This week’s submission to the local press is in response to a question regarding Pope Benedict’s planned visit to a synagogue and the controversy regarding his attempts to canonize WW II’s Pope Pius: is the criticism justified?
The challenge of aligning our actions with our highest values is a universal one, and it has given shape and texture to human history. During the caustic days of national socialism many, many individuals and entities (religious and secular) fell horribly short of such alignment. Even God is accused by some of having done so.
It seems to me that only Catholics can judge the meaning and process of canonization, since sainthood is unique to Catholicism. From my own perspective as a Unitarian Universalist, what seems important to emphasize in striving toward our highest potential as ethical beings, is the willingness to acknowledge those places in which we have fallen short (individually and collectively), and to take personal steps toward healing, reconciliation, justice and equity.
So, while I cannot and will not judge Pope Pius’ (or anyone else’s) credentials for sainthood, I can laud Pope Benedict’s efforts to reach out to the Jewish community of today in that spirit – publicly modeling commitment to that which unites us, rather than that which divides us.