I know this personally, as a family friend, a evangelical pastor, who presided my second wedding, went on to spend several years in federal prison for possession of child pornography.
I have always believed that there is a special bond between Jews and Catholics, and have made it a personal and professional priority to strengthen that bond. In the modern era, the relationship between Jews and Catholics became solidified with Vatican II under Pope John XXIII.
More recently, the bond was further strengthened during the reign of Pope John Paul II who made clear his love and respect for the Jewish people by referring to us as the "elder brothers." Pope John Paul II extended Vatican diplomatic recognition to Israel, rejecting the threats of those who he called "Koranic" opponents. His closeness to the Jewish people was demonstrated by his recognition that the special bond that existed between God and the children of Israel is an enduring one.
In my email this morning came a rather moving story of the celebration of Pashcha (Easter) by Orthodox faithful in the Dachau death camp shortly after the liberation of in Nazi Germany by the United States' Seventh Army. In an amazing act of improvisation, Orthodox faithful of many nationalities came together to celebrate the Divine Liturgy, with the help of imprisoned Catholic clergy and U.S. Army officials.
Regrettably, the Russians who were liberated from Dachau were turned over to Red Army and Soviet Communist officials, and many of them were branded traitors and sent to gulags in Russia. Today, a Russian Orthodox chapel, built by Russian Army soldiers prior to their 1994 withdrawal from Germany, graces the grounds, including the pictured Icon of Christ setting the prisoners free.
Over 200,000 were imprisoned in Dachau since the death camp opened in 1933. Of those who spent time at Dachau, 43,000 died and only 67,000 remained alive to greet the liberating American soldiers on April 29, 1945. The Orthodox faithful celebrated Pascha on the Orthodox Easter Sunday on May 6th, 1945.
"Dachau - the significance of this name will never be erased from German history. It stands for all concentration camps which the Nazis established in their territory." - Eugen Kogon