Pope Francis recently traveled to Canada to apologize to Indigenous peoples for abuses by missionaries at residential schools. Aboard his plane from Rome to Edmonton (a trip of over 5000 miles) he described the trip as a “penitential voyage.” He had held meetings with First Nations, Metis and Inuit on April 1, 2022 in Rome where he issued an apology for the “deplorable” abuses committed by some Catholic missionaries in residential schools. According to the Canadian government, state funded Christian schools took some 150,000 Indigenous children from their families and forced them to attend these schools where both physical and sexual abuse was rampant from the 19th century to the 1970’s. Canada’s Catholic Church says its dioceses and religious orders have provided more than $50 million in cash and in-kind contribution, and hope to add $30 million more over the next five years. The Indigenous people were also finally allowed into the Rome headquarters of the order which ran the most schools, after the discovery of the remains of over 200 children at one of the schools. They were finally able to get transparency and the names of the alleged sex abusers from that school.
With this background, I ask several simple questions:
- The oft heralded 1965 Nostra Aetate proclamation was a declaration on all non-Christian religions with only one small section devoted to Judaism: “deplores the hatred, persecutions, and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews at any time and from any source” but does not admit to the Church’s direct instigation of that anti-Semitism. The subsequent 2000 Pope John Paul II ‘apology’ also fell short of a real apology: “We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have cause these children of yours [Jews] to suffer”. So when will the Catholic Church accept direct responsibility for the millions of Jews murdered in the name of Christ over the last 2000 years?
- It took the identification of 200 buried Indigenous children to get the Church to open its archives to the Indigenous people. Yet there have been millions of Jews killed by the attitude of or blindness of the Church and Pius XII during the Holocaust and we are still unable to get to the archives of that period to get to the truth of the Church’s behavior during that period. When will they truly open up the Church archives from the Nazi era?
- The Indigenous people have received reparations for an unfortunate 150,000 souls taken and abused by the Church. When will the Jews see reparations from the Church – not that it’s even calculable? Even the Church with its deep pockets could not pay back all the damage they have done to the Jewish people. However, some penitence could have been achieved by supporting the State of Israel, at least politically, if not financially. Yet, it took several decades for the Church to even recognize the existence of a state for the Jewish people. And that recognition has been lukewarm at its best. Ironically, the only Middle Eastern country where the Christian population has grown over the past 70 years and where Christians are free to worship as they choose is Israel and yet the Catholic and even more so the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches take every opportunity to criticize Israel and laud the corrupt Palestinian Authority! Bethlehem’s population used to be 80% Christian and due to persecution by the Palestinian Moslems that number is now less than 20% but the Church only blames Israel (and the Jews) So when will the Jews see reparations of any sort?
The answer is rather simple. We will never get a true apology, transparency, or reparations. We will continue to see the subtle and not so subtle effects of Catholic supersessionism and its resultant anti-Semitism as long as Jews survive. If you think I exaggerate on the Church’s direct role in centuries of anti-Semitism, I urge you to read “Constantine’s Sword: the Church and the Jews” written by James Carroll (an ex-Jesuit priest with a conscience).