Culture & Religion
The forceful message delivered by Benedict XVI at his meeting with leaders of the main Jewish American groups was of great historical importance. This closes the episode of hateful polemic engaged in by Bishop Williamson and his associates who sought to negate the reality of the Holocaust.
The Catholic Church, the Pope declared, condemns every form of minimizing or negation of the Holocaust. The Holocaust represents a crime against God and against humanity. The message is unequivocal because the persecution of the Jewish people, in every form manifested in history, is an injustice, not only toward the people who have suffered, but also against God. In other words, antisemitism is intolerable and constitutes one of the most terrible means by which humanity has sought to remove, cancel or relativize the religious sense.
The condemnation, therefore, is concerned both with attempts to propose a distortion and exploitive reconstruction of facts, and a tendency toward evil which could reoccur in the future. Benedict XVI in his speech has further called for a constant self-searching for personal responsibility. It is not enough to ask forgiveness for the past without assuming at the same time the "irrevocable commitment to respectful and harmonious relations with the people of the Covenant." This will finally bring forth a "fruit in abundance".
[ (translation: http://www.oecumene.radiovaticana.org/EN1/Articolo.asp?c=265635)]
Commitment, responsibility, action: these are the three fundamental concepts substantially recalled by Benedict XVI. The Jewish-Christian dialogue, based on such an approach, now takes on probably its strongest and most relevant significance.
The dialogue is no longer in fact limited to a theological confrontation, or to the objective reconstruction of such a tragic and controversial past, but invites the personal engagement of all persons of faith without distinction, while respecting their diversity. It is no coincidence that the Jews are called "fathers of the faith" and, far from casually, but instead with a significance as never before, that reference is made to the "Covenant". The [Pope's upcoming] visit to Israel now assumes an extraordinary importance because it moves from the promotion of rapport with Judaism, of which the Jewish State constitutes the most evident expression of vitality and longing, to the transmission of an identity from generation to generation.
Today, Jews and Christians must raise the bar of their relations, testifying together to society about the essential value of the religious experience. The centrality of the human person, his need for constant protection and promotion, and respect for the universal rights of man and of every form of freedom, in a world afflicted by relativism, requires a common effort, rejecting a sterile and fruitless tendency toward isolation.
The world needs a sensitivity and a religious sense. Since yesterday, Jews and Christians are closer and firmer in the task of not accepting exclusion, but of recognizing their joint responsibility.
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