The Vatican’s strong defense of the Jews [from the comments of “The head of a schismatic Roman Catholic sect”]

GUEST COMMENTARY: The Vatican’s strong defense of the Jews

(RNS) The head of a schismatic Roman Catholic sect known as the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) recently labeled Jews “enemies of the Church.”

The comments from Bishop Bernard Fellay could have triggered a public clash between Catholics and Jews, as in 2009 when then-SSPX Bishop Richard Williamson denied that 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust.

But rather than spark a crisis, Fellay has instead motivated Catholic Church officials to directly repudiate him and his teaching with strongly worded pledges of friendship with Jews.

“It is absolutely unacceptable, impossible, to define the Jews as enemies of the Church,” said the Vatican’s top spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi. “Anti-Semitism in all its forms is a non-Christian act and the Catholic Church must fight this phenomenon with all her strength.”

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Vatican’s Commission on Religious Relations with Jews, lambasted Fellay: “The Jews are our older brothers,” he declared. “We are inseparably linked with the Jews.”

Auxiliary Bishop Denis Madden of Baltimore, chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, wrote to some involved in Catholic-Jewish dialogue: “I wish to assure you as both colleagues and friends that the Holy See and the USCCB find the statements of Bishop Fellay both false and deeply regrettable. … The Catholic Church deeply values the friendship of the Jewish people and looks forward to the day when bias against them is eliminated everywhere.”

Such statements reflect decades of Jewish-Catholic rapprochement, which the SSPX rejects. It began in 1965 when the Second Vatican Council issued a groundbreaking declaration, Nostra Aetate, in 1965. That document reversed 1,800 years of Christian teaching that Jews were collectively cursed by God to wandering and suffering because of the crucifixion of Jesus, condemned anti-Semitism and affirmed that Jews remain “beloved of God.”

During Vatican II’s deliberations, French Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre had strongly opposed Nostra Aetate. Although defeated by an overwhelming vote of the world’s Catholic bishops, Lefebvre later established the SSPX in protest of many Vatican II documents, and one of the group’s defining traits is its rejection of Vatican II’s reforms.

In 1988, Lefebvre disobeyed Pope John Paul and ordained four SSPX bishops, including Fellay and Williamson, because he wanted his movement to survive his death. This resulted in their automatic excommunication. Hoping to woo the SSPX back into the fold, Pope Benedict XVI lifted their excommunications in 2009 so that conversations between the Vatican and the SSPX could begin.

Fellay summarized those ongoing talks in an address posted on YouTube in December. He declared that Jews and other enemies “from outside the Church” were “the most opposed that the Society would be recognized as Catholic.” This shows, he argued, “that Vatican II is their thing. Not the church’s. They see, the enemies of the church see their benefit in the Council. Very interesting.”

Hostility to Jews seems inextricably woven into the SSPX’s opposition to Vatican II. An analysis conducted last year by the Anti-Defamation League found various SSPX websites around the world that were riddled with anti-Semitic themes from the past.

The forcefulness of the church’s reactions to Fellay’s comments indicates that Nostra Aetate, the sapling planted nearly 50 years ago, has put down sufficient roots to resist storm winds of lingering anti-Semitism.

However, Fellay’s rhetoric also has deep-seated theological aspects. And efforts to reverse or rein in Nostra Aetate are not restricted to external schismatic groups; they arise occasionally from within the Catholic community.

Koch recently called for “the Catholic Church to conduct a deeper theological reflection … to throw light theologically on the new relationship with Judaism which has developed after Nostra Aetate.” This new relationship also poses unprecedented questions for the Jewish community.

In 2000, in an iconic moment for the new relationship, Pope John Paul II prayed at Jerusalem’s Western Wall, according to a Jewish custom. He inserted into the Wall a signed prayer formally committing the Catholic Church to “genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant.”

As we approach the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, that’s a major task for both Jews and Catholics who seek to follow John Paul’s call to forge “genuine brotherhood.”

(Philip A. Cunningham is professor of theology and director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations of Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg is director of Interfaith Affairs of the Anti-Defamation League.)

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8 comments on “The Vatican’s strong defense of the Jews [from the comments of “The head of a schismatic Roman Catholic sect”]

  1. If someone could figure out how to make an IPO out of NA, it would hit the street at $10,000 a share today. And probably double within the first hour after the opening bell.

    The world, “tolerating” Brave New Church for the moment ( it won’t last ) because of the softheaded liberalism that has become so entrenched in its 24/7 PR agitprop ops, expects nothing less than this kind of manipulated “news” from Rome, daily.

    Traditionalism, already falling apart organizationally in the wake of the disastrous publicity, confusion and dissension caused by “the talks” ( more specifically, just how poorly managed they were by the SSPX talking heads ), is in no position to counter this kind of airstrike. It’s like the Air Force of Iceland against the USAF. With L’OR, Inside the Vatican, NCR, EWTN, Crisis Magazine, Mike Jones’ Fidelity, Lavoris, Mike Matt’s ( diminishingly vociferous ) Remnant all on the same side in this issue ( Zionism good! Meanspirited Trads bad! ), which happens to be the same side as TIME/ABC/CBS/NBC/CNN/FOX, etc., etc., etc. – it boils down to simple truths, such as overwhelming force against scattered, disorganized opposition.

    It hardly matters that Trads actually work to provide anyone willing to listen with the ineffable, infallible truths of Catholicism. We’re just a couple hundred thousand laity and a tiny number of clergy worldwide against a billion Brave New Churchers -and five billion more outright heathens, yahoos and barbarians.

    That doesn’t mean we’ll ultimately “lose” everything. But you can be sure we are not going to “win” very much of anything for a long, long time to come. And as to the +F vs. +W disaster, it ought not have occured even though its inevitability was probably not less than a decade in the making – the principle example of how right Abp. LeFebvre was when he stipulated that NO bishop should ever become SG.

    I keep thinking of how WW I, WW II, the Cold War all took place during the time of the growth of the Church in the West, Latin Mass and all., a time free of bozo-ology theologians and bishops, a time when the Church exercised real clout when it opened its mouth. Now, we’ve had 50 years plus of storing up hot coals, without the Latin Mass, drowning in REAL dissident/schismatic theologians and bishops.

    May God have mercy on us all.

  2. Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Vatican’s Commission on Religious Relations with Jews, lambasted Fellay: “The Jews are our older brothers,” he declared. “We are inseparably linked with the Jews.”

    If the Jews are our (Catholics’) older brothers, the muslims and protestants must be our younger brothers. One big happy family under one big tent.

  3. Cardinal Koch i don’t care if their our older brothers, younger brothers, step-brothers, whatever, they must accept JESUS as the savior in his Catholic Church just like every other human creature!

  4. For those of us who have been with the SSPX for decades, this is nothing new. We have always been ostracized, pilloried, maligned and marginalized. No other group’s publication has ever really been that supportive of us and “on our side”, certainly not “The Remnant”. We have to expect this, and that it will get much worse. We are followers of Our Master and we have to imitate Him. It is all so clear. I have never understood the amount of controversy amongst traditionals surrounding His Excellency Archbishop Lefebvre. and the Society. One look at him and his life should have been sufficient for anyone to recognize the holiness,love of God and intellectual truth in him and his teachings.

    To my way of thinking, now our leadership is speaking plainly once again, and the line being drawn clear. It is obvious we are living to see the time of the great apostasy that was foretold by Our Lord and Our Lady and many saints. Didn’t Bishop Fellay say that something approaching 80% of Catholic priests worldwide do not even have the Faith? We are lucky to be alive at this time. Some day we actually may have the opportunity to do what we pledge during the Stations of the Cross. “My Jesus, for Thee I live, My Jesus, for Thee I die, my Jesus, I am Thine in life and in death.” Amen.
    It is certainly more difficult in these times to remain in lukewarmness and that is a great blessing. And while acknowledging this cross as the great grace that it is, we still rightly pray fervently for Our Lady’s triumph to come. It will come, may it be soon.

    How ironic is it that while the US is legalizing homosexual “marriage” state by state, Russia is taking action against homosexual propoganda? Russia may be preparing herself for her conversion slowly but surely. Meanwhile, we allow our country to be controlled and taken down by those who have never known or loved Christ and His Church.

  5. Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Vatican’s Commission on Religious Relations with Jews, lambasted Fellay: “The Jews are our older brothers,” he declared. “We are inseparably linked with the Jews.”

    And Cain was Abel’s elder brother. In addition to this particularly unhappy comparison, the Old Testament — that part of the Bible that even “Jews”(*) accept (even if only nominally in most cases) — abounds in examples of elder brothers losing or even giving away their positions.

    From Theodoret of Cyrus: “Note that throughout Scripture the later born are ranked ahead of the firstborn: Abel was given preference to Cain … Isaac to Ishmael, Jacob to Esau, Joseph to Reuben and Judah, and Ephraim to Manasseh. And there are more examples in subsequent generations: Moses was ranked ahead of Aaron, and David, though youngest, ahead of his seven brothers” (Questions on Genesis, CXI). Others instances could be listed such the struggle between Judah’s sons, Zara and Phares, in the womb of Thamar. Zara put forth his hand first, upon which a scarlet ribbon was tied, but then Phares overcame Zara in the womb and was born ahead of him (cf. Gen. 38:27-30). Also, Solomon was made king over his brothers.”

    And the pattern continues even into the New Testament, as in the parable of the Prodigal Son. In fact, many more discerning “Jews”(*) actually object to the term “elder brothers” precisely because of this very prominent theme in Scripture. They know what it really signifies, and more importantly, they still resent their “younger brothers” — but of course it is not politically correct to point out any mistreatment of Christians (or anyone else, for that matter) by “Jews”(*).

    (*) Talmudists are not true Jews. The one true continuation of Old Testament Judaism is the Catholic Church, whose first members consisted of those faithful Jews who followed Jesus. While He did found a Church (actually, The Church), he did not so much create a new religion as perfect the existing one: “Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17) Those who rejected (and continue to reject) Jesus are not true Jews. Likewise, the modern political state of “Israel” is not the true Israel, which is in fact the Catholic Church.

  6. “It is absolutely unacceptable, impossible, to define the Jews as enemies of the Church,”

    Rabbinical Judaism categorically rejects the Resurrection of Christ. “…consider the testimony of Christ Himself that “those who are not with Christ are against Him,” and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him.” Anyone who rejects Christ and His Church is by definition an enemy of Christ and His Spouse. “Catholics are to pick up their cross and follow Jesus Christ…the Church requires faith in Jesus Christ, who is “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25)—as well as Sanctifying Grace, which entails obedience to God and to His Catholic Church” John Salza

    Christ’s ‘own’ have become milksops – the Rabbis have no problem dissecting Our Saviour into their own version of a dismissable utterly ungodly and mortal opportunist, whilst fingerpointing at any historical moment where any authority in a ‘Christian’ country undermined the position of its Jewish community as the actions of christ’s diabolical spouse (thus undermining the first position that christ was never christ in the first).

    Hands up who is with the only begotten Son of the Living God? If not, by definition they are indeed His enemies, that includes muslims with their yearly mecca massacres to their god for the forgiveness of their sins, buddhist etc. and pretty much most of those on the assisi guest list.

  7. I posted this a few weeks ago, but a lot of Jews are atheist. David Silverman, the current President of American atheists…

    is a Jew:

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