Monday, February 14, 2011

The Popes Against the Jews, Part 6: The Show So Far

Before going any further with this series, I think it’s appropriate (given some of the comments in the latest thread) to reiterate where we’ve been. A Roman Catholic Commentator who identified himself simply as “Matt” suggested that I was somehow “Stacking the deck.” He provided a couple of links that basically made the appeal, “let’s stop bringing this up,” but until the “Infallible Church” truly repents, officially, for its own official responsibility – its own “irreformable teachings” on this subject – there could and should be no “statute of limitations” on the extent of Rome’s crimes.

I picked up this series at the suggestion of Constantine, who first cited from Kertzer’s work in some comments. But I became fascinated enough with the topic to go this far with it. My hope is to continue, although, the amount of information that I’ve come across in the meantime, supporting Kertzer’s work and even going far beyond it, is very staggering.

My intention is, Lord willing, to continue to publish on this topic, and to give Kertzer’s work the fullest kind of treatment that I’m capable of giving. However, I’m fully aware that this may not be the kind of thing you’d like to read on a full-time basis. And so I’m going to do two things: (a) try and catch up on some of the materials I’ve come across, and (b) continue to publish this on a regular basis, while also commenting on some of the other incidents that Kertzer brings out.

I only have to say that Rome’s evasiveness is truly staggering, and as I mentioned in my latest post, in order to wash its hands of any guilt with respect to the Jewish people, (which it can’t do), it must hang its hat on the nonsensical distinction between “religious anti-Judaism,” which is the term Rome uses to define its own posture toward the Jews over the centuries, and a “racially-motivated anti-Semitism,” which is says are “based on theories contrary to the constant teaching of the Church”.

In “The Popes Against the Jews, Part 1”, this piece links to and provides long selections from William Rubinstein’s review of Kertzer’s work in “First Things”. Rubinstein does not contest the factual nature of what Kertzer presents. “Kertzer skillfully and not unsubtly traces the differences in attitude towards the Jews among the Popes between about 1740 and 1940,” he says. Rather, Rubinstein faults Kertzer’s piece for being ”The Case for the Prosecution”. In other words, “he wasn’t nice to us.”

What Rubinstein doesn’t seem to acknowledge is that Rome had already made its own evasive defense, which I discussed in Part 2: Roman Catholic Defenses and the Evasion of Responsibility.

In ”Part 3: Positing the ‘Big Lie,’ and getting people to believe it”, I begin to cite Kertzer’s introduction and several instances of the work itself. Here is one statement heartily endorsed by both Pope and Holy Office: “Unless Christians act quickly, the Jews … will finally succeed in reducing the Christians to be their slaves. Woe to us if we close our eyes! The Jews’ domination will be hard, inflexible, tyrannical….”

What I’ve been finding, and what Kertzer documents so thoroughly, is that this is one of those statements in which “religious anti-Judaism” can easily be seen to blend into “racially-based anti-Semitism” on the strength of these alarmist statements by the highest officers of the Roman Catholic Church. And despite Rome’s protestations, this is “the constant teaching of the Church”.

In Part 4, I cite from some conciliar documents, notably the Fourth Lateran Council, which also defined the doctrine of “transubstantiation”. And in Part 5, I challenge the notion that “The Church” can both issue forth with the kind of fruit it does, and still somehow provide Godly teaching.

In future installments, I hope to present some of the work of the Reformed theologian Heiko Oberman. Oberman’s work, Harvest of Medieval Theology, is one of the definitive works on that period. It is fascinating that he later shifted his emphasis to study The Roots of Anti-Semitism. Oberman, too, is much less likely to make that fine distinction between “anti-Judaism” and “anti-Semitism”. It promises to provide some fascinating character studies.

Before looking at some of those Reformation-era movements, I think it’s important to summarize that the medieval world, before the first Protestant ever existed, was thoroughly and immersively saturated in this “anti-Judaism”. The official Church was thoroughly and immersively saturated in anti-Semitism:
The tendency of Christianity to shut itself off is clearly apparent in its behavior towards the pagans. Already, before Gregory the Great, the Irish monks had refused to preach the gospel to their hated Anglo-Saxon neighbours, whom they wished to consign to hell. They did not want to run the risk of meeting them in heaven. For a long time the pagan world was a great reservoir of slaves for Christian trade, whether it was conducted by Christian merchants or by Jewish merchants in Christian territory. Conversion, which dried up this fruitful market, was not carried out without hesitation. Anglo-Saxons, Saxons, and Slavs (the last-mentioned gave their name to the human cattle of medieval Christian Europe) supplied the medieval slave-trade before being integrated into the Christian world and thus protected from slavery. One of the great criticisms which Adalbert bishop of Prague made in the late tenth century of his flock, whom he accused of having returned to paganism, was selling Christians to Jewish slave-merchants. A non-Christian was not really human; only a Christian could enjoy the rights of a man, among them protection from slavery. The Christian attitude towards slavery was a manifestation of Christian particularism, the primitive solidarity of the group and the policy of apartheid with regard to outside groups (Jacques Le Goff, “Medieval Civilization,” Oxford: Blackwell Publishing Ltd., ©1988, 1990, 151-152. First published in France as La civilization de l’Occident Medieval, Paris: B. Arthaud, © 1964).
* * *
With the Jews, Christians maintained a dialogue throughout the middle ages, which they interrupted with persecutions and massacres. The Jewish usurer, or rather irreplaceable moneylender, was hateful, but necessary and useful. Jews and Christians held debates, especially about the Bible. Public debates and private meetings between priests and rabbis occurred constantly. At the end of the eleventh century, Gilbert Crispin, abbot of Westminster, described in a bestseller his theological disputation with a Jew from Mainz. In the middle of the twelfth century, Andrew of St Victor consulted rabbis because he was anxious to revive biblical exegesis. St Louis narrated to Joinville a discussion between clerics and Jews at the abbey of Cluny. Admittedly, he disapproved of such meetings. ‘“So I tell you,” said the king, “that no one, unless he is an expert theologian should venture to argue with these people. But a layman, whenever he hears the Christian religion abused, should not attempt to defend its tenets, except with his sword, and that he should thrust into the scoundrel’s belly, and as far as it will enter.”’

Some kings, abbots, popes, and above all German emperors protected the Jews. Yet from the end of the eleventh century anti-Semitism unleashed itself in the west. People have blamed this movement on the crusades, and it is not impossible that the crusading spirit gave anti-Semitism an additional, emotive verve, although, if one believes Ralph Glaber, the earliest pogroms seem to have happened in about 1000. It is true that they became far more numerous at the time of the First Crusade. Thus, reported the Annales Saxonici, at Worms and Mainz:

the enemy of the human race did not hesitate to sow tares among the grain, to raise up false prophets, to mix false brothers and loose women in the army of Christ. By their hypocrisy, their lies and their impious suborning they perturbed the Lord’s army . . . . They thought it right to avenge Christ on the pagans and the Jews. That was why they killed 900 Jews in the town of Mainz, without sparing women or children. . . . It was piteous to see the large and numerous heaps of corpses which were taken out of the town of Mainz on wagons.

At about the time of the Second crusade in 1146 appeared the first accusation of ritual murder (the case of William of Norwich, who died in 1144), that is to say the murder of a Christian child whose blood was supposedly mixed into unleavened bread, and of the profanation of the host, a crime that was all the more serious in the Church’s eyes because it was regarded as deicide.

Thenceforth there was to be no lack of false accusations to give the Christians scapegoats in times of discontent or calamity. At the time of the Black Death in 1348 the Jews were accused in many places of having poisoned the wells, and they were massacred. Yet the chief reason for the fact that the Jews were kept apart was the evolution of the economy and the creation of the two worlds of town and countryside. The Jews could not be admitted to the social systems – the feudal system and the communes – that resulted. No one could do homage to a Jew or swear an oath to a Jew.

The Jews thus found themselves little by little excluded from possessing or even being granted land, and also from the professions, including trade. Nothing remained to them except the borderline or illicit forms of commerce or usury. However, it was not until the Council of Trent and the Counter-Reformation that the Church instituted and encouraged the ghetto. (Le Goff, 317-18)


Rubinstein, in his article, refers to some of these instances as “the Church at its least admirable.” Not to put a fine point on it, but Rubinstein is far too kind to Roman Catholicism. “You can tell a tree by its fruit.”

For Rome, this is all about covering its own story. About maintaining its own boastful claims that it somehow is “unique among all Christian bodies, a visible supreme court (the extraordinary Magisterium) whose sentences (i.e., doctrinal judgments) are rendered as binding upon all Christians.” Rome’s distinction between “religious anti-Judaism” and “racially motivated anti-Semitism” is meaningless to those in the grave.

In the first place, what we are talking about is not “the sins of the children of the Church”. We are talking about “the Roman Catholic Church,” acting as such, in its full, official teaching capacity.

Second, if there is a distinction between “religious anti-Judaism” and “racially motivated anti-Semitism,” it is only in that Pius XII did not, with his own finger, pull any trigger. In the meanwhile, for centuries, the infallible, official Roman Church prepared the soil for “racially-motivated anti-Semitism”, tilled the ground, planted the seeds, cultivated the fruit, and pruned and shaped it wherever it grew. The Roman Hierarchy, in its full, infallible teaching authority, comprised the roots and the trunk and the wooden structure of that monster, and its “infallible teaching” was the sap and nutrient. For the official Roman structure to make these evasions, and to get away with it, as it seems to be doing on so many fronts, is a travesty against humanity.

12 comments:

Kim said...

I've been quietly reading your series, John, and it is mind-blowing.

Your comment below made me think of a video I watched (link)about how the Vatican is dealing with the sex crimes within the Church (did I see it here first?).

In the first place, what we are talking about is not “the sins of the children of the Church”. We are talking about “the Roman Catholic Church,” acting as such, in its full, official teaching capacity.

Evading seems to be their thing in every respect. How can any Catholic trust their church after finding these things out about them? It's truly shocking and sickening. And it is still going on despite their talk of investigations.

John Bugay said...

Hi Kim, I'm glad that you've been taking the time out to read this. It's really blowing my mind too, that's why I picked up on it.

My short answer to your question, on how can any Catholic trust their church, is that, I don't know.

The Roman Catholic organization is the organization after which organized crime has so successfully modeled itself over the centuries.

I'm convinced that the papacy is Satan's answer to Christianity; the papacy was a late superimposition upon Christianity, and it has been a thorn ever since. But it is the root and source of so many evils in our world. "The Big Lie" is really quite a trite way to describe it.

john said...

John in spite of all that has been posted at Beggars All, Alpha and Omega Ministries, plus countless other Websites and Blogs by KNOWLEDGABLE informed Protestants about Romanism, plus Posts on Web Forums by the same there are only two reasons why one remains Roman Catholic.

1. They are so Brainwashed, like any other cult member, that Truth ceases to matter. or

2. Psychological Issues, IE If Rome is wrong then they would become psychologically unhinged because their psychological state is one that I call "Rage for Order" they need the psychological comfort of certainty in everything Theological IE someone who claims Divine Infallibility to tell them what to believe rather than search the Scriptures and wrestle with what God says to them directly.

I personally believe that the Reformed Faith as expressed in all the major Reformed Confessions IS true Biblical Christianity, some refuse to accept the Reformed Faith because it gives ALL Glory and Sovereignty to God and makes no room for the fallen Sin Nature of Man in Salvation and his corrupted "Free Will". Romanism gives the Fallen Nature some share in Salvation and "tickles the ears" of fallen man.

Matt said...

"A non-Christian was not really human"? That one statement (at least) seems much too strong. Even if it is an exaggeration, it is still pretty slanderous. Slavery, an evil, did not depend, at least at that time, on a view that the slave was sub-human. Read about the Las Casas debate and the defense of the Indians by the theologians of Salamanca.

And I did apologize in the last thread for rushing to the conclusion that there was any sort of "stacking the deck"...

Are you planning on calling out "john" for saying that anyone remaining catholic is either brainwashed or suffers from psychological issues. Wouldn't Beggars All post a parallel comment about Reformed Christians here and make fun of how mean-spirited and foolish Romanists are?

John Bugay said...

Matt, I am at work and don't have an over-abundance of time to respond during the day.

That statement, "A non-Christian was not really human" was made by a historian who was also Roman Catholic, in 1964, one would think before "PC" was "politically correct". I can't imagine it doesn't reflect some of the realities he was writing about.

And no, I don't plan on "calling out" "john". I would qualify his statement in a couple of ways: (a) people aren't necessarily aware of all the things that we've studied, (b) sometimes Roman Catholicism is just a cultural thing, and people just go along with the cultural flow, (c) it is just plain hard to leave, in that some people are constrained by the anathemas.

Too, it's hard to make the leap between "Christ is Lord" and "His 'One True Church' is corrupt". That's a difficult chasm to keep fixed in one's mind, but I am convinced that it is true.

That said, some people are brainwashed. This is not a stretch, given the mindset of the Jesuits, "give me a child before age five (etc.)", "Even if your eye sees black, (etc.)" -- for example.

I'm sure that it must be tremendously hard to have studied some of these issues surrounding Roman Catholicism and still remain a part of that body. Rod Dreher, a high profile convert to Rome, said that just the "pedophile scandal" was enough impetus for him to pack his bags and move out.

I honestly do not know how people can submit their minds and intellects to an institution whose lofty claims are so evidently in conflict with what it appears to be in reality.

I could not do it. And I did not.

John Bugay said...

And I did apologize in the last thread for rushing to the conclusion that there was any sort of "stacking the deck"...

I know you did, but I'm sure other people reading would have made the same comment you did.

There are lots of Roman Catholics who just go by the handle "Matt". I thought the anonymity was such that I could also have said, "an anonymous commenter suggested that I was somehow 'stacking the deck'" and it would have meant the same thing.

Matt said...

Who cares if Le Goff was Roman Catholic? I thought that we cared about real evidence around here (something that I admire about James Swan). The strong statement that he makes is linked only to the policy of the Church to ban slavery only in the case of other Christians. The fact is true. But it is clearly not a compelling basis for Le Goff's sweeping judgment. (You are well aware, I'm sure, of views about slavery in the ancient world which also did not depend on believing one's slave is sub-human or worse "really not human.")

I don't want to make this personal, but it may be worthwhile to point out that I actually study--let's say--the history of Roman Catholic countries for a living, with a focus on what I would deem one of the worst periods in the history of the Church, and I remain confidently Roman Catholic...and not for cultural reasons. I'm sure you are busy, but if you'd like to talk about the details, I'd be happy to do so in a more private forum.

I also don't have any reason to believe that I'm brainwashed (in fact, I find the clergymen that teach me to be sub-par orators, etc.) and there is no evidence of psychological issues...

I guess things are a bit more complicated.

John Bugay said...

Matt - Le Goff was speaking of the 12th or 13th century when he made that statement about slaves being sub human. That notion had to start somewhere. Maybe it just came up during the 17th century slave trade. Or maybe it is an earlier understanding. I'm not in a position to trace that understanding through history. But I'm sure he had done so. That is his period of expertise. If he can make such a statement, I'm not in a position to argue with him. If you have some background information that proves him wrong, feel free to present it.

Obviously you can't tolerate something like that standing -- then the "racism" aspect of it, which Rome denied, comes alive.

(I made the statement that he was Roman Catholic based on a memory of something I had read. Wikipedia says he was an agnostic; being French in that era, it's possible that he grew up Roman Catholic and then renounced it).

And what is that counts as "real evidence" for you anyway? Le Goff's opinion about that time period ought certainly to carry a lot of weight.

If you can remain "confidently Roman Catholic," I'd be interested in knowing what it is that you know that I don't know. I made that challenge to another commenter here. Others have suggested that I really wasn't a good Catholic, or that I wasn't properly catechized. They have made that charge without ever having known me. I find that sort of thing to be amusing.

john said...

Matt let me make some things CLEAR. I am an ex-Catholic and I wanted to be a Catholic Apologist when I was still RC. I carefully studied Church History, Biblical Hermeneutics (esp on Justification) and concluded Roman claims were false and its teaching on Salvation were extremely contrary to Scripture. Now as far as Roman Catholics go, from my own experience most Catholics do not study History or the Scriptures IE the average Pew Sitter, they just go along with the flow. Now the Catholics who post on forums, Blog comment boxes, and have their own blogs and websites ARE Brainwashed and/or have psychological issues because no matter how many times they are shown the facts that Rome is not infallible and Rome's historical view of itself is wrong and contrary to the facts of History folks like you will defend Rome at all costs.

Of course you won't admit that you are brainwashed or have "issues" so? Cult members say the same thing. I will go so far as to say that unless you and they (other Catholic Apologists) admit your utter helplessness to "merit all the Graces needed for eternal life and fall on your face before a Thrice Holy Sovereign God and admit your Spiritual and Moral bankruptcy and your inability to "merit" anything and accept that only Jesus can save you then you and the other Catholic apologists are Reprobates with a seared conscience.

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

john, it's honestly wonderful to see your fervor for Our Lord and fierce passion for the truth. Your experience of discovery and your willingness to follow the truth and the evidence of Scripture wherever it led you is truly courageous. I have my own story too, but I don't know how that would advance the conversation right now. I'm not a relativist, but it takes more than enumerating all the facts that each of us know, etc., to account for a decision that, at the end of the day, pertains to a supernatural calling that is not comprehended or exhausted by our natural human rational faculties.

That also is relevant to John Bugay's point. I'm pretty sure that there is no relevant fact or set of facts that I know that you don't which would radically alter either of our pictures of Christianity in general or the Catholic Church in particular. That's not how persuasion or changing one's mind works, right? And I don't doubt the genuineness of your conversion. I don't doubt that you were a faithful Catholic in the past.

If you find someone justifying slavery in the Middle Ages based on non-Christians being "not really human," please let me know. I can give you multiple citations throughout the literature of commentary on Canon Law to the Roman lawyer Ulpian who was found in Gratian's Decretum. He said that "according to natural law all persons are born free," but that slavery was introduced as part of the ius gentium (law of nations). Aquinas, who certainly had unfortunate views on the subject of slavery, never says (as far as I know) that the slave is not really human; he says thinks like, e.g., the slave had surrendered his liberty based on being involved in an unjust war, maybe some slaves needed to be directed by someone more capable, etc., but that does not amount to them being "not really human." Slavery was basically a consequence of the Fall for him. Slaves had rights to marry in his view...

In a few centuries after LeGoff's period, we have Vitoria, Las Casas, and the school of Salamanca, which is a famous story where common humanity with the Indians was emphasized:

http://books.google.com/books?id=8MMRZQA1rVsC&pg=PA272&lpg=PA272&dq=Indians+slavery+Vitoria+Las+Casas&source=bl&ots=Teyajc5O5q&sig=Br3Rfqsu0qZnn_kkCMonC6a_Xr8&hl=en&ei=iXVbTbPfM8G5tgfNrqzXCw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10&ved=0CFUQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q&f=false (p. 270, passim.)

Look, Le Goff doesn't provide any evidence for his claim except that the ban on slavery extended only to fellow Christians. But as we know from the New Testament, etc., some kind of acceptance of slavery does not necessitate that you believe slaves are "not really human." So I don't see why his "authority" should hold on this point...

PeaceByJesus said...

Times, considering the latest gracious announcement, Pope Benedict Exonerates Jews for Jesus' Death in New Book

But see prior announcement: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/anti-semitism/Pope_Benedict_on_Jews.html