Cardinal Pell’s statement on Q&A

April 11, 2012 by J-Wire Staff
Read on for article

Cardinal George Pell, head of the Catholic Church in Australia, was a member of a two man panel on ABC TV’s Q&A on Monday night. He has issued a statement on remarks he made about the Jews being made the Chosen People…later in the program he made a statement that the German people suffered the most in the Holocaust. His statement and the text from the program follow:

Cardinal Pell was fielding questions from the audience along with fellow panelist Richard Dawkins.

Cardinal George Pell has issued the following statement in which he clarifies his viewpoint:

“On ABC1’s “Q & A” program on Monday night, I tried to make a point about the unique place of the Jewish people in human history as the first to receive the revelation of the one true God, while I was being regularly interrupted and distracted by the chairman.

Cardinal Pell with Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

“Why did the Lord choose the Jewish people and lead them to a Promised Land between the greatest military and cultural powers of the era? Human thinking assumes that if something needs to be done, you go to the powerful. But God did not choose Egypt or any of the Eastern nations, Assyria, Chaldea or Persia, the great powers of the day. Instead he went to a people who at the time of Abraham, were nomads and shepherds, making them over time a great nation.  “Historically” or “culturally” unequal might have been more appropriate than “intellectually”.  My reference to “morally” was interrupted, but as I would never describe the Jewish people at any stage as morally inferior to their pagan neighbours, I was attempting to establish a counter poise to my earlier comment when interrupted.

“I also made some remarks about the way the German people were punished for the Holocaust, which is a crime unique in history for the death and suffering it caused and its diabolical attempt to wipe out an entire people.

“At the back of my mind I was thinking about an answer the Jewish writer David Berlinski gave to atheist Sam Harris on why God did not prevent the Holocaust. Referring to the incredible destruction and loss of life that the Allies inflicted on Germany in the course of the war which Germany started, Berlinski observed that ‘if God did not protect his chosen people precisely as Harris might have wished, He did, in an access of his old accustomed vigor, smite their enemies, with generations to come in mourning or obsessed by shame’.

“This is not to deny the enormous sufferings that the Germans caused to the other peoples of Europe. But Berlinski’s thoughts point us to the mysterious ways in which great crimes are sometimes brought home to those who have committed them.

“My commitment to friendship with the Jewish community, and my esteem for the Jewish faith is a matter of public record, and the last thing I would want to do is give offence to either. This was certainly not my intention, and I am sorry that these points which I tried to make on Q&A on Monday did not come out as I would have preferred in the course of the discussion.”

The text from Q&A:

At about 18 minutes into the program.

Pell:  “Normally if you want something done you go to a busy person because you know they’ll do it.  And so for some extraordinary reason God chose the Jews.  They weren’t intellectually the equal of either the Egyptians or the….

Jones:  “Intellectually?”

Pell: “Morally…

Jones: “How can you know intellectually?”

Pell:  “Because you see the fruits of their civilization.  Egypt was the great power for thousands of years before Christianity.  Persia was a great power, Chaldea.  The poor, the little Jewish people, they were originally shepherds. They were stuck, they are still stuck, between these great powers.”

Jones:  “But that’s not a reflection of your intellectual capacity, is it, whether or not you’re a shepherd.”  (Applause)

Pell: “Well, no it’s not. But it’s a recognition, a reflection, of your intellectual development.  Like many people are very, very clever and not highly intellectual.  But my point is….”

Jones: “Can I just interrupt you there.  Are you including Jesus in that, who obviously was Jewish and was of that community?”

Pell: “Exactly.”

Jones:  “So, intellectually, not up to it?”  (Laughter, followed by applause)

Pell: “That’s a nice try, Tony.  The people in terms of sophistication, the Psalms are remarkable. In terms of their buildings and that sort of thing, they don’t compare with the great powers. But Jesus came not as a philosopher to the elite.  He came to the poor and the battlers, and for some reason he chose a very difficult…but actually they are now, intellectually elite, because over the centuries they have been pushed out of every other form of work.   Jesus I think is the greatest, the son of God, but leaving that aside the greatest man that ever lived.  So I’ve got a great admiration for the Jews but we don’t need to exaggerate their contribution in their early days.”

At about 52 minutes into the program:

Pell:  “Probably no people in history have been punished the way the Germans were.  It’s a terrible mystery”.

Jones: “There would be a very strong argument that the Jews of Europe suffered worse than the Germans”.

Pell:  “Yes, that might be right. Certainly, the suffering in both…with the Jews there was no reason why they should suffer”

Peter Wertheim - ECAJ Executive Director

The executive director of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Peter Wertheim told J-Wire: “’There has been an ongoing discussion between the ECAJ and Cardinal Pell’s office following our  expression of serious concern about some of the statements he made on ‘Q & A’ which are deeply problematical from a Jewish perspective, and more generally, and which do not reflect landmark statements affirming the Jewish people and the continuing vitality and validity of Judaism that have emanated from the Catholic Church over many decades.    We welcome as a first step Cardinal Pell’s clarifying statement that he did not intend any offence, and his expression of continuing friendship with the Jewish community and esteem for the Jewish faith.  The ECAJ will be following this up in our ongoing discussions with Cardinal Pell and the Catholic bishops. ”

Yair Miller, President of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies added: “We welcome Cardinal Pell’s clarification concerning some of his remarks. We look forward to the ECAJ’s ongoing dialogue with the Cardinal and Catholic Bishops to clear up those matters still not completely addressed.”







54 Responses to “Cardinal Pell’s statement on Q&A”
  1. to TONY re the 1st comment on this topic:

    At the very elementary, unsophisticated level, TONY reveals the vulgar take on matters spiritul.
    Additional lack of historical knowledge comes as no surprise.

    In terms of spiritual heritage, Jews are responsible for monotheism, a pre Mosaic notion. The philosophical and ethical ramifications of the concept are too vast to be covered here. It is enough to consider that the “chosen” were also those who have first chosen the existence of One G-d.

    If TONY would have posessed an insightful access to the Sacred Scriptures, he would have known all these basic truths. Otherwise he is merely providing comfort to the well established institution of the meaningless hatred of Jews.

    (n.b. I am repeating the same message left at the very bottom of the comments where would not be likely to be noticed. ow)

  2. “danny”

    – a sad, lamentable lack of sensitivity exhibited in your reply in reference to Shoah.
    – a not so surprising absurd comment on a non factual claim of singular authority on matters historical
    – a not so surprisingly misplaced use of the term “demagoguery”.

    you noticed the leaf and missed the forrest. Thank G-d you are giving your “case” a rest !

  3. Shirlee says:

    Otto, I credited you with more intelligence than you are showing,

    This has nothing to do with the Catholic Church, but an elderly confused man. I feel l sorry for you if you don’t get the point.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, I can’t be as rude to people as you appear to be,

    • Shirlee

      I know that you emigrated to Australia from overseas and the mere fact that you are not a local may explain why, as a migrant, you exhibit problems with grasping the language of English. As such, I understand why you missed the obvious point that we are talking here about the current highest ranking man in the CATHOLIC Church. In English we say that he who heads the Church and speaks on ITS behalf is , actually, THE Church.
      On Q&A Cardinal Pell accepted to appear as the REPRESENTATIVE of the Catholic Church NOT as Shirlee’s and Danny’s best mate. As about that “credit”, I can’t remember applying for any of it with your I.G.E. Ltd. establishment ( read Intellingence Generosity Enterprise Limited ).

      • Shirlee says:

        In a few moments Otto you’ll have ‘egg , well and truly plastered all over your face’ for your extremely rude and disrespectful comments to all.

        1. I attended , on a FULL scholarship, the Public school noted as having the highest standard of education in the UK

        2. I have both English Language and English Literature as subjects passed for “A” Level

        3. I read law at London University

        ………… and you think that I, as an immigrant to Australia, I have issues in regards to GRASPING the English language, as you not so eloquently put it?

        Unlike you, thank G-d, I didn’t swallow a dictionary and I most certainly do not treat people, whatever their status in life, or level of education , with the rudeness and contempt you do.

        • Shirlee
          In the now famous words of your friend, Cardinal Pell, you “might” have all those qualifications, but what I actually said above was that you failed to “GRASP” the essence of the current debate, i.e. that Cardinal Pell IS the voice of the Catholic Church in Australia, irrespective of his age and of your overseas education, be it in overseas UK.
          Incidentally, I just checked me face in the mirror, surprise, surprise ,no traces of egg !!
          Also, if you don’t mind, I’d suggest that you SHOULD treat with contempt those who publicly, be it Q&A, make offensive statements about Jews and Judaism and attempt to excuse nazi Germany of its crimes .

          • Shirlee says:

            My last comment on the issue Otto, as it appears too that you are unable to read

            You wrote

            *** the mere fact that you are not a local may explain why, as a migrant, you exhibit problems with grasping the language of English***

            not as you suggest to get yourself out of a tight corner

            “failed to “GRASP” the essence of the current debate”

            Good day !!! I rest my case

  4. Shirlee says:


    I think you owe Danny Kidron an apology. Because a person doesn’t agree with you, it’s not your G-d given right to verbally attack them, as you frequently do

    I and a number of other people**JUST HAPPEN** to agree with him.

    If you bothered to read all the posts you’d see that.

    • Shirlee

      I owe Danny Kidron another message, which goes for you too, in which I must remind him that Jews like me, who have their past generations in my native Romanian region, including Hungary, Czech and Slovak etc. had Pells and alike being rethorically misunderstood for centuries and that is how ALL my Grandparents have ended up at Auschwicz !!!
      Otherwise you are free to indulge in patronising anyone, while checking all present posts signed by clear minded Jews and their REAL friends, to observe that YOUR and Danny Kidron’s incongruous utterings of incredibly misguided support for a prelate who had revealed his TRUE face toward the Jews and Judaism , is incredibly at odds with all of them.

      “Poor cardinal Pell ” indeed, and “poor choice of words” even more so !!!!

      • Shirlee says:


        Here you go again!!

        This article is entitled

        “Cardinal Pell’s statement on Q&A”


        “The past sins etc of the Roman Catholic Church”

        I think we are all more than aware of the past deeds of that particular branch of ‘Christianity”. We are speaking here of a man, who is no doubt of feeble mind, who was completely out of his depth in the discussion with Dawkins.

        As I posted early in the piece, I think, unlike you who insists, that he has been totally Misinterpreted

        • Shirlee

          “feeble minds” DO NOT sit as CURRENT leaders of such a massive institution as the Catholic Church with speculations of a possible future Pontiff.
          Yes, Pell is out of his depth and that makes his said incredibly important position even more the target of justified criticism !!!
          Yes, I also agree that certain people misunderstood Pell and they would do well to review their views, ergo Shirlee, Danny and some others among us who made official statements of accepting Pell’s “explanation”.

          Shirlee, your attitude does NOT deem you the communal consideration you would crave !

        • danny says:

          Oh, Shirlee, drop it. There’s no point.

  5. danny kidron says:

    Poor Cardinal Pell: poor choice of words and he is crucified, even though he immediately explained himself under intense pressure when aggressively challenged and badgered by Q and A’s Tony Jones, who jumped at the opportunity for controversy and grabbed onto one phrase: “intellectually inferior”. It was Tony who made a fool of himself with this attack rather than making Pell look the fool.

    It was clear to anyone with even minimal empathy, that Pell was awed and moved and even proud in the debate with atheism, by God choosing, not one of the many wealthy, great and powerful, sophisticated empires of the time to present Himself to the world but the poor, simple, unsophisticated (“intellectually inferior” poor choice), little tribe of shepherds living in modest tents, not grand palaces and with herds of roaming goats, not powerful marauding armies.

    And when Pell spoke of the punishment of Germany he was, again, awed and moved by God’s payback to all who harmed the Jews with a fate worse than they committed against His people: Egypt’s ten plagues and the horror of the death of the first born; Germany’s over 14 million dead, millions raped and tortured by Russians and a totally destroyed country not to mention the weight of living with the blackness of their history.

    It was all so obvious unless you were looking for controversy and victimhood.

    It is Pell who deserves an apology, understanding and Jewish support for his obvious love and respect of the God of the Jews and his chosen people.

    • This vast and merciless public domain has the fundamental virtue of registeringindividuals’ genuine rational structures. Pell has commited one of the most inexcusable gestures of anti Semitic offense by a high rankinf official in Australia in decades.
      Danny Kidron is complimetary offending not only the larger Jewish entity at the core existential substance, but also offended the intelligence of anyone acquianted with the offending incident.
      It is the sad poverty of insightfulness as amply offered here by Danny Kidron that has the quality of perpetuating some of the worst intentional drives observed at people. With the benefit of doubt, Danny Kidon does not quite know what the hell he is talking about while slapping the face of decency in THIS open forum quite…openlyat his own expense.
      To put it simply, it has been established already at least right here that we are not as bloody stupid as Pell’s ” explanation/clarification” and all subsequent followers of it would presume !!! And that presumption in itslef is further offense.

      • danny kidron says:

        You, Otto, relish being the outraged, indignant, offended victim. Benefit of the doubt; open to other points of view – not for you. You give yourself away in your earlier correspondences: demagoguery, personal insults and most telling of all, repeated use of capital letters.

        • Incredible astuteness !!!
          Have also noticed , Danny, that I use with preference the letters “P”, “U”, “L”, “A” and mostly in capitals !!! Try anfd find out wht that gives away !
          As about being open to other points of view, isn’t THAT (!) the essential condition for a successful dialectics ?!
          Observing one’s irational constructs and explaing the respective mechanism is NOT an insult but a genuine ttempt at correctiong one’s centrifugal rants.
          I’d rather NOT be confronted with outrageous statements, derailed speculations, such as the “burden” carried by the Germans’ criminal past. The respective falacy claims that Germany is not exclusively GUILTY of its past, as it has been hoisted upon them by some other forces and, while at that, why not the …Jews !!! When did you last have a chat with a post war German to hear how lots of them believe that the “myth” of a nazism steeped in crime is but a Jewish conspratorial myth !!

          I am trying very hard to get to the bottom of why some Jews are inclined to devest a clear anti Semite and his/her utterings of their REAL meaning and form a security belt around a TRADITIONAL source of tested anti Semitism. Party, I suppose, is the imaginary selfappointed higher level of intellectual cum social functiion of one believing that he/she is above hoy poloi and understands BETTER the mechanisms of social interaction, a better suited political mind, an elite gifted with superior virtues and annointed into leading the poor inperfections bereft of guidance and/or inner subtile comprehension.Ergo Danny, Shirlee and whoever may dream of “leadership”.
          I, for one, have spent the last 65 years of my life learnig about my ancestral tragedies, rubbing for some eight years the benches of a few universities into the discipline of history, fighting in all modes anti Jewish phenomena etc. Thus, I also wonder when on earth the term “demagoguery” could possible emerge from !!! But, then, WHY I should I expect anything of substance, anyway !!??

          • danny says:

            You do not have an exclusive on perished family members nor on knowledge of Jewish history and I recognise the anti-Semites when I see them but, unlike you, I also recognise the friends, even if bumbling ones, when I see them.

            As for demagoguery, you just confirmed it.

    • Bob says:

      Pell looked as if he was out of his depth. He appeared not to know what he was talking about and spoke irreverently about the Jews and Gays.

      I thought he did a great job in support of Hawkins. At least he could put two or three words together

  6. Michael says:

    Why is everyone so surprised by the leader of Australia’s Catholics saying what he thinks about the Jews
    Of course he will make all the retractions and the ussual
    “”taken out of context “” crap as one does when they get caught out.
    Just imagine the ramifications( intimidation , violence ) if this bozo was to insult and belittle
    The religion of peace Instead some insulted Jews will write a few letters of protest there will be a few editorials but there will be just as many Jews who will do the ussual jewish thing turn the other check .
    I would love to be a fly on the wall at a dinner with Pell and Mel.

  7. Jennifer says:

    For a person who is very high up in the church, I would have thought Pell could have asserted his thinking more professionally. Nonethelss I did enjoy listening his responses, except for the part of the Germans suffering the most. Dawkins was difficult to understand and I couldn’t help but agree with Pell when he said you are dumbing down God and souping up true so true… Its not wonder he doesn’t ask the question ‘why are we here’ he doesn’t appear human, maybe he has been manufactured in the lab somewhere, there is no emotion to him. I think the only time he kicks up a stink is when people disagree with him. Too arrogant for my liking. We all need LOVE, no matter what and dare I ask where that comes from…..

  8. To all concerned:

    Judaism WAS the source of the dogma that built the Church. Both theologically and apostolically the Xtian church was built and founded by Jews. Anyone not knowing that simple fact should take at least 10 years of a history course !!!
    Pell’s anti Semitic statements are perfectly consistent with the Church’s established philosophy and general rethorical practices, in one word with the SOUL of Xtianity !!!
    There is NO excuse under the banner of civilised behaviour for Pell’s statements. This day and age his attitude is simply conducive to criminal behaviour. Pell is the CURRENT head of the Catholic Church in Australia, NOT a parsih priest or old bloke on a park bench feeding the birds and occasionbally spitting chips of religious hatred. HE IS THE CHURCH and whatever he says stands as the officila stance of his own church.
    There is NO excuse for what he has done and his so called “explanation” is a further intentional insult to those intelligent enough to discern a dedicated anti Semite prelate in fulll flight. The post factum realisation that he spilled the chips is null and void.

    • Lynne Newington says:

      Oh Otto, you just don’t know half of it and wouldn’t believe it if you knew.
      Criminal behaviour is putting it mildly, including his conclave of clergy.

  9. Laura says:

    Oh come on guys it was obvious Tony was trying to land the Cardinal in hot water, don’t fall for it!
    Catholics love the Jewish people, we love the old Testament and we love interfaith dialogue!
    You guys are our big brothers in the faith!
    When Cardinal Pell could finally put Tony right…
    remember him saying “Nice try Tony?” He affirmed his admiration of the Jewish people.
    Cardinal Pell was correct in saying that the Jews were not the top dogs at the time. Of course the Jewish temples are incredible but were they there when God revealed himself to Moses?
    That’s what Pell was trying to get across on the show and have you ever been lost for the correct words? It would be lovely if Pell’s clarification letter saying he should have said “culturally” or “historically” would be gracefully accepted. Religious groups are under attack by secular Australia can we join together instead of tearing each other apart?
    Also just to point out it was a live show at 9.30pm on a Monday night after many Easter services and the Cardinal is 70 years young. Considering all the above I thought he was sharp as a tack and he blew his younger counterpart Atheist Dawkins out of the water in terms of an intellectual debate.

    • Lynne Newington says:

      Yes Laura, if we all presented ourselves as equal before God.
      As a convert to Catholicism reared in one of the smaller but not insignificant traditional denominations, I was first introduced to the ingrained mentality towards my Jewish brothers and sisters, damnation of the wonderful Mason’s whose charity was unequaled and discrimination against women in the church.
      Old habits die hard as a slip of the tongue proves.

    • Nice try Laura !
      Pell used the most ordinary, traditionl language and notions simply defined as anti Semitism.
      There was none of the “love” and admiration for the Jews that you so nicely alude to in Pells entire reference to Jews and Judaism. The text of his presentation is clear and you can peruse it again.
      In Latin is said “scripta manet” and what remains is what Pell said. The damage control post factum has as much value as a dog’s bite taken back by the dog. Tony Jones did NOT attempt at putting Pell “in hot water”. Tony did his job as a comperre and as such he asks questions . Pell is not an untrained bloke off the street who could be intimidated easily. Pell’s “clarification” has been done with arrogant pretence of OUR misunderstanding of what we all understood extremely well. That in itself confirms a well established lack of respect for those intelligent enough to figure out what the deeps seeded convictions of the offending Pell are..I don’t know how good your Latin is, but Seneca said : Imago amini sermo est. Just in case this Jew has been working hard enough at understanding your credo, it means : The way one speaks is the mirror of one’s soul. Enough spoken.

      If you are so loyal to your beliefs you should be vigilant that your Church’s leders do not betray what is good and necessary in your religious practice and, since you seem to accept that inter religious dialogue has its merituous function, you should also be critical of those within your Church, regrdless of rank, who so evidently fail to observe those values. Closing ranks with irrational behaviour would not advance the good-will you seem to proffess.which, in fact, would be most welcome – and by that I mean most welcome the good will AND the said criticism !!!

    • Ellen says:

      Laura, you sound very sweet and I don’t want to crush your world, but the words and attitude of George Pell were not of brotherly love for Jewish people. Believe me, that’s not how he came across.
      And I know this sounds harsh but Judaism and Christianity aren’t brothers. As religions go they are unrecognisable from each other. And as for “stop tearing each other apart”, you’re talking to the wrong people. That’s a one-sided argument.
      Where was the Temple when G-d revealed Himself to Moses? It was on the backs, and around the necks, of the Jewish people waiting below.
      May it be built again soon, and in our days.

  10. Lynne Newington says:

    With the writings of St Jerome still on Catholic library shelves and widely read, one cannot blame Raphael for his conclusions.

  11. Paul Winter says:

    While I didn’t watch Q&A, I would like to make a few points about the two comments “clarified” by Cardinal Pell.

    Pell’s clarification that “culturally” or “historically” would have been more appropriate than “intellectually”, in describing Jews (meaning Israelite tribes) as inferior to the great civilisations around them is wrong. If one talks of buildings, the Temples in Jerusalem were a good match for the pyramids in my opinion. But more to the point, the bible is more than a match for anything produced by the nations that conquered the Jews. Most importantly, the concept of an invisible, moral, devine, loving creator that forms the basis for Judaism was a major and lasting contribution to humanity. That a small insignificant group could develop that concept in a polytheistic millieu and cling to it over the millenia is a tribute to the power of that notion and its influence on its daughter religions, Christianity and Islam. As a churchman, Pell should have been aware of that aspect of Judaism.

    Pell’s comment on the suffering of the Germans is painful and ignorant. If God had the power to inflict a terrible punishment on the Germans for the evil they visited on the Jews, that devine being would have had the power to stop the Shoah before it happened. If God allowed evil to happen, God is not the loving being that Jews worship. If God could not stop the Shoah, because humans are endowed with free will, then God is not the all-powerful being described in the bible. If we accept the Hassidic position that everything God does is for a good end, we again need to question the lovingness and goodness of God. So the question of where was God during the Shoah still needs to be answered. But the most distrubing aspect of the Cardinal’s response was the equating of genocide with the consequences of a war the Germans started. The death and suffering of innocent Germans during the war cannot be equated with the death and suffering of innocent Jews on whom the Germans waged a war of genocide quite apart from the aggressive war they waged on other nations. If the innocent Germans died as a result of God’s punishment, God is then being vengeful and that leaves me with an uneasy feeling, that if Cardinal Pell views God in that light, then it show an understanding of the actions of Jews who murdered Jews as a punishment for the death of Jesus.

    • Paul Winter says:

      Oops; error in last sentence.

      It should have read “…an understanding of Christians who murdered Jews…”

  12. Rafael says:

    I don’t particularly care what either Pell or Dawkins has to say, and Jones makes his living by twisting people into making half-finished and sometimes outlandish statement. None of the truncated trio is particularly intelligent or incisive.

    Christianity of all factions has no origins in Judaism and isn’t from Jews or of Jews, that is a malicious myth. Christianity is pagan to its caligulas (little boots), coming originally out of pagan Persian Mithraism. Bishops, Cardinals, and pastors and their ilk are chosen not for intelligence but for solidly following the ‘Party line’. Pell, nor any other Christian, are going to overcome their near 2,000 years of anti-Jewish incalcation and hatred. Both Pell and Dawkins. and I dare say Jones, just ride along with the old mythology and none of them understand Jews or Judaism. Neither do they have a good grasp of history. I doubt if Dawkins ever got a ‘first’ in any of his university studies, and Pell is a pietist and Dawkins an ‘evangelical’ atheist – if that is not too harsh an oxymoron.

    Malicious comments about Jews and Judaism we’ve gotten used to from pseudo-intellectuals and so-called “scholars”, Christians have murdered and dispossessed untold millions of Jews and the only words Jews need to hear from Christians is abject apologies and restitution. Dawkinsian ‘science’ is no science at all and when he make pronouncements outside his field. his opinion is as valuable as the next talkative drunk in the pub.

    • Peter says:

      Rafael, has anyone ever accused you of being intemperate? Maybe, it was the lateness of the hour. Dawkinsian ‘science’??? Do you mean Darwinian? If so … indeed it is science!

      • Rafael says:

        To Peter:
        No such thing as being “intemperate” when dealing with institutional murder and terrorism that has been the forte of Christians against Jews for millennia or more. Look to recent history, I suggest you read ‘Righteous Gentiles of the Holocaust: A Christian Interpretation’ by David Gushee, Fortress, 1994, ‘Teaching of Contempt: Christian roots of Anti-Semitism’, Isaac Jules, Holt, NY., 1964, et al,

        There have been many studies and histories which all show the enthusiastic welcome that the vast majority of the Christian Churches gave to the removal of any state protection of Jews and the fact that, in Poland and other European countries, it was often marauding gangs of Church-going Catholic and Protestants who attacked Jews in their homes and businesses, murdering and looting as they went. That’s how my Polish / German relatives met their end in the Shoah.

        I deliberately used ‘Dawkinsian’ as he has a particular slant on the psychology and praxis of religion and Faith which seems to be sui generis – Rafael, PHD (BSc. Cam.)

        • Peter says:

          To Rafael
          I have no argument with you about Pell’s insensitivity regarding the Holocaust. (See my original comment below.)
          But Science deserves our respect – it binds us all, and delivers ‘real miracles’. Its power is delivered by critical thinking, accepting evidence and building on what has come before.
          As for all our metaphysical positions: Atheist, Jew, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Astrologer .. whatever – surely we should be judged by our deeds – not our beliefs.
          Dawkins may be irritating but he respects Human Rights.
          I won’t list letters after my name – I’d prefer to contest ideas, not the quality of robes.
          Peter – Human being.

          • Rafael says:

            To Peter,
            well done! Can’t fault you and neither would I want to. Your initial response to Pell was very terse and to the point. I only added my ‘letters’ to show I am familiar with Dawkins’ disciplines (I’ve had to sit through some of his rather tedious lectures some years ago), and yes, I do have respect for him as regards his admirable stance of human rights, though he thinks all us ‘believers’ are rather stupid and suffering from a ‘G-D delusion’.

            Best wishes (and blessings) to you and all respondents to this important issue/s. So glad that J-Wire brought up the subject.

  13. Marcus says:

    Dawkins is not in the same league as Hitchens, however Pell was horrific. His commentary on Jews was a disgrace and reinforces my experience that Catholics are the most anti-semitic christians.

  14. John says:

    In referring to people being intellectually challenged surely Pell was in fact talking about himself.

  15. Liat Nagar says:

    Where are all of you coming from in your defence of Cardinal George Pell and your efforts to explain away his comments and excuse his platitudes! Tony Jones did a great job as host of this debate (the debate itself was weak due to the inferior debating skills of both parties) and quite rightly interrupted Pell for clarification of what were some astounding and offensive assertions. Given the nature of the debate, it must be asked why so much attention was given the Jewish people by Pell in the first place. George Pell needs to be brought to account for the malevolent nature of his many comments on the Jewish people. It is astounding that someone with his stature as a religious leader and public figure could so comfortably and arrogantly talk of Jews in the way that he did. He came across as intellectually lazy, more interested in inflicting snide remarks on those not automatically accepting his axioms, and professing rhetorical Christian compassion in platitudes, rather than wisdom and compassion from the heart. The studio audience in the main were in his favour and he played to it. The reason he got into trouble with what he was saying when put in a position to elaborate more clearly, was that what he said came from a bad place. ‘Bullied into being clumsy …’, Rita, I don’t think so. As to ‘Who cares what Pell says …’, Linda: it matters very much what the most senior figure in Australia’s Catholic Church says about Jews; it mattered very much over centuries what the priests in Catholic Churches all over Europe said to their congregations as they incited hatred against Jews that later would culminate in Hitler’s and Nazi Germany’s genocide of Jews, and in fact words themselves are very powerful and should be used with care and caution.

    It is easy in hindsight to ‘clarify’ what you say by rewriting it later, which is what Pell appears to have done now. His clarification is so far removed from what I saw and heard that it’s ridiculous. As for complaining of being regularly interrupted and distracted by the chairman, it needs to be considered that 1. what he was saying was so outrageous that it needed interruption for clarification and/or confirmation, and 2. it’s up to him to use intellectual rigour and discipline to resist distraction. Never at any time during this Q&A session did Cardinal George Pell appear uncomfortable in his demeanour; I, as a Jewish viewer of this programme felt more than uncomfortable at being subjected to his disproportionate and inappropriate assertions.

    • gabrielle says:

      I agree with you Liat. 100%.

      My question is why is everybody talking instead of getting some facts.
      Martin Gilbert has some facts. I intend to send a letter to the Cardinal. It is about time that he does his History homework.

      • Lynne Newington says:

        I encourage you to do so Gabriel, maybe you will receive a better response than catholics.
        He doesn’t owe us anything, like it or lump it for us.

  16. Jonathan says:

    Congratulations to Jeremy Lawrence above in the photo… standing so tall, so puff chested and officious!
    Hilarious… epic comic timing and a great parody in the tradition of Monty Python.

    Well when in Rome… do as the Romans do… hahahaha!

    The Catholic Churches’ collusion in the holocaust as well as the horrific mandate given the Ustaše is reason enough to mercilessly make fun of Pell and his ilk…

  17. W3b3d1g1 says:

    Well said Cardinal Pell. What a wonderful man. It is clear he speaks a different tune. He had no need for disclaimers or explanation as it was clear what he meant at the time and did this talking about things most people wouldnot dare to challenge . To go head to head against a disrespectful athiest is a definite challenge in this day and age.Dawkins is a very intelligent man but was out of his league with Pell. Although personally I am not a supporter in many of the decions of the religious hierachy, it was pleasing to see someone talk from stand point of true belief and faith. Great television.

  18. Peter says:

    Pell was out of his depth. Weighing up the relative pain of Holocaust victims and Germans was a grotesque exercise. THERE IS NO COMPARISON: The German people were seduced by Hitler, and waged war and genocide. The Jewish deaths were totally unprovoked.
    As Pell admits in this article, he bungled an attempt to reproduce another man’s argument: a strange exoneration of God for The Holocaust. The argument is insulting to all. Of what use was it for the victims of Hitler’s cruelty, that German cities were firebombed? If that is God’s idea of morality, I suggest He sticks to inflicting Tsunamis and Spinabifida, and stop using us as agents for his nastiness.

  19. Lynne Newington says:

    I don’t know when I have ever heard Cardinal Pell, say something he hasn’t had to clarify at a later date.
    Maybe this doesn’t refer to you who are not Catholic, but for those of us who are it’s the norm.
    As far as a better friend, he needs you more than you need him, and drops anything and anyone if it displeases his ecclesiasticals.
    One of my favourite Richard Pratts sayings in a book I have since misplaced: No one can be truly committed to anyone who is accountable to a higher authority.

  20. Linda says:

    Who cares what Pell says . . Seriously what a waste if TV airtime and media focus

  21. Rita says:

    As an ex-Catholic agnostic, watching the Q&A had me squirming in my chair. I was aghast at the quite malicious manipulation by Tony Jones, and the nearly ad hominem attacks from this sneering bad writer and atheist poster boy, Dawkins, but I was even more concerned about how Cardinal Pell’s words could be misinterpreted. Strange to say, but he was really bullied into being clumsy, and he was definitely in enemy territory.

    I kind of understood what he tried to say, but was not given the chance by the Jones, Dawkins and the audience (none of them known for their love of Jews btw). I think that he realised even as he talked about ‘intellectual’ inferiority, that it was the completely wrong word. I think he was alluding to the fact that, when G-d chose the Jews, He (G_d) made a point of ignoring the “elite” and chose what was then what we probably would refer to today as the ‘working class’, theoretically the chosen constituency of Catholics.
    Regarding the ‘punishment’ of Germany for the genocide they visited on the Jewish people; perhaps, in part, he was thinking of people like me: Although born after it, and so having an ‘alibi’ of sorts, I cannot (nor do I want to) rid myself of a very deep feeling of guilt a bit a la ‘the sins of the father shall visit the children’ (forgot the real quotation).

    Of what I know of Cardinal Pell, he certainly does not belong to the “the Jews killed Jesus” mob, and in him the Jewish people certainly have a better friend and at the ABC, SBS et al.

    • gabrielle says:

      Cardinal Pell should go and read Martin Gilbert or at least look at Wikipedia.
      He will learn about the proportion of Germans, Jews, Russians etc who were killed during WWII. And in the Holocaust.

      He should be ashamed of himself talking so much unfunded nonsense.
      How sad that the head of the Catholics in Australia is lacking basic knowledge of History.

      I commend Tony Jones for his questioning. He was great.

  22. I detest people like Tony Jones who have to resort to the lowest of all ‘intelligence’ – SARCASM – to score points over a wise and intelligent person like Cardinal Pell. Jones was – most certainly – not in the intellectual stream during this session of Q&A!!!!!!!!!!!

    • gabrielle says:

      Wise and intelligent? A totally uninformed man. Making baseless assertions( about WWII). But History is not a faith. You need to get some facts Patricia.

  23. dannykid says:

    I watched the program and it was so clear to me that Pell was just having trouble finding the right words to express the gist of what he has now clarified, especially following his somewhat fumbling response to the challenge of “intellectual”.
    Frankly, Tony was a bit of a smart-aleck in his clinging to “intellectual”, eventually making a fool of himself.
    It was clear that Pell was comparing a cultural difference of Egyptian palaces, fine clothes, sophistication and military might to Israelite mud homes and tents and animal herds.

    • I do so agree dannykid – Jones et al were so busy trying to score points they failed to see what Pell was comparing cultural differences.

    • gabrielle says:

      I had no issue with his statement about the Jews as shepperds. But I have a very uneasy feeling about
      what he said about the WWII, the Germans, and the Jews.

      I am trying to assume that he is totally uniformed and not very bright because the alternative does not bear thinking about it.

  24. TONY says:

    Your choice of photo of Cardinal Pell is patently propagandist.
    Your presentation of his comments out of the hostile environment of the programme is intentionally inflammatory.
    It is patently obvious that the Jewish people at the time they were Chosen , and long afterward ,were not “great”in worldly terms . Even in spiritual terms they needed long discipline at God’s hands and still remained in need of correction.
    Sacred Scripture does not lie.

    • At the very elementary, unsophisticated level TONY reveals the vulgar take on matters spiritual.
      Additional lack of historical knowledge comes as no surprise.

      In terms of spiritual heritage, Jews are responsible for monoteism, a notion pre Mosaic. The philosophical and ethical ramifications of the concept are too vast to be covered here.Enough to consider that the “chosen” were those who have first chosen themselves the existence of G-d !

      Pell cannot be excused for perpetuating some of the most viciously anti Semitic notions within the uttering of just a few words.

      If TONY would have had insightful access to the Sacred Cripture he would have known all these basic truths. Otherwise he is providing comfort to the well established institution of meaningless hatred of Jews.

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