Pope Dead; Give Israel and the Jews Their Property

I'm calling on the Catholic Church to open up the Vatican vaults and return all the stolen Jewish property that they have confiscated over the centuries - to honor the memory of the "good" relations Pope John Paul II fostered.

Ariel Natan Pasko

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Karol Wojtyla, better known as Pope John Paul II, it is said, had good relations with Jews back in his native Poland, in the "old days". And although I might not be the most in favor of inter-reliMIngious dialogue (I believe religions exist because of their differences and blurring those differences is an untruth), this Pope had done much to further good Catholic-Jewish relations. That's why I'm calling on the Catholic Church to open up the Vatican vaults and return all the stolen Jewish property that they have confiscated over the centuries - to honor the memory of those "good" relations Pope John Paul II fostered.

Vast libraries of rare stolen Jewish books (and often unique manuscripts) exist in the Vatican. How do I know? Because, occasionally scholars (Jewish or otherwise) are allowed access to them, to do research. The Vatican is so morally corrupt, that it's not embarrassed to admit that they have the stolen goods, and even relishes the opportunity to show them off (to the "right" scholars) at times.

Mind you, not all scholars have access to the Vatican's archives, but access isn't the issue, in any case. Justice and restoration of property rights is the issue. At a time when Eastern European governments in the post-Communist era are grappling with the return of Jewish art and other property to its rightful owners (property that was stolen from Jews during the Nazi and Communist eras), how can the Vatican sit in self-righteous thievery and turn a deaf ear to the demand to return to the Jewish people its rightful inheritance?

The last thousand years of Church history is strewn with blood libels, riots, pogroms, expulsions and the most evil murderous attacks against Jewish communities, many of which were carried out under the behest of local parish priests. Inquisitions, forced conversions, outright murder - these are the memories that the Jewish people carry with them of Christian "love". Why compound these sins by stealing the Jews' heritage as well?

Though there were numerous book (Jewish holy book) burning parties sponsored by the Catholic Church in 12-15th century Europe, of which the Talmud was a favorite; often the ransacked Jewish libraries were carted off; and many made their way to the Vatican. Though the Church didn't want Jews to have their "divine knowledge", somehow they sensed something special in those books and couldn't bring themselves to destroy them all. The same holds true for other Jewish ritual objects, such as menorahs, Torah scrolls, etc. It has even been rumored that the Church inherited vessels stolen from the destroyed Jerusalem Temple, from the Roman Empire-era conquest of Judea.

Israel has an appropriate address for restitution, the National Library at the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It's about time the Catholic Church repent, admit its sins, open up its vaults to inspection, return the stolen property, ask forgiveness and promise never to do such a horrendous thing again. This type of cultural pillage can never be tolerated, not against Jews and not against others. Nothing less should be expected from a so-called "religious" institution.

Now is the time, when "Mr. Infallible" has just died, that the Vatican can take the plunge to right a wrong that's been perpetrated against the Jewish people for too long.

Karol Wojtyla is no more. His cronies at the Vatican should do the right thing and order the return of the stolen loot to its rightful inheritors. Show everyone how John Paul II influenced you. It might be harder than turning Mother Teresa into a saint, but it will get you much needed credit from the "World of Truth".

(c) 2005/5765 Pasko