Last week, in two separate statements, Pope Francis denounced both anti-Semitism as well as politicians who persecuted gay people. In the latter case, he compared them to Hitler.
Yet both actions are ones the Catholic Church has been associated with throughout its history. The Church remains one of the strongest forces against LGBTQ rights.
“And I must confess to you that when I hear a speech (by) someone responsible for order or for a government, I think of speeches by Hitler in 1934, 1936,” [Pope Francis] said [on Friday], departing from his prepared address.
“With the persecution of Jews, gypsies, and people with homosexual tendencies, today these actions are typical (and) represent ‘par excellence’ a culture of waste and hate. That is what was done in those days and today it is happening again.”
On Wednesday, in improvised remarks at his general audience, he said: “Today the habit of persecuting Jews is beginning to be reborn. Brothers and sisters: this is neither human nor Christian; the Jews are our brothers and sisters and must not be persecuted! Understood?”
While the pope didn’t name names, the anti-Semitism lines may have come in response to an 89-year-old survivor of Auschwitz who recently needed help from law enforcement due to threats made against her life.
His comments are undoubtedly appreciated, especially at a time when we can’t look to the U.S. president for comfort or decency. But it still leaves more — much more — to be desired. It’s notable how the pope didn’t utter a single word of repentance or responsibility for the ways that the Catholic Church has participated in anti-Semitism through the ages. Not a word about the Inquisition, charges of blood libel, or Pope Pius XII‘s controversial indifference to the suffering of the Jews during the Holocaust.
Nor did he touch on all the ways that Christian tradition and anti-Semitism have been intertwined in Europe for centuries.
His words are both appreciated and underwhelming. His actions — or inaction, more like it — says volumes more about his priorities.
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