Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Non-Atrocious Catholics

Candy has pointed out that Catholics are not immune to getting caught up in racial or political prejudice, and have cooperated in genocide. This is not something I need to deny. It is sad, but true. However, you cannot say that this is the case with all Catholics, or that Catholicism as an institution encourages this, at least in modern times. I thought it worthwhile to profile a few Catholics who courageously stood up against regimes, and tried to stop genocide when it occurred.

In the comments, the treatment of the Indians was mentioned. Often in history books, the enslavement of the Indians of the Americas was stated as if there were no dissenting voices. However, Bartolome de las Casas was a priest who spent fifty years of his life fighting for the rights of the Indians. As bishop, he instructed his priests to deny absolution to men who profited from Indian slave labor. Although he did not win his fight for Indian freedom, he fought tirelessly on their behalf for most of his life.

The role of of the Church in World War II is one where many accusations such as Candy's are often made. However, there are many heroes here, too.

I've already mentioned the priest wing at Dachau, so let me introduce you to one of the 2500 inhabitants. Titus Brandsma was a Dutch priest. In 1935 he wrote against the anti-Jewish marriage laws. He wrote continually against the Nazi party, and tried to get Dutch newspapers not to print Nazi propaganda. In 1942, he was sent to Dachau, where he asked his fellow prisoners to pray for their guards while being beaten and starved. He was used for medical experiments, and eventually killed by lethal injection.

There was a German movie made in 2004 about one of the priests in Dachau, called The Ninth Day. You can read more about it in a review here.

Maximilian Kolbe

In Auschwitz you could find Fr. Maximilian Kolbe, seen above. Fr. Kolbe sheltered 3,000 Polish refugees at his friary, 2000 of which were Jews. In 1941 he wrote in a publication ""No one in the world can change Truth. What we can do and should do is to seek truth and to serve it when we have found it. The real conflict is the inner conflict. Beyond armies of occupation and the hecatombs of extermination camps, there are two irreconcilable enemies in the depth of every soul: good and evil, sin and love. And what use are the victories on the battlefield if we ourselves are defeated in our innermost personal selves?"

He was taken prisoner after this publication, and taken to a concentration camp. Fr. Kolbe volunteered to die in the place of a man who had a family. He and ten other prisoners were starved two two weeks, when those who hadn't died were killed by injection. During the entire time, Fr. Kolbe led the prisoners in prayer, and kept up their spirits.

The prisoner that Maximilian Kolbe died for, Franciszek Gajowniczek, survived the war and was reunited with his wife. He lived until 1995.

Irene Sendler was a Polish Catholic nurse who saved 2500 Jewish children from death. She even kept records, so that the children could be reunited with their parents after the war, though in many cases, their parents did not survive. Although she was taken prisoner, tortured, and sentenced to death but was rescued by the Polish resistance. She lived to be 98 years old.

Sara Salkahazi, an Hungarian nun, is credited with saving the lives of 100 Jews. Altogether her order saved 1000. She was shot on the banks of the Danube river, along with four Jewish women, and a co-worker who was not a member of the order.


While it is currently in fashion to blame Pope Pius XII for not doing enough to save the Jews, I would be remiss if I didn't mention him as someone who worked against the Nazi regime. Pope Pius authorized false baptismal certificates to save Jewish lives. He issued visas to allow Jews to move to other countries, and encouraged monasteries and convents to shelter Jews. He spoke out on several occasions against the Nazi party, and immediately after the war he was hailed by media around the world as a "lone voice" against the Nazi party. (How soon they forget!). Israel Zoller, the Chief Rabbi of Rome during World War II, actually converted to Catholicism after the war. He took the baptismal name Eugenio, the birth name of Pius XII, in gratitude for all he had done on behalf of Jews during the war.

"No Christmas sermon reaches a larger congregation than the message Pope Pius XII addresses to a war-torn world at this season. This Christmas more than ever
he is a lonely voice crying out of the silence of a continent."
The New York Times, December 25, 1942

"When fearful martyrdom came to our people, the voice of the
pope was raised for its victims."
Golda Meir, Israeli Foreign (October 1958)

". . . the Catholic Church, under the pontificate of Pope Pius XII was instrumental
in saving at least 700,000, but probably as many as 860,000,
Jews from certain death at Nazi hands."
Pinchas E. Lapide, Three Popes and the Jews (1967)

For these Catholics, and the hundreds of others who worked against evil at risk to themselves, we should be deeply grateful.

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Nancy Parode said...

Thank you for this post, Kelly. I agree, Pope Pius XII has not been given the credit he deserves. I recently read The Myth of Hitler's Pope, which is written by David G. Dalin, a Jewish rabbi who contends that Pius XII was maligned by the media and that he did work to help the Jews, most particularly the Jews of Rome. As one might guess, Rabbi Dalin had to spend a great deal of time debunking myths about Pope Pius XII and explaining what the Holy Father really did to help the Jews.

In truth, there have been many Catholic heroes throughout history, particularly in recent times. Sadly, there were more Catholic martyrs in the 20th century than in any other century since the beginning of Christianity. When it comes to living and dying for Christ, some things never seem to change, do they?

Clare said...

Hi Elena,
I am the Clare who has posted before on Candys site regarding the KJV translation and the Americanized spelling of Savior/Saviour.
I have just posted some very gentle and respectful corrections of her latest post. I am surprised to see that only my other, very neutral but more complimentary comments about oatmeal and kombucha got published.
I am currently finding my way back to the catholic church after a time of 'just being a Chistian'. Here's a post I wrote about when I was keeping up my blog.
(The blog ended rather abrubtly owing to some difficult personal circumstances which required all my emotional energy.) In brief I had a very hard time being pregnant with twin girls and then, having made it through to the end, lost my little Olivia who was stillborn. Totally unexpected. It seems I had Obstetric Cholestasis:(
One day I will start blogging again as I have much to say about all that I have learnt though this anguish. One of the most surprising though, is that I find such a sweetness and consolation in the Catholic Church. Truly it feels like home.
I know a few people like Candy. One is a very good friend. Ordinarily I have oceans of patience with people who hold these kind of views because I can see that if the things they thought were true were, in fact, true, then they SHOULD hate it. Often they are extremely good and passionate people who love God dearly but have been misled.

What I find more sinister here is that it seems that Candy is absolutely not open to even loving or gentle correction. That means that she is knowingly propogating lies.
God hates a liar and a haughty spirit. This is a sobering reminder for all of us to examine our consciences. Certainly, I have sometimes read Candys posts and felt a little haughtiness towards her rising up in me.As for lies,hmm, I believe I would have to really cast the fear of God aside to knowingly print things which are false and misleading and then to keep them up, not correcting them in any way, and not printing even the mildest of comments pointing out the error.

Candy reminds me very much of a very good friend of mine from some years back. There was so much I enjoyed about my friend. I loved her passionate conviction, her energy and her determination to do well, to be a good mother, to not be a 'sheep' but to be a little different.But there was always a little warning bell tinkling away in the back of my mind. I observed how to even mildly disagree with her was to cast down a gaunlet, our friendship was predicated on my approval or my discretion with my disapproval. I observed the huge difficulties and fractures in her relationships both with family and friends. Once a friend she had disputed with sent her a letter and she tore it up before she even opened it. It could have been a letter of conciliation but my friend couldn't bear to risk seeing something in there that would hurt her. You see, she had been hurt as a child and this image of herself as 'right' was such a huge carapace that she had gone to such lengths to construct, she couldn't risk allowing a chink in it.
She became a Christian after she had her 4th child and was a passionate Christian and devoted mother. But she carried her personality with her. Her demanding perfectionism and dogmatic opining, whilst interesting and sometimes even impressive ( yes, 'wishy washy' can be so dull and unimpressive) grew increasingly shrill and jarring as her children grew. I don't want to go into the details here, but as the years have passed the problems associated with her dogmatic authoritative manner have borne some bitter fruit.
Its not all bad. But it should be SO much better and I feel very sad for her because she really tried so very hard to do well and to put her family first. The one thing she found impossible to do however, was to humble herself.
Of course she's a different person. She's not Candy. But I see so many parallels here it's like stepping back 10 years.
Sometimes I read or hear peoples assurances that they are 'praying' or that they 'love' so and so. And it actually has the ring of haughtiness rather than love. I hope when I say this that it is understood that I mean it when I say that Candy needs prayer and gentleness. There are, God willing, many years ahead of her and if we are not willing to get humble our experiences will make us so. God allows that.
Truly God works all things to good. I believe that God will allow Candys blog to further his purposes, even though it is painful to read such crass material.
Congratulations on this site and on your determination to be gracious whilst continuing to be uncompromising about challenging and exposing the lie.

Clare said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
g said...

The Catholic missions and churches did the most damage to children in the residential schools. When will the Catholic church acknowledge this and apologize? When will reparations be made? So far the Catholic churches have paid nothing ... zero.

Elena said...

g ,may I refer you to our commenting guidelines, specifically #4.

He who asserts, must prove.

I have absolutely no idea what you are even referring to.

Kelly said...

Clare, thank you for joining us here. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. Elena has also had a stillbirth, and she has blogged about it before on her personal blog.

Candy is certainly rather quick to block comments. I started off with comments that were simply "Actually, it says in the Catholic Catechism here, that they actually believe this and not that." I eventually had my IP address blocked for asking a question about one of her arguments opposing infant baptism, and that isn't even Catholic specific!

Anonymous said...

Amen to Clare's comment.

Rachel said...

Clare, welcome. you shed some great light on the reasons for the way Candy is today. I spend time reading over her old blog.. and a lot of what you say about your friend does parallel Candy. Very interesting!