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
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.
“[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.