Tzvee to Pope Benedict: Vatican Must Fire Cardinal Renato Martino for Gaza Concentration Camp Analogy

Can a Pope actually fire a Cardinal? It makes no difference to us. The Pope may not even read this blog, for all I know.

It just makes no sense to me that you have a clown like Martino representing the Vatican in any capacity.

And what he said about Gaza is not funny. It is just plain obscene. I went through Gaza 26 years ago on the way to Egypt with my family. Despite continued economic and social problems, Gaza today is light years ahead of where it was then. And Gaza could be light years ahead of where it is today with the proper leadership who assume responsibility for the constructive and productive growth of the region.

And so we "demand" that the Pope remove this Cardinal who mocks every aspect of what diplomacy should be.

Philip Pullella at Faithworld (Reuters) summarizes Martino's history of provocative bluster as the Vatican's Justice Minister.
Cardinal Renato Martino, the papal aide who angered Israel and Jews by comparing Gaza to a “big concentration camp” is no novice at being outspoken or controversial. The southern Italian cardinal speaks his mind, loves to talk and sometimes has had to pay the price. Martino, head of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace (effectively its justice minister), has a laundry list of people and governments with whom he has clashed. But that hasn’t stopped him.

Perhaps his most famous remark came in December, 2003 when, shortly after U.S. troops captured former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Martino told a news conference at the Vatican that U.S. military were wrong to show video footage of Saddam. “I felt pity to see this man destroyed, (the military) looking at his teeth as if he were a cow. They could have spared us these pictures,” he said at the time.

The “treated like a cow” remark was heard around the world and, needless to say, was not very appreciated in the White House. The Vatican had opposed the U.S.-invasion of Iraq in March of that year. In fact, a certain chill developed between Martino and then U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Jim Nicholson, a Vietnam veteran who later went on to become Bush’s Secretary for Veteran Affairs.

While that is the Martino quip everyone remembers, there has been no lack of others.

In 2005, ahead of a meeting of the Group of Eight rich nations summit in Scotland, he pointedly said the United States had to “open its eyes” about the problems of Africa. He angered anti-immigration parties in Italy by backing a proposal to allow Muslim pupils in Italy to study the Koran in state schools. He angered U.S. conservatives, including well-known television commentators, when he said Washington’s plan to build a fence on the U.S.-Mexican border was part of an “inhuman programme.”

The former Vatican diplomat, who was the Holy See’s permanent observer to the United Nations in New York from 1986 to 2002, made headlines again last year when he called on Catholics to withdraw support their financial support for Amnesty International over the group’s call to decriminalise abortion.

Martino had more of a free rein during the papacy of Pope John Paul, who was not shy himself about speaking out. But Vatican sources have said Pope Benedict wants his cardinals to keep a lower profile and that Martino had been told by Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone to keep the lid on and not be so controversial.

The cardinal obviously disregarded the advice when he gave his interview with the Gaza=concentration camp comparison to the Italian on-line newspaper Ilsussidiario.net. His comment only added to the speculation Israel’s military operation in Gaza is putting Benedict’s tentatively planned trip to the Holy Land in May in serious doubt. While both the Vatican and Israel have officially said the trip is still on, diplomats are not so sure.


Phil Sumpter said...

Hi Tzvee, I agree that any comparisons between Israel and Nazis are simply sick, despite the fact that they are commonly used.

Nevertheless, in my weak attempt to figure what is going on in Gaza right now, I'm reading material from all over the place that is painting Israel's relations to Gaza in the gravest of light. I'm general pro-Israel, but struggle in the light of authorities such as Avi Shlaim. He posted an article on How Israel brought Gaza to the Brink of a Humanitarian catastrophe, and I'm finding my generally positive attitudes to the Israelie government sagging ... Where does one get the objective information?

Anonymous said...

I agree with Phil Sumpter in comparisons between Israel and Nazis.

The Vatican has always been reluctant to take initiative, where it is necessary...this is no different, unfortunately.