Can’t We All Just Get Along?

With Pope Benedict’s recent declaration of Pope Pius XII as “venerable,” it is becoming clear once again that the true nature of the Catholic Church’s relationship with the Jewish people is largely misunderstood as an effort to promote a “can’t-we-all-just-get-along” brand of diplomacy, but it is nothing of the sort.

The Second Vatican Council’s treatment of the subject, which is repeatedly misrepresented in the media, concerns an inter-religious relationship that is animated by the shared spiritual patrimonies of respective faith traditions that are united in covenant with the God of Abraham.

Attentive observers will notice that many of the most vocal so-called “Jewish leaders” (like Abraham Foxman of the ADL) that have turned the sullying of Pope Pius XXII’s reputation into a PR gimmick are not, and have never been, a party to this relationship. They are often little more than secular activists that march under the Mogen David while substantially sharing a heritage of faith with neither traditional Judaism nor the Roman Catholic Church.

Father David Neuhaus, S.J., Secretary-General of the Hebrew-speaking Catholic Vicariate in Israel, offered insight into Jewish sensibilities in an interview with Zenit last year saying, “The Shoah and its memory is one of the most central issues in Jewish consciousness. Together with a sense of solidarity with the state of Israel, the Shoah defines who many Jews are in the world, how they define themselves.”

In other words, the self-identity of largely “cultural Jews” is not primarily based upon a covenant relationship with God — in fact, it appears to be based upon political activism as much as anything — and it is these who cry out the loudest over the prospect of a future Pope St. Pius XII.

Such individuals are not the “elder brothers in faith” to which Pope John Paul II referred; they are enemy combatants in the culture war being waged against the traditional moral values that Judaism and Catholicism have perennially held dear; those shared tenets of faith that stand in opposition to the Left’s hell-bent determination to construct a society built on such planks as abortion-on-demand, radical environmentalism and gay “marriage.”

Make no mistake about it; this is the real reason Pope Benedict XVI is being opposed on this and so many other fronts by progressive forces both within the Church and without.

As Rabbi Yehuda Levin, the outspoken representative of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis and the Rabbinical Alliance of America, shared with me in a conversation concerning tensions in the Church’s relationship with the Jews during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, “There can be no question of this Pope’s affection for traditional Jewish morality, and this is where the real problem lies.”

Pope Pius XII, as anyone with access to a public library knows, was widely hailed by his contemporaries — numerous Jews included — for his heroic actions in defense of the Jewish people during World War II. The controversy surrounding his legacy came of age only years after his death; sparked largely by the imagination of a controversial playwright, Rolf Hochhuth, whose 1963 fictional drama, The Deputy, painted a nefarious picture of papal anti-Semitism during WWII.

While the play’s premise, which has given rise to a veritable industry of slander, has since been soundly debunked by both Jewish and gentile historians alike, it remains one of the political Left’s most treasured tools for whipping up the uninformed and unsuspecting into a self-serving frenzy.

“Anyone who understands the Vatican knows that in the last three decades, one of the moral and intellectual underpinnings of the papacy of Pope John Paul II was Cardinal Ratzinger. Whoever doesn’t understand this doesn’t realize that this man, Pope Benedict XVI, has a decades-long track record of anti-Nazism and genuine affection for the Jews,” Rabbi Levin concluded.

Both Catholics and Jews need to be careful not to be fooled into thinking otherwise lest they become a pawn, willing or otherwise, in a game that is ultimately nothing more than political in nature.

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  • noelfitz

    I have made a resolution this year to try not to disagree too often with views expressed here in CE. So when I saw this post I thought it would be about how orthodox, traditional Catholics cannot agree with liberal, progressive Democrat ones. So I was delighted to read it and to be able to agree fully with the views expressed. It is balanced, clearly argues and expresses an important view.

    Judaism and Zionism differ. Respect and understanding for Jews does not necessarily extend to support for all the political decisions of the state of Israel.

    Former Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabah, was always clear in his condemnation of Israeli discrimination against others and I am sure his successor, Fouad Twal, will be equally clear in defending the rights of people.

    When I was working in Jerusalem I admired how Catholics were sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians (Catholic and non-Catholic) and how this was expressed clearely, while not in any way being against Judaism, the religion of Jesus Christ.

  • goral

    “Such individuals are not the “elder brothers in faith” to which Pope John Paul II referred; they are enemy combatants in the culture war being waged against the traditional moral values that Judaism and Catholicism have perennially held dear;”

    “enemy combatants” gives them a status they don’t deserve. They are the social equivalent of Islamic terrorists. Their agenda is falsification of history for personal profit. When they are exposed they use slander and various bullying tactics to reestablish their legitimacy. They form networking wolfpacks to tear their opponents apart. They use innocuous names such as social concern, pro-choice or green.

    Noelfitz, I believe the getting along heading of Mr. Verrecchio’s article had a diametrical meaning. Uphold the Irish tradition. A sparring partner who capitulates is a let down.
    Resolutions can be changed right up until Three Kings, M.R. King’s b-day for secularists.

    There is only one poster with whom I agree a 100 percent of the time. I think I could win an argument with her on her worst day and my best.

  • noelfitz

    Goral,

    it is good to hear from you. I have been waiting for your reply all day.

    I would much prefer to be disagreed with, rather than ignored. I (unfortunately) enjoy robust discussions, but it is very important here that we who claim to be Catholic never express views contrary to the Church’s teaching. When I have disagreed with people here I have never been accused of holding views with which the Church disagrees and I hope I have never attacked anyone personally. Europeans and Americans differ in political views. Your center-left is our centre-right.

    I would prefer our discussions to be in the Forun “Faith and Life”. It would be great to have more contributors there. In replying to articles here , before they disappear into cyber space, one can do little more than have sound bites.

    I don’t really know fully what you are getting at, but I think you are saying healthy disagreements are allowed.

    I wish you and your family a very happy new year.

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    I just finished reading Hillaire Belloc’s Europe and the Faith: “Sine auctoritate nulla vita”. This book-length essay was originally written about 1912 and revised in 1920, so Mr. Belloc could not possibly have written about the Shoah or even about World War II. However, he repeatedly returns to a theme in which he contradicts the primary thread of the anti-Catholic historians of his day. Belloc correctly observes that the Western Roman Empire never fell. He moreover states the simple historical fact that no barbarians ever invaded Rome successfully. Rather, the alleged barbarians were simply Roman officers originally recruited from territories outside of the empire proper – or else the direct descendents of such, and therefore bearers of barbarian names. Such barbarians were as wont to engage in the periodic internal struggles for imperial dominance as any other Roman officer, and they would occasionally march on Rome itself as part of one internal civil war or another. Indeed the sacking of Rome by Alaric (an alleged barbarian who was a thoroughly Romanized officer in the Roman army) was no more the act of barbarian forces than was Julius Caesar’s march on Rome some 450 years prior.

    This point is significant to this discussion because the primary thrust of anti-Catholic history prior to World War II (Belloc’s time) was to assert that barbarian forces sacked Rome in the 5th century, thereby forcing the Emperor to abdicate, and that the cultures of these various barbarians slowly by surely infiltrated the old Empire, offering it their rejuvenating Teutonic spirit. This northern-centered theory was actually alive and well throughout the majority of American history – up to shortly after the end of World War II. The notion of anti-Catholic Teutonic superiority was offered for a single reason: the entirety of Western civilization was held up by the Church following the abdication of the Emperor in the late 5th century and an alternative theory had to be postulated by anyone whose political philosophy required the Church to be an alien force within the West.

    Now the Church was not an alien force; indeed, after the abdication of the Western Emperor, the Church became so much the backbone and life’s blood of Western civilization that no meaningful historical distinction may be legitimately drawn between Europe on the one hand and the orthodox Catholic Church on the other. Attempts to do so are historically inaccurate and, in Belloc’s view, they pose the definite danger of threatening the continued existence of Europe itself.

    Nevertheless, such arguments were commonly made, and the two common pre-war themes were these: 1) The Catholic Church was incidental to – and not of central to – the project of Europe; and 2) It was the superior, northern Teutonic barbarians who remade the Empire into Europe after the fall of Rome. Both assertions are, of course, historical lies. But both assertions were routinely argued on the anti-Catholic side before World War II. It is perhaps easiest to see this argument in the U.S. through its pre-war immigration policies, which explicitly preferred the “superior” races of northern Europe, mostly due to the racial characteristics (tall, blond, and fair-skinned) common among the Teutonic northern peoples. Such is matter of historical fact pertaining to U.S. policy for the vast majority of its pre-war existence.

    Now, one thing made apparent by the war is this: Germany adopted the argument of superior Teutonic northerners whole cloth as the basis of its nationalist ideology and began killing en masse all those who failed this racial test, especially if they were Jews and (second most) especially if they were Catholic. This appalling fact coincided neatly with the removal of the “superior Teutonic barbarian” thesis from the anti-Catholic historical jargon after the war.

    However, the other elements of modern anti-Catholic history remain intact, especially the notion that the Church was merely incidental to the project of Europe, and not central to it as any sane analysis of history must conclude. Politically speaking, an expedient way to undermine the historical role of the Church is to associate it with uncouth and outright evil historical forces. Thus, the myth is created that Pius XII was a Nazi sympathizer. Moreover, pagan forces will go so far as to describe the Dark Ages and Middle Ages as the “burning times,” during which millions of witches (i.e. pagans) were put to the torch by the authority of the Catholic Church. Both assertions are, of course, laughable (and no less an authority than the atheist Carl Sagan debunks the “burning times” myth in his work, The Demon Haunted World). However, it is convenient to the project of modern progressivism to associate its primary enemy – which is the Church – with historical enemies of one sort or another, even if such historical enemies are actually the (now undesired) historical allies of progressivism.

    The simple fact, however, is that modern progressive historians have much more in common with the anti-Catholic “superior Teutonic barbarian” threads of fanciful history than does anyone or any thing within the Church. Indeed, it is not too far-fetched to state categorically that Hitler’s project was merely putting into practice the fanciful histories of the pre-war anti-Catholic historians. After the war, however, the fanciful histories (and histrionics) of the “superior Teutonic barbarians” lost all credibility.

    Nevertheless, such histories were never part of the Church; they were always her enemy, before the war, during the war when the Nazi machine turned them into reality, and after the war, as Europe picked her collective self up. If anyone was associated with project of Nazism, it was the promoters of “superior Teutonic barbarian” historical theory, almost all of whom were anti-Catholic.

    Today, of course, the anti-Catholic thread continues unabated, though it has exorcised itself of the rhetoric associated with “superior Teutonic barbarians.” However, the connection between the modern anti-Catholic and the pre-war anti-Catholic is far stronger than any such fanciful connection between the Church and Hitler, which latter exists only the in histrionics of modern anti-Catholics.

    Those who live life with open eyes will note that this connection is similar to the easily established historical connection between today’s proponents of abortion and yesterday’s proponents of racist eugenics – and that just as in this latter case, modern histrionics has (with far too great a success, I might add) associated the proponents of Truth with the evils of yesteryear when in fact the associations between today’s anti-Catholic progressives and the evils of yesteryear claim a far clearer historical thread of descent.

    Long live Pope St. Pius XII. The miracle that gets him canonized may indeed be the miracle by which the empty arguments of modern anti-Catholics are exposed.

  • Cooky642

    HomeschoolNfpDad: from your lips to God’s ear!!! That sort of “miracle” seems to me the sort that would appeal to “Papa Pacelli”. May God grant it through Pius XII’s intercession.

    Additionally, I wanted to thank you for the “lesson”. Obviously, you’ve put a lot of time, study, and thought into this issue. Thank you for sharing it. It was a delightful read.

  • Warren Jewell

    “Getting along” will always be outside the realm of all eras of those in true faiths. Most Jews, secular to Reformed, have long been rather hostile to Orthodox Judaism. Such antagonism may be highlighted in Jesus’ time in differences between Pharisee and Sadducee and even between these two and the common Israelite worshiper. Is it not clear from His Gospels that Jesus did not speak for the interests of Jewish religious leaders, who were so instrumental in arranging for my putting Him to His sacrificial death?

    Ye old and modern Catholic apologist and speaker, Bishop Fulton Sheen, noted that if he were a modern non-churched person searching for the Church of truth, he’d have to settle on Catholicism precisely because it has always stood in contradiction to the world, which loses its way in its own unrepentant sins. In part: “I would look for the Church which the world hates. My reason for doing this would be, that if Christ is in any one of the churches of the world today, He must still be hated as He was when He was on earth in the flesh.” You can read more at the Deacon’s Bench blog: http://blog.beliefnet.com/deaconsbench/2009/12/if-i-were-not-a-catholic.html. Further on how the Church and each of us must be signs of contradiction, read the blog entry of Msgr. Charles Pope at the blog of the Archdiocese of Washington: http://blog.adw.org/2009/12/the-church-must-be-willing-to-be-a-sign-of-contradiction/

    In sum, God calls us to holiness, not to ‘get along’ as dictated by other mere mortals.

    In aside, Noelfitz, permit me to take this opportunity to declare that I am sorry to hear of the death of the worthy successor to Saint Patrick, Cahal Cardinal Daly. In today’s consternation over the losses you are taking in bishops and priests over the errors of the few in sex offenses of youth and attending cover-ups, all Ireland needed his prayers in his presence among you. Cardinal Daly, pray for us; pray for your beloved Eire.

  • Warren Jewell

    And, HomeschoolNfp Dad – please, can I audit your home school courses? Woof, thou art a storehouse of historical and very Catholic information.

    God be praised for the likes of you.

  • noelfitz

    HomeschoolNfpDad,

    Thank you, for an absolutely brilliant post, which is solid, fundamental and relevant, i.e. I agree with it.

    However your version differs slightly from what we learned at school. We learned that after the collapse of civilization with the fall of the Roman Empire Irish monks brought learning and civilization back to Europe.

    A thought occurred to me on reading your article, that is the responsibility of German Christians (especially Protestants) for the rise of Nazism. But them one thinks of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Claus von Stauffenberg.

    Warren,

    It is always great to hear from you. I have always admired your solid commitment to the Church. I look forward to contributions from you in the forum Faith and Life. I do hope you are keeping well and have a great 2010. Thank you for your kind words about Cardinal Daly. He was a great man; may he rest in peace.

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    We learned that after the collapse of civilization with the fall of the Roman Empire Irish monks brought learning and civilization back to Europe.

    This is not an either-or proposition with what Belloc proposes in his work. Indeed, Belloc mentions the case of Ireland as a unique one, wherein the Faith was accepted and brought to full flower in a land outside the Empire. Indeed, Belloc (at least) twice mentions this intriguing fact about Ireland: 1) When St. Augustine (of Kent, not of Hippo) brings the Faith back to the east and south of Britain in 597, Irish missionaries were already at work in the north of the same island. That this papal mission of Augustine succeeds more generally than the Irish mission, which fact we can glean from the spread of English language and culture from the newly pagan south and east even in to the north and west which remained Christian, in no way diminishes the significant and great case of Ireland or its work with their English brethren. And 2) When England, alone among the old Roman provinces, breaks away from the Faith in the sixteenth century, it is Ireland that, to a certain extent, balances with the failure of England. The external influence of solidly Catholic Ireland, in the thesis of Belloc, is nevertheless smaller than the loss of Britain for Europe. One can almost hear Belloc writing a posthumous epilogue which draws a crooked line from the apostasy of England to the rise of the Kaiser in Germany, and from there to the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich itself. Those details are for another post (or indeed, another book), but the failure of England to stand firm in the Faith has much evil historic consequence, Unfortunately this latter point is generally ignored in the politically correct histories and has been dropped altogether from popular Protestant and secular histories. Europe, I fear, will not recover until this historic amnesia is corrected.

    [One aside: the Roman monasteries, particularly in what are now France, the Basque country of Spain, and northern Italy, never had a break with the same institutions that existed during the days of the late Western Empire. There can be no doubt that the Irish missionaries intermingled with the papal missionaries in sixth and seventh century Britain, and from there, they likely melded somewhat with the monasteries in the rest of Europe. However, the French monasteries in particular continued a single line of tradition from their institution in the days before the Western Emperor abdicated up until the French Revolution. Indeed, the parliamentary institutions of Europe all have their roots in monasteries, though their versions in Ireland and northern Britain are no doubt heavily influenced by the Irish versions thereof.]

    One cannot go too far in proclaiming the positive effect of Irish missionary work (both formal and informal) in other parts of the British Empire. My own United States had its own florescence in the Faith in the late nineteenth century owing in no small part to poor Irish immigrants whose steadfastness should lend courage to us all. Notwithstanding the weakening bedrock of old (in a U.S. context) Irish institutions, including our own Notre Dame University, the Irish influence here has been almost universally positive.

  • goral

    As we celebrate the Epiphany of the Lord, we are reminded of the evil nature of so many in power. Herod was one of those archetypes – a megalomaniac. Yet, he was legitimate authority. The request of the king to the Magi was to give him information, which they disobeyed. Herod in many ways was an imposter to the Jewish throne. He had Roman backed authority to exercise his rule.

    The “Herodians” have been present and hold legitimate power all throughout history, even in the Church. They hold elected offices today under the label as Catholics. They pretend to represent traditional Judaism.
    God gives us sufficient knowledge and inspiration to disobey them, not to get along with them.

    He tells his followers: “beware of the leaven of Herod”

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    This particular work by Belloc is wonderful. Don’t simply rest upon my woeful summary and analysis. Read it yourself. It’s available for free from Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/8442 .

  • noelfitz

    HND

    Isn’t the project Gutenberg a wonderful resource? Thank you for another great post. It is a pity that the faith in Ireland at present is under such huge pressures.

  • HomeschoolNfpDad

    And in the U.S., Noel. All for the same reason: lack of faith which is the only bulwark against the terrible sins which have crippled the Church in both countries.

  • http://www.vatican.va Michael

    HomeschoolNfpDad:

    The Belloc book was a great recommendation. Europe and the Faith, but for a few anachronisms, could well have been written yesterday.

    One can almost hear Belloc writing a posthumous epilogue which draws a crooked line from the apostasy of England to the rise of the Kaiser in Germany, and from there to the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich itself.

    This “line of apostasy” is a “fault line” which weakened Western Civilization and has allowed not only Europe, but her children further to the West to weaken through successive exogenous shocks to the bedrock provided by the Church. His commentary on the failures of Byzantium are even more telling today, however, when we see that that failure (also chronicled by Belloc in The Crusades), coupled with the moral decline in the West, eventually allowed the rise of radical (Wahhabi/Wahabi) form of Sunni Islam we face today.

    The decline of Christendom is not only a European tragedy, but one for the entire world.

    In Christ,
    Michael

  • http://www.vatican.va Michael

    HSD:

    I didn’t realize that BLOCKQUOTE formatting wouldn’t work in this comments area. I should have placed your quote

    “One can almost hear Belloc writing a posthumous epilogue which draws a crooked line from the apostasy of England to the rise of the Kaiser in Germany, and from there to the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich itself.”

    in quotations.

    In Christ,
    Michael

    PS. We need you over in the forums, if you ever have the time or desire.

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