The Pope who loved the Jews...Really?

Posted by Olivier Melnick on May 28, 2015

It doesn't matter if you are Catholic or not, the Pope is an international figure that cannot be ignored. As a Jew, I do not fall under his authority like a Roman Catholic would, but I understand that he can be a very influential person.

Over the centuries, many popes have come and gone and those who truly loved the Jews were definitely few and far in between. I do not want to give the impression of being anti-Catholic, yet if history is our witness, the Catholic Church has often failed in the area of Judeo-Christian relations. Where the Church as a religious institution has failed, many catholic individuals succeeded, as there are many stories of Catholics loving, helping, hiding and protecting Jews over the centuries and especially during the Holocaust era.

The current Pope was introduced to the world as a "friend of the Jews". He comes only a short fifty years after Vatican II and the famous Nostra Aetate  document also known as the "Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions." This short, very ecumenical document was aimed at reconciling Jews, Muslims and Christians among other things. It is at that time, almost 1,700 years after the death of Yeshua (Jesus) that the Catholic Church decided to exonerate the Jews from the charge of deicide (the killing of God). That statement is worth reviewing: "Even though the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ (cf. John 19:6), neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his passion. lt is true that the Church is the new people of God, yet the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture. Consequently, all must take care, lest in catechizing or in preaching the Word of God, they teach anything which is not in accord with the truth of the Gospel message or the spirit of Christ.
There is no doubt that a clear attempt was made at exonerating the Jewish people from the death of Yeshua. But outside of a few within the leadership of the time along with a few of their Jewish followers, the corporate guilt for the death of Yeshua was established on a false premise.  A simple review of chapter 10 of the Gospel of John would probably have sufficed to see that Yeshua claimed to have given His own life for all. One doesn't need to adhere to the Christian faith to even see that: "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father".

Interestingly enough, within the same breath, that statement declares that “lt is true that the Church is the new people of God.” Such a theological construct is also based on a faulty biblical approach seeing Christians has having “replaced” Israel. Replacement Theology has always been very prevalent within the Catholic Church.

Fifty years and a few popes later, the Catholic Church has a new pontiff in Pope Francis, a Jesuit from Argentina. He has the reputation of having nurtured some very positive relationship with the Jewish community of Buenos Aires over the years. He even co-wrote the book On Heaven and Earth with Argentine rabbi Abraham Skorka.

Pope Francis' relationship with the Jewish community seems sincere and has garnered him a trust from rabbis and Jewish leaders that had not been seen in decades. So it's all good, right? Well maybe not! Ecumenism by nature is open to a wide array of various belief systems. It seeks a common denominator on which it can build its multicultural, multi-religious and tolerant agenda.

But the Pope should be careful in his ecumenical endeavor to make our world better. While it is our corporate responsibility to do all we can to improve our world–a concept found in Judaism as well, and known as tikkun olam (repairing the world)–it shouldn't be done at anybody's expense but to everybody's benefit. Lately I would posit that the Vatican's approach to the betterment of the world could end-up being very detrimental to Israel and the Jews.

The world reacted when Pope Francis was quoted saying to Mahmoud Abbas that he was "an angel of peace". The media outlets were quick to react, the ADL was outraged and the blogosphere buzzed with negative excitement. How could a friend of the Jews call a terrorist an angel of peace? Was the Pope an anti-Semite after all? Many would have easily taken that road, but soon after the statement was published, an explanation followed. The Pope had simply given Abbas a medal that he had also given to other world leaders, telling the head of the Palestinian authority that he hoped that he could become an angel of peace. So calm was restored and the Pope had retained his good reputation with the Jews.

But did he?

I have to admit that calling Abbas an angel of peace would have been a grave mistake. This being said, is it truly better now that we understand that Pope Francis was encouraging a terrorist who clearly wants the total destruction of Israel? I think not!

To remove all doubt, the Vatican also decided a few weeks ago to sign a new treaty to recognize the Palestinian State. The Vatican has been in favor of the recognition of Palestine since 2012, but this upcoming treaty would "formally recognize Palestine". This will be a blow to Israel and the Jewish people, but it will also hurt the reputation that the Catholic Church has been working hard at changing at least for the last five decades. How can a friend of the Jews mingle with a terrorist and officially recognize a terrorist state bent on eradicating the Jewish people?

Many Jewish people worldwide do not trust the Catholic Church and/or catholic people. While many Catholics were friendly to Jews, like the family of peasants who hid my mother and her cousins during the Holocaust years, they weren't the norm. Looking at history, words like forced baptisms, forced conversions, Crusades, Inquisition, Pogroms and Holocaust come to mind when a Jewish person is asked about the Catholic Church. While I recognize that even using these words to describe the Catholic Church represents painting with very broad strokes, the connection is real, it is painful and in many cases the wounds are still open.

Pope Francis recent dealings with Abbas and decision to officially recognize Palestine could very well destroy five decades of Judeo-catholic rapprochement and even ad some salt to these wounds. Catholics are part of what is known as Christendom and as such are considered Christians. Next time one of your Jewish friends tells you that ALL Christians are anti-Semitic, even though that isn't a true statement, the opposite might be a bit more difficult to defend.

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Comments ...

7 comments on “The Pope who loved the Jews...Really?”

  1. Sad. Very sad. We need to pray his eyes are opened to this error. I had hoped this Pope would be one who would really see the world. Apparently, his vision is in need of correction.

  2. Catholicism is a worldly religion that is sprinkled with the name Jesus Christ. Tradition, counting beads, worship of Mary, works, etc. are all equal to Christ. The Catholic Church does not want to persecuted. And in order for the Catholic Church not to be persecuted, they must respect terrorist organizations that are anti-Israel. Any organization that is not centered on Jesus and the Bible alone does not support God. Therefore why would you expect them to support Israel? Any support you hear of Israel is a smoke-screen.

    1. I agree. The pogroms, inquisition, forced baptisms and conversions were official Catholic practices, top-down, not perpetrated by renegades. So the author's fear of painting with too broad a brush is unfounded. When you say "Catholic Church," it refers to the authority embedded in the Pope and Magisterium. The common parishioners are most often completely unaware of the Church's questionable history. I myself was raised in the Catholic Church and attended Catholic schools for 12 years. Never did I hear any of the less-stellar history taught, nor was I exposed to the Bible. Catholics were forbidden to read certain books or to set foot in a Protestant church, lest they hear something the Catholic Church deemed unflattering or counter to its goals. It wasn't until I got out on my own and started reading the Bible that I discovered that many of things I was taught weren't even remotely true. Mary was not ever-virgin, but had at least six other children (four of whom are named); she wasn't immaculately conceived as she calls herself a sinner; the Mass denied the once-for-all sacrifice of Jesus by "reimmolating" Christ daily; forbidding marriage was itself forbidden; dietary "laws" were unbiblical, etc. etc. During WWII, the Pope made agreements with Hitler, sort of a nonaggression pact which made the Catholic Church in a sense complicit. This "recognition" of Palestine smacks of the same deeply flawed perspective. In fact any man who remains committed to the Catholic Church after becoming aware of the many ways it has violated God's heart, issued anti-biblical commands (such as forbidding people to read the Bible in the 1200s), and remains to this day a bastion of Pharisaism and hierarchical religion in opposition to Jesus' admonition to "call no man father, teacher, leader, for you are all brothers" is simply blind. And that includes the Pope.

      1. Well said. Satan will do everything he can to get each and every one of us, Christians and non-Christians, to not read our Bibles.

  3. Unfortunately, the Roman branch of the catholic (universal) belief system, loosely based upon the Risen Christ, is not the only denomination practicing "Replacement Theology." This false doctrine is running rampant among most major (slowly becoming minor) sects within Protestantism as well.
    Fortunately, True Believers DO NOT accept Replacement Theology. We believe in a "Covenant Theology," or the "Dispensations" of time in which God dealt with His peoples, be it Jew or Gentile, beginning with the Adamic Covenant through the current period of Grace, that is fast coming to an end.
    But, be of good cheer, my Jewish brothers and sisters, for your glorious Kingdom Age is fast approaching when our Messiah returns to establish His world headquarters at Shiloh, not Rome!

  4. Today's christians need to get back to basics - what they taught in the bible. And God's commands are really easy to understand.

    Satan has had over two thousand years to infiltrate and divide christiandom up into a whole lot more than 60,000 worldwide denominations each having their own rituals, traditions, ways of living and interpretations of the bible. Is Christ divided?

    The true church ARE the christians, not a denomination or a building as most Christians perceive the church as being a denomination or a building. True christianity is an individual lifestyle. Just by the way the term "church" is used gives one an indication it isn't the same as it was used in Jesus' time. Christians bicker constantly about whose church is better. For example, "I didn't see you in church this morning," "Our church has a great pastor," "Our church has great entertainment," "Our church has great programs," "Our church just installed a new sound system," "Our church has a great Christmas/Easter program," etc.
    Today's denominational church members are nothing more than hearers of the Word, counterfeit christians, having the knowledge of God, but denying his power. They pray repeated prayers in vain. (Matthew 15:9; John 4:24) God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

    God’s true Church has no earthly wealth, no huge bureaucracy, no billions tied up in real estate, investments, and bank accounts – and no money to maintain these assets. All denominational churches are also nothing more than government owned businesses. (Mark 12:17) Denominational churches will compromise biblical truth to keep their non-profit status. How many denominational churches will sell all its assets to feed the poor? The catholic church, for instance, is worth over seventeen trillion dollars in hard assets, real estate, income property and paper assets (stocks and bonds). Plus, denominational churches use worldly marketing strategies to increase their memberships by offering classes, entertainment, and other worldly activities unrelated to true christianity instead of relying on God only to increase their numbers.

    Most christians are also adamant about what denomination they belong to. 1 Corinthians 1:11-13; "Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas..."; and I of Baptist, and I of Catholic, and I of Orthodox, and I of Lutheran, and I of Protestant. Is Christ divided?

    The command from God is: "If you love me, keep my commandments." The number one command is LOVE, as in the verb form. Simple, eh? But difficult to apply. And attending a denominational "church" service once a week for an hour doesn't qualify a person as part of the family of God. The "assembly" of christians is any where two or more meet whether at a park, at the local cafe, or in one's home as they did in Jesus' time - on a daily basis (especially in today's world).

    The fact that in the end days christians will fall away from the faith. Some christians would reply that they were never christians to begin with, but one must have faith to begin with before one can fall away, eh?

    Solution: Living a Christian lifestyle is on a personal level. Bring a few family friends together and meet for it is written that wherever two or more are gathered in Jesus' name so he will be there - whether it's in a park, a cafe, or in your home. Having a small group will keep one another accountable for one another. Another command is to meet daily especially in today's world because it’s very difficult to live a life of a Christian. It is also difficult to grow and mature in Christ especially in a denominational "church" when the same sermons are taught over and over again without going more deeply into the words of God.
    Not only are schools dumbing down our children, but denominational "churches" are dumbing down our christians. Denominational "churches", for instance, spend the whole month of December teaching about Christ's birth (although, it's not taught in the bible) each and every year. Denominational "churches" spend the whole month of March/April teaching about Christ's resurrection each and every year (even though it’s important to know why). Chrisitans don't grow and mature when repeating the same sermons over and over again. Christians grow and mature when they obey the simple commandment - LOVE (as in the verb form).

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