Dishonesty and Misinformation

Author: Bernard-Henri Levy

Dishonesty and Misinformation

Bernard-Henri Levy

When the scapegoats are named Pius and Benedict

The dishonesty, the preconceived ideas and — in a word — the misinformation need to cease, especially when Benedict XVI is mentioned. Ever since his election, a case has been made regarding his "ultra-conservatism", continually referred to by the mass media (as though a Pope could be anything other than "conservative"). The point is laboured, with innuendoes — even with blunt jokes referring to the "German Pope", the "post-Nazi" in a cassock, and the man whom the French satirical programme "Les Guignols" did not hesitate to nickname "Adolf II".

The texts have been purely and simply distorted: for example, regarding the Pope's Visit to Auschwitz in 2006, it was maintained and — since with the passing of time memory fades — it is still repeated today that he would have paid honour to the memory of six million Poles, victims of a mere "band of criminals", without specifying that half of them were Jewish (on this occasion the opposite truth is truly staggering, since Benedict XVI effectively spoke of the "rulers of the Third Reich" who attempted to "cancel" the "Jewish people" from the "register of the peoples of the earth", Le Monde,30 May 2006).

Here again, on the occasion of the Pope's Visit to the Synagogue of Rome and after his two Visits to the Synagogues of Cologne and New York, the same choir of misinformants have set a record, I was about to say that they have claimed the palm of victory, since they did not even wait until the Pope had crossed the River Tiber to announce Urbi et Orbi [to the city and the world] that he had neither been unable to find the words he needed to say, nor make the necessary gestures and had thus failed in his intention.

Then, seeing that the event is still being discussed heatedly, allow me to dot some of the "i"s. For example, when Benedict XVI was absorbed in prayer in front of the wreath of red roses laid in front of the plaque commemorating the martyrdom of the1,021 deported Jews of Rome, he was doing no more than his duty, but he did it. When Benedict XVI paid homage to the "faces" of the "men, women and children" taken in the round-up that formed part of the project of "the extermination of the people of the Covenant of Moses", he stated the obvious, but still he said it.

With regard to Benedict XVI, it is time to stop repeating, like apes, that he is backward in comparison with his Predecessor: since, word for word, he has taken up John Paul II's prayer of 10 years ago, at the Western Wall; thereby Benedict XVI asked for the "forgiveness" of the Jewish people devastated by the vehemence of a long-harboured Catholic anti-Semitic attitude, by reading, I reiterate, John Paul II's text.

Furthermore, Benedict — after pausing for a second time in front of the inscription recording the attack made in 1982 by Palestinian extremists — stated finally that the Jewish-Catholic dialogue initiated at the Second Vatican Council is now "irrevocable"; that he intends to "advance" the "debate between equals", referring to the debate with the "elder brothers" who are the Jews; and that they may start any process they like but not that of "freezing" the progress made by John XXIII.

If need be, I will return to the very complex question of Pius XII. I will return to the case of Rolf Hochhuth, author of the well-known Il vicario (The Vicar), which in 1963 began the controversy about the "silence of Pius XII". I would particularly like to return to the fact that this fiery avenger is also a certified negationist, condemned more than once as such. His final outrage, five years ago, in an interview with the extreme rightwing weekly Junge Freiheit,was to come to the defence of David Irving, the man who denies the existence of the gas chambers. At this time, I just want to remember, as Laurent Dispot did in the magazine that printed La règle du jeu, that in 1937 when he was still simply Cardinal Pacelli, the terrible Pius XII co-authored with Pius XI the Encyclical to the German Bishops, Mit brennender Sorge ("With burning anxiety"), which still today continues to be one of the strongest and most eloquent anti-Nazi manifestos.

For now, we must clarify for historical accuracy that — before choosing underground action, before discreetly opening his convents to the Jews of Rome hunted by the fascists — the silent Pius XII made several radio broadcasts (for example at Christmas 1941 and 1942) that won him, after his death, Golda Meir's praise: "During the 10 years of Nazi terror, during which our people suffered an unspeakable martyrdom, the Pope raised his voice to condemn the executioners".

And, at present, it is particularly surprising, in the deafening silence regarding the Shoah throughout the world, that all — or almost all — of the weight is brought to bear on the man who, among the sovereigns of the time: a) had no canons or planes; b) did not spare his own efforts to share the information that came to his knowledge with those who had canons and planes at their disposal; c) personally saved in Rome, but also elsewhere, a large number of those for whom he had moral responsibility. The finishing touch to the Great Book of contemporary baseness: Pius or Benedict can be Pope and scapegoat at the same time.

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
3 February 2010, page 13

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