From Enemy to Brother

From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933–1965

John Connelly
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    From Enemy to Brother
    Book Description:

    In 1965 the Second Vatican Council declared that God loves the Jews. Yet the Church had taught for centuries that Jews were cursed by God, and had mostly kept silent as Jews were slaughtered by Nazis. How did an institution whose wisdom is said to be unchanging undertake one of the largest, yet most undiscussed, ideological swings in modern history?

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06488-1
    Subjects: Religion, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    The Jesuit Stanisław Musiał was among the most courageous opponents of antisemitism in our time. He denounced officials in the Polish Catholic hierarchy who tolerated hostility to Jews, castigated the chauvinism of Catholics staking crosses at Auschwitz, and at times even obliquely criticized John Paul II, who is regarded by many Poles as a saint. From passionate involvement stretching back to his days as a young priest at the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), Musiał knew Catholic-Jewish relations in all their complexity. Shortly before his death in 2004, he surprised an interviewer by claiming that the Declaration made about Jews...

  4. 1 The Problem of Catholic Racism
    (pp. 11-35)

    To understand how the Catholic Church has dealt with its ancient legacy of anti-Judaism, one must first question the widely held belief that the church—an ostensible “bulwark against the disorders afflicting the age”—opposed all racism, and thus also modern antisemitism. The point is not that Catholicism was especially racist. Indeed, probably no other institution more forcefully insisted on humankind’s unity when racists doubted that unity early in the twentieth century. In the 1920s the institutional church stood farther above race and nation than did international socialism, and formed the strongest bulwark against race improvement—eugenics, a science that...

  5. 2 The Race Question
    (pp. 36-64)

    Those with basic knowledge of the New Testament must wonder how Catholicism could turn racist. In the Gospels of Mark and Matthew, Christ distilled all commandments into two: the first “to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength”; the second to “love your neighbor as yourself.”¹ Who was one’s neighbor? Christ responded with the parable about a man left to die and brought back to life by a passerby of a different ethnicity: a Samaritan. The point was not to ask who was a neighbor...

  6. 3 German Volk and Christian Reich
    (pp. 65-93)

    Christian anti-racists had one other group trait aside from being converts and border-transgressors: they tended to come from German-speaking Europe. We see this in the authorship of works refuting racism and antisemitism. In 1936, Ernst Karl Winter published the first systematic Christian critique of racism at his Viennese publishing house, Walter Berger’s Was ist Rasse (What Is Race?). Later that year, Rudolf Lämmel’s lengthier and even more systematic critique appeared in Zurich. In 1937, Johannes Oesterreicher printed the first Catholic repudiation of antisemitism in his Viennese journal Die Erfüllung. The authors were Karl Thieme and Waldemar Gurian, by that point...

  7. 4 Catholics against Racism and Antisemitism
    (pp. 94-146)

    Books about Catholic opposition to Hitler tend to focus on the Vatican or the bishops of Germany, but that was not where the action was. Those wanting to learn how Catholicism as an intellectual tradition confronted Nazism must instead look at the Catholics who became politically active during the 1930s in places far from the Vatican and beyond Hitler’s reach, above all in Vienna, but also in Salzburg, Lucerne, Basel, and Paris and along the German border in Alsace, Polish Upper Silesia, and the Netherlands. These Catholics, mostly German émigrés, mined Christian thought as well as modern science for arguments...

  8. 5 Conspiring to Make the Vatican Speak
    (pp. 147-173)

    When he looked upon the Europe of his era, Johannes Oesterreicher saw signs that God wanted humanity to repent. Often hundreds of years passed “where contradictions lie slumbering beside one another” he wrote, “but then come times when the accounts are presented and the forces of hell find air to breathe … the frightful challenge that comes from evil is also a challenge that comes from God to his servants on earth … these are the times when the lukewarm are spit out.”¹ In late 1938, Karl Thieme watched as Jewish refugees desperately escaped Germany across the Swiss border at...

  9. 6 Conversion in the Shadow of Auschwitz
    (pp. 174-209)

    Auschwitz had little immediate impact on Christian thinking about the Jews, though basic facts were available during the war. From the fall of 1942 at the latest, Americans could read in daily newspapers that the German regime was killing millions of Jews. The press told readers about death camps and also about the killing operations of the SS in Eastern Europe. Yet it also reported the deaths of untold thousands of human beings of other groups whom the Nazis considered subhumans.¹ Americans and Europeans did not see how the crime we call the Holocaust towered out of the landscape of...

  10. 7 Who Are the Jews?
    (pp. 210-238)

    In October 1951, the German Jew Kurt Kaiser-Bluth wrote to the Freiburger Rundbrief informing the editors that “most Germans meet your idealistic efforts with indifference and hostility while the Jews look upon your Coordinating Council for Christian-Jewish cooperation with distrust. The basis of your work is too narrow, your goals too abstract.”¹ The editors hardly quarreled. Who could deny they were idealists? Yet their idealism was tightly enveloped in a sense of reality.² Karl Thieme and his collaborators knew that the theological underpinnings of contempt had hardly been touched six years after the war. In the shadow of Auschwitz, old...

  11. 8 The Second Vatican Council
    (pp. 239-272)

    The Second Vatican Council helped reconcile Catholics to the modern world. For the first time, they celebrated mass in their own languages, and for the first time they were entreated to think of other religions as sources of truth and grace. The most authoritative voice of the church—an ecumenical council—surrendered the idea that the state or any other institution should force people to become Catholic. It spoke of the church as “people of God,” strengthened the position of the laity, and suggested a more collegial—and democratic—ordering of relations between bishops and the pope. Most importantly, the...

  12. 9 A Particular Mission for the Jews
    (pp. 273-300)

    Did the Apostle Paul limit Christians to “eschatological hope” for the final reconciliation of Jews with Gentiles? Or must Christians follow the call in Matthew 28 to “baptize all nations,” including Jews? These questions keep flaring up, most recently after a 2009 statement of the American bishops criticizing theologians who restricted their evangelical efforts to “individual Jews.” No, the bishops declared, Catholics must look forward to the “inclusion of the whole people of Israel.” And the previous year, Pope Benedict released a new version of a Good Friday Prayer for the Jews: “that God our Lord should illuminate their hearts,...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 303-362)
  14. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 363-366)
  15. Index
    (pp. 367-376)