Thursday, 12 April 2012

J wire based response from Pell

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Cardinal Pell’s statement on Q&A

April 11, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
Read on for article
Cardinal George Pell, head of the Catholic Church in Australia, was a member of a two man panel on ABC TV’s Q&A on Monday night. He has issued a statement on remarks he made about the Jews being made the Chosen People…later in the program he made a statement that the German people suffered the most in the Holocaust. His statement and the text from the program follow:
Cardinal Pell was fielding questions from the audience along with fellow panelist Richard Dawkins.
Cardinal George Pell has issued the following statement in which he clarifies his viewpoint:
“On ABC1’s “Q & A” program on Monday night, I tried to make a point about the unique place of the Jewish people in human history as the first to receive the revelation of the one true God, while I was being regularly interrupted and distracted by the chairman.

Cardinal Pell with Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence
“Why did the Lord choose the Jewish people and lead them to a Promised Land between the greatest military and cultural powers of the era? Human thinking assumes that if something needs to be done, you go to the powerful. But God did not choose Egypt or any of the Eastern nations, Assyria, Chaldea or Persia, the great powers of the day. Instead he went to a people who at the time of Abraham, were nomads and shepherds, making them over time a great nation.  “Historically” or “culturally” unequal might have been more appropriate than “intellectually”.  My reference to “morally” was interrupted, but as I would never describe the Jewish people at any stage as morally inferior to their pagan neighbours, I was attempting to establish a counter poise to my earlier comment when interrupted.
“I also made some remarks about the way the German people were punished for the Holocaust, which is a crime unique in history for the death and suffering it caused and its diabolical attempt to wipe out an entire people.
“At the back of my mind I was thinking about an answer the Jewish writer David Berlinski gave to atheist Sam Harris on why God did not prevent the Holocaust. Referring to the incredible destruction and loss of life that the Allies inflicted on Germany in the course of the war which Germany started, Berlinski observed that ‘if God did not protect his chosen people precisely as Harris might have wished, He did, in an access of his old accustomed vigor, smite their enemies, with generations to come in mourning or obsessed by shame’.
“This is not to deny the enormous sufferings that the Germans caused to the other peoples of Europe. But Berlinski’s thoughts point us to the mysterious ways in which great crimes are sometimes brought home to those who have committed them.
“My commitment to friendship with the Jewish community, and my esteem for the Jewish faith is a matter of public record, and the last thing I would want to do is give offence to either. This was certainly not my intention, and I am sorry that these points which I tried to make on Q&A on Monday did not come out as I would have preferred in the course of the discussion.”
The text from Q&A:
At about 18 minutes into the program.
Pell:  “Normally if you want something done you go to a busy person because you know they’ll do it.  And so for some extraordinary reason God chose the Jews.  They weren’t intellectually the equal of either the Egyptians or the….
Jones:  “Intellectually?”
Pell: “Morally…
Jones: “How can you know intellectually?”
Pell:  “Because you see the fruits of their civilization.  Egypt was the great power for thousands of years before Christianity.  Persia was a great power, Chaldea.  The poor, the little Jewish people, they were originally shepherds. They were stuck, they are still stuck, between these great powers.”
Jones:  “But that’s not a reflection of your intellectual capacity, is it, whether or not you’re a shepherd.”  (Applause)
Pell: “Well, no it’s not. But it’s a recognition, a reflection, of your intellectual development.  Like many people are very, very clever and not highly intellectual.  But my point is….”
Jones: “Can I just interrupt you there.  Are you including Jesus in that, who obviously was Jewish and was of that community?”
Pell: “Exactly.”
Jones:  “So, intellectually, not up to it?”  (Laughter, followed by applause)
Pell: “That’s a nice try, Tony.  The people in terms of sophistication, the Psalms are remarkable. In terms of their buildings and that sort of thing, they don’t compare with the great powers. But Jesus came not as a philosopher to the elite.  He came to the poor and the battlers, and for some reason he chose a very difficult…but actually they are now, intellectually elite, because over the centuries they have been pushed out of every other form of work.   Jesus I think is the greatest, the son of God, but leaving that aside the greatest man that ever lived.  So I’ve got a great admiration for the Jews but we don’t need to exaggerate their contribution in their early days.”
At about 52 minutes into the program:
Pell:  “Probably no people in history have been punished the way the Germans were.  It’s a terrible mystery”.
Jones: “There would be a very strong argument that the Jews of Europe suffered worse than the Germans”.
Pell:  “Yes, that might be right. Certainly, the suffering in both…with the Jews there was no reason why they should suffer”

Peter Wertheim - ECAJ Executive Director
The executive director of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim told J-Wire: “’There has been an ongoing discussion between the ECAJ and Cardinal Pell’s office following our  expression of serious concern about some of the statements he made on ‘Q & A’ which are deeply problematical from a Jewish perspective, and more generally, and which do not reflect landmark statements affirming the Jewish people and the continuing vitality and validity of Judaism that have emanated from the Catholic Church over many decades.    We welcome as a first step Cardinal Pell’s clarifying statement that he did not intend any offence, and his expression of continuing friendship with the Jewish community and esteem for the Jewish faith.  The ECAJ will be following this up in our ongoing discussions with Cardinal Pell and the Catholic bishops. ”
Yair Miller, President of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies added: “We welcome Cardinal Pell’s clarification concerning some of his remarks. We look forward to the ECAJ’s ongoing dialogue with the Cardinal and Catholic Bishops to clear up those matters still not completely addressed.”



14 Responses to “Cardinal Pell’s statement on Q&A”
  1. Rafael says:
    I don’t particularly care what either Pell or Dawkins has to say, and Jones makes his living by twisting people into making half-finished and sometimes outlandish statement. None of the truncated trio is particularly intelligent or incisive.
    Christianity of all factions has no origins in Judaism and isn’t from Jews or of Jews, that is a malicious myth. Christianity is pagan to its caligulas (little boots), coming originally out of pagan Persian Mithraism. Bishops, Cardinals, and pastors and their ilk are chosen not for intelligence but for solidly following the ‘Party line’. Pell, nor any other Christian, are going to overcome their near 2,000 years of anti-Jewish incalcation and hatred. Both Pell and Dawkins. and I dare say Jones, just ride along with the old mythology and none of them understand Jews or Judaism. Neither do they have a good grasp of history. I doubt if Dawkins ever got a ‘first’ in any of his university studies, and Pell is a pietist and Dawkins an ‘evangelical’ atheist – if that is not too harsh an oxymoron.
    Malicious comments about Jews and Judaism we’ve gotten used to from pseudo-intellectuals and so-called “scholars”, Christians have murdered and dispossessed untold millions of Jews and the only words Jews need to hear from Christians is abject apologies and restitution. Dawkinsian ‘science’ is no science at all and when he make pronouncements outside his field. his opinion is as valuable as the next talkative drunk in the pub.
    • Peter says:
      Rafael, has anyone ever accused you of being intemperate? Maybe, it was the lateness of the hour. Dawkinsian ‘science’??? Do you mean Darwinian? If so … indeed it is science!
  2. Marcus says:
    Dawkins is not in the same league as Hitchens, however Pell was horrific. His commentary on Jews was a disgrace and reinforces my experience that Catholics are the most anti-semitic christians.
  3. John says:
    In referring to people being intellectually challenged surely Pell was in fact talking about himself.
  4. Liat Nagar says:
    Where are all of you coming from in your defence of Cardinal George Pell and your efforts to explain away his comments and excuse his platitudes! Tony Jones did a great job as host of this debate (the debate itself was weak due to the inferior debating skills of both parties) and quite rightly interrupted Pell for clarification of what were some astounding and offensive assertions. Given the nature of the debate, it must be asked why so much attention was given the Jewish people by Pell in the first place. George Pell needs to be brought to account for the malevolent nature of his many comments on the Jewish people. It is astounding that someone with his stature as a religious leader and public figure could so comfortably and arrogantly talk of Jews in the way that he did. He came across as intellectually lazy, more interested in inflicting snide remarks on those not automatically accepting his axioms, and professing rhetorical Christian compassion in platitudes, rather than wisdom and compassion from the heart. The studio audience in the main were in his favour and he played to it. The reason he got into trouble with what he was saying when put in a position to elaborate more clearly, was that what he said came from a bad place. ‘Bullied into being clumsy …’, Rita, I don’t think so. As to ‘Who cares what Pell says …’, Linda: it matters very much what the most senior figure in Australia’s Catholic Church says about Jews; it mattered very much over centuries what the priests in Catholic Churches all over Europe said to their congregations as they incited hatred against Jews that later would culminate in Hitler’s and Nazi Germany’s genocide of Jews, and in fact words themselves are very powerful and should be used with care and caution.
    It is easy in hindsight to ‘clarify’ what you say by rewriting it later, which is what Pell appears to have done now. His clarification is so far removed from what I saw and heard that it’s ridiculous. As for complaining of being regularly interrupted and distracted by the chairman, it needs to be considered that 1. what he was saying was so outrageous that it needed interruption for clarification and/or confirmation, and 2. it’s up to him to use intellectual rigour and discipline to resist distraction. Never at any time during this Q&A session did Cardinal George Pell appear uncomfortable in his demeanour; I, as a Jewish viewer of this programme felt more than uncomfortable at being subjected to his disproportionate and inappropriate assertions.
  5. Jonathan says:
    Congratulations to Jeremy Lawrence above in the photo… standing so tall, so puff chested and officious!
    Hilarious… epic comic timing and a great parody in the tradition of Monty Python.
    Well when in Rome… do as the Romans do… hahahaha!
    The Catholic Churches’ collusion in the holocaust as well as the horrific mandate given the UstaĊĦe is reason enough to mercilessly make fun of Pell and his ilk…
  6. W3b3d1g1 says:
    Well said Cardinal Pell. What a wonderful man. It is clear he speaks a different tune. He had no need for disclaimers or explanation as it was clear what he meant at the time and did this talking about things most people wouldnot dare to challenge . To go head to head against a disrespectful athiest is a definite challenge in this day and age.Dawkins is a very intelligent man but was out of his league with Pell. Although personally I am not a supporter in many of the decions of the religious hierachy, it was pleasing to see someone talk from stand point of true belief and faith. Great television.
  7. Peter says:
    Pell was out of his depth. Weighing up the relative pain of Holocaust victims and Germans was a grotesque exercise. THERE IS NO COMPARISON: The German people were seduced by Hitler, and waged war and genocide. The Jewish deaths were totally unprovoked.
    As Pell admits in this article, he bungled an attempt to reproduce another man’s argument: a strange exoneration of God for The Holocaust. The argument is insulting to all. Of what use was it for the victims of Hitler’s cruelty, that German cities were firebombed? If that is God’s idea of morality, I suggest He sticks to inflicting Tsunamis and Spinabifida, and stop using us as agents for his nastiness.
  8. Lynne Newington says:
    I don’t know when I have ever heard Cardinal Pell, say something he hasn’t had to clarify at a later date.
    Maybe this doesn’t refer to you who are not Catholic, but for those of us who are it’s the norm.
    As far as a better friend, he needs you more than you need him, and drops anything and anyone if it displeases his ecclesiasticals.
    One of my favourite Richard Pratts sayings in a book I have since misplaced: No one can be truly committed to anyone who is accountable to a higher authority.
  9. Linda says:
    Who cares what Pell says . . Seriously what a waste if TV airtime and media focus
  10. Rita says:
    As an ex-Catholic agnostic, watching the Q&A had me squirming in my chair. I was aghast at the quite malicious manipulation by Tony Jones, and the nearly ad hominem attacks from this sneering bad writer and atheist poster boy, Dawkins, but I was even more concerned about how Cardinal Pell’s words could be misinterpreted. Strange to say, but he was really bullied into being clumsy, and he was definitely in enemy territory.
    I kind of understood what he tried to say, but was not given the chance by the Jones, Dawkins and the audience (none of them known for their love of Jews btw). I think that he realised even as he talked about ‘intellectual’ inferiority, that it was the completely wrong word. I think he was alluding to the fact that, when G-d chose the Jews, He (G_d) made a point of ignoring the “elite” and chose what was then what we probably would refer to today as the ‘working class’, theoretically the chosen constituency of Catholics.
    Regarding the ‘punishment’ of Germany for the genocide they visited on the Jewish people; perhaps, in part, he was thinking of people like me: Although born after it, and so having an ‘alibi’ of sorts, I cannot (nor do I want to) rid myself of a very deep feeling of guilt a bit a la ‘the sins of the father shall visit the children’ (forgot the real quotation).
    Of what I know of Cardinal Pell, he certainly does not belong to the “the Jews killed Jesus” mob, and in him the Jewish people certainly have a better friend and at the ABC, SBS et al.
  11. I detest people like Tony Jones who have to resort to the lowest of all ‘intelligence’ – SARCASM – to score points over a wise and intelligent person like Cardinal Pell. Jones was – most certainly – not in the intellectual stream during this session of Q&A!!!!!!!!!!!
  12. dannykid says:
    I watched the program and it was so clear to me that Pell was just having trouble finding the right words to express the gist of what he has now clarified, especially following his somewhat fumbling response to the challenge of “intellectual”.
    Frankly, Tony was a bit of a smart-aleck in his clinging to “intellectual”, eventually making a fool of himself.
    It was clear that Pell was comparing a cultural difference of Egyptian palaces, fine clothes, sophistication and military might to Israelite mud homes and tents and animal herds.

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