's not forget the young Jewish woman he carried for miles through the snow from the concentration camp near Krakow to the train that would take her to safety. You can indict a lot about JP2's papacy, but his treatment of Jews and Judaism is unimpeachable.

I wish I could say the same for his treatment of noncatholic people as a whole. Yes, he's done outreach to the Jewish community. I personally don't think one apology makes up for centuries of mistreatment, but I can accept that reasonable people will disagree with me. But the Church and this Pope's treatment of homosexuals, the wilful promulgation of ignorance regardings STD transmission, their views on women's rights... They're just simply appalling. So forgive me if I neither wail and gnash my teeth at his passing nor praise him to the skies for his treatment of one (admittedly important to me) group of people.

I agree with you that JP2's views on homosexuality, contraception, women's rights, and many other things were hard to stomach, but you specifically implied that he mistreated Jews, just not as badly as Pius. And that's just wrong. No other Pope in history reached out to Jew's the way JP2 did. He had a very close relationship with the Jewish community. Hell, he witnessed first-hand the persecution of Jews in Nazi Poland and himself had to flee persecution.

I'm not asking you to wail and gnash your teeth. If you had ever talked to me about religion or read my LJ (which I don't think we have), you'd learn that I am a very devout Catholic who has been very critical of the Vatican and the Papacy. But let's get it right. Criticize his intolerance of homosexuality, his opposition to women's rights and to contraception, his unbending position on priestly celibacy or women priests -- there's plenty there to criticize -- but let's not go around inventing stories of his mistreatment of or deprecating attitudes towards Jews and Judaism, because you are simply off-base there.

I'm not inventing stories at all; I said, in the context of intrafaith relations (and specifically in regard to Judaism), "he wasn't as terrible as P12." As far as I can tell, that's absolutely a true statement, and you don't seem to disagree with that statement. I am sorry that you're unable or unwilling to discern the difference between my damning JP2 with that faint praise — which is all the praise I'll give him — and outright criticism or condemnation of him.

Perhaps we're just arguing semantics, but when you say he's not "as terrible," that implies that he was a bit terrible, just not as terrible as P12. We both know what P12 did and that it was despicable. JP2 was never terrible towards the Jews -- not no way, not no how. He was a lot of things -- intolerant of homosexuality, restrictive of women's rights, very conservative in his views on social matters in general -- but he was never terrible in regard to Judaism. No pope in history reached out to other faith communities, whether it be the Anglican Church, the Eastern Orthodox churches, Judaism, Islam, and other religions, the way JP2 did. In his relations to Jews and Judaism, I maintain that he was unimpeachable.

Last night I was listening to the t.v., and they cut to a mass being performed somewhere in Poland. My head immediately perked up, as they were singing some of the most hauntingly beautiful music I've ever heard. I wish I knew what it was.

OK, that's enough or your discussion in my journal.

Sorry, I didn't see this until after I responded to jss1113. I'll shut up now.

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