By Ruth King
The Catholic Church has chosen a new Pope and the caterwauling of non-adherents that are disappointed that the Church rejects “liberation theology” is sickening. Would they have preferred a Pope from the Maryknoll Catholic movement? Their good job as missionaries obscures the fact that for years they acted as a radical, pro-Soviet, pro Communist, anti-Israel movement in the church. Or how about the Berrigan Brothers? Daniel and Phillip were both priests who were radicals and put on the most wanted list for their vandalism and destruction of government property including draft boards where they poured blood on official documents.
Let me say at the outset. I like and respect my fellow “infidels,” as Catholics are called by the Jihads. My own life has intersected in many ways with Catholics.
My father left Europe and went to Bolivia, a Catholic nation that offered refuge to more Jews than Canada. My brother and I were born there and like the thousands upon thousands of Jews who found a life in the Catholic nations of South America we were treated well and with respect for our heritage and religion. We attended a Catholic school where the only transgression was an occasional tug at my pigtails…mostly carried out by my kid brother and his friends.
I do not want to revisit the dark days of the Vatican and the Jews of Europe. I prefer to remember the roles of many priests who helped to save and hide Jews. Priests like Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty (The Scarlet Pimpernal of the Vatican by J. P. Gallagher), a real life Irish Catholic priest who saved thousands of Jews and Allied prisoners of war in Nazi occupied Rome. I think of Catholics like Irena Sendler, Odoardo Focherini, a journalist, Père Marie-Benoît, born Pierre Péteul, was a Capuchin Franciscan friar, Monsignor Francesco Repetto in Genoa, Reverend Bruno Reynders (Pere Bruno) a Catholic Belgian Monk, Frank Foley a British secret service agent… Only a handful of the heroic Catholics who risked all to save thousands of Jews.
The role of Irish Catholics who piloted ships and planes to Palestine is epic. Prominent Catholics in America such as Hugh Carey, Paul O’Dwyer, and his brother New York’s 100th Mayor William O’Dwyer (who organized the first Israel Day Parade in New York) openly supported Zionism and the advent of Israel.
Less known is the role of the late Francis Cardinal Spellman, Catholic Archbishop of New York, who influenced the United Nations decision in 1949 to admit Israel to UN membership.
In 1949, Charles Silver, president of Beth Israel Hospital, former president of the New York City Board of Education asked Cardinal Spellman to issue a statement supporting Israel’s application for membership in the United Nations. Cardinal Spellman replied: “I will do something that may mean a great deal more.” What Cardinal Spellman did, according to Mr. Silver, was to contact Latin American and other delegations with a suggestion that they vote for Israel’s admission. When the vote was taken, in May of 1949, it was 37 to 12 in favor of Israel’s application.
My husband graduated from the Jesuit St. Peter’s College in Jersey City where he never encountered anything but sensitivity and empathy and a deep sorrow for the Holocaust. The late Cardinal O’Connor, who lit a candle in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on every anniversary of Kristallnacht, left a sickbed with fever to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht in 1988 an event memorialized with bells, candles and prayers in Catholic churches throughout America. A few months later I was honored to be a guest at a dinner at the private residence behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral where the cardinal expressed his commitment to Jews and Israel.
We may not agree with some of their doctrinal convictions…but they do not chop heads of dissidents, they don’t erupt into violent orgies at perceived insults. They are beleaguered by the same jihadists that are driving Christians out of the Middle East and harassing them in every Moslem country in the world.
I welcome, respect and salute the choice…their choice… of Pope and I pray that he continues the crucial work of reconciliation and amity between Jews and Catholics that is so critical to our survival.
Ruth King is a conservative political columnist. This article first appeared in The Right News, Front and Center, www.ruthfullyyours.com.