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August 14, 1987 - Image 28

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-08-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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28

FRIDAY, AUG. 14, 1987

It Is Time To Tell
Of The Pope's Empathy

TIFFANY PLAZA
32855 NORTHWESTERN HWY.
(South of 14 Mile Road)

Professional Measure and In-Home Design
Consulting At No Obligation

Special to The Jewish News

t is heartening to learn that

Pope John Paul II will meet
with a delegation of Jewish
leaders in Rome later this
month in an effort to ease the
tensions created by the Pope's
hosting of Austrian President
Kurt Waldheim last June. For
it would be tragically ironic for
these communities to grant
Kurt Waldheim a post-holo-
caust victory. Precisely that
could occur were the remark-
able advances in Catholic-
Jewish relationships these past
two decals to be eclipsed by
the widely publicized meeting
of Pope John Paul II and the
former Nazi Kurt Waldheim.
I am not alone in remaining
disturbed and puzzled by the
encounter which appeared to
lay a papal veil of respectabili-
ty upon the former staff officer
of a convicted war criminal
General Alexander Loehr. Un-
til discovered, Waldheim kept
secret the fact of his own active
involvement in the brutal
deportation of tens of
thousands of Jews from the
Balkans to the Nazi death
camps. What rationalization
could justify the Vatican's
reception of Waldheim who was
placed on the United States
Immigration Service's "watch
list," and whose presidential in-
auguration was deliberately
boycotted by the United States,
the USSR, Yogoslavia and
Israel.
In my judgement,the Pope
had been poorly advised. As a
consequence, insult was in-
advertently added to the
traumatic injury of the
holocaust sustained by Jews
and non-Jews as well. Still this
sad error of judgment cannot
be allowed to distort the
character and record of the
Pope's moral statesmanship
and all that promises for the
future of Catholic and Jewish
relations. It must be kept in
mind that this is the same Pope
who broke with the Church
tradition and visited the Rome
synagogue last April in a spirit
of reconciliation. This Pope has
gone out of his way to identify
himself with the heritage of
Pope John XXIII, and the
Nostra Aetate Declaration of
1965 that marked the beginn-
ing of a new era of mutual
respect between the Catholic
and Jewish communities.
John Paul II at Mainz in
1980 spoke eloquently of the
"depth and richness of our com-
mon inheritance (Christian &

Rabbi Schulweis is spiritual
leader of Valley Beth Shalom in
Encinio, California, and found-
ing chairman of the Foundation
to Sustain Righteous Christians.

Pope John Paul II: how he saved a
Jewish child from the Holocaust.

Jewish) bringing us together in
mutual trustful collaboration."
In the spirit of the Church's
1974 guidelines, he described
Judaism as a living legacy, em-
phasizing that the "old Cove-
nant was never retracted by
God," a statement authorita-
tively interpreted by Arch-
bishop Roach, president of the
Conference of Catholic Bishops
in the U.S., as opening a new
relationship between the two
living traditions. The older
Church language referring to
Judaism and Jews as "re-
jected," and "accursed" was
abandoned, and overnight the
Catholic mission to convert
Jews was dropped. In a
noteworthy address in Rome in
1982, the Pope declared, "We
shall be able to go by
diverse — but in the end
covergent — paths with the
help of the Lord, who has never
ceased living with His people,
to reach true brotherhood in
reconciliation, respect, and full
accomplishment of God's plan
in history."
I have now come across a
revealing account of this Pope's
early history which bears on his
integrity and his understand-
ing of inter-religious relation-
ships. The incident recorded in
Yaffa Eliach's Hasidic Tales of
the Holocaust (Oxford Univer-
sity Press) dates back to the
days when the Pope served as
a parish priest in Cracow.
The Hiller family was in-
carcerated with other Jews in
the Cracow ghetto. In 1942,
when the murder of Jews was
at its height, Helen and Moses
Hiller could plainly see the
writing on the wall and sought
desperately to save their only
child, Shachne. After countless
efforts, they successfully con-
tacted a childless couple, Mr.
and Mrs. Joseph Yachowitch,
whom they convinced to take
care of their son. At the risk of
their own lives, the Catholic
couple who lived in the small
town of Dombrowa, on the
"Aryan" side of the ghetto,
raised the child and kept him
safe from persecutors and in-
formers. Not long after, the
Hillers met the tragic fate of

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