September 30th the Catholic Church of France took the first step in 57 years to seek absolution for themselves in assisting the Nazis in killing Jews. It was printed in the paper and shown on TV.(1) The spokesman for the Church asked for G-d's forgiveness and that of the Jews.
Unfortunately, those Jews who could have given forgiveness are all dead, so the deed stands. As for G-d's forgiveness, that is something the Church can petition G-d for but can only be determined in the next world. As Jews, we know that some things can be forgiven but punishment cannot be avoided. Jews who are alive today, most of whom very likely can cite relatives who were killed because they were Jewish are themselves in no position to grant absolution. While they surely are connected to the chain of pain, nevertheless, they were not the primary victims.
In today's political arena one aggressive group may ask their victim for absolution - forgiveness - friendship - and the living group may respond with a: "Yes". But, on the human level, part of the "Yes" is fear. If they say: "No", their oppressors will once again start up the killing machine. So, they say: "Yes" in the hope that their oppressors will indeed seek friendship now and forever. The confession of conscience is, however, meaningless since even as they offer apologies, the French government is selling the nuclear wherewithal to blow Israel into dust.
Seven days later the Red Cross admitted its failing to condemn Holocaust. It turned over 60,000 World War II documents on 30 reels of microfilm to an Israeli archive, Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Washington and the Jewish Documentation Center in Paris.(2) Ten days later the French Medical Association (3) also decided to clear its collective conscience and also asked forgiveness for what they did to French Jewish doctors. They barred Jewish doctors from practicing their profession, putting their Jewish patients at the mercy of Catholic doctors and other doctors who refused to treat them. That soon proved to be no problem as the French turned the Jews over to the German Nazi killing machine. Here too the medical profession played a role as such doctors as Joseph Mengele used Jewish prisoners for hideous experiments.
Given the experience the Jews has had at the hands of Christianity and Islam, (WE) do not hold out much hope. Even as the French priests offer the acknowledgment of former crimes, the Holy See maintains a demand that the Jewish State of Israel give up sovereignty of its Jerusalem and turn it into an International City. (Poignantly, when either Christianity or Islam had conquered the city numerous times, they refused to allow freedom of worship to the other and both denied it to the Jews.
One can speculate on whether G-d will forgive centuries of anti-Jewish horror at the hands of the Church. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the years of Nazi conquest and Holocaust, the after war years when the Church and the Red Cross offered the escaping Nazi war criminals safe passage, passports, safe houses, money and, above all, secrecy. When evidence surfaced of their complicity, they admitted nothing. When pressed, they offered damage control expressions of denial.
When a remnant of Jews escaped through the British blockade to the Jewish homeland - Eretz Israel, the Church began a subtle but instant campaign to stop the formation of a Jewish State. Clearly, the resurrection of the Jewish people to prominence in a Jewish State of their own challenged the drumbeat of centuries that the Jews were a cursed people of G-d and Christianity was the authentic heir. Since G-d had ceased speaking to man directly, it would be difficult for the Gentile world (Christian or Muslim) to present their claim to be G-d's chosen....in effect, telling the all-seeing, all-knowing G-d that he picked the wrong people to be a light unto the nations.
When the French priest asked G-d for forgiveness, was that for challenging G-d for his selection of Jews to carry the burden of his message. Jews do not feel it is burden but, given the history of their treatment, can it be described in any other way? A Vichy official was finally brought to trial: Maurice Papon. Just as the trial was to start a three-judge panel released him instead of holding him. The French do not want the real facts of broad French collaboration to see daylight. I would not be surprised to see Papon have a "convenient" heart attack once he was out of prison and free for assassination.
The fingerprints of the same anti-Semitic French government is all over this decision. It is not disconnected from the French deal to help Iran build nukes and missiles to drop them on Israel, Europe, even Russia and the European States that helped them achieve this technology. Those who have perpetrated crimes against the Jewish people and have since died unrepentant no doubt are experiencing the agonies of their earthly practices. Those who today still go along with those hostile to the State of Israel will, no doubt, join their ancestors.
As this is written, I have no forgiveness for the earth's people who gave us warehouses of gassed women's hair, piles of one and half million dead children's shoes, a United Nations whose President's goal is to accommodate the hateful world of Islam while condemning the Jews.
I am aware of the many righteous Christians who work daily on behalf of the Jewish State even when their contributions are not honored with fanfare. These good people are, indeed, G-d's children who will be allowed entre into G-d's Courtyard.
As for the rest this Jew cannot forgive them and I trust that G-d will deal with them. As oft stated in the Bible: "I will bless them that bless you and curse them who curse you." Having your soul cut off from an after-life is no small matter as this G-d promises to do to those who afflict his people.
1. "French Church Issues Apology to Jews On War" NEW YORK TIMES & CNN 10/1/97
2. "Red Cross Admits Failing to Condemn Holocaust" AP NEW YORK TIMES, 10/7/97
3. "French Doctors Ask Pardon for Holocaust Acts" NEW YORK TIMES , (REUTERS) 10/12/97