There is an unequivocal difference between an apology and repentance. The dictionary states that the word repent means to feel such sorrow for sin or fault as to be disposed to change one’s life for the better; be penitent. While apology means a defense, excuse, or justification in speech or writing, as for a cause or doctrine.
This distinction becomes more significant when dealing with one of the worst atrocities in world history…
The country that more Nazis and Nazi collaborators ran to after WWII was Argentina. There are several reasons that Nazis felt at home in Argentina:
1. Between 1885-1915, approximately 100,000 Germans emigrated to Argentina. This made it easy for Nazis to assimilate after the war.
2. The president of Argentina during WWII, Juan Peron, was a known Nazi sympathizer (and so was his wife, Evita).
3. Argentina had (and still has) incredibly strict extradition laws which have always made it almost impossible to get a criminal extradited from that country, so there were few worries they would be apprehended for their crimes. Argentina became their new Fatherland.
But their crimes against humanity were a matter of history…
In 2000, President Fernando de la Rua issued an apology for his country’s role in harboring Nazi war criminals following WWII. BUT, this apology was issued only AFTER a report was released earlier that year by a government commission showing that successive Argentine governments helped give refuge to 180 Nazi war criminals.
So the apology was politically expedient … NOT genuine nor sincere. And remember: An apology requires no response, while repentance requires an active response … a change in direction.
It’s therefore no surprise that an overwhelming majority of Argentineans, as of 2011, have a negative view of Jews. A study, “Attitudes Towards Jews in Argentina,” was commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League and the Delegation of Argentinean Jewish Associations, It revealed that about 80% of Argentineans hold anti-Semitic views. This shows that the problem is serious, systemic and still remains … something a mere political bandage that was offered by President de la Rua, could not resolve.
Perhaps it’s time for the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis, to stand in the gap for Argentina. And ask the people to humble themselves, ask the world to forgive them for being willing accomplices, after the fact, to the Nazi regime and their crimes.
Until this occurs … their Catholicism is worth very little in the eyes of those that matter: The ones who suffered, their survivors and those carefully watching.
Paz a vosotros (peace be with you)…