Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 10, 1999
WCR Letters to the Editor
Holocaust article calls for rebuttal
What was the point of your printing that hate filled diatribe of Sigmund Solobewski in your April 26 issue?
Since you did not offer a rebuttal of his use of the familiar slanders and calumnies about Pope Pius XII, and the Catholic Church during the Second World War, and are in effect promoting his book, one could infer that you are in agreement with him.
There is no shortage of readily available studies defending the pope and the Church. Two such are the book Yours is a Precious Witness: Memoirs of Jews and Catholics in Wartime Italy, by Sister Margherita Marchione, and Social Justice Review, Volume 89 July-August 1998, No:7-8.
Solobewski notes that at Auschwitz: "We Catholics in the camp could never understand why the pope did not speak out." One who did understand was Father Jean Bernard, a former prisoner at Dachau.
In the Social Justice Review, Bernard was quoted as saying: "The detained priests trembled every time news reached us of some protest by a religious authority, but particularily by the Vatican. We all had the impression that our warders made us atone heavily for the fury these protests evoked. . . .
"Whenever the way we were treated became more brutal, the Protestant pastors among the prisoners would vent their indignation on the Catholic priests saying, 'Again your big naive pope and those simpletons, your bishops, are shooting off their mouths. . . . Why don't they get the idea once and for all and shut up? They play the heroes and we have to pay the bill.'"
In the March 30, 1988 issue of Newsweek, religion editor Kenneth Woodward wrote that "blaming the wartime pope for failing to stop the Holocaust from the Vatican is a neat bit of revisionist history."
I think his closing comments are directly to the point: "No one person, Hitler excepted, was responsible for the Holocaust. And no one person, Pius XII included, could have prevented it. In choosing diplomacy over protest Pius XII had his priorities straight. It is time to lay off this pope."
Finally, allow me to quote Marchione in her article in the social justice review: "The fact that Pius XII saved thousands of Jews from the gas chambers cannot be obliterated by revisionists, nor can the fact that the Jewish community praised the pope's efforts during and after the Holocaust be denied. Apparently, posterity wishes to ignore these facts. That is the real 'silence!'"
Two wrongs don't make a right
Over the past few weeks I have been deeply grieved to learn of the atrocities inflicted on Albanians in Kosovo. However, I have also been disheartened by the deaths that NATO has caused by its bombings.
Two wrongs don't make a right. Not only has NATO broken international law but Canada's participation in NATO's military attacks has tarnished her reputation as an international peacekeeper.
I am deeply concerned that NATO's increasingly violent role in the Balkans will contribute to an escalation in violence in other parts of the world. Already we have seen an increase in violent crimes within NATO countries over the past few weeks, such as the vicious shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, Col.
Another consideration is the nuclear threat. Even if the escalating violence in the Balkans does not lead to a nuclear war, there is still the possibility of a conventional bomb landing on one of the many nuclear power plants across Europe.
As Albert Einstein said, "The unleashed power of the atom has changed everything save our modes of thinking, and we thus drift toward unparalleled catastrophies."
In 1997, when the United States government revealed its plan to expand NATO, the U.S. foreign-policy establishment predicted the plan would be an "error of historic proportion" (Edmonton Journal, June 27, 1997).
Could they see that with such an expansion it was inevitable that NATO's 48-year-old defensive policies would be replaced by a war-fighting agenda? Last week, without any input from Parliament, Canada ratified these new conditional policies of NATO by signing the Washington Declaration.
What has happened to Canada's 40-year tradition of being a peacekeeping force in the world?
There are peaceful alternatives to dealing with the Albanian refugees and showing opposition to the Milosevic regime. However, they have not been fully explored. This is not surprising given the pervading philosophy of NATO that it is possible to work for war and peace at the same time.
Canada must stop participating in NATO's foolish military exercises in the Balkans. The sooner we get back to peacekeeping, the sooner we'll be able to help the world in the way that we know best.
Criminals may sometimes be shot
I am in agreement with the theme of the letter written by Stuart Lindop in the April 26 WCR.
I am also a veteran of the Second World War and a retired member of the RCMP. Policemen do not like to shoot criminals but in some cases it is necessary to protect themselves and the public.
Stop the world for 30 seconds
I have a holy complaint, more of a longing than a criticism.
In the last few weeks almost every transit bus in Canada came to a standstill for a minute of silence in commemoration of the three transit workers who were shot to death by a berserk gunman in Ottawa.
During Remembrance Day, our nation Canada, observes a minute of silence in commemoration of our war dead who fought and gave their lives for our freedom and the freedom of others.
After the Consecration when the host is elevated, I often have only enough time to fire off a quick "My Lord and my God."
I don't have time to adore the precious blood, the holy wounds, the body, blood, soul and divinity, the life, death and resurrection, the infinite virtues and merits of my Saviour who died in agony on the cross for my grievous sins.
Perhaps the priest can count to 30 or, better yet, he himself compose a 30-second prayer for himself, the parishioners present, the human race and the souls in purgatory.
I have a request I hope our priests might consider, and it goes something like this "Stop the world, I want to get off for 30 seconds!"
More should have been reported
As a participant in the recent meeting of the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council where the subject of vocations was a major topic, I was very interested in your front-page report of that session.
Your writer did a fine job of reporting the plea George Lucas made regarding vocations promotion.
Imagine my chagrin, however, when my own presentation on the topic was reduced to short anecdotal fact and the statement, "What's the reason for this? I don't know."
That's not quite what I said. In fact, I went on at some length to indicate what I see as one of the major causes of our present situation, and which needs to be considered in any vocations promotion program we might adopt.
Your reporter may not have agreed with my analysis, but I feel she should still have reported it.
Msgr. John Hamilton