Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Second World War

"Probably the only person who had any chance of hampering him (Hitler) was the Pope, who had the ear of 40 million German Catholics, but he barely said a word. When German forces occupied Rome, he opened his sanctuaries to give refuge to many thousands of non-Aryans, but he was committed to neutrality in his search for peace and feared provoking Hitler, so he opened not his mouth.
As their armies liberated the death camps of eastern Europe, the allies realised what a good cause they had been fighting in. But the fact that 6 million Jews had been systematically killed left the church with some terrible questions. Where had God been? Can the omnipotent watch the most unthinkable atrocities in the history of inhumanity without lifting a finger? Then again, where had the church been? For all that some individual Christians did, the church as a whole did disgracefully little to stop the Holocaust. In fact, was it not positively responsible?"

Source: A Short History of Christianity by Stephen Tomkins

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

For many reasons, I do not believe that this quote is correct in assuming the Pope had the greatest ability to stop Hitler. Others also had unused power. Even still others liked Hitler, in the beginning, and supported his rise to power. Let's not forget he was Time magazine's "Man of the Year" for 1938.

Germans followed him because he spoke of economic growth, job security, a bright future. Because he said he knew what was wrong and had a plan for fixing it, and he made it sound simple and reachable. He didn't try to make people understand the complexity of the problems facing Germany. Germany was falling apart, economically, with hyperinflation and other problems. Read some of his speeches from 1938 (one site is Note the scary rhetorical foreshadowing and parallels.

Even today, the world, the Church hasn't learned. Hence, the continued slaughter of people in Darfur (we know what's happening and who is responsible, yet red tape and fear of causing offense prevents decisive action - I mean who asks the permission of the gov't responsible [yet denying fault] for the slaughter if they can send in troops to stop the slaughter?). The lack of response in Rwanda. The problem is that people who have power to stop slaughter are slow to act.

Why? I think it's mostly because people are brought up to feel impotent, people realize that they are impotent to change the world, and I believe that even leaders of powerful nations continue to feel the little child powerlessness. And in the case of Hitler's anti-Semitism, it is also important to note that all over the westernized world, US included, anti-Semitism was positively common and accepted Anglo trait. People are products of their time and culture, and almost never act in ways that are unique to the culture.