Saturday, March 08, 2014

The Church, the Jews, and the Piranha tank

I am pleased to see that the lay theologian Dr John Lamont has published an article on the Jews and the Church: 'Why the Jews are not the Enemies of the Church' in the Homiletic and Pastoral Review.

Dr Lamont is extremely sympathetic to the Traditional Catholic cause, and this is by no means an attack on that. It is a corrective, however, to claims made by some attached to the Traditional Mass, and specifically to some remarks of Bishop Fellay, Superior of the Society of St Pius X. I do not regard the SSPX, as an organisation, as anti-Semitic either in theory or practice: anyone who has been paying attention will have noticed that the SSPX has the habit of ejecting members who have clearly anti-Semitic views. What is evident, however, is that there is a current of conspiracy-theory thinking which can be found in Traditional Catholic circles which can easily lend itself to anti-Semitism.

Dr Lamont's article on the Homiletic and Pastoral Review website is already generating the kinds of comments which give Traditional Catholics a bad name: anyone addressing these matters on the internet steps into a tank of piranhas. These commenters - perhaps they will make an appearance on this blog as well - are not representative of the Traditional Catholic movement. Since they are attracting the attention of many who are open-minded about or hostile to the Traditional Catholic cause, I believe that it has become dangerous simply to ignore them. It is time the rest of us made it clear that we do not agree with them, and why.

The same task falls to those on both the political left and right in the UK, the fringes (and not just the fringes) of whose movements attract their own versions of the unpleasant views which can be found on the fringes of Traditional Catholicism.

I also think it is important to set out the reasoned case, from a perspective friendly to Traditional Catholicism, against the key claims of the conspiracy-theory types, since this case involves historical facts which are not all widely known even by those not at all attracted by the conspiracy theories.


Here are some extracts (in red) of, and paraphrasing summaries from, the article.

The reason why Rabbinic Jews are not enemies of the Church can be put briefly. Such Jews do not seek to convert Christians to Judaism, or to prevent non-Jewish Christians from exercising their faith. They only refuse to become Christians themselves, which does not suffice to make them “enemies” of the Church.


Rabbinic Judaism is something which, properly speaking, arose only after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. Furthermore, as a result of the massive pogroms against Jews carried out by the Romans in the wake of the various Jewish Revolts, Rabbinic Judaism derives overwhelmingly from Jewish sources outside the Roman Empire, notably in Babylon. The Jewish antecedents of Rabbinic Judaism who lived in the time of Our Lord, therefore, were many hundreds of miles away from Jerusalem when He was crucified.


The statements of St. Peter condemn those Jews who were themselves personally involved and responsible for the death of Christ in bringing about his crucifixion. The term “adversary,” that is used by St. Paul, is applied to the Jews who sought to prevent the first Christians from preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. It is this attempt to prevent the preaching of the Gospel that constitutes the Jews as “enemies” of all men in St. Paul’s eyes since they are trying to prevent the message of salvation from reaching the rest of the human race. Since Rabbinic Jews make no effort to prevent the preaching of the Gospel to Gentiles, and the founders of Rabbinic Judaism lived some time after the death of Christ, these condemnations cannot be applied to them.


When the Talmud was burnt in Paris at the instigation of [the Jewish convert to Catholicism] Nicholas Donin, French Jews appealed to the Pope, who judged that it could be permitted, if it was expurgated of any anti-Christian remarks. A similar judgement was made by the Council of Trent. A commission of Jews approached the Council to request that it rule that the Talmud could be printed. The Council passed their request on to the Congregation for the Index, which again ruled that it could be printed if any anti-Christian statements were removed. This evaluation of the Talmud was more positive than that given to the works of Luther, Calvin, Peter Abelard’s Introduction to Theology, and Samuel Richardson’s Pamela – all of which were banned in their entirety by the Church.
“Because Rabbinic Jews deny the doctrine of the Trinity, they do not believe in the same God as the Christians.”  The claim makes the mistake of inferring the psychological state of the believer from the logical consequence of his beliefs. It is true that since God is necessarily a trinity of persons, it necessarily follows that any being that is not a trinity of persons is not God. However, it is not true that every believer accepts all the logical consequences of his beliefs, simply because they do not always draw these logical consequences; and, indeed, are not capable of drawing all of them, since these consequences will be infinite in number. In the particular case of inferring that no being who is not a trinity of persons is the true God, it is only Christians who are capable of making this inference; the belief that God is necessarily a trinity of persons is needed to make it, and this belief can only be acquired through an act of Christian faith. Thus, from the facts that the Jews reject the doctrine of the Trinity, and that the denial of this doctrine entails that the true God does not exist, we cannot conclude that Jews do not believe in the existence of the true God.
However, the Jewish organizations who insist that the Church should accept that the Mosaic law is still valid for Jews, are not representative of Jews as a whole. Most religious Jews are realistic enough to understand that the Church is not going to change her fundamental teachings, and are content with a vigorous rejection of anti-Semitic hatred and discrimination by Catholics. In defence of these Jewish organizations, it should be said that they are not necessarily well-informed about Christian thought, and that they have been assured, by some individuals with high positions in the Church, that Catholics no longer consider that they need to be saved by belief in Christ. They naturally take these assurances to correspond to what Catholic teachings now assert. When they are told that this is not, in fact, the case, they consider this to be an attempt to cheat them by going back on prior agreements. Some apologies are owed to them for having been given false assurances. The ecclesiastics who gave these assurances sought to use Catholic-Jewish relations as a pretext and disguise for advancing their own theological agenda, which was one of modernist promotion of all religions as good, and as paths to salvation. The Jews who accepted these assurances got caught up in an internal game of subversion of the Church, which was not their objective.


  1. Sanguis eius super nos et super filios nostros...

  2. The people who said this, and their children, almost all perished in the Jewish War and its aftermath.

  3. For what it is worth, granting the answer might be: not much, I would caution you to against taking on more than you can handle. Policing antisemitism is probably one of those more-than-you-can-handle situations. I don't mean to demean you or your abilities. I am just saying that an extended round of wack-a-mole isn't going to do you any good and it isn't going to solve anything. Antisemitic attitudes have been around for a very long time (1000's of years) and are tangled up in hatreds far more ancient still. Do not give into the temptation to poke at them or provoke them (either side). Politically grounded attempts to solve this problem are cat nip for the Devil. If a well written article or admonishment could solve the problem, we wouldn't have the problem today.

    As repugnant to your sense of good policy as the utterances of the more bilious fellow-travelers might be, it can not dismiss the simple fact that without them having resolutely vowed to die upon this hill for the Mass of Ages, we would not have the Mass of Ages. That they have PTSD is to be expected.

    One would do well to stiffen the sinews with a little more suspicion as to who is moving about on the land, as they have done. Opponents might cloak themselves under this form or that one, but do not be deluded in thinking that a) the Mass of Ages has no opponents (read vicious enemies) or b) that these opponents are not formidable or well positioned to cause considerable grief to your fledgling (and highly laudable) efforts.

    1. Almost everything I post here I do not with the idea that I will persuade hardened enemies, but to influence the undecided and to provide good arguments for those who instinctively agree.

      I'd be interested (seriously, since you seem an articulate fellow) to know what you would propose to deal with the problem of the TLM becoming typecast as associated with anti-semitism.

    2. I cannot answer for "ColdStanding", but in regard to your question, I would reply that the TLM does not lend itself to any "ism": the rubrics and language prevent the celebrant and congregation using for any end other than the worship of God (the same cannot be said for the NO). It would also be worthwhile to bear in mind that poisonous individuals are found in all walks of life and attach themselves to every movement and institution in existence: in fact you should say that the human heart is the true battle line.

    3. For what it is worth I see both points of view. The anti-Jewish views of a number of Trads, has anyone read Christian Order for the last year?, really rise to pathological heights. IF you attract any here, the combox almost certainly will fill up with hundreds or thousands of words, proving Jews control the world, hate Christ whatever else. On the other hand, it does make sense to offer reasonable discussion of this matter. But caution does need to be exercised, which I think it is.

      One quick point to mention though, is the presence of a number of trads who have extensive reports by the ADL. While I'm sure that some of these men might meet the technical definition of anti-semitic, it is pretty clear that they are not. The distinction between a theological objection to modern Judaism and any political, racial, social objection is sometimes, perhaps deliberately, muddied.

    4. It is the difficult to find the right mix of spiritual and practical to offer you, but here goes.
      1) Squeeky clean: there can be no, as the ancient Chinese say, eating gall. The purpose of the Mass is to give glory to God. That had better be what you are on about. There can be no nursing of grievances (eating gall) as you wait for the day you are in a better position to stick it to your enemies.
      2) The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Few are those that are eager to serve God with giving, these days, and many are there eager to serve God by taking away. That's the way it is. Read Samuel 1, 15 re: Saul. Therefore, walk in the fear of the Lord. Be mindful of the fact that, truthfully, we have wasted many graces from God.
      3) Read the first chapter of Dom Scupoli's Spiritual Combat. If ever I need to be reminded of what I am supposed to be doing, that chapter always helps.
      4) Read Cardinal Vaughn's introduction to the Heart of Humility by Fr. Bergamo. I think he very effectively illustrates how the laity can assist the hierarchy in the Opus Dei.
      5) Pray to God, on knees, in front of the tabernacle as often as you can. If it all goes to hell, at least you'll have won for yourself a deep habit of prayer.
      6) I don't know what the leadership of your organization has done to place the TLM efforts under the protection of a powerful patron, but may I be so bold as to suggest St. Lawrence of Brendisi. I think you will find much in his story that is pertinent to your situation.

      None of this should be a surprise to you. May God bless you and keep you. AMDG.

  4. I have never understood the concept of anti-Jewishness in Catholicism.

    It was never ever mentioned one way or the other in my youth in a large Jesuit parish, (which celebrated the”Mass of Ages “most prayerfully).

    After all, and the Apostles and early Christians were Jews, as was Christ, who made it clear that he had come to complete, not replace. While the Sacrifice of the Mass is profoundly new, the rest of our Catholicism is, essentially, the keeping of the Ten Commandments, which is fundamental to Judaism and Christianity alike.

    If I remember right, what the Jesuits did teach us was that it was all Mankind, and not any particular section of it, who crucified Christ.

    So what if Judaism doesn’t recognise Christ as the Son of God. Lots of people don’t, including apparently, many so-called “Christians”.

    Mark you, I’m not a Traditional Catholic, just an ordinary orthodox Catholic in the pews, anxious to get back to the Mass as the re-enactment of the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross for the Salvation of Mankind.