DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     September 30, 1999     vol. 10, no. 186


To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO
          Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

        Today Pat refutes the one-sided two-and-a-half hour PBS special aired Tuesday night on Pope John Paul II titled Pope John Paul II: The Millennial Pope. The program was a travesty to every Catholic and could very well have been written and produced by a coalition from Planned Parenthood, the militant Jewish League in Los Angeles, Catholics for a Free Choice, Call To Action, and a liberal Jesuit dissident who cannot let go of liberation theology. It was so far left it reeked of propaganda against the Vicar of Christ, carefully couched in unsubstantiated accusations that left the viewer believing the lies. Rather than being an objective overview of the "Millennial Pope" it should have been called "Minimizing the Pope." That's truth in advertising which PBS failed badly just as they failed miserably in portraying the true essence of the man until the final fifteen minutes when they tried to justify all the bad-mouthing with the only truth of the program - the strong, undying faith of a humble and obedient man who is the shepherd for one billion people and considers himself the humble "servant of the servants." That is the gist of Pat's column today entitled, Slanted journalism!.

        If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at KnightsCross@aol.com

For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives

Slanted journalism!

        I was really looking forward to watching the PBS' special on Pope John Paul II, "The Millenial Pope." I knew that there would be some controversies, some speculation. But I was not prepared for what I saw. This is my impression of the show that was truly slanted journalism!

        One of the first things I heard was someone calling the Pope a king working to save his kingdom. Alright, I thought, one person who misinterprets who this man is, and what he stands for. But it got worse.

        Next we hear of a strict father, suppressing his son's emotions, scarring him. One friend told how, when they were playing soccer, Karol (who was an excellent goalie) suddenly left because he promised his father he'd be home by four. A commentator made this appear to be oppressive, bordering on abuse. I saw an obedient son. One who felt his obligation to his father was more important than a game with friends.

        One poet, reviewing a poem to his mother "The White Grave" said that it was Karol's longing for his mother, and wishing his love for her would end. But then….recognizing that he's opening himself up, suppresses his emotions and closes with a terse…."God grant her eternal rest."

        What I got from the poem was a son, who sees his mother's love, even in death. Not a son who feels he has to hide his emotions. Asking God to grant her eternal rest is not the phrase of an uncaring, unfeeling child.

        But the real slander began with their assessment of his activities during World War II. They first spoke of how the Church set up the Holocaust, that by specific teaching, the Church encouraged the oppression and death of the Jews. The history of the tensions between Christians and Jews is sown in 33 AD Jerusalem. Far too long ago to go into detail. The Cardinal Patriarch of Poland had a letter read that said that Jews were a danger to Poland, to Europe, etc. But no 'official' Church teaching was ever shown where the CHURCH advocated such a thing. One fellow told of his earliest memories of 'Catholic' children in Krakow, chasing him so they could beat up "the dirty Jew." Again, no official Church document showing this activity was ever encouraged. The fault of the Holocaust, they imply, lies with the Catholic Church.

        One person even spoke of Saint Maximillian Kolbe's publication, "Knights of the Immaculata," as an anti-semitic rag, Even though, again, there is ample evidence that he did hide and care for Jews in danger. Hardly the actions of an anti-semite.

        They did make one concession, they did admit that Pope Pius XII DID do a lot to help Jews. But then turned around and condemned him for his silence. Again, I saw historical revisionism and narrowness. Everyone, including the Chief Rabbi of Rome, knew what would happen if Pope Pius XII openly condemned Hitler, and the Holocaust. (They conveniently forgot to mention how Pius XII set up a collection of gold to give the Germans who promised they would be left alone if they gave them a set amount of gold.) They forgot to see what happened when other Bishops DID openly condemn the Nazi's. Four Dutch Bishops did so in the latter days of World War II. The Germans, who were busy fighting the Allies, took enough time to, not only step up their deportation of Jews (Anne Frank may be alive today if they remained silent), but arrest and execute anyone else they wanted to. The four bishops were executed as were many others, among them Saint Edith Stein.

        No, for the PBS producers, this only made Karol feel guilty. One author, writing a book on non-Jews who helped Jews, interviewed a number of people who knew him. They all spoke of him doing what he could to save Jews. (He worked in a quarry, hardly a position to aid many people.) When asked the Pope if he had helped any Jews, the Pope answered, "NO." Now, to be kind to the author, he may have taken this as the definitive answer. However, he had volumes of testimonies saying that the Pope did indeed help Jews. Could it be that, regardless of what he did, he felt it wasn't enough? We all have heard stories of 'heroes' who said that they didn't do anything. That is the mark of a real hero.

        Now, this guilt ridden, emotionally scarred Pope then set out to 'atone' for his sins by re-uniting Jewish children with their families after being hidden in convents and seminaries. (Those dirty anti-Jewish Catholics), going to the Jewish Synagogue in Rome, and making it clear that anti-Semitism is a sin...that you cannot hate Jews (you can't hate…period) and be a Catholic.

        The majority of the show finished, I couldn't stand any more. No doubt, this 'guilt-ridden' Pope, emotionally scarred by an oppressive father, who sought God only in as much as an emotionally scarred person will to turn to fantasy to 'shield' him from the world.

        John Paul II has seen the best and worst of humanity. He has seen our cruelty disguised as angels of light, and our glories, covered as in clay. He has seen the truth of humanity, good and bad. And he knows the only way out for mankind's woes. But I doubt that is what the documentary showed. Rather, it showed a mixed up person, who wants to remain in the safety of an 'oppressive' Church. A person trying to hold onto a (supposed) medieval Church in the 20th century. I'm sure it made the dissidents feel secure their opposition to him. But I have to agree with Archbishop Fulton Sheen, who felt John Paul II would go down as one of our greatest Popes, regardless of what PBS thinks or unfairly portrayed.

        As for my impression of this two-and-a-half hour put-down of the Pope, I was not impressed. Neither, I would suspect, were loyal and devout Catholics who know the truth about this great and compassionate man of God. One thing for sure: Catholic bashing is alive, well, and growing.

    Pax Christi, Pat

September 30, 1999       volume 10, no. 186


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