Friday, November 16, 2007

HOLOCAUST/ SHOAH & THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

Trailer for Costa Gavras' film " AMEN " which focuses on the Catholic Church & its Silence & possible Complicity in the Holocaust/ Shoah - Was anti-Semitism a part of the basic foundations & theology of the Church & of Christianity that the Christian Churches were for the most part unconcerned about the fate of the European Jews?






It seems odd that there are those Christians who would have us believe that anti-Semitism was invented by the Nazis or that anti-Semitism was a creation of Modernity when this is not at all the case. Anti-Semitism existed for centuries before the Nazis & before the modern era . For centuries the Catholic Church & later the Protestant churches preached & taught a rather vicious form of anti-Semitism which can be seen as leading to the Holocaust. For instance at the beginning of the First Crusade in 1097 the first acts of the Christian Crusaders on their way to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims was to massacre thousands of European Jews & so began centuries of violent anti-Semitism .

As James Carroll points out the Catholic Church & the Pope believed Hitler & the Nazi Party were just what was needed to reverse what the Church believed to be the evil & pernicious philosophies of " Modernity " such as pluralism, freedom of the press , tolerance , human rights , personal freedom & freedom of conscience & the dangers of Communism, socialism & liberalism which were all antithetical to the theology & hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

The most notable of the Nazi-friendly Catholic theologians was Karl Adam of Tubingen. His Spirit of Catholicism, published in the mid 1920s, an important text in my own training forty years later,( writes Carroll ) was a prophetic statement of the new idea of the Church as a community. That Adam was perhaps the most notable Catholic theologian of his generation is why it matters that it was also he who said that the Nazi movement and the Catholic Church complement each other like nature and grace.As for Hitler, Adam wrote in 1933,

" Now he stands before us , he whom the voices of our poets and sages have summoned, the liberator of the German genius. He has moved the blind-folds from our eyes and , through all political , economic, social, and confessional covers, has enabled us to see and love again the one essential thing: our unity of blood, our German self, the Homo Germanus. " James Carroll Constantine's Sword p. 518

As James Carroll explains the Catholic Church even as late as 1999 was still characterizing the changes in our culture as being at odds with the Doctrine & Creed of the Catholic Church:

" In 1999 a European Synod of Bishops concluded that:

Pluralism has taken the place of Marxism in cultural dominance, a pluralism which is undifferentiated and tending toward skepticism...In the context of the present increasing pluralism in Europe, the synod also intends to proclaim that Christ is the one and only savior of all humanity and consequently, to assert the absolute uniqueness of Christianity in relation to other religions ...Jesus is the one and only mediator of salvation for all of humanity. Only in Him do humanity, history and the cosmos find their definitively positive meaning and receive their full realization. He is not only the mediator of salvation but the salvation's source ." p. 584 Constantine's Sword




James Carroll contends that modern Antisemitism was for the most part an extension of the Antisemitism which was part of Christian & Catholic Theology extending back to the early days of Christianity & even to the New Testament itself .-

As author James Carroll says:


"...in the official proclamation by the Catholic Church 1998 " We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah" denies the causal link between the admitted history of Catholic anti-Judaism and the Nazi hatred of Jews. the document speaks of modern racial anti-Semitism as if it were unrelated to what had gone before. "p. 381/ Carroll

spread of the notion of " Blood Purity " throughout the Church & insisting that those of Jewish blood could not hold an office within the Catholic Church... nothing not even baptism could ensure the loyalty of the Jews

"...this introduction of a distinction by race into the Central Institution of Christianity- a distinctive assuming not mere racial diversity but a biological divide of racial superiority and racial inferiority-stands as a watershed not just in Church history but in human history. " p. 381


1593-1594 - "... that no one will hereafter be admitted to the Society who is descended of Hebrew or Saracen stock..."
then later in 1608 the regulation was extended from parents to the fifth degree of family lineage ...and again in 1923 the decree was renewed & again in 1946 but in vaguer language ..."p. 383

Centuries before the rise of so-called Modern anti-Semitism Laws were passed by the Church or at the Church's behest that Jews were to wear distinctive clothing & or a Yellow Badge or a Yellow Conical Hat , that they were not to socialize with Christians , that they were not permitted to own property, that they were to live in a particular part of a city or town & that this Jewish Quarter would be walled in & locked at night -

It was taught by the Church & its priests that Jews were the sworn enemies of Christianity & in their secret rituals desecrated the Host & killed Christian children whose blood they drained to use in their rituals & further that the Jews were working secretly to undermine & destroy Christianity.



Even though it was the Romans who crucified Jesus the crime was shifted from the Romans to the Jews. It was in fact The Jews who were depicted by the Church from early on as Jesus' enemies & as the killers of Jesus . Therefore it is the Jews who were condemned for the crime of " deicide " rather than the Romans . But the guilt for the crime of killing Jesus was then passed on from generation to generation of Jews so that even the Jews of today are just as guilty of this crime as were the original Jews who were blamed for the death of Jesus. Many Christians up to the time of Hitler's " Final Solution " still believed that the Jews had been cursed for killing Jesus.

The Powerful Roman Empire as it were was more important & useful as an ally to the Christians than were the powerless Jews who were by the 4th century without a state or homeland - after the fall of Judea came " Diaspora " - the Jews were now scattered about . The loss of the Temple & their homeland & being scattered about in the " Diaspora " was according to the Church a punishment & curse placed upon the Jews because they had murdered Christ & over the centuries the Jews out of pride & willfulness refused to accept Jesus as the Messiah.

The Romans came to play an important role in the growth & establishment of the Christian Church once Constantine had converted to Christianity as the result of a vision he had of a cross - from then on the cross became the symbol of Christianity & twisted the essential message of Jesus . The Church from then on was to play a role as a political entity & as a religious entity which was to be the embodiment of the teachings of Jesus. But the two different roles came into conflict as the Church became more of a political entity with a hierarchy & bureaucracy & like all such political entities became overly concerned with its survival & its continuing growth in power & riches . It also became over the centuries more militant & less tolerant of differing views on theology & the powers & rights of The Church & the Pope over all Christians .

The Church would go further & kill all heretics & pagans & other non-believers & would argue in favor of such inhumane practices such as torture & burning heretics to slavery & genocide ie the native peoples of the Americas & the peoples of Africa . The Christian theme became convert or die or if a people were thought to be incapable of understanding the Christian Creed then they could be enslaved & slavery became a lucrative enterprise .

To a great extent the Church has seen itself as being besieged & persecuted even when the Church was the most powerful entity with a formidable army at its side.

The Jews were depicted as the children of Satan " the Father of Lies " in part based on the fact that they killed Jesus / God which was the crime of Deicide which was passed down from generation to generation of Jews til today - and further that the Jews rejected Jesus as Messiah in his own time but have continued to do so over the centuries as being " a stiff-necked people " who refused to bow to Jesus & so the Jews lost Israel / Judea & their Temple & were left to roam the earth homeless .

and even after the rise of Hitler & the Nazis the Catholic Church did little to condemn the actions of the Nazis in regard to the Jews or to explicitly condemn the oppressive anti-Semitic laws which caused great hardships for the Jews passed by the Nazis & not once did the Catholic Church speak out against the Nazis from 1933 to 1945 in regard to the Nazis treatment of the Jews except for those Jews who had converted to Christianity .

As author James Carroll points out this silence & reluctance to speak out on behalf of the Jews continued even after the Vatican had become aware of the extent of Hitler's Final Solution in 1941 or 1942 though various church & state leaders appealed to the Vatican & Pope Pius XII to intervene at the very least to mention what the Nazis were doing to the Jews & to be clear & explicit about what was happening . For whatever reason Pope Pius refused to speak out on behalf of the Jews even in the midst of the Holocaust / Shoah.

But shouldn't the Pope & the Vatican & the Catholic Church's first priority be to take a moral stand to try to stop this mass murder considered to be the greatest single crime in human history or is the Catholic Church in the final analysis only concerned with its own existence & so if need be it would sign a pact with the Devil himself in order to survive as in the fact that the Vatican entered into a treaty with Hitler in 1933 & thereby being the first political entity in the world to recognize the Nazi regime as legitimate which helped to embolden Hitler & the Nazis.
Both were afterall anti-Semitic & anti-Communist & both believed that the ideology of "liberalism " & individual freedom & equality other such ideas were the source of the perniciousness of " Modernity " & that there must be a return to the acceptance of higher authority & of the more traditional hierarchy in which the few rule over the many .

after over a thousand years of the oppression , intimidation , segregation ,ghettoizing & mass murder of Jews,pogroms ,the Inquisition still the Catholic Church is in denial in claiming that it had little to do with the spread of anti-semitism in Europe or elsewhere.



" The first result of Anselm's theology of salvation ( soteriology) was ... to solder the faith to the cross, and to make the death of Jesus more important than anything he had said, despite his clear statement that " the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life." His death counted for more than his having been born, having lived as a Jew, having preached a gospel of love in the context of Israel's covenant with a loving God, having opposed the imperium of Rome, even having been brought to the new life of Resurrection. The death obsession of the flagellants was deemed holy, and the blood lust of the crusaders was sanctified. God, too had blood lust. Christ's agony on the cross would now become the black flower of the Western imagination-on armor,in Passion Plays, in paintings,in altar carvings, in rituals like the Stations of the Cross,and ultimately in the cross of Auschwitz."
James Carroll p.582


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

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

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