Antisemitism, and Anti-Jewish, sentiments are making their way back into the mainstream news again. Of course, this is accompanied by the usual suspects: racists and Neo-Nazis of various sorts. Their actions, alone, would not be enough to account for the rise in antisemitic incidents in recent years. There are other factors as well. The rise of Islam in the West certainly plays a role, as does the growing Marxist influence on the political Left.
Obviously, Catholics cannot remain Catholic and play any kind of a role in this. The following is official Catholic teaching from the Second Vatican Council…
As Holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognize the time of her visitation, nor did the Jews in large number, accept the Gospel; indeed not a few opposed its spreading. Nevertheless, God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues-such is the witness of the Apostle. In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and “serve him shoulder to shoulder” (Soph. 3:9).
Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.
True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.
Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.
Besides, as the Church has always held and holds now, Christ underwent His passion and death freely, because of the sins of men and out of infinite love, in order that all may reach salvation. It is, therefore, the burden of the Church’s preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God’s all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows.NOSTRA AETATE, 4
PROCLAIMED BY HIS HOLINESS
POPE PAUL VI
ON OCTOBER 28, 1965
Now I know, some Catholics have issues with Vatican II. Truth be told, I really don’t care. My position on Vatican II is well known. It is identical to the position held by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Paul VI. So if you have a problem with my position on Vatican II, then you have a problem with the position of these two popes. Argue against them, not me. As far as I’m concerned this is the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church, which is echoed by the new Catechism, and supported by sixteen-hundred years of Church tradition. All forms of Antisemitism, and anti-Jewish bigotry, are rejected and repudiated by the Catholic Church.
This is well supported by pre-conciliar Catholic teaching…
Saint Paul, the author of much of the New Testament, himself a Jewish rabbi before becoming an Apostle, had something to say on this topic…
I ask then, did God reject his people? May it never be! For I also am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God didn’t reject his people, which he foreknew…
…Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace….
…What then? That which Israel seeks for, that he didn’t obtain, but the chosen ones obtained it, and the rest were hardened. According as it is written, “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear, to this very day.”…
…I ask then, did they stumble that they might fall? May it never be! But by their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy…
…For if the rejection of them is the reconciling of the world, what would their acceptance be, but life from the dead? If the first fruit is holy, so is the lump. If the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the root and of the richness of the olive tree, don’t boast over the branches. But if you boast, it is not you who support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.” True; by their unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by your faith. Don’t be conceited, but fear; for if God didn’t spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. See then the goodness and severity of God. Toward those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness; otherwise you also will be cut off. They also, if they don’t continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.Romans 11:1-2, 5, 7, 8, 11, 15-23
Read the Whole Chapter Here
From the writings of Christian Scripture, it should be pretty obvious. Do not boast against the Jews. Don’t be conceited. Fear God! For he can do the same to you as he did to them. And God can save them just as easily by bringing them to faith in Christ. Perhaps the resurgence of Paganism and Heathenism, in these latter times, among some Europeans and North Americans, is an example of how easily God can turn the tables, cutting off the prideful Gentiles while bringing more Jews into Christianity, even into his Catholic Church.
Saint Augustine, one of the most influential figures of Western Catholic theology, preached in around AD 400 that the Jews must be protected for their ability to explain the Old Testament.
In AD 598, in reaction to anti-Jewish attacks by Christians in Palermo, Pope Gregory the Great brought Augustine’s teachings into Church Law, by writing epistles stating that even though Jews had not accepted salvation through Christ, and were therefore condemned by God until such time as they accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah and King, Christians are nevertheless bound to protect the Jews as an important part of Christian civilization.
In the 12th century, after the attacks on Jews by the First Crusade, in which about five-thousand Jews were slaughtered, Pope Callixtus II issued Sicut Judaeis in AD 1120, a papal bull which served as a charter of protection to Jews in Europe. From that moment onward, it became illegal for Christians to physically bring harm to the Jewish people or to use methods of coercion against them. That doesn’t mean that every Catholic followed the pope’s teaching. Some of them didn’t, and in fact, some of those were royalty. However, the precedent had been set within the Catholic Church. Jews are to be protected, not persecuted. This bull was reaffirmed by many popes including Alexander III (AD 1159 – 1181), Celestine III (AD 1191-1198), Innocent III (AD 1199), Honorius III (AD 1216), Gregory IX (AD 1235), Innocent IV (AD 1246), Alexander IV (AD 1255), Urban IV (AD 1262), Gregory X (AD 1272-1274), Nicholas III, Martin IV (AD 1281), Honorius IV (AD 1285-1287), Nicholas IV (AD 1288-1292), Clement VI (AD 1348), Urban V (AD 1365), Boniface IX (AD 1389), Martin V (AD 1422), and Nicholas V (AD 1447). The bull forbade Christians, on pain of excommunication, from forcing Jews to convert, from harming them, from stealing their property, from disturbing their celebrations, and from vandalizing with their cemeteries.
Now, in the centuries that followed, this teaching was ignored by many, and even some future popes (as I’ve said before, it is possible to have bad popes), until the 20th century when on September 6, 1938, Pope Pius XI issued the following statement…
Antisemitism is incompatible with the thought and the sublime reality expressed in this text. It is alien to us, a movement in which we Christians can have no part. The promise was made to Abraham and to his descendants. It is realized in Christ, and through Christ in us who are members of his mystical body. Through Christ and in Christ we are the spiritual descendants of Abraham. No, it is not possible for Christians to take part in antisemitism. We acknowledge for all the right to defend themselves, to adopt measures of protection against what threatens their legitimate interests. But antisemitism is inadmissible. Spiritually, we are Semites.Pope Pius XI, September 6, 1938
La Documentation Catholique (1938), pp. 1459-1460
Pope Pius XI also approved the only papal encyclical ever written in German, Mit brennender Sorge, which condemned the Nazi regime, and the entire philosophical premise behind it, namely its idolizing of race.
While Soviet propaganda states that his successor, Pope Pius XII, was complicit with the Nazis in the Holocaust, recent evidence released from the Vatican Secret Archives not only disproves this Soviet propaganda (propaganda eagerly embraced by the Western mainstream media by the way), but appears to indicate a strong possibility that the pope may have been involved in Operation Valkyrie, a failed attempt to assassinate Adolph Hitler. This is well documented in the book Church of Spies.
Then, in the Second Vatican Council, as previously stated, the Catholic Church’s position on its relation to the Jewish people, and the prohibition of their mistreatment, was so clearly stated that it’s now impossible for any sane person to assert antisemitic (or anti-Jewish) tendencies in Catholic teaching.
That said, this is in no way a blanket endorsement of Judaism. It is not. Jewishness is an ethnic and cultural thing. Judaism is a religion. They are different. Jewishness applies to those things related to the Jewish people throughout history, both before and after Christ. Judaism applies to the religion, created by the Pharisees, following the destruction of the Second Temple in AD 70. We must make a clear and unmistakable distinction here. Protection of a people is not tantamount to an endorsement of their religion. One could say the same thing about protecting Buddhist people, but that’s not the same as endorsing the Buddhist religion.
The Catholic Church protects the Jewish people but at the same time, the Church does not endorse the religion of Judaism. That’s a very important distinction that must be pointed out. This is because the religion of Judaism is directly opposed to the claims of the Catholic Church, the chief one being that Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah. We can talk about the various things written in the Talmud, or all the supposed conspiracies and cabals that surround Jews in government, media and education. None of this really matters though, whether true or not, because the bottom line is that the religion of Judaism rejects Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah. So it is therefore antichrist and anti-christian. The Catholic Church cannot ever endorse apostasy, which is what this is, and so it can never be misconstrued that supporting the protection of Jewish people is the same thing as endorsing Judaism. It is not.
Now, as for those conspiracies and cabals, both of which are insignificant in the shadow of rejecting Jesus Christ, I think its safe to say that most of them are either false or exaggerated. While we could probably point to a Jew here or there, who seems to fit into the conspiracy and cabal narrative, the vast majority of Jews (especially those who live in North America) are just regular people, who work regular jobs, and worry about the same regular things everyone else does, such as paying their bills and their taxes. They have no part in any conspiracy or cabal. Most of them have barely read the Torah (first five books of the Bible), and have never read the Talmud. If they go regularly to a synagogue (and most of them don’t) then probably the most exposure they ever get to Jewish teachings comes from their rabbi, most of whom are usually politically-correct, and try not to stir up any trouble with neighboring Christians. In other words, the average Jewish life is rather innocuous, ordinary and dull. This is especially true in North America, as most Jews just want to be recognized as good American (and Canadian) citizens who are loyal to their country and their neighborhoods.
When Christians have an issue with something like Globalism, rather than blaming Jews, just blame the Globalists. That covers all the bases, doesn’t it? Whether these Globalists be Jews, Christians, Atheists or something else. When Christians have an issue with something like Zionism, rather than blaming Jews, just blame the Zionists. Not all Zionists are Jews you know.
By the way, Catholics cannot be Zionists.
It may shock some people to learn that Zionism (unconditional support for the Israeli Republic) is sometimes controversial within the Jewish community too. Not all Jews are Zionists, and those who are don’t always agree with politics in the Israeli Republic. It would probably surprise most people to learn that there are far more Evangelical-Christian Zionists in America than Jewish Zionists. It would probably be fair to say that Evangelical-Christian Zionists outnumber Jewish Zionists by at least ten to one, and that is an extremely conservative estimate. The ratio is probably much higher, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of five-hundred to one. In North America, Zionism is more of an Evangelical-Christian thing, than a Jewish thing, and that’s a fact.
I have always said, and I stand by this statement, that Zionism would have never gotten off the ground, and most Jews would have never felt an overwhelming need to return to their ancestral homeland, if Christians in Europe and North America just acted more like Christians toward them. Evangelicals say they love Jews. Good for them! So show it by being nice to them here, in North America, so they never feel the need to go to the Israeli Republic. I say the same for Catholics and mainline Protestants. Make Jews feel welcome and at home here. That’s how you combat Zionism in the most effective way.
I think the important thing to remember in all of this is the concept of Christian charity. Since the days of the Apostles, the objective of the Gospel has been to reach out to the Jewish people. We can’t do that with Antisemitism, or Anti-Jewish bigotry of any kind. These things are a hindrance, a stumbling block, to the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Any Christian who engages in this lack of charity will inevitably destroy his own witness for Christ, and likely push Jews further away from the truth. That thought alone, the thought of working against Christ and his Gospel, ought to be terrifying to the mind of any Christian. One need not fawn over Jews, or give them undue attention, and trust me when I say they don’t want it, but common decency and kindness (basic civility) should be the cornerstone of all Christian relations with Jews, and everyone else for that matter.
Shane Schaetzel is an Evangelical convert to the Catholic Church through Anglicanism and was trained as a catechist through the University of Dayton – a Catholic Marianist Institution. Shane’s articles have been featured on LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant, The Remnant Newspaper, Forward in Christ, and Catholic Online. Shane is an author of Catholic books, which can be read here.