Follow The Fold No More

Could this actually be happening?  Pope Benedict XVI has now demanded that the excommunicated bishop, Richard Williamson, recant his denial of the Holocaust in order to be welcomed back into the Holy See.  Will wonders ever cease?  The force of public opinion has even eaten its way into the Vatican.

Williamson was given this ultimatum by the Pope after holding fast to his beliefs that “only” 200,000 to 300,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis and none of them were gassed;  gas chambers did not exist.  He was defrocked 21 years ago because he was part of a mini-schism, the Society of St.Pius X, that went against the more modern content of the Second Vatican Council.  He and three other clerics were excommunicated for splitting off from accepted church dogma.  Pope Benedict reinstated them recently in order to bring them back into the church’s fold.  Williamson was kicked out and then brought back for church politics.  Once again, the content of his character was not the issue; church dogma and power was, all disguised as “unity.”

The photographs and eyewitness accounts of hundreds of Jews being herded into gas chambers, then asphyxiated, then the chambers being cleaned out of all the “detritus” by bulldozers, and then dumped into mass graves can not refuted.  For the millions of missing Jews, somewhat inventoried after the war, the numbers were astounding.  If Jewish relatives vanished and never again reappeared after the war, where do you think they went? To the Caribbean?  To the Riviera?  Not even Israel took in that many immigrants that could account for the millions of missing people.

Pope  Benedict must be out of his mind to have offered the validation of the church once again to Williamson.  The Pope’s contention that he was “unaware” of Williamson’s denial of the Holocaust holds absolutely no water.  Marvin Hier, a rabbi and dean at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, was quoted in today’s Washington Post as saying, “What is particularly astounding is the Vatican assertion that they didn’t know about his (Williamson’s) Holocaust views.  All somebody had to do was Google him.”

I am not a religious person.  Quite the contrary:  I believe religion has caused major wars, ridiculous deaths and continues to wreak havoc and misery in today’s world.  On the grand scale, religion is militaristic, not unifying, and just as destructive as any political philosophy that precipitated a war.  We need only to observe Ireland, Israel and the tribal religious conflicts all over the world,  not to mention the hundreds of conflicts that occurred over past millennia all in the name of God, to admit the validity of this twisted view of religion.

However, the Vatican’s acceptance of Williamson’s denial of the Holocaust hits me right in my gut.  I remember, as a young child of less than 10 years old, having dreams that the Nazis were coming for me and I took refuge under my bed.  I am sure this fear originated from overhearing conversations of my parents and relatives about all the family members killed by the Nazis.  So many times, after listening to their reminiscences, I would ask, “What ever happened to Uncle So-and-So, or Aunt This-and-That, or Cousin Where-Is-He?”  Always the answer would be that “We don’t know.  He was killed in the war.”  Then there would be a deafening silence, as if the atrocities would return if we continued the conversation.  So do not dare tell me that the Holocaust just involved a few hundred thousand deaths, as if that wasn’t horrible enough,  and that there were no gas chambers.

What might be more productive is to ask Pope Benedict to honestly explain away his participation in the Hitler Youth as a teenager.  That lack of honesty, along with the Nuremberg defense of “I was only following orders, I did not know better and thus, I am not responsible for the crime”, might shed some light on his willingness to welcome Williamson back into the fold.

I am encouraged by the public outrage in response to the Vatican’s acceptance of Williamson’s beliefs.  I hold President Obama directly responsible for teaching us to question and if necessary, revolt, against a corrupt order.  This is his first important endeavor into international relations, even though this foray was more by association than by action.  Obama’s call for ethical behavior and personal responsibility certainly effected the Pope in his decision to rescind his offer of reinstatement to Williamson if he continued in his delusional beliefs about the Holocaust.  Of course the public outcry against the Vatican made its change of heart imperative, but Barack Obama set the stage for that to happen.

I might add here that the phones are ringing off the hook at the Capitol: Americans in droves are voicing their opinions on the stimulus package.  Basically, they are unhappy with some of the items, the scope and cost of the plan and the possible negative long-term implications for our debt.  Obama will work it out, he is listening and will take the appropriate steps to fine- tune the proposal.

This man Obama is something to behold.  We, the people, are equally something to behold and learning this on the heels of Obama has made us much more worthwhile human beings.  To blindly follow the fold is insanity; to question it, work to change it, is where we are now globally.  The entire planet will reap the rewards and benefits proffered and exemplified by Barack Obama.

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