Catholic Church

Léon de Poncins: The Problem with the Jews at the Council, Part IV

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X: ISRAEL AND THE REVOLTS OF THE MIND[1] 

The Jewish antagonism has been manifested in a continuous—even if underhanded—manner in the two thousand year course of the Judeo-Christian clash. “The Jew—James Darmesteter tells us—was the champion of reason against the mythical mind; in the intellectual night of the Middle Ages, only in it did he think that he could find asylum. Provoked by the Church which wants to persuade him, after having tried in vain to convert him by force, he undermines with irony and perspicacity some of her controversies, and, like no one else, knows how to find the vulnerabilities of her doctrine. The understanding of the Sacred Books, and even more the terrible sagacity of the oppressed, are his means to discover those points. He is the doctor of the incredulous; all the revolts of the mind are presented to him in the shade or under an open sky. He worked in the immense forge of curses of the great Emperor Frederick and of the princes of Swabia or Aragon; he fashions together this deadly arsenal of reasoning and irony that he offered then to the skeptical of the Renaissance and the libertines of the Seventeenth Century. And the sarcasm of Voltaire is none other than the heavy echo of a word murmured six centuries earlier, in the shade of the ghetto, or, even earlier, (in the Counter-Gospel of the I and II Century) at the time of Celsus and Origen, and at the very origins of the religion of Christ.”[2]

For his part, Elie Faure (1873-1937), whose works were recently reprinted and highly publicized, talks about “this sarcastic snickering (Heine, Offenbach) towards all that is not Jewish […]. His ruthless analysis and his irresistible sarcasm acted as vitriol.” Following the course of our history, “it is easy to follow the trail, and although it is not possible to quantify the dissemination of Jewish thought, after its passage we can take note of its destructive power. Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein, Marcel Proust, Charlie Chaplin opened up to us, in all senses, the prodigious streets which demolish the narrow lanes of the Classic Greco-Latin and Catholic edifice in which for five or six centuries the burning doubt of the Jewish soul was waiting for opportunities to destroy it. For it is necessary to note that its [sc. that of the Jewish soul] own skeptical pole appears to emerge for the first time from the complete silence that surrounds the action of the Jewish mind in the Middle Ages, silence in the middle of which, from the Renaissance onwards, some voices burst forth, and which [sc. silence] today is annihilated by a great din.”

Yes, “is it possible to consider the Jew as anything other than a demolisher armed with corrosive doubts who, since the time of the Greeks, has always opposed Israel to the sentimental idealism of Europe? […] His historic mission is clearly defined, and perhaps forever. It will be the main factor of each apocalyptic period, as it was at the end of the ancient world, and as it will be at the end of the Christian world in which we live.”[3] Read more

Léon de Poncins: The Problem with the Jews at the Council, Part III

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VII: JUDAISM’S STRUGGLE AGAINST THE CATHOLIC TRADITION

In fact, behind the appearance of an ecumenical search for a reconciliation between religions and other equally seductive words, it was a matter of demolishing the bulwark of Catholic Tradition, defined by Josué Jéhouda as “the ancient fortress of Christian obscurantism.” According to Jéhouda, there were three attempts at the “straightening out of Christianity,” which “sought to cleanse the Christian conscience of the miasmata of hatred”; three attempts at the straightening out of Christian theology which had become suffocating and paralyzing; “three open breaches in the old fortress of Christian obscurantism.” In fact, three important stages in the destruction of traditional Christianity:

The Renaissance
The Protestant Reformation
The French Revolution

In these three major movements, Jéhouda perceives the wonderful work of dechristianization to which each of them, in various forms, has powerfully contributed. He does not tell us this so brutally, since he is very skillful at handling the artifices of language, but that bursts forth clearly from his writings, as we will show with some quotes extracted from his works:

“The Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the French Revolution represent the three attempts at straightening out the Christian mentality to put it in tune with the progressive development of reason and science, and while dogmatic Christianity continued to make itself obscure, the Jews were gradually emancipating themselves.”

Speaking of the Renaissance, he maintains:

“We can affirm that if the Renaissance had not deviated from its original course in favor of the dualized Greek world, we would have had without a doubt a world unified by the creative thought and doctrine of the Kabbalah.”[1] Read more

Léon de Poncins: The Problem with the Jews at the Council, Part II

IV. Jules Isaac and the Church Fathers

In the second of these works—Genèse de l’antisémitisme—published in 1956, Jules Isaac strove to discredit the Fathers of the Church. It is impossible to summarize in a few words a volume of 350 pages. Let us limit ourselves to mentioning some of its most characteristic passages:

It is true that in the pagan world there was a strong current of anti-Semitism, much earlier than Christian anti-Semitism; it is equally true that this anti-Semitism has at times sparked bloody conflicts or ‘pogroms.’ Just as there was a pagan anti-Semitism, whose origin dates back to the divine commandment, in what would Christianity find its justification for having inherited it (after having been itself a victim of it for a long time), and even more, after having pushed to paroxysm its virulence, malignity, calumnies and mortal hatreds? Against Judaism and its followers, no weapon has been more fearful than the ‘teaching of contempt,’ especially inculcated by the Fathers of the Church of the fourth century; and in this teaching no thesis was more harmful than the ‘deicide people.’ The Christian mentality is still steeped in the depths of its subconscious. . . . To fail to recognize this and not to stress it is equivalent to ignoring or disguising the largest source of Christian anti-Semitism.”[1] . . .

The ‘teaching of contempt’ is a theological creation.[2]

The blind violence of the ignorant masses is intimately linked to the cold science of the theologians. A fundamental accusation to which is linked the theme of capital punishment, of the terrible curse that rests on the shoulders of Israel, explaining (and justifying in advance) its unfortunate fate, its most cruel trials, the worst violence committed against it, torrents of blood flowing continually from its open and living wounds. . . .

So that through a skilful manipulation, alternately, of doctrinal judgments and popular anger one makes fall back on God what, when viewed from the terrestrial sphere, is without doubt the result of human wickedness, this perversity, skillfully exploited in different ways from century to century, from generation to generation, and which culminated in Auschwitz, in the gas chambers and crematory ovens of Nazi Germany.[3] Read more

The role of Jewish converts to Catholicism in changing traditional Catholic teachings on Jews

In a previous article, “Benzion Netanyahu: Jewish Activist and Intellectual Apologist,” I discussed the activities of New Christian intellectuals in 15th-century Spain in developing an interpretation of Christianity and Judaism in which Judaism was presented very positively:

These intellectuals presented Jews as a genetically separate religious group composed of morally superior individuals and distinguished by a superior genetic heritage. On this basis, the New Christians argued that they were therefore worthy of being the progenitors of Christ who was born a Jew. (This appeals to Christians who naturally want to believe that Jesus came from a superior genetic stock.)  The basic strategy was to realize that Christianity could serve as a perfectly viable ideology in which Christian Jews could retain their ethnic solidarity, but with a Christian religious veneer.

What I didn’t point out was that some of the the main New Christian apologists, such as Alonso de Cartagena (whose writings are discussed in Chapter 7 of Separation and Its Discontents, p. 210ff), were not only converts from Judaism but also held high positions within the Catholic Church—obviously an ideal position from which alter Christian theology about Judaism. They were quite successful, at least temporarily:

As has undoubtedly often been the case in other eras (see, e.g., the discussion of the Dreyfus case in Chapter 6), the [New Christian] apologists were intellectually far more sophisticated than their opponents, and collectively they dominated the literature of the period. … Their arguments, while necessarily departing from orthodox Christian arguments in their defense of the Jews, are presented in a highly literate, scholarly style that undoubtedly commanded respect from an educated audience. They were highly skilled in developing the very intricate, tortured arguments necessary to overcome the existing anti-Jewish bias of Christian theology. The result of all this intellectual activity was a stunning, if temporary, victory over the Toledo rebels of 1449 … . The rebels were soon regarded by the public as moral, religious, and political renegades; they were excommunicated by the pope, and their leaders were imprisoned and executed. (p. 212) Read more

Synagogue of Satan? The Theological Significance of the Destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70, Part 2

Was the Destruction of the Jerusalem Temple an Act of Divine Vengeance?

At least one mainstream scholar, GWH Lampe, acknowledges that the belief “that the fall of Jerusalem avenged Christ’s death became a commonplace of later Christian apologetic.”[1]  Most famously, Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) declared that “the Jews who slew Him, and would not believe in Him…were yet more miserably wasted by the Romans, and utterly rooted out from their kingdom” to be “dispersed through the lands” as “a testimony to us that we have not forged the prophecies about Christ.”  Augustine specifically rejects the notion that an “inseparable relationship” exists between Old Israel and the Christian church: “those Israelites who persist in being His enemies…shall forever remain in the separation which is here foretold.”[2]

The church historian, Eusebius of Caesarea (263–339 AD) was of a like mind; he thought it fitting that three million Jews thronged into Jersusalem, “as if to a prison” to “receive the destruction meted out by divine justice.”  He related some of the horrors of that tragedy “so that readers may learn how quickly God’s punishment followed their crime against Christ.”  Moreover, Eusebius, attributed to Josephus the belief that these “things happened to the Jews as retribution for James the Just, who was a brother of Jesus who was called Christ, for the Jews killed him despite his great righteousness.”[3]  Justin Martyr (100–165 AD) agreed that it was right and just that Jerusalem was destroyed for the Jews “killed the Righteous One and his prophets before him.”  Origen and Tertullian also shared that view.[4]  Melito of Sardis (died ca 180 AD) gave a compelling poetic expression to the view that the Jews had received their just deserts when “the Lord thundered out of heaven, and the Highest gave voice to his vengeful wrath against Old Israel by dashing the Temple to the ground.[5] Read more

Synagogue of Satan? The Theological Significance of the Destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in AD 70, Part 1

Destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by Francesco Hayez

Introduction

Trudy Pert suggests that the crisis of modern Christianity deepened when mid-nineteenth century Protestant theologians embraced the higher criticism.  Especially in Germany, the traditional devotional approach to the Bible was replaced by the “objective” techniques of historical and literary criticism.  As a consequence, educated Christians turned their attention away from the “supernatural Christ” to the “historical Jesus.”  A new sort of Kulturprotestantismus, or cultural Christianity, was born: Jesus Christ became a teacher of ethics rather than the incarnation of the divine.  The crisis was real enough; it reflects a continuing failure by Christians to recognize the pivotal moment when the “supernatural Christ” burst back into human history to avenge both the crucifixion of the “historical Jesus” and the persecution of his faithful followers during their forty year mission to the ends of the earth.

In AD 70, Roman armies under Titus besieged Jerusalem to crush a long-running Jewish rebellion.  Their triumph was a bloody affair; not only was the city sacked and pillaged but, according to the contemporary Jewish historian Josephus, the dead, most of whom “were pure and holy” Jews, numbered over one million.[i]  The Romans also systematically destroyed the massive Temple complex.  In doing so, they ripped out the redemptive heart of Old Israel.  The massive Temple complex was the hub around which revolved the ritual observance of the Mosaic Law underlying Israel’s covenant with Yahweh.  For Jews and Romans, alike, the destruction of the Temple was an act of world-historical significance.  But the meaning of that cataclysmic event was not confined to the realm of secular history. Read more

FSSPX and the One-Sided Relation of the Vatican with the Jews

The discussions between the Pius X-Brotherhood (FSSPX) and the Vatican are drawing to an end and never has FSSPX been so close to a full reunion. The possible reconciliation between the Vatican and FSSPX is making the Jews very nervous.

The relationship between FSSPX and the Jews was already hostile before the Williamson affair in 2009. In 2006 FSSPX was accused of anti-Semitism in a report on Traditional Catholicism by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) (see also here). The allegations include Holocaust-denial, spreading of conspiracy theories about Jewish domination and negative stereotyping of jews. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has branded FSSPX as being “mired in antisemitism.”  FSSPX is negative about the French revolution and its republican ideals and is positively inclined towards the Vichy Regime (1940–1944), which was strongly Catholic and imposed anti-Jewish policies in France. FSSPX officially has no political affiliations, but there are strong links with leading members of the National Front, like Marine Le Pen.

FSSPX is basically a protest-movement within the Roman-Catholic Church, founded by the late Mgr. Lefebvre in 1970 as a reaction to the outcome of Vatican II. According to FSSPX, Vatican II has led to the dominance of the cultural left in the Church and important breaches with tradition, especially the Holy Mass. Vatican II has led to a more positive official attitude towards Jews: “Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God.” The prayer for the conversion of the Jews on Good Friday was dropped.

This one-sided outreach towards Jews has until now not been met by similar gestures from the Jewish side, despite persistent insulting religious texts against Christ (and Christianity). In 2007 Cardinal Francis George of the Archdiocese of Chicago had the courage to bring op this topic with a call of a more two-sided approach, mentioning as particularly offensive “descriptions of Jesus as a “bastard.”

It does work both ways. Maybe this is an opening to say, “Would you care to look at some of the Talmudic literature’s description of Jesus as a bastard, and so on, and maybe make a few changes in some of that?” Read more