Aussie cardinal in hot water for Holocaust comments

April 14, 2012 19:47

Head of Catholic church in Australia apologizes for saying Germans suffered more any other people during WWII.

1 minute read.

Archbishop of Sydney George Pell

Australian cardinal 370. (photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)

Australian Jewish groups have rebuked the head of the country’s Catholic church for comments he made on the Holocaust during a televised debate aired on April 10 with evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

Archbishop of Sydney George Pell pointed toward the suffering of the Germans when asked why the deity he believes in had allowed the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust.

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“[God] helped probably through secondary causes for the Jews to escape and continue,” Pell said. “It’s interesting, through these secondary causes, probably no people in history have suffered the way the Germans were [sic].”

The cardinal quickly backtracked, however, when the moderator said there would be a “strong argument to be made” that the Jews suffered more than the Germans.

“Yes, that might be right,” a visibly flustered Pell said. “I mean the Jews... there was no reason why they should suffer.”

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry, an umbrella group that represents the country’s roughly 90,000 Jews, responded on Saturday by calling the Catholic leader’s remarks “problematic.”

The cardinal later issued an apology.

“The last thing I would want to do is give offense,” Pell said.

“I am sorry that these points which I tried to make did not come out as I would have preferred.”

The debate pitted the pious Pell against Dawkins, a well-known advocate of atheism and scientific method. The two exchanged opinions in front of a live television audience on a series of issues including the existence of a supreme being, evolution, homosexuality and climate change.

The controversial remark by Pell came after he was asked by the moderator why he believed an almighty being had intervened during biblical times to save the Jews but did not prevent the Holocaust.

The EACJ welcomed Pell’s apology, saying it was a “first step” in clarifying his statements.

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