Wagging pointed fingers at Israel, but they’re the ones with the real skeletons in the closets…
Immoral German bishops should be exposed – again
German bishops who scathingly criticized Israel looked away from now-uncovered major sexual abuses that went on for decades in their own surroundings,
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
The writer has been a long-term adviser on strategy issues to the boards of several major multinational corporations in Europe and North America.He is board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and recipient of the LIfetime Achievement Award (2012) of the Journal for the Study of Anti-Semitism.
Many moralists who have criticized Israel are later exposed as having looked away from major immorality in their own surroundings. A recent study commissioned by the Catholic German Bishops’ Conference found that 1670 priests were implicated in sexual abuse in Germany from 1946 – 2014. The victims were mainly male. In more than half of the cases they were 13 years old or younger.
Every sixth abuse involved a rape and in three-quarters of the cases, the victims and the perpetrators knew each other through the Church.
Researchers said that the abuse was still ongoing in 2014, the final year covered by the study. An organization representing the victims said that the report did not go far enough and that files were destroyed. It subsequently requested an independent inquiry.
An open issue is whether the church will deal appropriately with the many victims.
What is the relevance of these horrible facts for Israel? To answer that one has to go back more than ten years. In March 2007 a delegation of 27 Roman Catholic bishops from Germany made a pilgrimage to Israel. This was meant to be a symbol of reconciliation between Jews and Catholics. However, some participants turned it into a scandal.
Gregor Maria Hanke, Bishop of Eichstätt said: “In the morning, we see the photos of the inhumane Warsaw ghetto and in the evening we travel to the ghetto of Ramallah.” This Holocaust inverter who suggested that Israelis act like Nazis holds his position in the church until today. After having made the comparison, Hanke later said that he had not intended such a comparison (!).
Bishop Walter Mixa of Augsburg described the situation in Ramallah as “ghetto-like” and said that it was “almost racism.” Mixa resigned his church position in 2010 amid accusations of various abuses. He was later cleared of some of those charges.
A third delegate was the since deceased Cardinal Joachim Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne who likened the separation barrier in the ‘West Bank’ to the Berlin wall. On other occasions he distorted the Holocaust. He equated the anti-abortion pill to Zyklon B gas used in the gas chambers. In a 2005 sermon he compared abortion to the Holocaust. Other scathing remarks published as being made by these bishops could not be verified.
Cardinal Lehmann, then Chairman of the Conference of German Bishops, spoke at Yad Vashem about the deepening ties between Jews and Catholics. The Church said that only the statement of Cardinal Lehmann was representative of the delegation.
Israel fights terrorism with extremely sophisticated methods. The battle against its verbal attackers should be conducted in a similar manner.
The bishops’ inciting remarks were extremely misplaced already at the time. This the more so in view of the many centuries long anti-Semitic hatemongering by the Catholic Church, which built an infrastructure of extreme hate against Jews on which Germany’s Nazi government could build further.
The Catholic Church only changed its attitude toward the Jews two decades after the Holocaust. In 1965 at the Second Vatican Council Pope Paul VI issued the Nostra Aetate declaration which removed the charge of deicide from the Jewish people as a whole.
During Hitler’s regime the German Catholic Church collaborated with the Nazis. Against this background, the comments by the visiting German bishops about Israel were even more obscene. Then Vice President of the umbrella organization of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, said that “with such friends one doesn’t need enemies anymore.” Shimon Stein, then Israeli ambassador in Germany reacted: “When one uses the notions such as the Warsaw ghetto and racism in this context, it shows that one has forgotten everything or hasn’t learned anything. One has failed morally.”
The German Conference of Bishops rejected the ambassador’s remarks. Its secretary, Hans Langendörfer, said that the bishops few “very personal expressions of shock” had since been corrected by them in a self-critical fashion.” Nowadays, one must wonder how these bishops avoided shock all these years when they heard about the many instances of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.
Commentator Alan Posener drew attention in the quality daily De Welt to the limited German reaction to the bishops’ anti-Semitic remarks. He asked who protests: “The usual suspects, the Central Council of the Jews, the much pestered Israeli ambassador. It is as if the remarks, not clouded by any historical knowledge, let alone shame of two German bishops, primarily concerned the German Jews or Israel.” Gert Weiskirchen, then the socialist parliamentarian in charge of foreign affairs said this was a profoundly shameful issue for German Christians and for Germans in general.
Israel fights terrorism with extremely sophisticated methods. The battle against its verbal attackers should be conducted in a similar manner. The words of the two German bishops were already immoral and anti-Semitic at the time they were made.
However, with the current knowledge of the huge hidden immorality in regard to the pedophilia scandal which was covered up for such a long time, the abusive comments of 2007 should be brought up again. This is just one example. Many more immoral hate mongers could be exposed if the Israeli government instituted a system to keep track of the remarks of the many anti-Israel inciters.