Emeritus Pope Benedict

The Shadow Pope snubs the Jews

 [From Tages Anzeiger. Unofficial translation from German.] 

The Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch has published a text by the former Pope Benedict XVI that degrades Jews with old stereotypes.


Of all people, the German emeritus pope! His essay in the German-language journal Communio on the relationship between Jewish and Christianity can only worsen it. Christian as well as Jewish scholars speak of backsliding and regression. Papal consultant Gregor Maria Hoff describes the text as “fit for religious anti-Judaism.” For Walter Homolka, Rector of the Rabbinical Seminary at the University of Potsdam, it even opens “the horrible storeroom of Christian arrogance” and provides a “foundation for a new antisemitism on a Christian basis.”

Over the weekend, the Orthodox Rabbinical Conference of Germany turned to the Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch. In the Vatican he is responsible for relations with Judaism and published the Ratzinger text. According to the rabbis it called into question the "almost revolutionary theological changes" in the Catholic Church with regard to Jews brought about by the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).

In his very challenging essay, Benedict in principle rehabilitates the substitution theory that the Church had advocated for centuries, but which the Council had overcome, according to which the Church has replaced the Old Testament covenant between God and the people of Israel – a theory that constitutes the root of ecclesiastical anti-Judaism and has contributed significantly to the persecution of the Jews.

For Benedict, the way to salvation that Jews need cannot bypass Christ. That is why he understands the Israel’s Zionist founding of a state as purely secular, not theological – although many Jews in the modern State of Israel see it as the promised land of the Bible. On the other hand, Benedict interprets the dispersion of the Jewish people theologically. In the [Neue Zürcher Zeitung], the Swiss Jesuit Superior Christian Rutishauser considers it problematic to interpret the exile of the Jews positively in the wake of the Shoah.

In fact, "one would not have expected to have to read such a thing from a German theologian after Auschwitz," as the theologian Michael Böhnke says. Even a retired pope cannot do that. Why is he doing it anyway? Probably to justify his pontificate posthumously, especially his decisions that became scandals.

Rapprochement Endangered

Along with the lifting of the excommunications of the antisemitic Society of Pius X brothers in 2009, Benedict had even brought Holocaust denier Richard Williamson back to the church. A year earlier, he had again included the Good Friday intercession [for the Jews] in the Latin liturgy. Since then, one may again pray officially for the enlightenment of the Jews, that they recognize Jesus Christ as the Savior of all people. At that time, Kurt Koch, still Bishop of Basel, had defended Benedict: In the end times, Christ will appear as savior of the Jews. In 2010, Benedict made Koch chairman of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.

For five years, however, Koch has served another Pope, Francis, who has eased relations with the Jews. The fact that his Cardinal, who is responsible for [relations with] Judaism, endangers the policy of rapprochement could have consequences – especially for Koch. Because the conflict will intensify if Ratzinger’s essay becomes available in English and Italian also. Already it is certain that Shadow Pope Benedict has failed to redeem his theology of Judaism.