The Catholic Church and the Jews
The Holy Pope Pius XII who died in 1958 has been vilified for many years by Jews who claim that Pope Pius XII did nothing to save their people from being murdered by the millions . Even when these same Jews admit that Pius XII actually did save many Jews from the gas chambers they, nonetheless, complain that he didn't do enough. They have made it quite clear over the years that Hitler's Final Solution was actually the culmination of what they have perceived to be the Church's "antisemitic" policies over the centuries . To these Jews the Christian religion as a whole and the Roman Catholic Church in particular are responsible for the constant persecution, oppression of and prejudice toward the Israelite people for the last 2000 years. They point to such Catholic institutions as the Spanish Inquisition, the segregation of Jews during the middle ages in Catholic countries and the fact that the Church has always taught that the leaders of the Sanhedrine at the time of Christ handed Him over to the Romans to be Crucified actually laid the foundation for the Nazi hatred of the Jews and the subsequent attempted genocide.
So the complaining goes on and on as Roman Catholics are subjected to the constant accusations of the Zionists who refuse to forgive and forget but instead make everyone's life miserable about past events that no one can do anything about. It must be noted that not all Jews feel this way. And, in fact, many of them are grateful to the thousands of Christians who risked and even sacrificed their lives to protect and save hundreds of thousands of Jews from torture and death. They are also grateful to the Christian armies of America who fought and died to end the totalitarian stranglehold of the Nazis over all of Europe. The reality is that the Jews were saved from extinction by some of the same people, i.e. Christians, whom the Zionists claim are responsible for the holocaust. The Zionists fan the fires of prejudice and hatred against Christians by constantly setting themselves up against Christianity, its culture and even its morality which has its roots in the Israelite religion. These secular Jews do not believe in the Torah or the Mosaic Law. They are basically atheists who use their heritage merely as a tool to further their liberal/atheistic and socialist agenda. Orthodox Jews cannot stand these people and there are constant battles behind the scenes, even within Israel itself, regarding what they consider to be the heresy of liberal Jews. Nevertheless, liberal Jews are the ones we hear about because they make the loudest noise.
In this two part article I will examine the above claims of liberal Jews; compare those claims to orthodox Jews and give an objective analysis of the role the Roman Catholic Church has played down through the centuries especially during World War II in the lives of the Jewish people.
The liberal Zionists claim that the Catholic Church fostered an atmosphere of hatred against them because the Church claimed that they were ultimately responsible for the Crucifixion and death of Jesus. They point to the persistent antisemitic epithet leveled against them that they are "Christ killers." But the official teaching of the Catholic Church on this issue does not support their accusations.
First of all, the Church has always taught that Jesus died on the cross because He was destined to do so for the salvation of the world. Every person who ever lived or who shall live in the future, except Jesus and Mary, are responsible for the suffering, crucifixion and death of Jesus. As St. Paul says, "Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one Man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men." (Romans 5:18)
By our sins we have ALL crucified Christ and we are all responsible for His death. The people of Israel have suffered the consequences of the actions of their forefathers. For it is demonstrated in the Old Testament over and over again that the people suffer most when the leaders sin and reject the will of God. The Old Testament is replete with examples of how God punishes and exiles the Chosen people from the land He has promised them because they have worshipped false gods or disobeyed His will. The prophets continually warned them to turn away from the evil they were doing or they would suffer the consequences. (Deut. 18:15-19)
When the Jewish leaders refused to embrace Christ and through jealousy renounced Jesus as a fraud they brought upon themselves and their people the consequences of their actions. (Jeremiah 16:12-13) In their stubbornness they still refused to admit the evil of their leaders so God removed them from their land for nearly 1900 years. The consequences of their rejection of the Messiah reached a climax in the Shoah (Nazi Holocaust) where nearly 6,000,000 Jews were murdered mercilessly by the antichrist, Hitler. Through political maneuvering they have finally been brought back to their land. Yet they continue in their stubborn denial that Jesus is the Messiah. So God has given them over to those who hate Israel. They are not only surrounded by enemies, the enemies they most often fight are those in their own ranks who continue to cause divisions and chaos. Even within the State of Israel itself there are great divisions. The Hass'ids, the most orthodox of Jews do not accept the State of Israel as it now exists. They live there but they refuse to vote in elections or participate in the government because it is a secular government based on secular principles rather than a government based on the Law of Moses. When a recent prime minister of Israel was assassinated it was not by a Palestinian but by another Jew! Nevertheless, Terrorists are constantly attacking the people of Israel and as a result they live in constant fear. The point is that the present government of Israel is not a Theocracy as God had originally established it nor is it the kind of Kingdom God established during the time of David, rather it is a modern secular State where God's intention for Israel has been ignored. In this sense the Jews have not really returned to Judea as prophecied in the Old Testament. Instead they remain dispersed throughout the world because of their disobedience. They have not yet learned their lesson even after God allowed the Shoah. They are being called to accept their Messiah. In order to really come home they must embrace completely the Roman Catholic Church, entering her with tears of rejoicing. For it is in her and only in her that they will find the peace and comfort for which they long. The Catholic Faith is their religion after all. It is the perfection of the religion of Moses. It is in the Catholic Church that the religion of Israel was made a chosen nation, a royal priesthood, a people set apart. They were cast out of the Holy Land not because God hated them but because He loves them. They went through rejection by men in order to be humbled that they might repent and return to God.
The Spanish Inquisition
It has been spread among the Jews that the Inquisition in Spain targeted them, and the Moors specifically, for persecution. This is totally false. The Inquisition investigated only the lives of Roman Catholics who by their actions were subverting the social order of both Church and State. It must be remembered that during this period of history the Church and State were basically two sides of the same coin. There was no such concept of separation of Church and State. This actually is a modern concept. Therefore from the time of Constantine in the 300's through the 1800's the Church and the State were in a symbiotic relationship each relying on the other and in the ideal situation each supporting the other in its objective of protecting those under their charge.
In the Spain of the 1400 & 1500's the Church and State had worked for nearly 600 years in a crusade against the invasion of the Muslims who were bent on destroying Christian culture to further the religion of Islam. From the time of El Cid (Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar) through the time of Ferdinand and Isabella Spain was in a constant struggle to unify all of its Christian communities into one nation. The Kings of Spain had been imbued by the Faith of Christ and had given their lives to bring unity and security to the people of Spain. The atmosphere was therefore nearly intolerable to those who were Muslim or Jewish. They attempted to fit into the Spanish cultural matrix but in most cases they were outsiders who had few rights because they we not Catholic. When Ferdinand and Isabella ruled Spain they had basically consolidated the powers of Spain into one government based almost without exception upon Roman Catholic principles. Anyone who was a part of this structure was required to promote it and do whatever was necessary to further the physical and spiritual security of the people. If anyone who accepted this culture attempted to subvert it through heresy, immorality or pacts with the devil they were seen as a threat to the whole society . A heretic or apostate was considered more dangerous than a murderer.
"As holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognize God's moment when it came (Lk.. 19:42). Jews for the most part did not accept the Gospel; on the contrary, many opposed the spreading of it (Rom.11:28). Even so, the apostle Paul maintains that the Jews remain very dear to God, for the sake of the patriarchs, since God does not take back the gifts he bestowed or the choice he made. Together with the prophets and that same apostle, the Church awaits the day, known to God alone, when all people will call on God with one voice and serve him shoulder to shoulder" (Wisdom 3:9, Is. 66:23; Ps.. 65:4; Rom. 11:11-32)."
Even though the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ (Jn. 19:6), neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during His passion.(Vatican II, Nostra Aetate)
The above quotations coming from the Second Vatican Council express the Church's constant belief that the Jews as a people cannot be held responsible for the crimes of their leaders during the time of Christ. It must always be pointed out that the Founder of the Catholic Church was, in His human nature, a Jew and the very pillars of the Catholic Church, the Apostles were all Jews. Nonetheless, as was stated in Part 1 of this article, the Jews who then and now refuse to accept Christ, their own Messiah, then God out of love for His People, will continue to chastize them until they return to Him with all their heart. The Catholic Church is merely the perfection of the religion of Moses and it is truly the new Jerusalem established by God for the salvation of all mankind. Until the Jews recognize this reality they will remain a scattered people.
Although both the Jews and the Muslims were ghettoized and not given the full benefits of citizens in Spain, especially during the inquisition, neither group was targeted nor subjected to the inquisition.The inquisition was, in fact, directed entirely toward those who claimed to be Roman Catholic. It was an attempt by the Catholic Church to inquire into the lives of particular "Catholics" who were seen as a possible threat to the social fabric that had taken centuries to build into a solid unicultural People. It was found that there were many supposed "converts" to the Catholic Faith, from the Jewish community in particular, who had actually not converted at all but feined conversion in order to obtain the full rights of Catholic citizens. They infiltrated even the clergy and it was here that the inquisition made its most profound impact. The Church saw these individuals as a direct threat to her integrity and she did something about it. It must be recognized that the Church has the right to defend itself against attack especially from those who are a threat to her very essence.
When one reads about antisemitism during the Medieval period one finds that antisemitism was an aberation that seemed to be used by certain people when it fit their purpose. For instance if a particular Lord or Nobleman of a region wanted more land or wealth he would put pressure on the Jewish community by creating higher taxes or he might even attack them and confiscate their property altogether doing so in the name of Christ to justify his actions. This kind of behavior was always condemned by the official Church.
Now this is not to excuse the Church for its often deplorable lack of compassion and mercy over the ages toward the "gentiles" outside her embrace. Many times the leaders of the Church ignored the blantant persecution of the Jews by the laity, noblemen and even the clergy. Society at that time was based on a delicate balance between Church and State. The Jews and Muslims were, for the most part, left alone unless they caused some disruption of the social equilibrium. Nevertheless, there were laws throughout Byzantium and Europe that forbade intermarriage between Jews and Christians and even Capital punishment was meted for Christians who converted to Judaism but the Jews were not denied citizenship.
It is interesting to note that from the time of the collapse of the Roman Empire in Italy through the Middle Ages the Jews excelled at international commerce particularly as it applied to the slave trade. Their mastery of commerce became an essential part the economy of Europe and the Middle East during this same period of time and the Christian Kings as well as the Muslims became dependent upon the trade routes maintained and established by the Jews.
It is also of particular interest that the Jews of Italy and especially of Rome under the Roman Pontiff fared very well and were justly treated. Unfortunately, many of those with secular power especially during the time of the Crusades persecuted the Jews unmercifully. At the same time many princes and bishops attempted to stop the persecution of the Jews but their admonitions were unheeded. An example of the Pope coming to the defense of the Jews can be found in a letter written by Pope Innocent IV in 1247. The following is an excerpt of a letter the Pope wrote to the bishops of France and Germany:
"Certain (individuals) of the clergy, as well as, princes, nobles and great Lords of your cities and diocese have falsely devised certain godless plans against the Jews, unjustly depriving them by force of their property, and appropriating it themselves;... they falsely charge them with dividing up among themselves on the Passover the heart of a murdered boy. In their malice, they ascribe every murder, wherever it chances to occur, to the Jews. And on the ground of these and other fabrications, they are filled with rage against them, rob them of their possessions without any formal accusation, without confession, and without legal trial and conviction, contrary to the privileges granted to them by theApostolic See. They oppress the Jews by starvation, imprisonment, and by tortures and sufferings; they afflict them with all kinds of punishments and sometimes even condemn them to death, so that the Jews, although living under Christian princes, are in a worse plight than were their ancestors in the land of the Pharaohs. They are driven to leave in despair the land in which their fathers have dwelt since the memory of man. Since it is our pleasure that they shall not be disturbed,...we ordain that ye behave towards them in a friendly and kind manner. Whenever any unjust attacks upon them come under your notice, redress their injuries and do not suffer them to be visited in the future by similar tribulations."
Even though the Inquisition in Spain was not leveled against the Jews it is true that they were exiled from Spain due to the edicts of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella who wanted their entire realm to be Catholic and to remain Catholic forever. This exile obviously caused great hardship for the thousands of Jews that were forced to leave their homes and businesses.
The terrible persecutions that took place against the children of Israel during the last 2000 years cannot be defended. Superstition, lies and mob mentality have caused untold suffering for these poor people. Nonetheless, the point of this article is to emphasize the fact that the official position of the Church, especially from the Popes themselves, has always been to protect the Jews from violence and persecution. The above excerpt from the letter of Pope Innocent IV shows the prevailingPapal attitude. Consequently the Jews of Italy, particularly in Rome, Florence, and Naples fared much better than in other places throughout Europe. In the Sixteenth Century the Popes had Jewish physicians and wrote extensively to the Church in Spain to treat the Jews with compassion. It was in Catholic Holland that the Jews fared best and actually thrived during a time in which they had many enemies.
Luther, The Protestants and the Jews
It is a misconception that the Jews fared better under Protestantism. Some of the worst persecutions the Jews ever suffered were at the hands of Protestants. Luther himself, became the greatest opponent of the Jews and his hatred for them poisoned Protestantism for centuries. Luther hated the Jews so much that he conspired with the Protestant princes to expel the Jews by force.
The Modern Period
The Jews really did not experience true liberty from persecution until the mid-1700's. Laws were written to give them the rights of every other citizen. They spread throughout the world and found refuge especially in Catholic Countries in South America. It was not until Hitler wrote "Mein Kampf" in 1924 that hatred against the Jews would flare up again in Germany.
Hitler and the Jews
In Hitler's thought which he expressed in his book "Mein Kampf" the Jews were responsible for not only World War I where two million Germans died but were basically the source of all evil in the world. Little is said about the fact that Hitler also believed that the Christians, especially the Catholic Church aided and abbetted the Jews and eventually were going to suffer the same fate as he planned for the Jews.
Hitler's hatred for the Jews was so extreme that he fomented World War II in order to "prove" that they were the cause of evil in the world and had to be exterminated throughout Europe no matter what the cost in the lives of the German people. In fact, through his mesmerism of the German people and especially of the high ranking military officials he convinced them that the very safety and security of Germany's future rested upon the extermination of the Jews who, he said, would be responsible for the total destruction of the German people.
In the Wannsee Conference of 1942 the policy of Jewish extermination was solidified. The Nazi government estimated a total number of 11 million Jews throughout Europe, including those in England and Ireland. All were slated for extermination.
The allies were well aware of what was going on. They knew that the Jews were being herded into concentration camps and thousands were being killed. They did nothing to stop it. But what they did was to go to Pope Pius XII and asked him to condemn the Nazi policy. They said nothing yet they were the ones who had the resources to fight the war against Hitler. Pope Pius XII had the power and influence of the Papacy but would his condemnation of the Nazis help or hurt the cause of saving the Jews?
The Vatican City state was respected by the Nazi government. It was circled all around by a line of demarcation and the Nazi soldiers were forbidden by Hitler to cross that line. Hitler understood the significance of the Vatican and even though he was insane he was also a skilled military tacticion who knew that to attack the heart of the Catholic Church would bring about a real backlash even from the German people. Nonetheless, his "respect" was merely mercenary. He hated the Church and believed that after he destroyed the Jews and conquered Europe he would begin the process of freeing humanity from Catholicism.
Hitler also hated criticism. He would not tolerate it. When criticized Hitler would continue to move in the same direction for which he was being critized but he would do so to the extreme. Whenever anyone dared to suggest he might be doing something wrong concerning his policies toward the Jews Hitler would react violently against the person who critized him.
The attitude of the intellegent Pope Pius XII must be seen in this light: He knew that to critize Hitler's policy toward the Jews would only contribute to a more violent response against them.
The Duties of a Pope
One of the essential duties of any Pope is to be the Custodian of the Patrimony of the Church, that is, he is required to protect all the treasures of both earthly and spiritual value. Another of his duties is to protect, in so far as he is able, the Flock of Christ from spiritual harm and if possible even physical harm. He does whatever is necessary, short of compromising the Faith, in his efforts to secure all the treasures of the Church passed down to his care. As the father of all the faithful, when confronted with harm to his children, he will do whatever he can to protect them from destruction. Prudence, however, must guide his actions. He must always seek the greater good of all the faithful and he must avoid anything that will exacerbate a bad situation.
Pope Pius XII and Hitler
When Pope Pius XII was confronted with the Nazi threat against the world and in particular against the Church he moved prudently. Pius was one of the most intelligent Popes of the Twentieth Century. He was well aware of Hitler's agenda. He knew that his agenda was the destruction of the Jews. He also realized that he eventually would go after the Catholic Church once his genocide of the Jews was accomplished. Pius was no fool. He studied Hitler intensely. He knew Hitler's reation to criticism and opposition. To oppose Hitler would have put the entire Catholic Church at risk not only in Germany, Poland and France but also within Italy where Musolini had become a mere puppet of the Nazis. By opposing Hitler Pius would sign a death warrant for millions of Catholics and he would forsake the ancient patrimony of the Church.
It is not common knowledge but Pope Pius did write an encyclical which directly condemned both the Nazis and Communism at the same time. However, he never published it. He had been Papal Nuncio in Munich in 1921. He had an excellent grasp of the mentality of the German people. He also understood that Communism was even more evil than German National Socialism because of its insidious nature. Pius was fighting a two front war against two of the greatest enemies the Church she had ever known. If he condemned one he would be forced to condemn the other and to condemn the Communists (Bolsheviks) who were allies with those fighting Hitler would not have been politically advantageous for the allied effort. Finally it was apparent to Pius that he could not condemn Hitler without exascerbating the situation against the Jews. He had received reports of Jews being murdered by the tens of thousands. Pius knew that to publically condemn Hitler would only cause more harm to the Jews and put Catholics in greater peril.
Pope Pius XII realized that if he were going to save the Jews as well as the Catholics he must do it secretly. Therefore, he was instrumental in creating an "underground railroad" similar to the underground railroad which preceeded the war between the States in the America of the 1800's. Through artful political manuverings, by the clandestine support of such men as Monsignor Hugh O'Flaherty and by writing letters to Catholics bishops in Germany, Austria, France and Belgium Pope Pius secretly encouraged Roman Catholics to set up underground networks by which those who were in danger could escape to allied territories. His many letters to Catholic bishops were carefully worded documents that opposed Nazi principles without specific reference to the Nazis themselves.
Through Vatican Diplomats Pope Pius XII effectually saved more Jews than any other one man, government, public organizations or agencies put together. It was Pius and those who cooperated with him who saved hundreds of thousands of Jews. After the war this was well known. So also was it known that hundreds of thousands of Roman Catholics in Italy, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Romania, Hungry and Poland risked their own lives to shelter, hide and protect tens of thousands of Jews. Because of their efforts some of these Catholics were arrested and lost their lives in the Nazi concentration camps.
Because of the hundreds of thousands of Jews saved by Pope Pius XII the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Israel Zolli, was so inspired that he converted to Catholicism and upon his own baptism took the bapismal name "Eugenio" in honor of Pope Pius' baptismal name Eugenio Pacelli. He died in the arms of the Church on the 17th anniversary of Pope Pius XII's election as the Successor of Peter.
It has been verified by all the records available that 860,000 Jews were saved specifically by the efforts of Pope Pius XII. Pope Pius XII is the greatest friend of the children of Israel in modern times.
We have so often heard about the six million Jews that were murdered by the Nazis but how often do we hear about the three million Roman Catholics that were murdered because of their faith in the death camps of the Nazis or the 11 million Roman Catholics who were starved to death by Stalin in Ukraine or the millions of Catholics who have been murdered by the Communist governments in China, Korea and Vietnam. As Roman Catholics we too can sight numerous occassions throughout history of terrible persecution and countless dead. We honor them but we do not constantly complain about their deaths. The Jews should heed our example.