Throwback Thursday: Catholic church celebrates 50th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” but let’s not forget its anti-Semitic past

Last month, the world commemorated the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz even while we’re concurrently witnessing a rising trend in populist, anti-Semitic violence. For this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on October 29, 2015 and has been revised.

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The Holocaust, the Church, and the Law of Unintended Consequences
By Anthony J. Sciolino
iUniverse, 2012, 270 pp.

On October 28, 1965, pope Paul VI issued Nostra Aetate (Latin, “In our Time”), the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council. The document was a RADICAL change in the “unchanging” Roman Catholic church’s approach to “non-Christian” religions. Instead of viewing Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism as false religions, as it had in the past, with this document Catholicism declared there was a certain amount of truth in all religious faiths and that it was possible for people of other works-righteousness creeds to earn their salvation as well. Nostra Aetate took an especially conciliatory tone towards the Jews.

In October, 2015, many Jewish leaders commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Nostra Aetate declaration with its startlingly dramatic change in church policy. Regrettably, many of today’s Catholics are entirely unaware of the church’s long history of militant anti-Semitism. Jews throughout Europe were harassed and persecuted by the Catholic population over the centuries. Intolerance was often incited and encouraged by the Catholic clergy. Jews were the victims of involuntary baptisms, enforced segregation, boycotts, exclusionary quotas, pogroms, massacres, and expulsions. When European anti-Semitism reached its culmination in the 20th century Holocaust, Adolf Hitler defended himself by appealing to church history:

“As for the Jews, I am just carrying on with the same policy which the Catholic church has adopted for fifteen hundred years, when it has regarded the Jews as dangerous and pushed them into ghettos, etc., because it knew what the Jews were like.” – Adolf Hitler

In “The Holocaust, the Church, and the Law of Unintended Consequences: How Christian Anti-Judaism Spawned Nazi Anti-Semitism,” family court judge and Roman Catholic deacon, Anthony Sciolino, objectively examines how the Catholic church’s systematic, anti-Semitic policies led to Hitler’s Holocaust.

But this ex-Catholic has a question regarding Catholic anti-Semitism: If the RC church has always been guided by the Holy Spirit and is the “foundation of truth” as Catholics claim, and if the Catholic popes have been infallible in vital matters of faith and morals as they also claim, then how could the church have been SO TERRIBLY WRONG, for century after century, when it came to its anti-Semitic policies and practices? Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have all officially apologized for the anti-Semitic policies and practices of their predecessors. What does that say for the claims of a divinely-led Magisterium?

I praise the Lord daily that He has freed me from the chains of the worldly-minded Catholic church and saved me by His grace through simple faith in Jesus Christ alone. Contrary to Nostra Aetate, God’s Word says salvation can only be found in Jesus Christ.

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” – Acts 4:12

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” – John 3:18

But we reach out to the lost with the love of Jesus Christ, not with hatred.

33 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: Catholic church celebrates 50th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” but let’s not forget its anti-Semitic past

    1. Thanks, sister! Regrettably, some of the early Reformers were affected by this prejudice, which Catholics enjoy pointing out. But the hatred had been instilled in Catholic Europe one-thousand years before Luther, and he never claimed divine infallibility.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. LOL, Romanists would be utter hypocrites to use Luther’s anti-semitism against us. Keep in mind that Luther was an Augustinian Friar, so where do you think he learned it from?

        4th lateran council :

        CANON 68

        Summary. Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province must be distinguished from the Christian by a difference of dress. On Passion Sunday and the last three days of Holy Week they may not appear in public.

        Text: In some provinces a difference in dress distinguishes the Jews or Saracens from the Christians, but in certain others such a confusion has grown up that they cannot be distinguished by any difference. Thus it happens at times that through error Christians have relations with the women of Jews or Saracens, and Jews and Saracens with Christian women. Therefore, that they may not, under pretext of error of this sort, excuse themselves in the future for the excesses of such prohibited intercourse, we decree that such Jews and Saracens of both sexes in every Christian province and at all times shall be marked off in the eyes of the public from other peoples through the character of their dress. Particularly, since it may be read in the writings of Moses [Numbers 15:37-41], that this very law has been enjoined upon them.

        Moreover, during the last three days before Easter and especially on Good Friday, they shall not go forth in public at all, for the reason that some of them on these very days, as we hear, do not blush to go forth better dressed and are not afraid to mock the Christians who maintain the memory of the most holy Passion by wearing signs of mourning.

        This, however, we forbid most severely, that any one should presume at all to break forth in insult to the Redeemer. And since we ought not to ignore any insult to Him who blotted out our disgraceful deeds, we command that such impudent fellows be checked by the secular princes by imposing them proper punishment so that they shall not at all presume to blaspheme Him who was crucified for us.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks for the excellent references, SB. For the benefit of the readers, the 4th Lateran Council took place in 1215.
        Yes, I often listened to David Anders take swipes at Luther for being an anti-Semite, which is irrational for a Catholic to point out.

        Like

      1. lol man that went back to 2005 when I use to be in a presup apologetics group and I adopted that mask because I thought I was slaying atheist arguments. I’ve calmed down since then. But the mask remain for the profile picture. I didn’t really know about Michael Myers, etc until way later.

        Liked by 1 person

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