Tag Archives: Poland

The Auschwitz Convent controversy – Just because you can do it, doesn’t make it right

In 1984 Cardinal Macharski, archbishop of Cracow, announced the establishment of a Carmelite convent in Auschwitz in a building on the camp periphery which had originally been a theater but was utilized during World War II to store the poison gas used in the Auschwitz-Birkenau crematoria.

Outrage by a worldwide Jewish population ensued. Their claim, and rightfully so, was that Auschwitz was a sacred place to Jews. 90% of those killed there were Jewish. And the Catholic Church was wrong to even consider this. It took several years of wrangling and it appears that the Church stalled several times in those years.

As the new deadline of July 22, 1989, approached, tensions rose still higher. … The situation reached a flashpoint when an American rabbi, Avraham “Avi” Weiss, and six colleagues dressed in concentration camp garb scaled the walls of the convent blew a shofar, and screamed “Nazi antisemites.” Polish workmen at the site demanded that they leave and then poured paint and water on the protesters and physically removed them from the site. Reactions were divided in the Jewish world to the demonstration, but Polish sources portrayed it as an attempted attack on the nuns. The deadline passed with a march around the convent by 300 European Jewish students, to the sound of the shofar. In August Cardinal Macharski announced that in reaction to the Jewish campaign, the agreement was to be canceled and the nuns would remain where they were.

In August 1989 and in reaction to the Jewish demonstrations, the archbishop of Warsaw, Cardinal Glemp, delivered a sermon in Czestochowa to a congregation of 100,000 including the Polish premier, which was seen as antisemitic when he called on the Jews “not to talk to us from the position of a superior nation and do not dictate terms that cannot be fulfilled…. Your strength is in the mass media, at your disposal in many countries. Do not use it to spread anti-Polonism.”

Cardinal Glemp’s remarks were condemned by many Catholics, including Lech Walesa and 4 other Cardinals who had signed the original agreement with a Jewish delegation in Geneva to move the convent. His sermon was inexcusable.

Shortly thereafter the Vatican [Pope John Paul II] spoke out for the first time, supporting the relocation of the convent in order to restore good relations with the Jews.

Although the original deadline for the new complex, set in 1990, proved overly optimistic, work progressed on the interfaith center and the convent, which was ready in 1993. Nevertheless the nuns continued to be reluctant to leave the old building, and this was only accomplished in the summer of 1993 following a letter from the pope and pressure from the Polish Bishops’ Conference. Seven of the 14 nuns agreed to move to the new convent, the others going elsewhere. Jewish-Catholic relations returned to normal and the dialogue was resumed. In particular Jews were encouraged by the understanding that had been evinced towards Jewish sensibilities by many Catholic quarters.

Source.

Two Catholic prisoners of Auschwitz have been sainted: Father Maximilian Kolbe and St. Teresa Benedicta (Edith Stein, a converted Jew and Carmelite nun.)

Maximilian was born in 1894 in Poland and became a Franciscan. He contracted tuberculosis and, though he recovered, he remained frail all his life. Before his ordination as a priest, Maximilian founded the Immaculata Movement devoted to Our Lady. After receiving a doctorate in theology, he spread the Movement through a magazine entitled “The Knight of the Immaculata” and helped form a community of 800 men, the largest in the world.

Maximilian went to Japan where he built a comparable monastery and then on to India where he furthered the Movement. In 1936 he returned home because of ill health. After the Nazi invasion in 1939, he was imprisoned and released for a time. But in 1941 he was arrested again and sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

On July 31, 1941, in reprisal for one prisoner’s escape, ten men were chosen to die. Father Kolbe offered himself in place of a young husband and father. And he was the last to die, enduring two weeks of starvation, thirst, and neglect. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982. His feast day is August 14th.

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Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein)Virgin and Martyr Edith Stein, born in 1891 in Breslau, Poland, was the youngest child of a large Jewish family. She was an outstanding student and was well versed in philosophy with a particular interest in phenomenology. Eventually she became interested in the Catholic Faith, and in 1922, she was baptized at the Cathedral Church in Cologne, Germany. Eleven years later Edith entered the Cologne Carmel. Because of the ramifications of politics in Germany, Edith, whose name in religion was Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, was sent to the Carmel at Echt, Holland. When the Nazis conquered Holland, Teresa was arrested, and, with her sister Rose, was sent to the concentration camp at Auschwitz. Teresa died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz in 1942 at the age of fifty-one. In 1987, she was beatified in the Cologne Cathedral by Pope John Paul II. Out of the unspeakable human suffering caused by the Nazis in western Europe in the 1930’s and 1940’s, there blossomed the beautiful life of dedication, consecration, prayer, fasting, and penance of Saint Teresa. Even though her life  was snuffed out by the satanic evil of genocide, her memory stands as a light undimmed in the midst of evil, darkness, and suffering. She was canonized on October 11, 1998.

Source.


A true Crisis of Confidence

We have lost our clout and our credibility in the world, especially among our allies. I try to read international papers online, at least once a week to get a feel for what they are doing and how they are viewing us. It’s getting damned depressing.

On the 70th anniversary of the Russian invasion of Poland, we dropped a big bomb of our own on the Poles when it was announced that we were taking the missile defense system off the table. Could we have picked a worse day to do this to an ally? The Poles revere Ronald Reagan, love America and they have sent thousands of soldiers to Afghanistan to fight beside ours. So… we just dumped on the Poles and the Czechs and took the promised missiles away.

The Poles were so incensed, their president refused a call from Hillary Clinton.

In an interview with The Daily Beast, Zbigniew Brezezinski (former adviser to that other impotent president, Jimmy Carter and an anti-Semite just like the president he served) said that we should make sure that Israel knows that if they attempt to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites, we will shoot down their planes.

“We are not exactly impotent little babies,” Brzezinski said. “They have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch?… We have to be serious about denying them that right. That means a denial where you aren’t just saying it. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not…”

I’m sure the Israeli’s have all kinds of confidence in their ‘friendship’ with us. Obama and Hillary Clinton have demanded that they make concessions in the occupied West Bank but have asked nothing of Hamas. Hamas, who hides inside homes and schools, behind women and children, to launch missiles at the Israelis. Hamas – who go to war like cowards.

I wish someone could explain to me why Jewish Americans supported Obama. If this guy was going to allow Austria to threaten to blow up Vatican City, how many American Catholic votes would he have gotten? Seriously, this Jewish support just totally baffles me.

It’s being rumored that General McChrystal is prepared to resign if his requests for more troops is nixed. His request has been held up for nearly 3 weeks. American, and allied soldiers are waiting… It would take 60-90 days for those troops, if they are approved tomorrow, to be ready for deployment.

In March, Obama announced a “comprehensive, new strategy” in Afghanistan. What’s happened to that? On Meet the Press this last Sunday, he said he’s not ready to do anything until he’s sure it’s the right thing. And our soldiers are waiting…

How does all this effect morale?

This last weekend we had a friend from Germany visit us. When he was 17, he lived with us as an exchange student. He told us that the Europeans blame us for the worldwide financial meltdown. I’m not an economist, but I think he’s correct.

Almost daily, I can feel America declining. I read it, I hear it, I see it. Frank Luntz, in his new book “What Americans Really Want… Really” said that a depressing 33% of Americans feel that America will be a better place for their children and 57% believe that their children will have a worse quality of life.

We are polarized by a president who will not pull us together because it might jeopardize what he thinks is his place in history, i.e. passing his entire socialist agenda. He knows that it’s division that will win him his causes so he ignores the majority and pays back (with our tax dollars) his fringe supporters, i.e. unions and leftist politicians.

Obama has traveled the world apologizing and shaming us, shouldering the blame for everything from global warming to arrogance. He’s embarrassed the nation and weakened us in the eyes of friend and foe.

I believe we, and in a larger sense, the world is suffering from a real crisis of confidence.

And I don’t believe that this president is capable of fixing that.