October 9, 2003


Pope's legacy of curbing anti-Semitism (James Carroll, 10/7/2003, Boston Globe)

John Paul II is known as a conservative pope. On matters of sexual morality, the rights of women, the prerogatives of an all-male, celibate priesthood, religious pluralism, and the dictatorial authority of the hierarchy, he has been reactionary. He attempted to stop most reforms begun by Vatican II. He condemned condoms even to slow the spread of AIDS. He protected a clerical system that preferred church power over the welfare of children.

In resisting Stalinist communism, ultimately helping to defeat it, he defined Catholicism more as a source of opposition than affirmation. Catholics who had moved on from his narrow, 19th-century view of the church were deemed disloyal. Christians of other denominations and adherents of other faiths were branded as religiously inferior. Pope John Paul II, a fierce traditionalist, spent himself opposing theological change.

Yet this pope has personally set in motion the single most significant change in the history of the church -- in its relations with the Jewish people.

You have to be almost totally obtuse to think that opposing anti-Semitism is in some sense contradictory to opposing Communism and abortion and vindicating traditional sexual morality. All proceed from the same core belief, one unique to the Judeo-Christian tradition: that Man is created in God's image and therefore imbued with dignity. If these views are reactionary it is only because men treat each other with so little dignity in the modern world. Of course, Mr. Carroll has in the past amply proven his obutseness.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 9, 2003 9:56 PM

And his complete misunderstanding of Vatican II. Of course, if he'd spent his time in seminary reading, as opposed to toking, he might not be under his current misapprehension. What a putz.

Posted by: Chris at October 10, 2003 11:41 AM

Oh, and because Friday's a good day to pile on, what's this nonsense?:

Gospel texts continue to be read as demonizing Jews.

By whom? Which Catholics? Which normal Christians? Where? Was the weed that good?

And what world does Carroll live on?

Posted by: Chris at October 10, 2003 2:52 PM

About time, I'd say, but once again Orrin condemns religion more thoroughly than I could if I tried.

His evaluation assumes that the Church was antiChristian during 99.9% of its history.

You cannot say, as I expect Orrin to do, that men are evil and fall short of their doctrine. The only men that developed Jew-hatred were Christians (and, later, Moslems).

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 10, 2003 4:10 PM

Neither the Nazis nor the Communists were Christians, they were secular rationalists, and they exterminated Jews.

Posted by: oj at October 10, 2003 4:13 PM


Correction. Sectarian irrationalists.

Sects don't need gods to exist. One would think the extensive record of internicene communist conflict would be sufficient evidence of that.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 10, 2003 8:11 PM

You can be entirely rational and differ over your theories--look at Dawkins & Gould.

Posted by: oj at October 10, 2003 8:16 PM

Where did they learn Jew-hatred, Orrin?

Besides, virtually all the German murderers were Christians. Close to 100%.

The situation is less precise with regards to the Soviets, but at least a good part -- I think almost all -- of the Jew-killing was done by Orthodox. Goldhagen has pictures.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 10, 2003 10:25 PM

Too many Christians were involved, but it was a scientific project led by secular rationalists. The Soviet Union is all down to your side.

Posted by: oj at October 10, 2003 11:30 PM


Would you not call the Romans Jew-haters? Especially the ones who sacrificed a pig in the temple, circa. 165 BC?

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 10, 2003 11:44 PM


Wouldn't you agree with me that South America's history has generally been marked by strong, near-universal Catholicism? Would you agree that North America was strongly Christian up to WW1 ? So where are the camps, progroms, riots, etc.

Oh sure, you can trot out Couglin, social prejudice, quotas and neighbourhood hostility (mainly from European immigrants), but not even your wealth of arcane data can give us anything like Europe.

Even in Europe, if you subtract eastern Europe above the Balkans and Germany under the Nazis, you have to go back into history quite a ways. And even then, you have to deal with the problem that pogroms arose in different places at different times and were interspersed with long periods of accommodation. (Hint-check out the records of those wonderful, compassionate, freedom-loving medieval secular leaders whose praises you are always singing.) And then you have to deal with those confused popes who sought to protect Jews from populist uprisings during the Black Death, etc. and issued edicts commanding tolerance.

Pretty bumbling record for an all-powerful, theocratic faith that ruled the West for centuries and was determined to eradicate Jewry with a never-wavering, single-minded theological purpose. (I take it the widespread Christian and Jewish criticism of Goldhagen is having no effect on you.)

Posted by: Peter B at October 11, 2003 5:46 AM