In his 621-page book about Pope Pius X11th, David Ketzer has attempted to answer a troublesome question. Why do the saints often keep their peace in the wake of horrible atrocities committed by governments?
The book is entitled, The Pope at War: The secret history of Pope X11th. Mussolini and Hitler.
I found this book relevant to the times in which we live for various reasons. I am not sure, however, that Ketzer has fully explained the reasons, but he does give us directions.
Ketzer is mainly concerned about the Roman Catholic Church keeping quiet in the wake of murders of Jews, Poles, and other minority tribes in Eastern Europe by the Nazis between 1939-1944.
I want to use this story to illustrate our present predicament of Palestinians as well as our own situation in Zimbabwe. The missionary churches remained silent in Zimbabwe over the issue of white racism during Ian Smith regime, 1965-1979. Similarly, black churches remained silent over the atrocities committed in Matabeleland massacres, 1963-1967.
It was late in the day when the World Council of Churches named apartheid as a sin against the body of Christ in 1971 in New York. At that time Nelson Mandela had served 10 of his 27 year stay in prison.
Similarly, the US evangelical white churches, not only support Israel but are enthusiastic in their support of atrocities committed by that country against Palestinians.
The reasons for silence are uncannily similar.
In 1941 Bishop Von Gallen of Munster, Germany, wrote a detailed condemnation of the murder of more than 200 000 mentally ill Germans by poison gas lethal injection and deliberate starvation. Fearing more scandalisation by Gallen, the Nazis found quieter ways of killing their victims. But Gallen did not get the support of pope Leo X11th.
This part is very interesting as the reader will see below.
Among the atrocities committed by Israelis in Gaza was the bombing of a hospital. A warning was given that patients be evacuated. How the sick and the disabled can be evacuated was not of concern to the Israelis. Nearby, an ambulance transporting some sick patients and surrounded by relatives of the sick was also bombed. Thanks to the new technology, all this was recorded.
The Israelis justified themselves by displaying a schedule they had found in Al Shifa Hospital. The explanation was as ridiculous as any they could find. In the first photograph, there was one machine gun. When the same photo was shown a second time, there were two machine guns. In any case, there was a sign written in English-Medicine Chests. Thirdly, Arabs write from right to left and the Israeli mis-informer was reading from left to right.
If the hospital, which housed 500 patients and 130 children was the head office of Hamas, surely, more rifles and armaments would have been found.
Thus the saints become part, not only of the evil they are messengers of, but participants in the cover up itself.
We also know from other sources that even as we speak, the Israelis, through their British allies at British Petrol, have begun digging for gas and oil under Palestinian soils, to steal the wealth.
Christians are at peace with all that.
The interesting part is that US President Joe Biden begged Israeli prime minister to avoid the monster bombs. Smaller bombs would still do the job nicely, he implored them. US Secretary of State concurred. He begged Al Jazeera to “tone it down” not to show the horrific pictures of atrocities. Please do not miss the import of the situation.
Good people were not concerned about the atrocities, but by their publicity. Please, to do it quietly.
Ketzer says that Pope Leo X11th feared that a direct confrontation with the Nazis would anger them and make things bad for their victims. I have spent sleepless nights studying the issue. How concentration camps and death by gassing could be made less painful has entirely escaped my understanding.
Kertzer says that to most Europeans, it appeared that the Germans under Adolf Hitler would win the war. That is a good reason to be on their good side.
In both cases, the American saints are scared stiff of making Israeli prime minister angry with them. For politicians like Biden, to anger the sinners is to commit political suicide.
A very curious argument is mentioned in passing. Obviously, Kertzer did not realise how important it was. Pope X11th was scared that the allies might bring colored troops, African Americans, and Africans from French colonies into Italy.
This alone is crucial. Pope X11th was as prejudiced against people of color as the devil himself. This may explain another anecdote. When the Nazis marched 1 259 Italian Jews to be housed at the military college outside the Vatican, the German ambassador noted that “the Holy Father (felt) pain beyond all measure…that so many people were made to suffer simply because of their race.” But the ambassador added a curious sentence.
The Holy Father was “particularly shocked that the action took place under the Pope’s windows.”
It is a question a skeptic will ask. Because of the information given prior, his attitude towards people of color, his wish not to alienate the Nazis, was his pain exacerbated by the atrocities or by their proximity to his window?
The Gaza atrocities
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quoted 2 Samuel 15 v3 to broadcast his intention to commit genocide against the Arabs in Gaza. “Now go and attack the Amalekites and destroy everything they have. Do not spare them. Kill men and women, infants, and nursing babies.”
Kertzer did not answer the question he asked. My suggestion is that Kertzer avoided the obvious. Why is it that the Jews who have suffered so much would commit the horrors their parents went through?
The simple answer is that man is by nature a wolf unto man (Thomas Hobbes). It is not so much that he hates evil, but that he hates evil when that evil is committed against him.
How then is it that the US and the European governments jumped to help the Israeli state to commit the atrocities? If white children were being murdered (six thousand bombs in one week) they would see things differently.
How is it then that Kenyan leader William Ruto and many African leaders joined the Israeli bandwagon. “We stand with Israel” as it commits atrocities. (Ruto) The simple answer that they have been bought is not satisfactory. The more probable answer is that they identify with the oppressor.
Zimbabwe’s longtime leader Robert Mugabe so identified with the British that he sent his clothes to be laundered in London for many years. He also wore a fresh rose in his lapel. A British knighthood was his most cherished prize.
That is, until one day, he chased away white farmers, and his knighthood was removed. Then, he realised that in their world, he was never one of them.
Life is full of cruel choices.
*(Ken Mufuka is a Zimbabwean patriot. He writes from the US.)