I idly wondered today why a couple of friends chose to go on holiday to Jordan. Perhaps they were anxious to attend the jamboree in a Jordanian football stadium where His Holiness was celebrating Mass in order, perhaps, to spit on his exalted shadow. After crossing the Jordan, he now finds himself between a rock and a hard place, visiting Yad VaShem. The Holocaust Museum itself, which Benedict has declined to visit, is difficult enough for mere mortals – especially the Children’s Museum – but for a superannuated member of the Hitler Youth and the primary ambassador of peace, love and forgiveness worldwide, going anywhere near it is a tough call. People are hanging on every word, ready to devour him as wolves might devour a sheep if he expresses anything less than outright contrition for the shameful cover-up, and utter slope-shouldering of his wartime predecessor, Pius XII, who appeased until his nose bled under any and every circumstance, while claiming Jews had been secretly sheltered by the Church. A little muscular Christianity might not come amiss as you walk down the Avenue of the Righteous, your Holiness. I think it unlikely, however. Politically, Israel is outmanoeuvred by Hamas, Hizb’allah and any other underdogs who lever public opinion by loud and incessant whining. For the Pope to say that he didn’t really mean to revoke the excommunication of a Holocaust – denying bishop and stand foursquare in support of all that Eretz Israel stands for today, denouncing the global malignancy of anti-Semitism as well as reiterating his predecessor’s apology for the past, would be as likely as the Prodigal Son announcing that he didn’t much care for veal.
This header – ghastly image – is the result of experimentation on children. Their names are called out endlessly, along with tens of thousands of others in the Children’s Museum.
Finally, here is the Eternal Flame in the Hall of Remembrance, Yad VaShem. Requiescant in pace.