March 21, 2000
volume 11, no. 57
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CATHOLIC PewPOINT editorial for Tuesday, March 21, 2000

By its use of yellow journalism the once-mighty CBS eye is now black and blue!

        Why is it that whenever His Holiness John Paul II is undergoing a historic pilgrimage that the media and Bill Clinton team up to undermine it? We say that because of the president's quaint timing in going overseas to India, Pakistan and Bangledesh at the same time the Holy Father will be retracing the footsteps of Jesus in the Holy Land. We also say that in response to the yellow journalism piece Sunday night on Sixty Minutes in which Ed Bradley interviewed John Cornwell, author of the much ballyhooed "Hitler's Pope." Cornwell is a bitter, dissident Catholic author who writes for the British Catholic weekly The Tablet. That paper is Britain's answer to The National Catholic Reporter. The NCR is the modernistic American Catholic voice for such dissidents as We are church, Call to action and "catholics" for a free choice. Notorious liberal theologian Hans Kung writes this about The Tablet : "As a 'continental' Catholic theologian I need reliable and comprehensive information about the English speaking Catholic world: in politics, church life, theology, literature, spirituality...The Tablet provides this information in a constructive and critical way." With an endorsement from someone like Hans Kung who has been at odds with the Vatican it seems ad infinitum, any loyal Catholic will run the other way. So here we have a man of this background speaking very, very derogatorily about a sovereign Pontiff who is under consideration for beatification. And what is his basis? A letter presumably written by Pius when he was an Apostolic Nuncio to Germany that described one person he had met of Jewish origin who was an unsavory character not to be trusted. Sorry, but that happens to everyone. Though we haven't met Mr. Cornwell, he surely came across as an unsavory character not to be trusted and it has nothing to do with his religion. For that matter, Ed Bradley has often come off as an unsavory character not to be trusted in his expose interviews over these many years on Sixty Minutes. To enhance the stain on Pius XII, Bradley offered little resistance to Cornwell but was practically in the face of Father Peter Gumpel a Jesuit historian who is in charge of reviewing Pius XII's grueling, extensive beatification process that includes pouring over literally hundreds of thousands of documents, letters, testimonies, etc. in serving as a fail safe devil's advocate to assure the Church makes the right decisions regarding future saints.

        Yet Cornwell found one letter written by Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli in all his search and immediately assumed the worst. He called it a "turning point." A turning point to what? Publishing a scathing best-seller that would demean the Pope of Rome and be gobbled up by anti-Catholics, bitter Jews, dissident Catholics and a liberal media, thus assuring him monetary success on the New York Times best seller list. That was the "turning point!" We suspect that was his intent all along as he used the guise of extolling Pius in order to gain access to the Vatican archives. The Holy See was hoodwinked and the world is being hoodwinked now. The "turning point" Cornwell explained to Bradley, was a letter he found in which Cardinal Pacelli described a leader of a radical band of Jewish socialists as one who was "pale, dirty, with drugged eyes, vulgar, repulsive, with a face that is both intelligent and shy." Where in that description of a person who might very well have been that way does it say anything about Pius's intense scorn for Jews as Cornwell asserts? The facts are that if Cardinal Pacelli wrote that it was not to put down Jews but an honest appraisal of how the crass leader came across. We suspect the man wasn't even a loyal Jew for those attributes would not be acceptable to orthodox Jews. But yet Cornwell took it upon himself to instantly condemn Pius for those words and equate them to what Adolf Hitler would say and immediately the reader and viewer are left with the false assumption that Pius XII scorned all Jews. Yet Father Gumpel has poured through countless letters and testimonies and found none of that. Had he, the cause for Pius XII's beatification would come to an instant halt as is the case per Canon Law and the rules of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. Keep in mind that Fr. Gumpel is not looking to hide anything or overlook questionable things for his responsibility is of "devil's advocate." In that position he is to look for every avenue as to why someone should not be a saint rather than why they should be. When he cannot make claim to the negatives holding up, then, and only then does the committee proceed further. To say Father Gumpel is covering up is to impugn the entire Church process present and past.

        But neither Bradley or Cornwell are past trying to impugn the Church and it showed in the brief "expose" Sunday night. Bradley immediately launched into a systematic character assassination of Pius XII by interviewing a Jewish man Gerhardt Reigner, still alive today at 87, who back in 1942 was a German Jewish refugee working in Geneva for the World Jewish Congress. Reigner claims he sent a personal memo to the Holy Father back then pleading for the Pope to intervene. Since he didn't hear back from the Pope he assumed Pius didn't care as he conveyed begrudgingly about Pius XII: "he was not involved, wasn't interested, he didn't care" and that "the killing of six million Jews...was not the concern of the Catholic Church." He made this assumption because he didn't hear back from Pius. We question whether Pius ever received the memo in the first place since Cornwell didn't find it in the archives he supposedly poured through. Had he found it wouldn't he have published that to corroborate his argument against Pius? Of course, but it is just more lies poured one on top of the other. Consider Reigner's position at the World Jewish Congress. Do you think the Nazis were not aware of Reigner and his intent? Do you think the Gestapo wanted that memo to reach Pius? No way! Ergo, wouldn't it seem quite possible that the memo was intercepted by members of the Third Reich and never reach Pius for there have been numerous documents uncovered since that verifies that Hitler's regime greatly feared the Vatican and considered Rome an enemy to Arian Superiority. This includes the diary of Adolph Eichmann, one of Hitler's leading butchers, that substantiated Pius was a "friend to the Jews." Yet strangely, the government of Israel kept this under wraps for more than forty years. It has now been released to the news wires. Yet, strangely, CBS News chose to ignore that.

        Also consider that had the World Jewish Congress an envoy or delegate to the Holy See then that memo could have been delivered much more readily. Another problem that few bring up was that there was not a sovereign state the Jews could appeal to, rally around, until David Ben Gurion reestablished Israel in 1948.  In other words, they were a people without a country and this hurt drastically in negotiations by the Vatican on their behalf because they could not deal with Hitler's neo-paganistic regime out of strength of diplomacy.  While Cornwell and the Jewish people interviewed by Bradley all agree many Catholics helped the Jews during the war, they're quick to point out that it was individual action and not Pius XII. How do they know that? Because they've been programmed to say that for any admittance that Pius XII helped the Jews would weaken their own bitterness toward anyone they could blame with Hitler and all of the Third Reich gone. Being mad at Rome today for what they perceived as Pius' inaction is akin to being mad at the German government today for Hitler's reign of terror. Neither had anything to do with the other. But someone has to shoulder the blame just because they have to have someone to blame and that falls on the most likely victim - the Church and her Vicar of Christ during that terrible time in world history. Think about it though.  If Pius XII is going to be crucified because he didn't help every Jew, then shouldn't Winston Churchill  and Franklin Delano Roosevelt be looked at the same way for not advising their troops to go into Auschwitz sooner to free the victims?  Or, to carry that further, wouldn't the same standards apply to Bill Clinton for not helping every poor person in East Timor or Bangledesh or Africa?  Of course not, but then the Church is the target here, not just Pius XII.

        Then Bradley goes on to further crucify Pius XII by relating one man's point of view - Cornwell's - that Pius was selfish and power-hungry and didn't care and further faulted the Pope for not speaking out even though countless Jews publicly thanked Pius XII after the war. Then Bradley went back to Reigner and confronted him with these facts that many Jewish organizations including his own World Jewish Congress profusely expressed their gratitude, and Reigner sheepishly said, "well this was because we were all interested in improving relations between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church." Bradley then syllogized it as a political ploy. Talk about doublespeak! If the majority of the Jews felt Pius had not been a friend to the Jews do you think in any way they would have openly praised this Italian Pope? No way! Remember, no one was holding a gun to their heads when they gave thanks to Pius XII. They had nothing to gain temporally by thanking him, only peace of mind that they were grateful for all he did. Still Bradley continues the character assassination by finding a disgruntled old Jewish woman who was one of 1,000 Jews deported in Rome. She was one of the few survivors. But Settimia Spezzichino's bitterness was still very apparent as she lambasted the 260th successor of Peter, saying "We were right under his window...Nobody came, not even to save a child...he should have risked himself to speak out...it is unpardonable." She was there, but she didn't know the true situation for she was very young. She was there, but she didn't understand that Pius XII himself was a prisoner within the Vatican for the Nazis occupied Rome at that time. She was there, but she didn't understand all of the behind the scenes work Pius and his staff were doing to save countless other Jews that weren't quite so obvious. She was there, but didn't realize the Third Reich had placed the refugees near the Vatican as a trap, to see if Pius would show his hand and attempt to rescue them or speak for them. Had he, he undoubtedly would not only have not saved the 1,000 but put in jeopardy the countless other Jews in Rome and throughout Europe who he endeavored to save during his pontificate. For if the Nazis could have gained proof of Pius' involvement they could have commandeered the Vatican itself and confiscated confidential records which detailed places where Jews were hiding or to be hidden. By his silence, he saved countless others. But CBS never even considered that. Strange, for a news organization that supposedly prides itself on integrity and accuracy, they would overlook such obvious facts.

        Bradley then proceeded to take out of context a letter from Pius' Secretary of State Cardinal Luigi Maglione, who died in 1944, to the German Ambassador in protest against the deportations of the Jews. The letter in effect said that in reply to the German delegate's response of what was the Holy See going to do about it, the cardinal said the Church was not going to jeopardize the Catholics in Germany for Pius and the cardinal knew that Hitler was looking for anything he could against the Pope to turn the people of Germany against the Church, a faith Hitler himself had long abandoned in bitterness. As Father Gumpel then explained numerous times to Bradley, that something of that nature taken out of context would seem as a condemnation of Pius but that could be indicative of anyone if one takes things out of context. This would even apply to the Bible. But rather than accepting that, Bradley did what so many liberals are fond of doing; he launched into another attack on another front. This time it dealt with Pius' request of the American military not to send black troops to Rome after the war because of documented problems with many raping the Italian women. Bradley, himself an African American, played on this in trying to associate a prejudice by Pius to blacks, but Father Gumpel exasperatingly backed the holy pontiff by saying the Pope was merely trying to protect the virginity of the young ladies of Rome and that Pius was concerned not just for black soldiers but white U.S. soldiers as well. Having served as an Information Officer in the United States Air Force during the Viet Nam era, this editor can attest to the amoral animal instincts of service men who have little consideration for others but take being in the military as a license to do whatever they want, sort of a "to the victors go the spoils" mentality. Still, Ed Bradley has a penchant for taking things out of context, as does John Cornwell in order for it to fit their arguments. It is no different from those who interpret the bible the way they want to see it. Pat Ludwa wrote in his column last Thursday about the great danger of those three words, "well, I think..." and that is exactly what Bradley and Cornwell have done with no veritable proof to substantiate their character assassination of a good, holy, beleaguered Pontiff who, because of his piety and aloofness from others and his unwillingness to designate, took it all on his own shoulders. Today those shoulders are bruised and bloodied by the cross of accusation and slurs.

        Speaking of shoulders, His Holiness John Paul II is looking more stooped over than ever but his spirits are strong as he begins this historic "Jubilee Journey" in retracing the footsteps of Jesus. Yesterday he stood on the very same spot Moses did in looking out over the Jordan Valley toward Jerusalem and Bethlehem from Mt. Nebo. Aided by a Franciscan priest, the Holy Father gazed out at the same sight on a platform above St. George Greek Orthodox Church on Mt. Tabor - looking toward Israel and recalling the passage of Numbers 27: 12-14 in which Moses was allowed to look out on but never set foot in the promised land. Today the Vicar of Christ becomes the first Roman Pontiff in thirty-six years to set foot in Israel since Pope Paul VI's abbreviated visit in 1964. And yet, once again, Clinton is again trying to upstage the Pope. It happened during the Holy Father's historic trip to Cuba in January of 1998. You remember, that same week the media gave it scant notice because Clinton was at the heart of the prurient controversy going on in Washington D.C. with the scandalous Monica Lewinsky affair. Now, once again he's trying to take headlines away from the Supreme Pontiff during the latter's most important week of his glorious pontificate. For some reason Clinton chose this week to go to South Asia and Pakistan, India and Bangledesh. For security reasons he chose not to go to the latter but pledged his support for the poor beleaguered people there. Think about it, if he doesn't save all those poor downtrodden ones will Clinton be accused of "not doing enough to save the people" as Pius was? If not, why not? Oh yes, we forgot, it's a double standard where blame only belongs to the Church! Why not? After 2000 years, the Church relates very well with her Founder who submitted to the scourging at the pillar and today that pillar - His Church - remains the world's whipping post! But through it all the Church and Pope remain the Pillars of Promise and Peace!

       Because of the smear job Cornwell, Bradley et alii fired at the Church on Sixty Minutes this past Sunday night, the proud and hauty CBS eye has been sullied. By its use of yellow journalism the once-mighty CBS eye is now black and blue!

Michael Cain, editor

For previous editorials this year, go to PAST CATHOLIC PewPOINTS

March 21, 2000
volume 11, no. 57

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