DAILY CATHOLIC     TUESDAY     October 13, 1998     vol. 9, no. 200

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- As he pronounced the canonization of Edith Stein, Pope John Paul II prayed "that her witness will serve to reinforce the bridge of understanding between Jews and Christians." He also asked "all men and women of good will" to join him in the prayer that there could "never again" be an atrocity like the Holocaust.

          Edith Stein, who died at Auschwitz on August 9, 1942, had been beatified by Pope John Paul in May 1987. Last year a Vatican investigation resulted in the official approval of a miracle attributed to her intercession: the inexplicable healing of a young American girl who had been accidentally poisoned.

          Edith Stein was born into a Jewish family, and converted to Catholicism after establishing herself as a formidable young philosopher. She entered the Carmelite order, taking the name Sister Theresa Benedicta of the Holy Cross. She was living in Holland when the bishops of that country condemned Nazi racial policies, and in retaliation the Nazi government rounded up Jewish-born Catholics and took them into the extermination camps.

          Pope John Paul said that the feast of St. Theresa Benedicta- Edith Stein should be an occasion for Catholics to recall the Holocaust, "that terrible plan to eliminate a people-- a plan which cost the lives of millions of our Jewish brothers and sisters." Toward that end, the Holy Father said:

          "For the love of God and of man, once again, profoundly moved, I raise my voice to cry, 'Never again let there be such a criminal initiative, for any ethnic group, any people, any race, anywhere in the world!"

          The Pope also dwelt at length on the philosophical work of Edith Stein, emphasizing her contributions to the proper understanding of human reason. Cautioning against the assumption that "truth is the opinion held by the greatest number of people," he said that "truth and love require one another." Edith Stein, he said, had taught: "Do not accept anything as truth if it lacks love; and do not accept as love anything which lacks truth."

          Despite the celebration, some Jewish groups protested the act as slap in their face and a reversal in Jewish-Catholic relations.

          The Holy Father called St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, nee Edith Stein, "an eminent daughter of Israel and a faithful daughter of the Church." The saint was killed in the Nazi death camp Auschwitz after Jewish converts to Christianity were rounded up in the Netherlands. "In the martyr, Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, so many differences meet and are resolved in peace," said the Pope.

          Ephraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem criticized the canonization. "[Stein] could in no way symbolize the Jewish martyrs of the Holocaust because she chose to leave Judaism," he said. The canonization "sends the worst possible message to Catholics all over the world -- that is, that the Jews that the Catholic Church likes the best are those who have left Judaism."

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

October 13, 1998       volume 9, no. 200


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