March 2009 Newsletter

Association of Contemporary Church Historians

(Arbeitsgemeinschaft kirchlicher Zeitgeschichtler)

John S. Conway, Editor. University of British Columbia

March 2009 — Vol. XV, no. 3

 Dear Friends,

The approach of Lent is perhaps the appropriate time to reflect on issues in contemporary church history which still need to be addressed. Among these are the thorny and troubled problems of Christian-Jewish relations, on which topic there is all too little progress to be noted, and in which contemporary political factors clearly play a considerable role. But the collection of essays by both Jews and Christians, evaluating the twentieth century’s most significant document on this subject, Nostra Aetate, as reviewed below, will be of help. Intertwined is certainly the continuing controversy over the pontifical career of Pope Pius XII. There is still no agreement among scholars, and still less among lay people. In my view, this situation is unlikely to change, though it may possibly be helped as and when more documents from this Pope’s reign are finally revealed and new interpretations advanced. In the meantime new books continue to appear, some of which are less than helpful, being the product of preconceived opinions rather than accurate scholarship. Others however offer new insights.. One of the objects of this Newsletter has been to keep you advised of such publications, for better or for worse. So keep posted.

Finally I offer a few thoughts on the present controversy over Holocaust denial by a Catholic prelate who should know better, and the embarrassment he has caused for the Vatican at this touchy and delicate moment in Christian-Jewish relations.


1) Book reviews:

a) Nostra Aetate. Origins, Promulgation, Impact 
b) R. Michael, Catholic Antisemitism
c) D. Kurzman, A Special Mission: Hitler’s plot to seize the Vatican and kidnap Pope Pius XII
d) G. Noel, Pius XII. The Hound of Hitler

2) Journal Article: Coppa, The Vatican’s Silence during the Holocaust

3) Editorial: Holocaust Heretic Disciplined

1a) Nostra Aetate. Origins, Promulgation, Impact on Jewish-Christian Relations
Ed. Neville Lamdan and A.Melloni. Munster: LIT Verlag 2007. ISBN 978-4825-80678-1
The Catholic Church and the Jewish People: Recent Reflections from Rome
Ed. P. Cunningham, N.Hofmann and J.Sievers. New York: Fordham University Press 2007
ISBN 978-0-823-22805-8
(This review appeared first in Catholic Historical Review, Vol. 95, no 1, January 2009, and is reprinted by kind permission of the author.)

These collections are the products of conferences held to observe the fortieth anniversary in 2005 of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, specifically its fourth section on the Church’s understanding of Jews and Judaism. Both volumes include Jewish and Catholic authors. Both have significance for historians not only of the Council but also of subsequent Jewish-Catholic relations up to the present. The books are complementary, and the student of this history should have both of them.

The volume edited by Neville Lamden and Alberto Melloni presents the proceedings of a conference held in Jerusalem from October 30 to November 1, 2005, at the Center for the Study of Christianity at Hebrew University. The book is not divided into sections, but the fifteen essays can be roughly divided into equal groups of studies of the history of the text, its impact in the short term, and reflections on it after forty years.

Melloni examines the history of the text and its significance for the Church’s reevaluation of its most ancient interreligious relationship. Marco Morselli presented the influence of Jewish historian Jules Isaac and the Amitie Judeo-Chretienne de France in framing the issues the Council would tackle. In what the editors call “the centerpiece” paper of the conference, Paulist Father Thomas Stransky, the last surviving staff member of the Pontifical Secretariat for Christian Unity that led the drafting of the declaration, presented his “Insider’s Story” of the draft’s many theological and political adventures before the world’s bishops finally enacted it by an overwhelming vote during the last session of the Council. Annarita Caponera presents the results of her two-year study of the Secretariat archives from 1962 to 1965. Uri Bialer narrates “the view from Jerusalem” during the Council and the activities of the Israeli government to influence the outcome.

Serge Ruzer discusses how the theological agenda of Nostra Aetate required and precipitated a close look at the Jewish origins of Christianity. Robert Bonfil suggests a hermeneutic of the text from a Jewish perspective that can at once acknowledge it as a “revolutionary” change of Catholic worldview while still affirming its continuity with Catholic theology over the ages. Hans Herman Henrix outlines the effects of the declaration on Catholic attitudes in Western and Eastern Europe. Didier Pollefeyt describes the state of Catholic theology that has replaced a presumption that Christianity has superseded Judaism with an affirmation of the ongoing validity of God’s covenant with the Jewish People. Mauro Velati notes the cross-fertilization between Protestant and Catholic thinking on these issues, before and after the Council. Petra Held gives a Protestant perspective on it after forty years, David Rosen provides Israeli perspectives, and Jerome Chanes shows its impact on Catholic-Jewish relations in the United States. Finally, Zwi Werblowski and Cardinal Walter Kasper, the latter president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, sum up Jewish and Catholic perspectives. The volume concludes with an index of names.

Kasper, whose essay was last in the Lamden and Melloni volume, appears first in the Cunningham, Hofmann, and Sievers volume. He discussed interfaith possibilities with Jews and Muslims in the former; in the latter, he narrates the thirty-year history of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. Also providing histories of the commission are Cardinal Jorge Maria Meji­a, Father Pierfranceso Fumagalli, and Father Norbert Hofmann, all past secretaries of the commission.

This volume is divided into sections. In the first, Riccardo di Segni (the chief rabbi of Rome) and Giuseppe Laras (the chief rabbi of Milan) give Jewish perspectives on the relationship, while Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini provides a Catholic perspective. In the second, Massimo Giuliani deals with the memory of the Shoah as “a shadow upon and a stimulus to” dialogue, as his essay title expresses.

In the third section Archbishop Bruno Forte, Erich Zenger, and Peter Hunermann establish firm foundations for a Christian theology of Judaism. In the fourth section Alberto Melloni, along with the previously mentioned papers by Mejia, Fumagalli, and Hofmann, discusses developments in “the Post-Shoah Catholic-Jewish Dialogue.” Finally, Vatican diplomat Cardinal Achille Silvestrini and Israeli diplomat Oded Ben Hur discuss the relationship between the Holy See and the State of Israel.

A helpful set of appendices to this volume includes all six drafts of what became Nostra Aetate; Joint Declarations of the International Catholic Jewish Liaison Committee from 1970, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, and 2006; Joint Statements of the Pontifical Commission and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s Delegation from 2003-06; and the 1993 Fundamental Agreement between Israel and the Holy See. The volume has a full index and an index of scriptural passages cited.

As someone who lived through much of the history narrated in these two volumes and participated in many of the theological dialogues reflected in their pages, I can only express my delight in and gratitude for them.

Eugene J. Fisher, Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (Emeritus) United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

1b) Robert Michael, A History of Catholic Antisemitism: The Dark Side of the Church. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2008. Pp. ix, 282. NP. ISBN 978-0-230-60388-2.

This review appeared first in Catholic Historical Review, Vol. 95, no 1, January 2009, and is reprinted by kind permission of the author.

This book lives up to its subtitle. It presents in detail “the dark side” of Christian attitudes toward Judaism and treatment of Jews over the centuries. It occasionally mentions mitigating factors, such as St. Augustine’s argument that the Jews witness to the validity of their bible, are thus necessary to the proclamation of the gospel, and should therefore, alone among all the non-Christian religions of the Roman empire, be allowed to worship freely. But such acknowledgements are overwhelmed with negative after negative examples, to the point that readers of this book may not be able to answer the simple question: So why did Jews choose to stay in Christendom, when they could have moved to Islamic or Asian countries? This is a question the author never asks, most likely because the answer would be an acknowledgement that a true presentation of Jewish-Christian relations over the centuries would have many more bright spots in many countries over many centuries in which Jews lived peacefully and relatively prosperously with their Christian neighbors. But this shades of gray reality is, I fear, beyond the author’s intent, which is to show only “the dark side of the Church.”

In the Introduction (p. 1), the author states that Catholic “as distinguished from ‘Orthodox‘ and ‘Protestant,’ refers to those Christians who are in communion with the Holy See of Rome.” And then he immediate includes the Eastern Church Fathers, such as Chrysostum, as purveyors of “Catholic antisemitism.” Martin Luther’s anti-Jewish screeds, which were if anything even more vitriolic than Chrysostum, become a key part of the history of “Catholic” antisemitism, since the author, before devoting several pages to him, describes him simply as a “former Augustinian.” The book consistently blames the Catholic Church for the anti-Jewishness and antisemitism of all baptized Christians. I am not sure why the author feels the need to do this. Catholic sins are quite enough. One does not have to blame the Catholic Church for the sins of others. Or, alternately, the author could have admitted that what he has really written is a history of Christian, not just Catholic antisemitism.

Chapter One, “Pagans and Early Catholics,” treats the New Testament, emphasizing, of course its later and more negative passages as what it means overall, and often interweaving what the New Testament actually said with what later generations of (gentile) Christians said it said, so that most readers will find it difficult to distinguish the New Testament from the later “teaching of contempt” of the Fathers of the Church (Augustine excepted) toward the Jews. Subsequent chapters (two through five) march chronologically through the centuries, carefully culling out everything negative and for the most part ignoring what happened positively. What the author says about the Crusades in Chapter Five is summarized in the Postscript (p. 195) as “Every Crusade started out murderously attacking European Jews.” Here, he cites the classic studies by Robert Chazan and others of the First Crusade, which was qualitatively different than subsequent Crusades in its massacres of Jews and attempts to force convert them, over the protests of the local bishops, as Chazan reports but Michael fails to mention.

Chapter Six (pp. 75-100) deals with medieval “Papal Policy” while the final chapter, Ten, treats “Modern Papal Policy,” especially with regard to the Holocaust. These chapters bracket three chapters which deal, respectively, with Germany and Austria-Hungary, France, and Poland. Throughout these presentations, one is presented with mounds of details but often enough with misleading generalizations based upon them. These are too numerous to go into here. To his credit, Michael does spend more time on and attempt a more balanced approach of the question of Pope Pius XII and the Jews than many of Pius’ detractors. In my opinion, however, he does not succeed in this attempt, allowing his vision of “the Dark Side” to predominate, even when he has no evidence to back up a given claim or, indeed when what he claims happened did not in fact happen, for example that the deportations of the Jews from Rome by the Germans continued unabated after Pius’ intervention with them when, in fact, they stopped and most of the remainder of the Jews of Rome were saved, to a great extent by hiding in Catholic convents and monasteries, which Michael again fails to deal with.

One of the themes of the book, made explicit in the Postscript, entitled, “Catholic Racism,” is that there is really no distinction to be made between Patristic and Medieval Catholic anti-Jewish theological polemics and modern, racial, genocidal anti-Semitism, because he can find some quotes from some Catholics over two millennia in which Jews were disparaged even after being baptized. The limpia de raza laws against converted Jews and their descendants in Spain and Portugal are, tendentiously, portrayed as universal Catholic policy and as being given the encouragement of the bishop of Rome who, inexplicably, did not adopt them in the papal states. Yes, these Iberian laws were forerunners of Nazi laws, but they were not enacted outside their particular time and place. Likewise, neither they nor any other of the extremely numerous and noxious things that Christians did to Jews (mostly after 1096 and the First Crusade) ever came anywhere near genocide. Telling Jews that they must convert in order to stay in a country, otherwise they will have to leave, is not anywhere near the same thing as undertaking to kill all Jews no matter what they do.

The Notes to this book, pp. 205-265 are extensive and show the breadth of the author’s reading in the field. The Index, pp. 267-282, is complete and serviceable.

The author dedicates his work to “my late friend,” Fr. Edward Flannery, of blessed memory. Fr. Flannery was also my friend, as well as my predecessor in Catholic-Jewish Relations, so Michael and I have something in common. I would, however, encourage readers of this journal to stick with Fr. Flannery’ classic study on this topic, The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty Centuries of Christian Anti-Semitism, which remains the measure of the field.

Dr. Eugene J. Fisher, Retired Associate Director of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC

1c) Dan Kurzman, A Special Mission: Hitler’s Secret Plot to seize the Vatican and kidnap Pope Pius XII. Cambridge, Mass: Da Capo Press 2007 ISBN 978–0-306-81617-8

(This review by David Alvarez of St Mary’s College, California appeared first in the Catholic Historical Review, January 2009, and is reprinted by kind permission of the author)

Dan Kurzman asserts that Adolf Hitler, convinced that the fall of Benito Mussolini and Italy’s subsequent armistice with the Allies could have occurred only with the connivance of Pope Pius XII, decided in September 1943 to send German forces into Vatican City to seize the pontiff and his attendant cardinals and remove them to the principality of Liechtenstein along with whatever archives, gold, paintings, and sculpture the kidnappers could cart away. Concerned that the abduction of the pope and the looting of the Vatican would outrage Catholics around the world, SS General Karl Wolff, the one-time chief of staff to Heinrich Himmler selected by the Fuehrer to lead the operation, sabotaged the plan, in part by claiming that it would take time to gather the trained linguists, art historians, and archivists necessary for the success of the plot. According to this account, Wolff also saw his resistance to Hitler’s directive as an insurance policy. Seriously compromised by his leadership position in the SS and his association with the war crimes, atrocities, and genocidal programs of that organization, the general believed that, by thwarting Hitler’s plans, he could make friends inside the Vatican and create some anti-Hitler credentials-useful achievements in the event of the Third Reich’s defeat. Wolff’s plans required the pope to be aware of the threat. How else could the general place the pontiff in his debt? Furthermore, the argument that Hitler’s wrath, now barely contained by the sensible SS general, would only be fuelled by any word or gesture that could be interpreted as anti-German could be used to convince (blackmail) Pius to resist pressure from the Allies to condemn the extermination of Jews.

Rumours of threats to the pope and the territorial integrity of Vatican City had circulated in diplomatic and ecclesiastical circles since the outbreak of the war. Given the explicit hostility of the Nazi regime toward the Catholic Church, these rumours were taken seriously inside the Vatican and, as early as spring 1941, papal officials were considering contingency plans. Not surprisingly, such rumours proliferated after the German occupation of Rome. Did Vatican circles believe the threat was credible? Yes. Allied diplomats inside Vatican City burned their confidential files in anticipation of a German entry into the papal enclave, and staffers in the papal Secretariat of State kept packed suitcases next to their desks. Was there actually a Nazi plan to kidnap the pope? Hitler occasionally ranted about seizing the pope, but hard evidence of an abduction plot has eluded historians. It has also eluded Dan Kurzman.

The author’s footnotes are useless (often a single, vague footnote will cover several pages of text), but it seems that he relies primarily upon the postwar recollections of individuals, including the now-deceased Wolff, who claimed to have been involved in the events. Not surprisingly, the witnesses portray themselves as good guys. All, particularly the Germans, seem to have been anti-Nazi and secretly working to confound Hitler’s plans even if they had to hide their political opposition beneath SS uniforms. The testimony of some of these witnesses is, to put it mildly, suspect. Wolff, whose recollections form the basis for the story, is especially untrustworthy since even the author acknowledges that the SS officer was an amoral opportunist who, after the war, consistently twisted the truth of his wartime career in order to avoid conviction as a war criminal. The reader might wonder if Wolff manipulated the story of an alleged plot against the pope to further his postwar political rehabilitation. Suspect testimony might have been buttressed by documentary evidence, but the author (accepting Wolff’s assertions) assures us that the plot was so secret that no records were kept. In fact, there are two documentary sources relevant to a kidnapping operation, a diary entry by Joseph Goebbels after Mussolini’s arrest in July 1943 and a directive circulated by Martin Bormann to Nazi Party Gauleiters in November 1943, both of which undermine the claim of a plot. Additionally, there is the postwar testimony of Wilhelm Hoettl, director of the Vatican desk in the foreign intelligence division of Himmler’s Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA), who asserted on several occasions that there was never a plan to seize the pope. Father Robert Graham, the acknowledged authority on the wartime Vatican who interviewed and corresponded with all of the characters in the drama (including Wolff),was always sceptical about the existence of a serious plot. After completing Kurzman’s sensational story, this reviewer remains no less sceptical. David Alvarez, Saint Mary’s College of California

1d) Gerard Noel, Pius XII. The Hound of Hitler. London: Continuum 2008. Pp 220. ISBN 978-189-708-34537.

As a young man, sixty years ago, Gerard Noel was granted a private audience by Pope Pius XII at his summer castle, Castel Gandolfo. He was naturally greatly impressed. But in his subsequent career as a British Catholic journalist and author, he has become more sceptical, and has now published an account of Pius’ career which places him firmly in the camp of the pope’s detractors. Noel claims that this is not a conventional biography, but rather concentrates on those factors which throw light on Pius’ private character and personality. However, like all other such writers, Noel has not had access to the Vatican’s own documentary sources for Pius’ reign, which still await cataloguing before they can be made available to the public. Instead, he draws on other secondary sources such as the book by his fellow British journalist, John Cornwell, Hitler’s Pope, even though this has by now been largely discredited, as Cornwell himself has acknowledged. On the more personal side of Pius’ life, Noel relies heavily on an even more dubious source. He makes much, for instance of the purported influence of the pope’s indomitable housekeeper, the German nun, Mother Pasqualina, who “looked after” him for over forty years. Noel’s reconstruction of personal conversations and exchanges between Pius and Pasqualina must at best be considered fictitious. In addition he claims he has received “insider” information from various Vatican habitués, now dead. The impact of these “revelations” is to stress the Pope’s physical ailments, particularly the increasingly frequent hallucinations from which Pius is supposed to have suffered in his final years. No corroborative evidence is produced for such suppositions.

At the same time, Noel goes out of his way to build up a case against both the political and personal attitudes of Eugenio Pacelli, whom he depicts as a narrowly self-interested ecclesiastic, who early on set himself a “Great Design” to strengthen and centralize the One True Church as the most powerful body in human society. This aim was systematically pursued, first through his work in revising the complete Code of Canon Law, and subsequently through his efforts to negotiate a whole series of Concordats between the Vatican and national governments. No less than 25 such Concordats were concluded between 1914 and 1958. These were all part of a triumphalist dream to enhance the power and influence of the Catholic Church.

Pacelli’s single-minded dedication to this ambitious programme, so Noel contends, led to disastrous political misjudgements. For example, the signing of a Concordat with Serbia in the summer of 1914 was, in Noel’s opinion, a slap in the face of the most important Catholic power, Austria-Hungary, and thus a significant factor leading to the outbreak of the first world war. The same misjudgements were to be repeated, largely due to similar reasons, when Pacelli, as Secretary of State, was responsible for the signing of the Concordat with Nazi Germany in 1933. Noel’s evaluation of this negotiation is invariably negative. He claims that Pacelli was misled by his deep-set hostility to Soviet Communism into being “flexible” towards the Nazi movement and its leaders. Indeed he even “invents” the myth, that, in earlier years, while Nuncio in Munich, Pacelli had actually encountered the young radical, Adolf Hitler, and had given him money while still down and out to support his budding anti-Communist movement. No evidence for such a slander is produced.

Likewise Noel’s setting up a scenario in which Mother Pasqualina is portrayed as a vigorous opponent of any concessions to the Nazis in contrast to Pacelli/Pius’ weak and vacillating attitudes, is a pure invention. His description of Pius’ war-time diplomacy is predictably critical, including his failure to condemn the Nazis’ most heinous crimes against the Jews. Noel’s stance on this issue is hardly original, including his belief that a more outspoken protest by the Pope would have mobilized the German Catholic population to oppose the killing and persecution of the Jews. He shares with others the same wishful thinking about the capacity of the Vatican to command the loyalty of its following in war-time, or about the supposed influence of the Pope to bring about any alteration in the power balances in strife-ridden Europe.

Admittedly, he acknowledges that Pius was a multi-layered personality with many contrasting facets, from urbane diplomat, to tortured neurotic, to silent ascetic. Towards the end of his life, Noel claims, he would become increasingly a despot, without the kind of human contact which might have saved him from the illusions of saintly dedication and devotion. This facet was enhanced by the fact that in the 1950s the revival of the Church in post-war Europe was remarkable. It resulted in a decade of seemingly positive advances. The public image of the Church was triumphant, omnipotent. But the private reality of the Pope’s immediate entourage was cold and authoritarian. Pius became more and more absorbed in writing speeches on all manner of subjects, which were delivered to the constant stream of visitors, especially of academics in a huge variety of intellectual fields. As well, Pius concentrated on more mystical topics and theological explorations where few could follow him, such as the enormous effort placed on the esoteric ceremonies during the Holy Year of 1950, when Pius formally defined the Catholic doctrine of the bodily Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in both body and soul to heavenly glory which was to become regarded as an absolute and infallible belief of the Church. Such recondite speculations led him, in Noel’s view, to become a spiritual megalomaniac, all too conscious of his declining physical powers. On the other hand, Noel does have certain positive things to say about Pius’ personality.

He defends Pius against accusations that he was pro-Nazi or anti-Semitic, and asserts with conviction that he was definitely not a puppet or pawn to any man, especially not Hitler. On the other hand, he acknowledges the known facts about Pius’ hypochondria and depressions. In conclusion he readily admits that Pius’ character is endlessly intriguing. So something of his earlier captivation still remains. Curiously he provides no explanation as to why his book has been given the strange sub-title, The Hound of Hitler, which seems entirely inappropriate. In essence, this interpretation will convince few scholars who have done their homework, but may titillate those readers who are addicted to accounts of scandal and intrigue in high places.

2) Journal Article: Frank J. Coppa, “Between Morality and Diplomacy: The Vatican’s silence during the Holocaust,” in Journal of Church and State, Vol. 50, no. 3, Summer 2008, p. 541-568.

In 2006 Frank Coppa published an excellent survey of The Papacy, the Jews and the Holocaust. Inevitably this new article covers the same ground as his book’s Chapter 6, but expands and updates the footnotes. Coppa adopts a moderate position, being fully aware of the arguments for and against the policies of Pope Pius XII. He rightly explains the inherent conflict over the Pope’s preference for a diplomatic approach to world events rather than any strident denunciation based on a purely moralistic stance. This debate, as readers of this Newsletter are surely aware, remains unresolved. Coppa shares the view of your editor that the comprehensive opening of the Vatican archives for the period of Pope Pius XII’s reign, which have only in part become available for public scrutiny, will not lead to any startling revelations Nor will it stop this continuing debate. As he rightly remarks: “both advocates and adversaries have explored the [already published] volumes selectively, often only to support their pre-established positions on religious, ideological, political and psychological considerations, transcending the thought and policies of Pius XII.” However, he concludes: “access to the archives should reinforce the objective studies of this Pope and the scholarly narratives of his pontificate over the expression of both adversarial and apologetic accounts, and so play a part in bringing the ”Pius War” to an end”. (P. 568) This would indeed be a consummation devoutly to be wished.

3) Editorial: A Holocaust Heretic Disciplined

The present furore over the regrettable remarks about the Holocaust made by Bishop Richard Williamson of the Society of Saint Pius X is doubly unfortunate. The Society of Saint Pius X consists of a dwindling group of ultra-conservative and elderly men who broke away from the Vatican’s authority forty years ago. They opposed the decisions of the Second Vatican Council, fearing that the Church was about to descend the slippery slope of capitulation to modern secular values, and to abandon the time-honoured and unchanging doctrines of earlier centuries. Thanks to the leadership of Pope John Paul II and the present Pope Benedict XVI, this danger has been averted. Benedict now wishes to heal this rift. He has already showed consideration by allowing the restoration of celebrating the Mass in Latin. But the provocative utterances of one obscure and obstinate hold-out now threaten to upset the Vatican’s strategy of reconciliation over a much more important issue, namely the future of Catholic-Jewish relations.

The reckless and clearly deliberate distortions of history by this cranky and irrelevant bishop, for which he has neither the competence let alone the authority to make, have re-awoken deeply-felt resentments among many prominent Jewish agencies and commentators in Israel, Germany and elsewhere. It is a sad fact that, despite the frequent and sincere engagement of Pope Benedict on this subject, his pilgrimage to Auschwitz, and his fervent desire to visit Israel in the near future, the suspicion still remains that such Vatican pronouncements are only skin-deep, and that underneath the Roman Catholic Church may still harbour the kind of anti-Semitism which was so disfiguring a characteristic over so many centuries.

Forty years ago the Second Vatican Council’s notable statement Nostra Aetate declared that the Jews were the Christians “older brothers in faith”. The Church’s teaching ever since has consistently adopted this new and much more positive tone, re-echoed in Pope Benedict’s recent pronouncements. But clearly much more needs to be done to overcome the legacy of past antagonisms, or to ward off the suspicions so vocally expressed about the genuineness of Christian repentance. Very much the same applies to the Protestant and Orthodox Churches. Any recurrence of Christian anti-Semitism has to be repudiated. All Christians are now called to adopt a more positive and constructive engagement with their local Jewish communities in a common stance against the kind of bigotry and intolerance here demonstrated.

With all best wishes
John Conway