Wednesday, April 07, 2010

pope benedict xv and judaism

Wikipedia | The relations between Pope Benedict XV and Judaism were marked by two significant historical events : the emigration of Eastern European Jewish communities due to the Great War and to pogroms, and the development of Zionism in the Middle East and its effects on local Levantine, Greek-Catholic and Arab Christian communities.

Requests in favour of Polish Jews
In 1916, in the midst of the First World War, American Jews petitioned Pope Benedict XV on behalf of the Polish Jews. To this the pontiff responded in a private letter, also published in the Jesuit journal "Civilta Cattolica", denouncing antisemitism:
The Supreme Pontiff.... as Head of the Catholic Church, which, faithful to its divine doctrines and its most glorious traditions, considers all men as brothers and teaches them to love one another, he never ceases to indicate among individuals, as well as among peoples, the observance of the principles of the natural law, and to condemn everything that violates them. This law must be observed and respected in the case of the children of Israel, as well as of all others, because it would not be conformable to justice or to religion itself to derogate from it solely on account of divergence of religious confessions.
Effects of the letter
The letter had asked the Pope to exert his authority to halt the mistreatment of Jews throughout the world, in particular the pogroms on the Russian front. The Pope declined to do so since he said he had no way of confirming the facts claimed in the letter. The Pope's letter said nothing about equality in civil rights nor any rejection of social, political, or legal restrictions on Jews (so long as such restrictions did not violate natural law) that aimed at limiting “harmful” Jewish influences on society.