Post-Auschwitz Catholic-Jewish Dialogue

Mixed Signals and Missed Opportunities
  • Alan L. Berger
Chapter

Abstract

There is, perhaps, no better metaphor for Catholic-Jewish relations both during and after the Holocaust than that of mixed signals. Nechama Tec, the distinguished sociologist who as a young girl survived the Shoah by passing as a Polish Christian, describes the nature of these signals. On the one hand, the Church has advocated ‘Jewish hatred’, yet on the other hand, it required its members ‘to reassess their own sins, to love, and to sacrifice for their fellow human beings’. During the Holocaust, and absent any clear message from the Vatican, observes Tec, ‘the clergy and lay Catholics could base their reaction on religious anti-Semitism or on Christian teachings of charity and universal love.’ Three events of the last fifteen years reveal the ongoing impact of the legacy of mixed signals. Indeed, the two major controversies engendered by the Carmelite convent and the planting of crosses at Auschwitz, and by the promulgation of the papal document ‘We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah’, continue — and deepen — this legacy.

Keywords

Burning Stein Defend Stake Alan 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Nechama Tec, ‘The Vatican, the Catholic Religion, the Jews’, in Holocaust Scholars Write to the Vatican, ed. Harry James Cargas. (Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1998), p.27.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Carol Rittner and John K. Roth (eds.), Memory Offended: The Auschwitz Convent Controversy (New York: Praeger, 1991). Hereafter M.O. Google Scholar
  3. 26.
    Harry James Cargas, ‘My Papal Encyclical’, in Harry James Cargas, Reflections of a Post-Auschwitz Catholic (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1989). For a fascinating study of three Catholic thinkers and their attempt at a post Auschwitz theological self-critique see Samuel Edelman, ‘The Rhetoric of “Almost” Redemption and rebirth: Catholics and the Shoah, The Speeches of Pope John Paul II, Harry James Cargas, and the Cassidy Report, “We Remember”‘, unpublished paper. Association of Jewish Studies Conference, December 1999.Google Scholar
  4. 27.
    Jacob Neusner. Telling tales: The Urgency and Basis for Judeo-Christian Dialogue. (Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993), pp 9–10.Google Scholar
  5. 29.
    Levinas is cited by Richard A. Cohen, ‘Emmanuel Levinas’, in Interpreters of Judaism in the late Twentieth Century, ed. Steven T. Katz (Washington: B’nai B’rith Books, 1993), p.212.Google Scholar
  6. 31.
    Emmanuel Levinas, Ethics and Infinity, trans. Richard A. Cohen (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1985), p.92.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alan L. Berger

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