In 1965 the Second Vatican Council declared that God loves the Jews. Before that, the Church had taught for centuries that Jews were cursed by God and, in the 1940s, mostly kept silent as Jews were slaughtered by the Nazis. How did an institution whose wisdom is said to be unchanging undertake one of the most enormous, yet undiscussed, ideological swings in modern history?
The radical shift of Vatican II grew out of a buried history, a theological struggle in Central Europe in the years just before the Holocaust, when a small group of Catholic converts (especially former Jew Johannes Oesterreicher and former Protestant Karl Thieme) fought to keep Nazi racism from entering their newfound church. Through decades of engagement, extending from debates in academic journals, to popular education, to lobbying in the corridors of the Vatican, this unlikely duo overcame the most problematic aspect of Catholic history. Their success came not through appeals to morality but rather from a rediscovery of neglected portions of scripture.
From Enemy to Brother illuminates the baffling silence of the Catholic Church during the Holocaust, showing how the ancient teaching of deicide-according to which the Jews were condemned to suffer until they turned to Christ-constituted the Church's only language to talk about the Jews. As he explores the process of theological change, John Connelly moves from the speechless Vatican to those Catholics who endeavored to find a new language to speak to the Jews on the eve of, and in the shadow of, the Holocaust.
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Table of Contents
1 The Problem of Catholic Racism 11
2 The Race Question 36
3 German Volk and Christian Reich 65
4 Catholics against Racism and Antisemitism 94
5 Conspiring to Make the Vatican Speak 147
6 Conversion in the Shadow of Auschwitz 174
7 Who are the Jews? 210
8 The Second Vatican Council 239
9 A Particular Mission for the Jews 273
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
John Connelly builds his 2012 book FROM ENEMY TO BROTHER: THE REVOLUTION IN CATHOLIC TEAHING ON THE JEWS 1933 - 1965 around two converts to Catholicism. They are former Protestant Karl Thieme (? - 1963) and always Jewish Monsignor Johannes M. (later John) Oesterreicher (1904 - 1993). Professor Connelly judges Thieme the more profound and radical of the two. But he died before the crucial fourth session of the Second Vatican Council and it was his onetime friend Oesterreicher who was principal drafter of NOSTRA AETATE and its radical shifts in Catholic teaching on the Jews. *** FROM ENEMY TO BROTHER is cutting edge, up to date scholarship on how centuries old Catholic thinking was turned 180 degrees in the October 1965 NOSTRA AETATE ("In our Age") Council Declaration. The details and nuances of that about face are so many and so striking that you will have to read Connelly's book to grasp what happened. *** In 1933 when Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany, he found a nation of German Protestants and Catholics made to order for his plan to annihilate the Jewish people. German Christians tended to believe it a mistake to question major shifts in history as blasphemy against God's wise Providence for the world. After Vatican II, Catholics were invited instead actively to scrutinize events as "signs of the times," as calls for conscientious action rather than passive contemplation. *** For centuries Catholics believed that all Jews continued till the end of time to participate in a group guilt (1) for killing God - Jesus - their Messiah and (2) for not immediately repenting of their sin and accepting baptism. Hitler could be believed when he asserted that in punishing Jews he was doing the Church's work that Christians could not do because they had to love their enemies. As John Connelly sees it, Catholics who would never lift a finger to hurt a Jew believed it God's work when Nazis did it. Vatican II changed all that and much more besides. *** But as much as any theological rethinking by Thieme and Oesterreicher, it was the sheer public horror over the Holocaust/Shoah under Hitler that made Vatican II possible. The Jews were not made to suffer because they were evil but because they were God's witnesses and martyrs. If the shoah could possibly be explained, it had to be on a basis other than inherited Jewish guilt. -OOO-