I was listening, on and off, to Today this morning. Somewhere in a news bulletin I thought I heard:
“US President Barack Obama has condemned the shooting of two American airmen. He described it as an “outrageous act”, and pledged to “ensure that all the perpetrators are brought to justice”
I’m sure they will leave no turn unstoned to discover the motive.
Then I heard Evan Davis discussing the Pope’s extraordinary decision to forgive the Jews. More on that later.
I avoided Jeremy Bowen. The programme ended with Justin Webb’s interview with a glottal-stopping expert on ‘gigs for despots’ by the likes of Beyonce who get zillions of dollars for two-song sets for sons of sheikhs. Say that wiv your teef out. To his credit, Justin mentioned double standards, where celebs “Make a lot of fuss about playing in Israel.” Then he said, I thought somewhat reflectively, “It’s cooler to play for an Arab dictator than it is to play in Israel.”
For reasons that I won’t go into, my late father always felt deeply uncomfortable about the Catholic church’s theological condemnation of the Jewish race. So I had more than a passing interest in the latest decision by Pope Benedict to reinterpret the matter. Oddly, this item is omitted from the Today website running order, so I’ve transcribed the whole thing and posted in the comments field so as not to bore you with it here.
This issue has always troubled people particularly because, as even the Guardian acknowledges
“Anti-Jewish Catholic doctrines such as the claim that the Jews murdered Christ were said to have ideologically underpinned nazism. Vatican officials allegedly helped Nazis escape Europe after the war.”
So. No small matter. At the end of the piece, Evan asks, ‘ if the Pope is able to ‘reinterpret’ such a thing theologically, how could such a big mistake have been made for a couple of centuries?’
Now we’re getting somewhere, I thought. But no. We aren’t going to get a straight answer to that, especially with such gentle questioning.
There is, however, another question this papal uturn begs. If it’s so easy for a Pope to turn such a fundamental theological matter upon its head, what’s to stop another Pope reverting to default position at some future date? This was touched upon in the Guardian piece.
“Disquiet that the apology was a beautiful gesture but a theological mistake bubbled to the surface last week.
Echoing widespread concern from liberal as well as conservative theologians, the Bishop of Como, Alessandro Maggiolini, said: “In whose name, exactly, is the holy father asking pardon? He is relying on a group of experts, but tomorrow another group of experts might come up with different examples.”
And how well will it go down with the other antisemites of the world?
“Other churchmen said the gesture would be seen by Muslims as a sign of weakness and by secular enemies as a cue to launch further attacks.”
What is my point? I’m not sure. It’s all verbal chip paper anyway, all forgotten by the next day.