Papist Orthodoxy

October 8, 2009

Wartime Jews Praise the Italians Who Saved Them

Filed under: Ethics & Epistemology, Morality — Tags: — Antiochian-Thomist @ 6:31 pm

Last of the Holocaust Survivors Share Their Stories

By Edward Pentin

ROME, OCT. 8, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Largely thanks to the movie “Schindler’s List,” most people know about its eponymous hero Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who saved 1,200 Jews during World War II.

Yet other untold stories of similar acts of wartime heroism took place all over Europe, many of them in Italy. And although not always on the scale of Schindler’s valiant rescue, they were nonetheless remarkable acts of selfless courage.

Now a new book reveals the true extent of how much ordinary Italians, many of whom were priests and religious, helped save Jews from the Holocaust. Titled “It Happened in Italy,” author Elizabeth Bettina, an Italian-American New Yorker, records fascinating testimonies from survivors whose lives were saved by Italians from all walks of life.

Her search began when, during summer trips to her grandmother’s house in a remote Italian village in Campagna, southern Italy, she saw a picture of a rabbi in a church. She learned that a number of Jews from outside Italy had lived in the area and, having grown up with many American Jews in New York, she was naturally curious to know why. Later, Bettina was to discover that the village was the location for an internment camp for Jews during the war, one of many others in Italy.

So after receiving encouragement from a friend, she decided to look further into how so many Jewish lives were saved in Italy — as many as 32,000 out of a population of 39,000, according to some historians.

It’s interesting to note that the survival rate for Jews who lived in wartime Italy is one of the highest in Europe, and among the most heroic Italians was Giovanni Palatucci, who is estimated to have saved as many as 5,000 Jewish lives. But unlike Schindler, who survived the war, Palatucci died in Dachau at the age of 36.

Helping neighbors

Bettina stresses that not all Italians risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbors, but the extent of the heroism was nevertheless impressive. “I can’t tell you how many times I heard: ‘The whole village knew we were Jewish and nobody turned us in,'” she says.

Italy’s policy during the war was that Jews born in the country were allowed to stay in their own homes, while those who had arrived before the war were interned. The camps, however, were largely very humane: The book shows Jews dressed casually, smiling and playing musical instruments. It wasn’t until Italy sided with the allies toward the end of the war and Germany invaded the country that their lives were put in real danger.

A number were deported to concentration camps, along with their relatives who were living at the time elsewhere in Europe. “Some bad things happened and I acknowledge them in the book,” says Bettina. “Either someone betrayed you, they didn’t help even if they could, or you were just unlucky — there was no one to try to help because they were someplace else.” But she adds there are “many, many reasons why so many survived in Italy, and the bottom line is that somebody helped them.”

She explains that those who saved Jews at risk of losing their lives (they would undoubtedly have been shot had they been discovered, according to survivors) fell into five groups of individuals: The first was a simple, ordinary Italian who refused to notify the authorities or hid them. The second was a police officer who would perhaps warn that he would come back to arrest them the next day, thereby giving them time to seek refuge. The third was a person working for the civic authorities who would fake identity documents. The fourth was a local priest or nun who gave them refuge or helped issue a false baptismal certificate.

“Did they get an official order? I don’t know,” she says when asked if perhaps Pope Pius XII might have instructed them to save their Jewish neighbors. “But many people I interviewed said there was a priest or a nun who was involved in helping them.” Finally, there were the people working in the internment camps who tried to make life as humane as possible for them (so humane that those interned were free to do as they pleased, resulting in many not knowing the camps even existed).

Out of the woodwork

But what also gives added interest to this story is that “It Happened in Italy” is the result of countless coincidences — of people somehow providentially coming into contact with Bettina and telling remarkable stories out of sheer gratitude to the Italians who saved them — or a close relative — during the war. A series of further coincidences also enabled her to bring a group of survivors to the Vatican to have a special audience with the Pope. “Everyone who comes into contact with this book has a funny way of ending up in it,” she says with a laugh.

Yet the project never started as a book; rather it took on a life of its own as more and more people came forward with testimonies from all over the world. “We had no clue this story would be so vast, and it just kept going,” Bettina says. She also insists there is no hidden purpose behind the project. “I have no agenda except to make sure these stories stay honest and true,” she explains. “I want these people who told me the stories to be listened to. I want them to get the satisfaction.”

A lingering question remains, however: Why has it taken so long for these Jews to come forward and express their gratitude? Bettina believes many Jewish survivors were just so overwhelmed by what happened that initially they just wanted to put it behind them. She says that it was only when films such as “Schindler’s List” came out that they started thinking: “And what about me and my story?” Others believe it’s because some Jews want nothing good to be associated with the Holocaust.

Catalyst

At a Rome press conference to launch the book last month, Israel’s ambassador to the Holy See, Mordechay Lewy, said he also didn’t know the reason, but that perhaps all they needed was someone like Elizabeth Bettina to trigger their gratitude.

He also said he was puzzled why Italian Jews, who have their roots in Italy and were also saved during the war, are “not always very keen” to express their thanks. He said it might have something to do with a history of difficult relations between Roman Jews and the Vatican, but he highlighted the “very strange phenomenon” of Jews who were saved in monasteries, yet are “still expressing quite anti-clerical expressions.”

Bettina says her book could be made into a movie, although she stresses that was never her intention. “I’m not a writer, I’ve never written a book before and I […] have never made a movie or a documentary,” she says. Rather one of her main motivations is she’s mindful that time is running out for these stories to be told. “They’ve all said that after us, there’s nobody,” she explains. “These are the last of the generation.”

The objective, she added, wasn’t to make Italy look great, just to show there can be good people who do the right thing, and to convey an important teaching: that if you’re not indifferent, things can be different. “Someone wasn’t indifferent,” she says. “They helped, and these people lived.”

* * *

Edward Pentin is a freelance writer living in Rome. He can be reached at: epentin@zenit.org.

Advertisements

September 26, 2009

A Would-be Muslim Head-Hunter of Coptic Christians…

Filed under: Ethics & Epistemology, Morality — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 10:16 pm

From Coptreal.

By BosNewsLife Middle East Service

CAIRO, EGYPT (BosNewsLife)– Egyptian police have detained a Muslim man who allegedly killed a Coptic Christian and seriously injured two other Copts in two different villages, north of the capital Cairo, Christians said Wednesday September 23. Galal Nasr el-Dardiri, 35, attacked 63-year-old Abdu Georgy in front of the victim’s shop in Behnay village late September 16, news reports said.

Christians said El-Dardiri stabbed Georgy several times, disemboweled him, slit his throat and began sawing off his head. El-Dardiri then allegedly went to a nearby town and stabbed Coptic shopkeeper Boils Eid Messiha, 40, and then went to Mit Afif and attacked another Copt, identified as Hany Barsom Soliman.

Messiha reportedly remained in intensive care and Soliman suffered lacerations to his arms. On Thursday, September 17, about 1,000 people gathered at Georgy’s funeral to protest the killing and assaults on Coptic Christians.

“BLOOD NOT IN VAIN”

Protestors reportedly chanted that Georgy’s “blood was not [spilled] in vain” as they carried signs that read, “Where are you, government? The terrorists are going to kill us.” [Personally, I think this horrendous incident is a good apologetic for the necessity of the religious military orders. –Antiochian-Thomist]

El-Dardiri was arrested also September 17 and charged with murder, church sources said.

The latest attack underscored international concerns about growing tensions between minority Christians and majority Muslims in Egypt. There have been several violent attacks against Coptic Christians in recently in the mainly Islamic nation.

For the full article, go here.

September 25, 2009

Kathleen Sebelius: Communion Prohibition “Painful”; Archbishop Naumann Responds

Filed under: Ethics & Epistemology, Morality, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 6:59 pm

An article has appeared on Life Site News discussing Archbishop Joseph Naumann’s prohibition of pro-abort, Kathleen Sebelius, from receiving the Sacred Mysteries due to her publicly known moral stances which run contrary to Church teachings and the Natural Law. In a recent interview with the Washington Post, Sebelius claims the prohibition to be “painful”, appealing to the erroneous notions of the “separation of church and state.”

Excerpts of the article follow with selected responses from Archbishop Joseph Naumann of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

From LifeSiteNews.com.

By Peter J. Smith and Kathleen Gilbert

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 23, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Over a year after Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann publicly prohibited the pro-abortion U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius from receiving Communion, Sebelius has broken her silence on the matter.  Appealing to the “separation of church and state,” Sebelius said the episcopal order was “one of the most painful things I have ever experienced” and implied that her pro-abortion position was part and parcel of upholding the rights of an inter-faith constituency.  In a response given to LifeSiteNews.com, Archbishop Naumann of Kansas City said the secretary’s argument “misrepresents the issue” to make it appear that “she was the victim of merely upholding the law.”

Former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius proved her bona fides to the pro-abortion movement time and again through close associations with now-slain abortionist George Tiller and Planned Parenthood, and through numerous vetoes of pro-life legislation and common-sense regulations on the abortion-industry.

But the former governor described by the late-columnist Bob Novak “the national pro-choice poster girl” is far from being a Catholic in good-standing with the Catholic Church – a status that rankles the HHS Secretary and for good reason: Sebelius has the distinction of being one of the highest ranking Catholics in the Obama Administration, who is forbidden to receive Holy Communion – a Church sacrament that also symbolizes spiritual unity with the rest of the Church’s members.

Back in May 2008, Archbishop Naumann publicly directed Sebelius to refrain from presenting herself for Holy Communion until she takes “the necessary steps for amendment of her life which would include a public repudiation of her previous efforts and actions in support of laws and policies sanctioning abortion.”

KathleenSibelius2

Excerpts From interview Dialogue

Sebelius: Well, the Archbishop in the Kansas City area did not approve of my conduct as a public official and asked that I not present myself for communion.

Washington Post: What did you think about that?

Sebelius: Well, it was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced in my life, and I am a firm believer in the separation of church and state, and I feel that my actions as a parishioner are different than my actions as a public official and that the people who elected me in Kansas had a right to expect me to uphold their rights and their beliefs even if they did not have the same religious beliefs that I had. And that’s what I did: I took an oath of office and I have taken an oath of office in this job and will uphold the law.

Washington Post: Do you continue to take communion?

Sebelius: I really would prefer not to discuss that with you. That’s really a personal-thank you.

ArchbishopNaumann200

Arcbhishop Naumann Responds to LifeSiteNews

However the Catholic Church views abortion and as first and foremost a moral issue – not a religious or faith issue – because the sacredness of human life pertains to the natural law, which reveals the intrinsic rightness or wrongness of human acts through reason.

In response to Sebelius’ statements to the Post, Archbishop Nauman told LifeSiteNews.com that he issued the request “to motivate her to recognize the serious error of her past support and advocacy for legalized abortion, and to protect other Catholics from being misled by the Governor’s actions into thinking that abortion is not a grave moral evil.”

“Secretary Sebelius misrepresents the issue by her attempt to invoke separation of church and state,” wrote Naumann.  “At no time did I ask her not to execute her oath of office.

“Secretary Sebelius makes it appear that she was asked not to receive Holy Communion because she was the victim of merely upholding the law.  In reality, Secretary Sebelius opposed even such modest restrictions on abortion as parental notification of minors, required waiting periods before an abortion, as well as meaningful regulation of abortion clinics to protect, at least, the mother’s health.”

Naumann said it was “very painful” to ask Sebelius not to receive Communion.  “However, I had exhausted every reasonable means to convince her to change her position,” he said.  “I also had a serious obligation to uphold the integrity of the Eucharist and to protect other Catholics from being misled by the former Governor’s support for legalized abortion.

“I continue to pray for Secretary Sebelius that she will accept the grace to acknowledge the grave evil in which she has been involved and will have the courage to take the necessary steps to correct the scandal created by her past actions.”

For the full article, go here.

September 24, 2009

Cardinal Mahoney: Abortion in Health Bill ‘Beyond My Field’

Filed under: Doctrine, Ethics & Epistemology, Morality, Politics — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 6:51 pm

http://www.cnsnews.com/public/cnsnewstv/video.aspx?v=GdkUnz6UqG

What exactly is your field your ‘Eminence’? Clown Masses? Moral scandals? — Antiochian-Thomist

“COMPULSORY Abortion Backed by Constitution” Says Obama Czar

Filed under: Doctrine, Ethics & Epistemology, Morality, Politics — Tags: , , , — Antiochian-Thomist @ 5:31 pm

According to the article linked, Obama’s Science ‘Czar’ thinks that compulsory abortion can be backed by the U.S. Constitution. Supposedly large families are contributing to the impending environmental catastrophe.

You can’t put numbers to the moral catastrophe we are facing. — Antiochian-Thomist

Excerpts follow.

‘Obama science czar John Holdren stated in a college textbook he co-authored that in conditions of emergency, compulsory abortion would be sustainable under the U.S. Constitution, even with Supreme Court review.

‘….A series of papers recently published by the Royal Society in Great Britain and by the United Nations have made a direct link between global population growth and anthropomorphic, or man-made global warming.

‘….The Economist magazine summed up the current argument Monday, stating, “A world with fewer people would emit less greenhouse gas.”

‘….The authors of “Ecoscience” argued that a “legal restriction on the right to have more than a given number of children” could be crafted under the U.S. Constitution in crisis situations under the standard that “law has as its proper function the protection of each person and each group of persons.”

‘On page 838, the authors argued, “The law could properly say to a mother that, in order to protect the children she already has, she could have no more.”

‘To justify the point, the authors commented “differential rates of reproduction between ethnic, racial, religious, or economic groups might result in increased competition for resources and political power and thereby undermine social order.”

‘The authors continued their constitutional analysis of government-mandated population control measures by writing: “If some individuals contribute to general social deterioration by overproducing children, and if the need is compelling, they can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility in their resource-consumption patterns – provided they are not denied equal protection.” (Italics in the original text.)’

Find the full article here.

September 21, 2009

The Ground of Union: Deification in Aquinas and Palamas. By A.N. Williams

I’ve been asserting this for years. Now someone has done a scholarly work supporting it. God bless A.N. Williams! — Antiochian-Thomist

From AccessMyLibrary.com.

THE GROUND OF UNION: DEIFICATION IN AQUINAS AND PALAMAS. By A.N. Williams. New York: Oxford University, 1999. Pp. 222.

(Partial Review)

Any effort toward understanding and union between Christian Churches of the East and the West involves an objective examination of the central issues and theological concepts. Williams explores the main writings of two representative medieval thinkers and theological spokesmen whose image and method have generally been misinterpreted or misused, whether out of sincere ignorance or deliberate polemics. Conventional academic scholarship and ecumenical dialogue have sharply differentiated between the “Palamite” and “Scholastic” ways.

From an Orthodox perspective, it is improper that certain authors employ the term “heart” as a stick to brandish against the allegedly “rationalistic” West. Aquinas contrasts “cordis affectus” with “intellectus,” but it would be unfair to attribute to him a narrow use of “affectus.” Furthermore his use of “intellectus” implies the Greek “noesis,” which is certainly not identical with discursive reasoning. Whether the heart is or is not neglected in the West, it should not be used as an antonym for “reason.” The charge of “rationalism” leveled against Western theology, in contrast to the alleged “heartfulness” of Eastern theology, is as tenuous as it is paradoxical. Any simplistic condemnation or justification of one theological method over or against another will invariably reveal deeper complexities and essential exceptions.

W. obliges both Orthodox and Western theologians to review their critical attitude and apologetic approach toward one another’s methodology. She offers a sharp criticism of contemporary writers whose tone is negative, even “bitter,” often “determined to misread the texts and authors [they] purport to analyze” (14). She is even critical of “more nuanced and sophisticated [theologians, who are] no less hostile to what they suppose to be Western theological method” (18). She has read and researched numerous monographs and articles by modern theologians, and her access to more remote writers and publications is admirable.

W.’s purpose is to address in a comparative fashion, even to challenge “the charges of opposition of East and West in the doctrine of deification” (33). She has selected one or more major texts from each of her authors: the Summa theologiae of Aquinas, and the Triads and Capita physica of Palamas. Though aware of the dangers of a selective …

From Amazon.com.

414GCoHuHqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA240_SH20_OU01_

Review
“Williams makes a significant contribution [towards] enabling [. . .] a recognition of the extent to which the theme and sometimes the language of deification recur throughout the history of Christian theology. [This] could prove to be a major step in overcoming misunderstanding between East and West, [. . .] an invaluable service [. . .] well worth the effort of careful reading.”–St. Vladimir’s Theological Quarterly

Product Description
This book attempts to resolve one of the oldest and bitterest controversies between the Eastern and Western Christian churches: namely, the dispute about the doctrine of deification. A. N. Williams examines two key thinkers, each of whom is championed as the authentic spokesman of his own tradition and reviled by the other. Taking Aquinas as representative of the West and Gregory Palamas for the East, she presents fresh readings of their work that both reinterpret each thinker and sho an area of commonality between them much greater than has previously been acknowledged.