The Pope, the Jews, and the Church

 Ruth King remembers the embrace of the Catholic Church when so many others turned their backs on the downtrodden. Photo: the Vatican

NEW YORK, March 15, 2013 - Sometimes (maybe too often) a piece of writing comes along that says it better than I ever could.

So what follows is Ruth S. King’s analysis of those recent dramatic moments at the Vatican, plus a review of a surprising past. Ruth is a member of the executive committee at AFSI (Americans for a Safe Israel). She writes for OUTPOST and Family Security Matters. Her blog is distributed to a wide international audience.

Ruth King’s Report:

The Catholic Church has chosen a new Pope and the caterwauling of non-adherents that are disappointed that the Church rejects “liberation theology” is sickening.

Let me say at the outset. I like and respect my fellow “infidels” as Catholics are called by the Jihad. My own life has intersected in many ways with Catholics.

My father left Europe and went to Bolivia, a Catholic nation which offered refuge to more Jews than Canada. My brother and I were born there and like the thousands upon thousands of Jews who found a life in the Catholic nations of South America, we were treated well and with respect for our heritage and religion. We attended a Catholic school there where the only transgression was an occasional tug at my pig tails….mostly carried out by my kid brother and his friends.

I do not want to revisit the dark days of the Vatican and the Jews of Europe. I prefer to remember the roles of many priests who helped to save and hide Jews. Priests like Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty, ( J. P. Gallagher‘s book The Scarlet Pimpernel of the Vatican ) a real life Irish Catholic priest who saved thousands of Jews and Allied prisoners of war in Nazi occupied Rome.

I think of Catholics like Irena Sendler, Odoardo Focherini, a journalist, Père Marie-Benoît, born Pierre Péteul, was a Capuchin Franciscan friar; also Monsignor Francesco Repetto in Genoa, Reverend Bruno Reynders (Pere Bruno), a Catholic Belgian Monk, and Frank Foley, a British secret service agent… only a handful of the heroic Catholics who risked all to save thousands of Jews.

The role of Irish Catholics who piloted ships and planes to Palestine is epic. Prominent Catholics in America such as Hugh Carey, Paul O’Dwyer, and his brother, New York’s 100th Mayor William O’Dwyer (who organized the first Israel Day Parade in New York) openly supported Zionism and the advent of Israel.

Less known is the role of the late Francis Cardinal Spellman, Catholic Archbishop of New York, who influenced the United Nations decision in 1949 to admit Israel to UN membership.( In 1949, Charles Silver, president of Beth Israel Hospital, former president of the New York City Board of Education, asked Cardinal Spellman to issue a statement supporting Israel’s application for membership in the United Nations. Cardinal Spellman replied: “I will do something that may mean a great deal more. ” What Cardinal Spellman did, according to Mr. Silver, was to contact Latin American and other delegations with a suggestion that they vote for Israel’s admission. When the vote was taken, in May of 1949, it was 37 to 12 in favor of Israel’s application.

My husband graduated from the Jesuit St. Peter’s College in Jersey City where he never encountered anything but sensitivity and empathy and a deep sorrow for the Holocaust.

The late Cardinal O’Connor, who lit a candle in St. Patrick’s Cathedral on every anniversary of Kristallnacht, left a sickbed with fever to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht in 1988, an event memorialized with bells, candles and prayers in Catholic churches throughout America.

A few months later I was honored to be a guest at a dinner at the private residence behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral where the cardinal expressed his commitment to Jews and Israel.

We may not agree with some of their doctrinal convictions…but they do not chop heads off dissidents, they don’t erupt into violent orgies at perceived insults. Catholics are beleaguered by the same jihadists that are driving Christians out of the Middle East, and that continue to harass them in every Moslem country in the world.

I welcome, respect and salute the choice…their choice… of Pope and I pray that he continues the crucial work of reconciliation and amity between Jews and Catholics that is so critical to our survival.


I gladly offer my tribute to everything Ruth says, and given the strength, some day I will tell the story of our rescue, so much of which is still indebted to the Church in Toulouse, France.

Jack Engelhard, a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, his memoir Escape From Mount Moriah, and Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist, Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer, brings his words to the Communities page covering all topics, with special focus on the absurdity of human behavior and reaches around the globe.

Read more Jack Engelhard, A Novelist’s View of the World

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Jack Engelhard

Jack Engelhard enjoys international fame as a novelist for such moral dilemma bestsellers as The Bathsheba Deadline, The Girls of Cincinnati, and the classic Indecent Proposal, which was turned into film starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore. His memoir Escape From Mount Moriah has been acclaimed for excellence and a movie version was an official selection at CANNES. Slot Attendant – A Novel About A Novelist is Engelhard’s partly autobiographical expose about the trials of making it as a writer. Engelhard’s journalism covers all topics, with special focus on  the absurdity of human behavior, and reaches around the globe. He can be contacted at


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