Philip Lawler, editor-in-chief of Catholic World News and editor of the Catholic World Report magazine, said in the announcement of his candidacy that he knows that his chances of winning are slim, but that "someone must present the people of Massachusetts with a reasoned and reasonable alternative to the policies and programs which Senator Kennedy advances."
Kennedy, a Catholic who has held his Senate seat for 37 years, has been criticized by social conservatives and many Catholics for advocating programs contrary to the Church's moral teachings, including abortion. The 48-year-old Harvard graduate added that he was also motivated, not just by Kennedy's views on social issues, but also by the bloated federal government that Kennedy represents.
"For 37 years he has promoted, supported, and defended government programs and policies that have burdened American households through taxation," Lawler said, "choked American enterprise through regulation, eroded American sovereignty through entangling international treaties and alliances, and endangered American family life through meddlesome social engineering."
Lawler also criticized the Republican Party in Massachusetts for failing to provide voters with an alternative. Calling himself a lifelong Republican, he said he was seeking the seat under the banner of the conservative Constitution Party because the Massachusetts GOP was "marked by cronyism, elitism, ineptitude, and the complete absence of discernible moral principles" by abandoning the party's foundation of fiscal and social conservatism.
So far, no Republican has stepped forward for the difficult task of challenging Kennedy in November 2000. Asked if he would drain conservative votes away from the Republican candidate, Lawler said, "I'm no longer a Republican so I'm not in the business of worrying about whether I hurt the Republican Party."
In order to better understand the issues involved, ZENIT interviewed Antonio Gaspari, author of the recent book "The Jews, Pius XII and the Black Legend," a work published in Spanish and Italian, which will be translated into other languages over the next few months, which tells the stories of many Jews who were saved from the Holocaust thanks to the help of Pius XII and the Catholic Church.
ZENIT: Controversy has broken out over the recently published book "Hitler's Pope," by British journalist John Cornwell, which accuses Pius XII of being an anti-Semite and not having helped saved the Jews during World War II. You have interviewed hundreds of people to write your own book about Pius XII's activity to save the Jews during this same period. What surprises about the differences between your vision and Cornwell's?
ANTONIO GASPARI: What is most surprising about Cornwell's work is to see how he has been diligent in not quoting the authorized and extremely representative testimonies of very many Jewish personalities in support of Pius XII. In 1940, Albert Einstein wrote in "Time" magazine that, in face of the Nazi barbarism, "only the Church remained standing to halt the progress of Hitler's campaigns to do away with truth." Einstein went on to say that, "in the past I never felt any interest for the Church, but now I feel great love and admiration for her, as the Church was the only one with the courage and tenacity to support intellectual truth and moral freedom. I must admit that what I once despised, I now praise unconditionally."
Neither does Cornwell take into consideration the statements of support for Pius XII from personages like Golda Meir and Isaak Herzog, two of the founders of the State of Israel. Not to mention the thousands of Bishops, priests, men and women religious, and convinced (lay) Catholics who risked and lost their life to protect Jews from the Nazi persecution, and whose names today are inscribed in the Wall of Honor of the street in Jerusalem leading to Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Holocaust. This honor is reserved for the "Just among Nations," the highest recognition given by the Israeli Parliament to all those who saved the life of one or more Jews destined to extermination camps."
Consequently, "Hitler's Pope" ignores the testimonies of men and women who today, not only are considered Fathers of the State of Israel, but also distinguished contributors to Jewish culture and science in this century.
ZENIT: What about all the research Cornwell did in the Vatican archives?
GASPARI: Cornwell says he spent months studying in Rome, that is why I am surprised that he didn't consider the case of Israel Zoller, for example, the chief Rabbi of Rome during the period (of World War II)who, moved by Pius XII's affection for the Jewish people, converted to Catholicism and took the baptismal name Eugene, in honor of Pius XII, whose name was Eugenio Pacelli.
In doing research of this kind, Cornwell and those who accuse Pius XII ... should have discovered that the Vatican did not request all these testimonies; rather, these came spontaneously from people who wanted to thank the Pope for what he did for them. Was there any other personality in the world during those years who received higher recognition from the Jewish people?
ZENIT: But Cornwell says that he bases the book on documents kept in the Vatican Secretariat of State.
GASPARI: I think that on this point the British author is simply telling lies. He says he spent months studying in the Vatican Archives and as it turns out, he didn't even spend three weeks in the Secretariat of State, and he didn't come every day, either. Cornwell says he has seen documents relating to the period prior to the War, but the fact is, he was only able to analyze those that preceded Pius XII's pontificate -- up to 1922. He stated that he found an exclusive document that proved Pope Pacelli's anti-Semitism, but this turns out to be only one letter whose content he distorts in a vulgar way and which, moreover, had already been published in Italy seven years earlier. All this does not speak in his favor. What's more, I have the impression that in his determination to get the "scoop" of his life, he published a sensationalist book. Cornwell does no more than republish the calumnies that have been leveled against Pius XII since the beginning of the 60s, when a theatrical work appeared against him entitled 'The Vicar.'
ZENIT: Then, why has this book provoked so much controversy?
GASPARI: I think that some groups do not like John Paul II's great popularity and, therefore, in recent times, they have tried to sell scandalous books against the Catholic Church. I don't think the publishers are very interested in finding out the professionalism of these accusations; what is important is to criticize the papacy and the Vatican. Moreover, this guarantees controversy and coverage in the press. It would seem that Cornwell's book is geared to this end. ZE99100701
Prosecutor Celvin Galindo, speaking from an undisclosed location in the United States, told a local radio station that he believed that "in reaching the end of the case I would run a very great risk." He added that the Guatemalan government seemed unwilling to see the investigation through to the end.
Auxiliary Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi Conedera was killed at his home in Guatemala City in April 1998, just two days after releasing a human rights report that blamed most deaths in the country's 36-year civil war on the military. Although the investigation focused mainly on a priest living at the bishop's residence as the prime suspect, human rights groups and Catholic leaders said more attention should be paid to the military connection.
The first judge and prosecutor overseeing the case were forced to resign after international complaints that they had gone out of their way to ignore evidence the army might be involved. The second judge in the case resigned in March after one month presiding over the investigation and fled to Canada, saying he had received death threats after authorizing investigation into political motives.
Before resigning, Galindo had collected blood samples from various suspects, including soldiers seen near the bishop's house around the time of the slaying, and had asked the US FBI to conduct DNA analyses.
Independent human rights activist Helen Mack Chang said that just as Galindo had begun to build scientific evidence against those involved in the case, "the pressure began, the death threats, and he had to withdraw. It is very sad."