Thursday, November 22, 2007

FAITH , CERTAINTY , PARANOIA & ANTI-SEMITISM

Pope Urban II 1095 & the Council of Clairmont- The First Crusade Announced to the Crowd that:
DIEU LE VEULT " GOD WILLS IT "


Chrysotom- about the Jews he said

" When animals have been fattened by having all they want to eat, they get stubborn and hard to manage when animals are unfit for work, they are marked for slaughter, and this is the very thing which the Jews have experienced. By making themselves unfit for work, they have become ready for slaughter. This is why Christ said ' as for my enemies who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them before (me) " p. 213 Carroll


" St. Ambrose declared himself ready to burn synagogues " that there might not be a place where Christ is denied " A synagogue he said is" a haunt of infidels, a home of the impious , a hiding place of madmen, under the damnation of God Himself." ...to order the rebuilding of such a place, once it has been burned, was an act of treason to the faith . " ( p. 207 Carroll )

" Why was he ( Pope Pius XII ) able to " excommunicate all communists in the world in 1949...but not excommunicate a single German or non-German who served Hitler- or even the Catrholic born Hitler himself-as the million-fold willing executioners of the Jewish people?" ( p.49 A Moral Reckoning ,Goldhagen )

" Viewed historically, then, the Holocaust, perpetrated by antisemitic Germans who were aided by antisemitic Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Poles, French, and others, should be regarded as but the largest and most comprehensive in a long history of annihilative onslaughts. " ( p. 36 Goldhagen )


To summarize part of Goldhagen's argument he concludes that the Catholic Church , the Pope & the Vatican did not instruct Catholics not to participate in the oppression and elimination of the Jews because they believed it was not wrong legally or morally to oppress, segregate, deport or kill Jews & if this was so then Catholics participating were not therefore endangering their immortal souls . To understand this we need to examine the history of the Church & how Christianity which at the beginning was a pacifist religion which then changed or evolved into an aggressively militant & powerful organization. As the saying goes " power corrupts absolute power corrupts absolutely".

As I have mentioned previously when you add the concept of " Papal Infallibility " then any policy or theological decision is beyond dispute since the Pope is God's Vicar on earth & what he proclaims must be what God would proclaim . There is then no room for human error or correcting past decisions - if the Church preached against the Jews in 1097 as being the children of Satan then this fact was true then and true always & is therefore an eternal truth . Was the extermination of the Jews therefore God's will and part of God's ultimate plan which the Catholic Church would be duty bound to carry out or facilitate as much as it possibly could.

It is this certainty of one's beliefs & that one's actions are beyond questioning which can have such disastrous consequences leading to mass murder & untold suffering as occurred in the Holocaust . This was not just true about the Catholic Church but also of other institutions, governments & individuals who somehow came to believed with " absolute certainty " that they too like Hitler were doing God's Work or that the elimination of the Jews was for the betterment of Humankind or that racial purity was absolutely essential.

Early Christians & the Jews;
Temple destroyed 70 AD & the notion of the Persecution of The Christian Church

From the beginning Christians saw themselves as being unjustly persecuted which had some truth to it but once the Christians got the upper hand & controlled the Roman Empire they rather than showing the tolerance they had wished for themselves instead they became the persecutors while at the same time continuing to claim to be the besieged & the persecuted.

The Christian persecution complex as it were continues to one degree or another to the present day. Given this siege mentality it is no wonder that the Christian Church in its paranoia began to imagine powerful enemies all around them from the ancient Pagans who were eventually wiped out to the Jews to the Humanist & liberals & democratic forces of later centuries .The heretics were seen as the enemy within who were not merely expressing a difference of opinion on theological points but were agents of the devil who had to rooted out . The Jews were seen by the Church as the eternal enemy who insisted on living amongst the Christians in order it was believed to undermine & eventually destroy Christianity.

But to the Christians they were not merely being besieged by mortal enemies but that these enemies of the Church were acting on behalf of the devil or Anti-Christ . Once a group of people are demonized in this way it becomes easier to abuse & even kill them since they are already damned or can be characterized as being " soulless ". But the early Christians were pacifists so Augustine developed the Just War Theory which later could be used to allow for fighting wars & killing all who are characterized as enemies of the Church & God .

The Jews were singled out from the beginning of Christianity as agents of the devil or of the Anti-Christ. There were of course problems with Islam but the Muslim threat to European Christianity ended by the eight or ninth century & was definitively ended at the latest with the Reconquista of Spain in 1492 . The Christian Crusades as such were for the most part an attempt on the part of the Christians to extend their borders & influence throughout the Middle East & to wipe Islam off of the face of the earth if they could but the Crusades into the Holy Land was a series of miscalculations, missteps & disasters.

As James Carroll points out the Christians could not accept that the Jews were simply not convinced that Jesus was the Messiah & that they continued on with their own religion & traditions , rather the Christians believed there was something nefarious & malevolent going on and so :

"...in this post -temple period, only the synagogue-based movement generally associated with the Pharisees had survived to compete with the Jesus Movement for the legacy of Israel. When these rabbinic Jews , who were building their identity around the Scriptures, rejected claims being made by the Christian Jews, the Christians felt threatened because those same Scriptures functioned as their proof. This conflict found its way into the second, third , fourth,iterations of the story Christians were telling each other and newcomers which is how the Pharisees came to be pressed into service as the main antagonists of Jesus even though they had been no such thing ." ( p. 562-563 -Carroll )

And further the Christians chose to believe the Jews had plotted against Jesus & continued to plot against the Christians down through the centuries :

" So as Christians felt themselves and their movement to be mortally challenged by the refusal of their fellow Jews to affirm their Messianic understanding of Jesus , it was a small step to lay the actual death of Jesus at the feet not so much of Rome as of these rejecting Jews. Christians accounted for the the rejection they were experiencing by making a version of that rejection- " his own people received him not "- central to the experience of Jesus, not just in his passion but throughout his life ". ( p. 563 Carroll )

And as Goldhagen in his book A Moral Reckoning argues the Christian Church was not satisfied with living in peace within its own sphere of influence but believed that it had a right & a duty i.e. the Great Commission, to spread its message & its authority throughout the world by force if necessary :

" For centuries the Catholic Church, this pan-European institution of world hegemonic aspirations, the central spiritual, moral, and instructional institution of European Civilization, harbored antisemitism at its core, as an integral part of its doctrine, its theology, and its liturgy. It did so with the divine justification of the Christian Bible that Jews were Christ-Killers minions of the devil." ( p.37 Goldhagen )

And as Hans Kung argues in his History of The Church that the original Christians were pacifists but this changed over the centuries as the Church became more authoritarian in its outlook & more militant :

" Contrary to the tradition of the early church , there were wars of conversion, wars against pagans, wars against heretics: indeed in a complete perversion of the cross, there were crusades, even against fellow Christians." ( pp. 90-91Kung )

and:

Augustine " thought that even violence against heretics and schismatics could be theologically justified...(to ) " compel those outside to come in." ..."Thus Augustine , who could speak so convincingly of the love of God and human love , who defined God as " love itself ", fatally became the key witness for the theological justification of forcible conversions, the inquisitions , and the holy war against deviants of all kinds-" ( p.47 Hans Kung )

and as James Carroll says about the Church becoming militant :

Augustine " If the church was to direct the state, the state was to uphold the church, even to the point of using coercion in the interests of true faith " ( p. 134 Horizon History )

" In one notable instance eighteen campaigns were required to bring the Saxons to Baptism and to submission". ( p. 135,Horizon )

Augustine developed The Doctrine of The Just War whereby under certain conditions Christians could go to war out of self-defense or for the defense of the Faith & the Church .

" The code of the Just War called for good faith with the enemy, regard for non-combatants , respect for hostages and prisoners. But all such restraints were abandoned in dealing with the infidel. The warrant for this view of warfare was found in the biblical account of the conquest of Canaan by Joshua " ( p. 174, Bainton - Horizon History )

And St. Bernard explained that " The soldier may securely Kill, Kill for Christ and more securely die. He benefits himself if he dies and Christ if he Kills. To Kill a malefactor is not homicide but malicide ( the killing of the bad ). In the death of the Pagan the Christian is glorified because Christ is glorified ." ( p. 194, Bainton)

In this way the Christian Church could justify the unnecessary & brutal Crusades to attempt to conquer & convert or wipe out the Muslims & they believed they were justified in the killing of heretics & oppressing & murdering the Jews.

So for some eight hundred years or more to the present The Catholic Church preached against the Jews & preached & passed laws to oppress the Jews-

" The Fourth Ecumenical Council of the Lateran in 1215 convened by Innocent III...passed the resolutions against the Jews...the Jews were to wear special dress to isolate them , were prohibited from holding public office or going out on Good Friday, and had to pay a compulsory tax to the local Christian clergy . As already under Gregory VII, so too under Innocent III, papalism and anti-Judaism went hand in hand." p. 88 Hans Kung

Through its official journals & other publications the Catholic Church continued its attack on the Jews & as we shall see even after the Holocaust The Catholic Church remained unrepentant .

1800-1945

The Vatican's authoritative magazine - Civilta Cattolica-published in the 19th century onward reflected the views of the Popes. Each issue of this magazine had to be approved by members of the Vatican at the highest levels ie the Secretay of State or the Pope himself to ensure it was theologically sound & did not contradict the views of the Pope. So any articles published in the Civilta cattolica was considered authoritative & representing the Vatican & the Pontiff .Many articles over the years were approved which were decidedly anti-Semitic claiming that the Jews were behind all of the evils of the Modern age from liberalism to human rights to anarchism & nihilism to communism to democracy & anti-monarchism & secularism ie that there should be a seperation between church & state .

" In Civilta cattolica, " the boundary seems very fluid between the Church's anti-Judaism and the ' average ' antisemitism of the period. " p.82

" Even a sampling of the hate filled charges against the Jews that Civilta cattolica was printing in the 1920s and 1930s show them to be Nazi-like. In 1922 it declared that " the world is sick...Everywhere people are in the grip of inexplicable convulsions .. Who is responsible ? " The Synagogue." Jewish intruders control the principal threat to world order, Russia and the Communist International " In 1936 after the Nuremberg Laws had been published and the Jews had been under sustained assault in Germany for some years, it echoed standard Nazi antisemitic rhetoric in accusing the Jews of being " uniquely endowed with the qualities of parasites and destroyers " as pulling the levers of both capitalism and communism, in a pincer assault to control the entire world ." p. 82 Goldhagen



more to come next time-

GORD.

also see:
ANTI-SEMITISM AND ANTI-JUDAISM WITHIN THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH 1st to 20th Century CE

and:
Religious Tolerance .Org

and for in depth coverage of The Holocaust with links see :The Holocaust History Project
"The Holocaust History Project is a free archive of documents, photographs, recordings, and essays regarding the Holocaust, including direct refutation of Holocaust-denial."

Other References:

A Moral Reckoning :The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and Its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, pub. 2002

Constantine's Sword : The Church & the Jews by James Carroll, pub. 2001

The Catholic Church By Hans K√ľng -Translated by John Bowden, pub. 2001

The Popes Against The Jews: The Vatican's Role in The Rise of Modern Anti-Semitism, By David I. Kertzer pub. 2001

THE CRUCIFIED JEW: TWENTY CENTURIES OF ANTI-SEMITISM by Dan Cohen-Sherbok , pub.1992

The Horizon History of Christianity, by Roland H. Bainton 1964.

also see Jewish-Christian Relations.net
& of particular interest at this website on anti-Semitism in the New Testament see the article Removing Anti-Jewish Polemic
from our Christian Lectionaries: A Proposal by Norman A. Beck


see On Martin Luther's Anti-Semitism
Martin Luther's dirty little book:On the Jews and their lies A precursor to Nazism by Jim Walker

and :
Warrant For Genocide : The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the Protocols of The Elders of Zion, by Norman Cohn 1967 & revised 1996.

and also see:

Medieval Sourcebook: St. John Chrysostom (c.347-407) Eight Homilies Against the Jews


And from the website Catholic Answers: Just War Doctrine

"Augustine (A.D. 354-430) provided The Just War Doctrine..In the intervening centuries the theory has been refined, but its framework remains as he gave it.

JUST WAR DOCTRINE TODAY

The most authoritative and up-to-date expression of just war doctrine is found in paragraph 2309 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It says:

The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

* the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
* all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
* there must be serious prospects of success;
* the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the "just war" doctrine. The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

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