Wednesday, May 26, 2010
From today's Times online - Kasper on Pius XII and the Archives
The Cardinal in charge of Christian unity at the Vatican has promised that the Vatican archives for the entire period of the Second World War, when the Church has been accused of failing to do enough to help the Jewish people, will be opened soon for scholarly research.
He said that Israel without the Church was in danger of becoming "too particularistic and reclusive", but that the Church without Israel was "in danger of losing its historical grounding and becoming ahistorical and Gnostic."
He added: "Judaism and Christianity need each other and therefore are dependent on each other."
The Cardinal was speaking at Liverpool's Hope university in an address described by the Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Rev Patrick Kelly as one that had prompted in him "a change in heart and mind."
"The material which is already accessible now proves that Pius XII was at no time Hitler’s Pope. On the contrary, he was the closest cooperator of Pope Pius XI in the publication of the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge (“With burning anxiety", 1937), which was a fervent condemnation of Nazi race ideology.
Acknowledging another area of difficulty, proselytism, he continued: "Unfortunately there has been a history of forced conversions of Jews." The Church no longer endorsed evangelism of the Jews, he said. "In contrast to some fundamentalist evangelical movements which undertake missionary work, the Catholic Church sponsors no specific institutional missionary work aimed at Jews."
Archbishop Kelly afterwards described the address as "a highly significant contribution" to relations between the two faiths. He said: "Cardinal Kasper's address prompted in me personally, a change in heart and mind. It demanded a new way of thinking and so, of acting."
Earlier this month, Cardinal Kasper, a theologian and linguist, was honoured in the US for "extraordinary" achievements in interfaith dialogue. The American Jewish committee presented him with the prestigious Isaiah Inter-religious Award at its annual meeting in Washington DC.