Pope Francis I in late October shed ten years of good PR on his love for Jews in a stormy phone conversation with Israeli President Itzhak Herzog, The Washington Post reported Thursday. According to a senior Israeli official familiar with the call, Herzog was telling the leader of millions of Catholics about Israel’s horror over the Hamas massacre of babies, children, women, and the elderly on Oct. 7, when the pope interrupted and declared that it is “forbidden to respond to terror with terror.”
A stunned Herzog protested, telling the pope Israel was operating in Gaza to defend its people, and the pope responded that those responsible should be held accountable, but not civilians.
That private call was the first hint Israeli officials received on the pope’s position that completely ignored Hamas’s using civilians as human shields and civilian institutions as storage and launch sites for their rockets. On November 22, at a general audience in St. Peter’s Square, Francis I said that the conflict in Gaza had “gone beyond war. This is terrorism,” meaning the pope was calling the IDF campaign to eliminate Hamas from the Gaza Strip an act of terrorism.
But the pope’s November 22 rebuke of Israel’s efforts to rid the planet of ruthless terrorism resulted in an outcry from pro-Israel groups, reminiscent of the days when the Vatican’s Jew-hatred was not being censored.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, director of global social action for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who has met with this pope three times, said, “The pope, because he is the pope, has to measure his words. To show empathy for Palestinians who lost loved ones in Gaza is a decent thing to do. But what the pope was approaching, and I hope he didn’t get there, was to give a moral equivalency to the medieval butchery (of Hamas) and the acts of a democratic country.”
Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference and a confidant of the pope, denied the charge of false equivalency, saying, “This does not mean putting everyone on the same level. October 7th was a tragedy, full stop. It was a tragedy.”
Meanwhile, the pope never denounced the antisemitic diatribes of his close friend, Egyptian Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo. Following the October 7 Hamas atrocities, the good Sheikh declared that Al-Azhar “salutes with utmost pride the resistance efforts of the proud Palestinian people,” and “supports the hearts and hands of the proud Palestinian people who have imbued us with spirit and faith and restored us to life.”
According to Israel Hayom, the conversation between Herzog and Francis I was so tense, that the Presidential Residence decided not to make it public.
Here’s another thing we’re still waiting on the pope to renounce: in 1946, Adolf Eichmann was captured by the US Army. He managed to escape and hid in Germany, and later in Italy and Switzerland until he received a new passport under the alias of a refugee named Riccardo Klement, and an Argentine visa.
The help to this Satan’s-spawn was provided by German Bishop Alois Hudal, who operated in Rome as the Vatican’s agent for assisting Nazi criminals to escape justice.
In 1963, a controversial play by German playwright Rolf Hochhuth titled, “The Representative, a Christian Tragedy,” portrayed Pope Pius XII as having failed to take action or speak out against the Holocaust. Back then, this was big news. When the play was introduced in Israel, in Hebrew, the late Prof. Yeshayahu Leibowitz suggested there was nothing untoward in the pope’s atrocious behavior: as the leader of the Christian faithful, it was his duty to replace God’s “former bride,” the Jews, with the new bride, the Church. He fulfilled his task meticulously.
On that issue and others, there’s no difference between Pope Francis I and Pope Pius XII. Let’s stop with the phone calls.