Many readers may be surprised to learn that I am religious considering my musings about the corrupt nature of the Catholic Church. I was very involved in my church. I stopped being involved when I started to look closely at the history of organized religion. I knew about the part the Church played in the formation of México and was aware of the damage it did to my country over the years. But it wasn’t until I started writing about politics that I realize the extent of corruption in many religious organizations. I stopped being involved but I did not stop believing. I just took my belief, offline, if you will and now practice my faith on a more personal level.
Yesterday I came across an interesting article in The Atlantic about two Jewish children and how the Church baptized them in secret and then hid them from their Jewish families because the Church considered them Christian which precluded them from reuniting with their Jewish family.
The Jewish orphans controversy has been known for years. But what The Atlantic article I read yesterday added to the issue of how the Catholic Church leadership participated in hiding these two children because the Faith believed that Jewish parents were not allowed to raise Catholic children.
When I lived in Europe, specifically in France, I had an interesting interaction with someone that I believed to be a Catholic priest. I was paid a visit by two men one day asking to speak to me. They wanted to know how come I was not tithing to the local Church. I knew that Catholicism is very strong in France but what I was not prepared for was how close the religion works with the French government.
The individuals that paid me a visit surprised me when one looked at a folder full of papers and detailed to me how much I was being paid for working on a project in France. They inquired as to why I had not made my 10% contribution to the local Church, telling me exactly how much I owed the Church. I was taken aback by them knowing, almost to the cent how much I was being paid, how much I had already collected and what I expected to collect from my client while I lived in France finishing the product I was hired to create.
To my knowledge, other than my client and myself, no one else knew the exact details of our contract. I can only surmise that they got the information from the government from tax filings or from my clients directly.
I had never known government officials, much less, religious officials knowing the details of the contracts I worked on. I declined to answer their questions because I indicated to them that I was not Catholic and thus I did not feel I owed the Church a local tithe, or what I refereed to as a tax.
But the encounter left me thinking about how much power the Church has.
This brings us back to The Atlantic article.
The article, The Pope, the Jews, and the Secrets in the Archives, by David Kertzer details the story of several members of the clergy that were arrested in 1953. The story of how the Church kidnapped Robert and Gérald Finaly is well known now. The detail that The Atlantic article adds is what caught my attention.
Up until the article was published the only information known about the kidnapping of the children was the involvement of certain Church officials but not how the pope participated in the cover up.
Because the two World War II orphans were “secretly” baptized, thus under Church doctrine the Jewish children were now Catholic and, thus could not be returned to their Jewish relatives. For years, the Jewish relatives tried to get the two orphans which were hidden from them by Church officials.
According to the article, referencing the recently released Vatican archives of Pope Pius XII, the pope was complicit in hiding the boys from their relatives for months simply because the boys would be subjected to Jewish traditions that may have them abandon their Christian lives.
The Church continues to abuse its power under the guise of protecting the faithful from other religious points of view. This is wrong.