Vatican II and the Church’s more tolerant attitude toward Jews

A Jewish friend is concerned that my relentless criticisms of Vatican II are also criticisms of the Church’s removal of its hostility toward the Jews. He writes:

In referring to the “catastrophe” of Vatican II, I hope you are referring to what I can only term “inside Catholic baseball” items, irrelevant to non-Catholics, and NOT acknowledgement and removal of Judenhass motifs that contributed to the tremendous suffering of Jews through the ages. I grew up in a mixed Catholic-Jewish neighborhood pre-Vatican II, when I was still called a “Christ-killer” & attacked without provocation by students attending the local Catholic schools (truly a bizarre experience for someone like myself who was so secular he barely knew who Jesus was, let alone why on earth he was being blamed for killing him!). It was a very real phenomenon for me, which thankfully improved quite noticeably within a decade of the Nostre Aetate/Vatican II reforms. Please, don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. You want Latin masses again etc., wonderful … what I term “inside Catholic baseball,” FINE. But please don’t promote teaching the collective guilt of Jews as a Deicide people again … EVER….

LA to JF:

It goes without saying that my criticisms of Vatican II have nothing to do with the Jewish issue. I’ve been writing a great deal about John Paul II and Vatican II in the last couple of weeks since JPII’s death, and my theme has been the Council’s radical re-working of fundamental Christian doctrine and liturgy, most importantly, the religion of man, the cult of the “human person” and his rights, the cult of the protection of physical life replacing the Christian path of divine life, the notion that every person is now automatically “divinized” because of the advent of Christ, and the decision to reach out to and embrace the modern secular world in its own terms. In my view, these things basically flipped Christianity on its head.

Anyone who has been following me would understand this context, since I’ve stated these ideas repeatedly in the last few weeks. The issue of Jewish guilt for the Crucifixion, the removal of the phrase “the perfidious Jews” from the liturgy, and so on, hasn’t even come up.

Also, I’m against ecumenism, the notion that all religions share a common truth and ought to get together on the basis of what they have in common, which ends by eliminating what is distinctive about each faith. However, it’s not necessary to be an ecumenist to remove the Church’s collective indictment of the Jews, or to recognize that the Jews have their own dispensation from God that ought to be respected or at least left alone.

However, given your reaction, and given how tough I’ve been on Vatican II, it might not be a bad idea for me to mention some of the good things about Vatican II from a Jewish point of view.

JF to LA:

Very relieved, and did not mean to cast aspersions. All I can say is attitudes DID change, in concrete ways, within my own neighborhood. Kids who used to attack me (believe me I fought back, that wasn’t the issue) literally became, if not good friends, kids I could play basketball and football and softball with, and enjoy their company and spotsmanship in team sports.

LA to JF:

Do you think that was specifically because of Vatican II or because of the general liberalization of society?

JF to LA:

I was born in 1956. By the time of Vatican II (assuming 1962-65) I was very active in sports … my main interaction with the Catholic kids in the community. Within 5 years of 1965, i.e., by 1970, I no longer heard the “Christ-killer” epithet, and I regularly had very positive experiences playing pick-up and formal team sports with Catholic kids who had NOT been my friends just a few years earlier. Believe me, it wasn’t just “maturity.” Attitudes changed

Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 20, 2005 12:00 PM | Send

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