“The BBC is right to recognise that the libel that Catholics said and did nothing against Nazism is precisely that, a collective libel. I am grateful to them for doing so.”--Lord Alton of Liverpool.
So reported the Catholic Herald (UK) on Friday, 9th of December 2016 after the BBC admitted it greatly underestimated the Catholic Church's opposition to Hitler during the Shoah.
The BBC’s internal watchdog has found that a programme wrongly accused the Catholic Church of “silence” about the Holocaust.
After Pope Francis’s visit to Auschwitz in July, BBC One’s 6pm news bulletin carried a report which stated: “Silence was the response of the Catholic Church when Nazi Germany demonised Jewish people and then attempted to eradicate Jews from Europe.”
In response, the cross-bench peer Lord Alton of Liverpool and Fr Leo Chamberlain, the former headmaster of Ampleforth, made an official complaint.
Nearly six months later, the BBC’s editorial complaints unit has now concluded that the item was unfair. According to the unit, the BBC reporter “did not give due weight to public statements by successive popes or the efforts made on the instructions of Pius XII to rescue Jews from Nazi persecution, and perpetuated a view which is at odds with the balance of evidence.”
This is not an isolated incident. It seems that history was not only unfair toward the Jews leading up to the Shoah, it has been the same toward the Catholic Church ever since the Holocaust ended. While some of this started with Jews who demanded to know where the Church's call for justice and peace was during the years that Hitler's extermination machine was in operation, the answers and subsequent good relations that have followed since between the Jews and the Catholic Church have met with deaf ears by many in the secular world.
In some instances, anti-Semitism became replaced by anti-Catholicism, and as the Church released details about what it had done during the years of the Holocaust (albeit too slowly even for many Jews who are participants in the current Jewish-Catholic dialogue process), the evidence was too often met with unfounded skepticism by some.
Jehovah's Witnesses have been all too eager to repeat the unfounded skepticism as fact in its publications, from its platforms, and from the mouths of its door-to-door preachers who regularly use the Catholic Church as a figurative "whipping boy" for all that is evil and Satanic.
While joint efforts between Judaism and the Catholic Church have revealed that the Church's response to the Shoah was indeed inconsistent, it was definitely not non-existent. Despite the evidence that suggests more could have been done or that what was done could have been handled far differently, it is also acknowledged today that much did indeed happen as the Church attempted to come to grips and deal with an unthinkable and volatile situation.
While the response of the Church during the Shoah may have definitely been a mixed-bag of sorts, it was far from silent and complicit. As a Jew I am not clearing the Church of all past sins, so to speak, but on the other hand sometimes all it takes to be a party to a lie is to avoid telling a detail that could change a claim commonly made. The BBC, like others, has made the effort to not be a party to a lie.
Though stranger things have happened, it is not likely that the Governing Body or the average Jehovah's Witness will follow the same path and change their song about their favorite whipping boy. The problem for them now, however, is that even more people will see through their disparaging comments about Catholics and likely feel even less inclined to accept other things they teach as truth.