Pope Francis I Speaks on Holocaust, Israel and Jews in Only Book

Pontiff's Unscripted Talk With Rabbi in 'Heaven and Earth'

By Alan Brill and Ronnie Perelis

Published March 15, 2013.
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The cardinal agrees wholeheartedly with the need to open up the church’s archives of the wartime years and unequivocally stresses the importance of clarifying the historical record. If Pope Francis follows up on his clearly stated desire, it may help Jewish organizations push for a speedy opening of the Vatican archives, which some have resisted up to now.

“Opening the archives of the shoah seems reasonable,” the future pope says. “Let them be opened and let everything be cleared up. Let it be seen if they could have done something [to help] and until what point they could have helped. If they made a mistake in any aspect of this we would have to say, ‘We have erred.’ We don’t have to be scared of this- the truth has to be the goal.”

The cardinal also discusses the role of anti-Semitism in his homeland of Argentina. He concedes that he had less contact with Jews than others, but insists that bigotry and anti-Semitism has decreased markedly over the years.

“I did not have the same experience as John Paul II of having half of my friends as Jewish, but I have Jewish friends,” he says.

“Yes, there were some anti-Semitic Catholics and today there also are some,” he adds. “But not with the virulence of the 1930’s when there were some ecclesiastic anti-Semitism. Today, the politics of the Argentinian church is clear: inter-religious dialogue.”

The future pontiff is not as direct about the Middle East conflict. In a chapter devoted to the topic, Bergoglio becomes long winded and seeks to deflect political questions into universal discussions.

“At times human relations can be resolved if you have people who can find pathways,” he says, before veering into confusing religious rhetoric. “Conflict is essential to the Bible” going back to Adam, and Eve, then Cain.

On interfaith relations, he is clear and decisive that he not only allows but seeks non-Catholics’ participation in religious events. He urges the active participation of those of other faiths who attend formal events like the instillation of a bishop so that they should not just stand “like dolls in an exhibition case.”


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