Catholic Church

St. John Chrysostom on the Jews: Creating an Anti-Jewish Group Strategy

Body of St. John Chrysostom (Chapel of the Choir – Basilica of St. Peter – Vatican City)

Body of St. John Chrysostom (Chapel of the Choir – Basilica of St. Peter – Vatican City)

A correspondent just notified me of a blog post from 2010 on St. John Chrysostom by Roger Pearse, a scholar of Christianity in the ancient world (“Some remarks about John Chrysostom’s homilies against the Jews“). Pearse quotes from a 1935 summary of Chrysostom’s writings whose author, A. L. Williams, notes that Chrysostom was motivated by the fact that many Christians were

frequenting Jewish synagogues,  were attracted to the synagogal Fasts and Feasts, sometimes by the claims to superior sanctity made by the followers of the earlier religion, so that an oath taken in a synagogue was more binding than in a church,  and sometimes by the offer of charms and amulets in which Jews of the lower class dealt freely.

Williams concluded:

We gather from these Homilies that the Jews were a great social, and even a great religious, power in Antioch.

Exactly. As discussed in Chapter 3 of Separation and Its Discontents, the phenomenon of Judaizing Christians in the ancient world is a marker of Jewish power at the time. For example, the rather limited anti-Jewish actions of the government during the 150 years following the Edict of Toleration of 313, which included many attempts to ban the common practice of Jews enslaving non-Jews, are interpreted by historian Bernard S. Bachrach “as attempts to protect Christians from a vigorous, powerful, and often aggressive Jewish gens.”  Jews as a powerful group were looked up to and emulated by many non-Jews, just as today we see the same phenomenon, not only Bush-yarmulkaamong many Evangelical Christians, but also Hollywood celebrities who dabble in kabbalah and pretty much the entire non-Jewish political class which we see making pilgrimages to Israel and proudly wearing yarmulkes and displaying menorahs during photo-ops. Read more

The Catholic League on the Weinstein Brothers

As part of our Christmas program here at TOO we highlighted Bad Santa, a film by the Weinstein brothers. The Catholic League has a number of posts on another Weinstein film, Philomena, which is currently in release. This brief comment notes several other anti-Christian movies by the Weinsteins:

[An ad for Philomena in the New York Times] gives high profile to a review by the Times’ Stephen Holden, which says, in part, that the film’s “political subtext” is its “comparison of the church’s oppression and punishment of unmarried sex…with homophobia and the United States government’s reluctance to deal with the AIDS crisis in the 1980s.”

This is a straightforward pitch to anti-Catholic bigots. The Weinsteins are no strangers to Catholic bashing, having made a good living off of it. In 1995, they offered “Priest,” a film featuring nothing but miscreant priests; I succeeded in getting the movie’s opening date moved from Good Friday. In 1998, they gave us “The Butcher Boy,” which starred Sinead O’Connor as a foul-mouthed Virgin Mary. In 1999, we were treated to “Dogma,” where the audience learned of a descendant of Mary and Joseph who works in an abortion clinic. In 2002, they released “40 Days and 40 Nights,” a film that ridiculed a Catholic for giving up sex for Lent. Also opening in 2002 was “The Magdalene Sisters,” a movie that smeared nuns. In 2003, “Bad Santa” opened for the holidays; Santa was cast as a chain-smoking, drunken, foul-mouthed, suicidal, sexual predator. In 2006, “Black Christmas” made a predictably dark statement about the holiday.

In 2013, the Weinsteins released “Philomena,” a tale about an Irish teenager who abandoned her out-of-wedlock son, and who, because of the good efforts of nuns, was adopted by an American couple. Of course, the movie maligns the nuns, as well as Catholic teachings.

It is the sexual maniacs in Hollywood who nurture a debased culture, one that breeds illegitimacy and AIDS. Yet the Weinsteins, and the Times, never stop blaming the Catholic Church, which counsels restraint. Thus have they inverted the victim and the victimizer. Read more

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

Go to Part I

Go to Part II

Go to Part III

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

Go to Part I

Go to Part II

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