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Before Vatican II in the 1960s, the Church was overtly anti-Jewish. For example:

  • St. Thomas Aquinas writes in De Regimine Judaeorum (also called Epistola ad ducissam Brabantiae) that "the Jews by reason of their fault are sentenced to perpetual servitude".
  • The Church had the Good Friday prayer that addressed "the perfidious Jews." That prayer is no longer said by most Catholics.
  • The Church sanctioned the expelling of Jews from many nations.
  • The Church in some places made the Jews wear special symbols so that they could be distinguished from gentiles.
  • In the 17-19th centuries you had a series of popes (e.g., Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical Humanum Genus) condemning the rising influence of "Judeo-Masonry."
  • Pope St. Pius X had a conversation with Zionist founder Theodore Herzl and told him that he can't recognize the proposed state of Israel until the Jews recognize the Church and convert.
  • etc.

This overtly anti-Jewish attitude of the Church that existed for 1960-odd years just seemed to vanish after Vatican II, and was replaced with a positive view of the Jews. I've even heard senior Churchman refer to Talmudic Jews as elder brothers of Catholics. This about-face on the subject of Jews is just one of many radical changes that occurred to the Church in the wake of Vatican II.

If the full deposit of the faith was revealed by Jesus, then how can the Church teach contradiction? How can the Church teach one thing about the Jews for nearly two millenia, and now practically fawn over them?

  • 1
    Any answer to this question would be complex and lengthy. To undertake such a task would require motivation from you. So why are you asking? – gideon marx Aug 11 '14 at 16:36
  • @user8547 unclear whether you are asking other views of the supposed about face or the Church's explanation of the change. – user13992 Aug 11 '14 at 21:20
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    @gideon marx: I'm motivated to ask the question. I'm curious because it's interesting when a belief system maintains some view for a long time, and then suddenly starts saying the complete opposite. It remains to be seen whether others (aside from Geremia) will be motivated to answer it. – user8547 Aug 12 '14 at 2:09
  • @user8547 I am not sure who you want answers from. I personally would be interested in Church's own explanation. – user13992 Aug 12 '14 at 5:05
  • @FMShyanguya: I would too, but it's difficult to find Churchmen discussing this issue. – user8547 Aug 13 '14 at 14:09
-1

It's said that the full deposit of the faith was revealed by Jesus. For example, before Vatican II the Church was overtly anti-Jewish.

A classic example would be the Jesuits' Civiltà Cattolica articles:

  1. Jewish Ritual Murder (1881)
  2. Jewish Question in Europe (1890)

The Church has always been against Judaism, but never against Jews as a race. She has allowed the Jews, even in the times when Church and State were closer, to raise their children in Judaism.

See The Talmud Unmasked: The Secret Rabbinical Teachings Concerning Christians by Rev. I. B. Pranaitis (with imprimatur), which discusses the Church's condemnation of the anti-Christian Talmud, which, along with the Torah, are modern Jews' two sacred texts.

St. Thomas Aquinas writes in the Summa Theologica that "it would be licit, according to Tradition, to hold the Jews in perpetual servitude for their crime against Our Lord."

Where exactly are you taking this quotation from? Also, St. Thomas doesn't advocate enslaving Jews; he'd rather they convert. For a good opusculum on St. Thomas's views of the Jews, see: Epistola ad ducissam Brabantiae.

The Church had the Good Friday prayer that addressed "the perfidious Jews." That prayer is no longer said. The Church sanctioned the expelling of Jews from many nations. The Church in some places made the Jews wear special symbols so that they could be distinguished from gentiles.

The Jews' own laws proscribed this (cf. St. Thomas's Epistola ad ducissam Brabantiae q. 8).

In the 17-19th centuries you had a series of popes condemning the rising influence of "Judeo-Masonry."

Yes, like Pope Leo XIII's encyclical against Freemasonry and naturalism, Humanum Genus, or Msgr. Dillon's Grand Orient Freemasonry Unmasked, to which Pope Leo XIII gave his approbation and published himself.

St. Pius X had a conversation with Theodore Herzl and told him that he can't recognize the proposed state of Israel until the Jews recognize the Church and convert. This overtly anti-Jewish attitude of the Church that existed for 1960-odd years just seemed to vanish after Vatican II, and was replaced with a positive view of the Jews. I've even heard senior Churchman refer to Talmudic Jews as elder brothers of Catholics. This 360-degree about face on the subject of Jews is just one of many radical changes that occurred to the Church in the wake of Vatican II. If the full deposit of the faith was revealed by Jesus, then how can the Church teach contradiction? How can the Church teach one thing about the Jews for nearly two millenia, and now practically fawn over them?

Read Maurice Pinay's Plot Against the Church, which was sent out to all participants of Vatican II as a warning of Judeo-Masonic/Communist hijacking of the council.

Other interesting case studies are E. Michael Jones's "L’affaire Williamson" on the alleged "anti-Semite" Bp. Richard Williamson and Jones's masterpiece The Jewish Revolutionary Spirit and Its Impact on World History (esp. ch. 24 "The Second Vatican Council Begins," which shows the Jewish role in Vatican II's draft Nostra Ætate).

  • "Where exactly are you taking this quotation from?" From here – user8547 Sep 20 '16 at 19:52
  • Jews are both a religion and a race. If a Jew sincerely converts to the Church he ceases to be a Jew. If he insincerely converts to the Church then he continues to be a Jew. St. Vincent Ferrer didn't trust any Jewish convert who wasn't disowned by his family. – user8547 Sep 12 '18 at 3:04
  • @user8547 Usually "Hebrew" is used when discussing ancestry, and "Jew" is used when discussing Judaism. For example, there's an Association of Hebrew Catholics, but (not that I know of) any "Association of Jewish Catholics" (which sounds just as absurd as an "Association of Muslim Catholics"!). – Geremia Sep 12 '18 at 17:49
  • The Association of Hebrew Catholics recognizes the claim that the National Socialists in Germany under Adolf Hitler attempted to genocide Jews by means of gas chambers. There's never been any evidence for these claims. – user8547 May 14 at 10:49
3

I disagree with the OP about his thesis that the Church has always been overtly anti-Semitic/Jewish. The examples are not compared to the time period in which they were expressed to see what the rest of the world said and how they said what they said. As a matter of fact, the Church has not been anti-Jewish in any official capacity.

St. Augustine has been infamously accused of many things including being anti-Jewish, yet his ruling in favor of a Jewish man in a case brought before him by the Jewish man in which the man's mother sold property that belonged to him to a bishop. The bishop in question refused the man's request to return his land in which he offered to pay the bishop. This is why the man brought his case before St. Augustine. After reviewing the case, Augustine wrote to the bishop in question and told him he was sure he wished to do the right thing and told him he had to return the Jewish man's land to him. Sounds anti-Jewish? Didn't think so, because Augustine was not an anti-Semite. Nor was Aquinas.

Gregory the Great "emptied the papal treasury to ransom prisoners of the Lombards and to care for persecuted Jews and victims of plague and famine" (http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/fathers/view.cfm?recnum=3466).

What Vatican II did was to open new frontiers by referring to the Jews as our elder brothers in the faith from which all Catholics come. Much good fruit has been borne with the improved relations between Catholics and Jews (amongst all religious traditions and non-Christian religions).

  • For the Church to be anti-Semitic, it would mean she is against herself being the bride of Christ, his Mystical Body, having issued from his side. You have the makings of a good answer that would be greatly enhanced if it were supported. – user13992 Aug 28 '14 at 3:31
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    @Andy: The bulk of your reply is an anecdote about St. Augustine siding in favor of a Jew in a land dispute with a gentile. One can be anti-Jewish and still uphold the law. Being anti-Jewish doesn't mean that you steal from Jews. A secular Jewish judge may believe Jews to be superior to gentiles, but this won't prevent him in ruling in favor of some gentile. The pre-Vatican II Church can't be called anti-semitic, as it condemned Jews for their theology, and not for genetics. The rest of your reply is easily refuted by the facts in my OP. – user8547 Aug 29 '14 at 3:26
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    This is a very opinion-based answer regarding the Jews as a race. The question asks about the Jews' status in Catholic theology. – Geremia Sep 6 '14 at 1:19
  • I asked this question 27 days ago and the only good answer I received was from Geremia. You'd think more Catholics would question this fundamental change in the Church regarding Jews. It's an astonishing development. So astonishing that it seems the Vatican II Church may not be the Catholic Church. If it is the Catholic Church, then that means the Church contradicts itself. The Church today seems to attract very low quality people. Who but an imbecile could take a religion seriously which contradicts itself? The Church is no longer producing people like St. Gemma Galgani or St. Peter Canisius. – user8547 Sep 6 '14 at 21:44
  • @Andy: "Gregory the Great "emptied the papal treasury to ransom . . ." Catholic Encyclopedia: "We shall probably be right, therefore, in attributing Gregory's protection of the Jews to his respect for law and justice, rather than to any ideas of toleration differing from those current at the time." - newadvent.org/cathen/06780a.htm – user8547 Sep 9 '14 at 9:54
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Vatican II was implemented by the Roman Catholic Church basically to ecumenise with other Christian Denominations. And the ultimate goal in doing this is to finally end up causing the Protestant Churches who are supposed to be protesting against the unbiblical doctrines and practices of Rome to stop protesting and to unite with the Catholic Church on common points of doctrine, or else to finally become Catholic themselves.

And so that is why they changed their stance in regards to the Jews as well as the Christian Protestant Churches. Now we see things like Tony Palmer and how when he was alive he, the Jesuit Pope Francis and Protestant Preacher Kenneth Copeland all united and claimed that there was not any more protest from the Protestants. That was the Roman Catholic Church's goal from the start. They desire to squelch the protest of the Protestants and of other Religious groups.

One of the tricks the Catholic Church used to bring about this ecumenical movement was to change their music. They would have a more laid back style of music and become more 'Protestant-like' in their worship services. And at the same time they infiltrate Protestant Churches and seek to make them a little more 'Catholic. So then, with the Catholic Church becoming more Protestant, at least outwardly, and the Protestant Church becoming more Catholic in reality... soon you will not be able to tell the difference between the two.

The Order of the Jesuits was created to counteract the Protestant Reformation and to undo any of the progress the Reformers had made. The Catholic Church said that Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin was the 'guiding star' behind the Vatican II. The Jesuits are known for not sparing any disguise to achieve their goals. They have what's called Inculturation and Acculturation. One is to infiltrate other Churches to make them more Catholic and the other is to make their own Church more Protestant to disguise the differences between the two so that finally you won't be able to tell the difference. The goal is to make the entire World Catholic and to wipe out Protestantism. That was what the Jesuit Order was formed for, and that is what the current Pope Francis is, a Jesuit.This tells us that their goal has nearly been achieved. Do they have to pretend to like the Jews? No problem, they will do that if that's what it takes to convince people that they are not going to do like during the Dark Ages when millions of protesters were tortured and killed because supposedly they were 'heretics' for simply disagreeing with Rome's doctrines. Have the Pope kiss the Koran in public? No problem, they will do that too, if that's what it takes to make people view them as being no threat to other Religions.

ADDITIONAL STUDY INFORMATION

Inculturation:

One of the major activities of the Jesuits involved something called "Inculturation".

Malachi Martin explains it like this:

"The idea was to adapt so severely to the culture of the alien (one who was not a Catholic) that the missionary would acquire the mind of that culture, and would revamp both doctrine and moral practice to fit that alien culture." - The Jesuits, Malachi Martin.

Acculturation:

And then there is another tactic that the Roman Catholic Church is using called "Acculturation". This is something that means to adapt the practices of your own church-such as your worship format-to the practices of the different cultures or denominations that you are seeking to win over to Catholicism.

In this way, they believe, people will feel "comfortable" in the Catholic church and perhaps eventually join the catholic faith. For instance, Malachi Martin, former Jesuit, tells of how in some Catholic churches now they have coffee afterwards for "socialization time". Their bands play "Blues music-using trombones, kazoos, saxophones and top it off with drums to add a rhythmic foundation." - The Encounter, Malachi Martin.

And a Catholic priest, Andrew Greeley, tells a story of how things have changed in the Catholic church, for the purpose of enlarging their congregations:

"In many new Catholic churches, statutes, the stations (of the cross), and the stained glass windows have either been swept away or reduced to the diagrams or abstractions that would not offend the most fundamental protestant. Reverence and awe have been replaced by often cloying informality; solemnity by 'letting it all hang out' manners. Great music has been replaced by bad pseudo-folk music... As part of the final phase of our acculturation into American life, it became appropriate to abandon the whole mess, to... eliminate the mysteries and the medals, the invocations and the pieties, the blessings and the rosaries, the May crownings and the mumbo jumbo." - How to Save the Catholic Church, Andrew Greeley.

This is similar to Nero-linguistic Programming which is a form of hypnotism. There is a method used called 'Reframing'. They pretend to find common ground in which they agree with their opponent. This causes the opponent to relax and feel more at ease. But then they are lured a little at a time over to their own view until the opponent doesn't even realize that they have completely changed their view.

Celebration and Vatican II

The Vatican II Council issued recommendations on liturgy—the singing, prayers, congregational responses, and Scripture readings that make up a church service. These directives discussed ways to incorporate the whole church community in the service, making them more involved in worship procedures.

Churches were encouraged to shift away from traditional sermons that exhort and equip and instead concentrate on the cursory reading of extracts from the Psalms and Gospels. They were instructed to replace traditional hymns with popular music, modern musical instruments, and physical movement of the congregation. Churches were also encouraged to adapt their styles of worship to suit their cultures. The liturgical section of the Vatican II document, Volume 1, can be summarized as follows:

  1. Get the churches accustomed to celebration terminology and the celebration concept. Every function of the church becomes a celebration.

  2. Get the churches accustomed to a revitalized style of celebration service, encouraging a reduction of inhibition which includes physical gestures, bodily attitudes and movement.

  3. Set forth song and musical celebration services as the most effective celebrations.

  4. Utilizing popular religious songs and relating music to the various cultures and the temperaments of the people.

The "Instructions on Music in the Liturgy" section of the Vatican II document says this:

"...the unity of hearts is more profoundly achieved by the union of voices, minds are more easily raised to heavenly things by the beauty of sacred rites...In order that the faithful may actively participate more willingly and with greater benefit, it is fitting that the format of the celebration and the degree of participation in it should be varied as much as possible, according to the solemnity of the day and the nature of the congregation present...The participation (a) Should be above all internal (b) Must be, on the other hand, external also, that is, such as to show the internal participation by gestures and bodily attitudes, by acclamations, responses and singing."

--Austin Flannery (ed.), "Instructions on Music in the Liturgy," Vatican II Council: The Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents (New York: Costello Publishing, 1979): 81, 83-84.

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OP: Why did the Catholic Church change...? ...how can the Church teach contradiction? How can the Church teach one thing...and now...?

In short, it is impossible for the Church to teach contradiction. One of the primary teachings of the Catholic Church is that dogmas and doctrines taught consistently by the Church are immutable, they cannot change. This allows Catholics to respectfully reject that which is contrary to Church teaching.

Doctrine and dogma that has been taught for nearly two millennia absolutely must be the teaching of the Church today, even when few have the courage to preach it, or many dissent from it.

Pope Sixtus V (1585 - 1590) had written a new translation of the bible which was full of errors, and a papal bull excommunicating anyone who did not believe his bible was accurate. Before it was to be released to the public, he died of natural causes, and the book was burned. Many believe that his death was miraculous, in order to keep him from teaching in error. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit does go to great lengths to protect the Church and the Pope from errors concerning faith and morals.

Therefore, since Catholic Church teaching cannot change, what is being observed must be something else, or if a change has been made, and it is of the Church, it will be neither dogma nor doctrine. It could also be something outside the Church that has changed.


OP: the Church was overtly anti-Jewish, and changed radically in regards to the status of Jews after Vatican II...

To the extent that the OP means that the Church persecuted, denegrated, looked down or trampled upon the humanity of the Jews, this statement is false. The mind of the Church has always been singular in focus, in contemplating how to best bring salvation to individual souls, Catholic or non-Catholic. Ever since the earliest times, the Church has been working to protect the Jews from all sorts of harm.

Augustine of Hippo (396–430), more than 1,500 years before Vatican II, preached:

The source of ancient Jewish scripture and current Jewish practice, was the very same as that of the New Testament and of the church, namely, God himself. Accordingly, the Jews are to be left alone.

His approach ultimately served to protect Jewish lives against the brutality of the medieval crusades. - Paula Fredriksen, Augustine and the Jews

Pope Gregory I in 591, speaks about how to go about spreading the Gospel:

"For it is necessary to gather those who are at odds with the Christian religion the unity of faith by meekness, by kindness, by admonishing, by persuading, lest these...should be repelled by threats and terrors. They ought, therefore, to come together to hear from you the Word of God in a kindly frame of mind, rather than stricken with dread, result of a harshness that goes beyond due limits."

Pope Gregory I a few years later in 598, influenced by the words of Augustine, embodied the following attitude of the Church towards the Jews with this statement:

"Even as it is not allowed to the Jews in their assemblies presumptuously to undertake for themselves more than that which is permitted them by law, even so they ought not to suffer any disadvantage in those [privileges] which have been granted them."

In 1096, Archbishop Ruthard of Mainz tried to save the Jews by gathering them in his courtyard during the Rhineland massacres, but he was unsuccessful. Ruthard did manage to save a small number by putting them on boats in the Rhine. Many other Bishops had attempted to protect the Jews, too numerous to mention here.

St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090 – August 20, 1153), in the year 1146 offered these words of support for the Jews, when communicating to the Clergy and People of Eastern France:

The Letters of St. Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, Vol 2, — Letter CCCLXIII
6. Besides, brethren, I warn you, and not only I, but God's Apostle, believe not every spirit (1 John 4:1). We have heard and rejoice that the zeal of God abounds in you, but it behoves no mind to be wanting in wisdom. The Jews must not be slaughtered, nor even driven out. Inquire of the pages of Holy Writ. I know what is written in the Psalms as prophecy about the Jews, God hath shown me, says the Church, thou shalt not slay my enemies, neither shall my people be ever forgotten. They are living signs to us, representing the Lord’s Passion. For this reason they are dispersed into all regions, that now they may pay the just penalty of so great a crime, that they may be witnesses of our redemption. Wherefore the Church, speaking in the same Psalm, says, Scatter them in thy strength, and cast them down, O Lord my Protector. (Ps 59:11) So has it been. They have been dispersed, cast down. They undergo a hard captivity under Christian princes. Yet they shall be converted at evening-time, and remembrance of them shall be made in due season. Finally, when the multitude of the Gentiles shall have entered in, then all Israel shall be saved (Rom 11:25), saith the Apostle. Meanwhile, he who dies remains in death.

Notice the strong condemnation by St. Bernard of hostility towards the Jewish people. Notice the balance between the reality that the Jewish people lost their homeland, with the promise of their everlasting remembrance; and between the enduring penalty of rejecting Christ with the promise of their late but eventual conversion and salvation. This strong demand for the protection of the Jews happened 816 years before Vatican Council II began.

St. Bernard continues:

St. Bernard of Clairvaux to Archbishop Henry of Mainz, 1146
Is it not a far better triumph for the Church to convince and convert the Jews than to put them all to the sword? Has that prayer which the Church offers for the Jews, from the rising up of the sun to the going down thereof, that the veil may be taken from their hearts so that they may be led from the darkness of error into the light of truth, been instituted in vain? If she did not hope that they would believe and be converted, it would seem useless and vain for her to pray for them. But with the eye of mercy she considers how the Lord regards with favor him who renders good for evil and love for hatred.

Pope Alexander II and Pope Alexander III both have writing which praise courageous Bishops for saving the lives of Jews, and their own bulls which reiterate protections for the Jews.

In the year 1272, Pope Gregory X reiterated the Church's disposition towards the Jews again, calling for their protection, and credited six of his predecessors for doing the same:

Papal Protection of the Jews, Pope Gregory X
...inasmuch as they have made an appeal for our protection and help, we therefore admit their petition and offer them the shield of our protection through the clemency of Christian piety. In so doing we follow in the footsteps of our predecessors of blessed memory, the popes of Rome — Calixtus, Eugene, Alexander, Clement, Innocent, and Honorius.

Moreover no Christian shall presume to *, , , , , * or inflict violence on them; furthermore no one shall presume, except by judicial action of the authorities of the country, to change the good customs in the land where they live for the purpose of taking their money or goods from them or from others.

In addition, no one shall disturb them in any way during the celebration of their festivals, whether by day or by night, with clubs or stones or anything else. Also no one shall exact any compulsory service of them unless it be that which they have been accustomed to render in previous times.

In the mid 1500's, the Catechism of the Council of Trent taught that Christian sinners are more to blame for the crucifixion of Christ than those few Jews who brought it about - they indeed "knew not what they did" (Lk 23:24), while Christians know it only too well. This brings to the foreground the fact that "...Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many..." (Heb 9:28), even the future sins of Christians, until the end of time.

Fast forward another 400 years to 1938, almost 30 years before Vatican II, Pope Pius XII facilitated the exodus of about 200,000 Jews from Germany shortly after Kristallnacht. A few years later, Golda Meir, former Prime Minister of Israel planted thousands of trees in Israel after the war, in honor of the thousands of Jewish lives Pope Pius XII had saved.

The effect of this generosity shown by the Church towards the oppressed Jews was so powerful that the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Rabbi Israel Zolli, left the Jewish faith and converted to Catholicism. He was so moved by the bravery and love of the Pope and the Catholic people that in 1945, he entered the Church, and took the name "Eugenio" in honor of the Holy Father.

Even though the Church has worked to protect the Jews, the spiritual penalty for a Jew to deny Christ is the same as for any Catholic to deny Christ. Everyone is treated the same in this regard.

It is true that the first and most serious act of hostility towards the Christian Church, in opposing the Gospel, denying the Lord Jesus Christ Himself and putting him to death, was done by not a few Jews, as the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate clearly states:

Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate, Pope Paul VI, October 1965

As Holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognize the time of her visitation, nor did the Jews in large number, accept the Gospel; indeed not a few opposed its spreading. ... True, the Jewish authorities, and those who followed their lead, pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today.

Given these circumstances, one can understand that the line between Catholic and Jew was drawn very heavily on that fateful day, as to how social, political, financial as well as spiritual relations between these two groups of people would be seriously strained for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, the Church has been diligently working to help the Jews recognize their Savior, and enter his Church.

The idea Vatican II declared things that had never been said before about Jewish-Catholic relations is unfounded:

Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate, Pope Paul VI, October 1965
Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues. ...the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.

Yes, exactly. This concept that Catholics and Jews share a common spritual heritage, and the protections that proceed from the Church towards them was the basis for all of the preceding efforts outlined herein. St. Augustine was one of the first to point this out near 400 AD.

Primarily, the Church is pro-Christian, guards the deposit of faith from error, and desires to eventually convert the whole world to the one true faith. If the Church is "anti" anything, it would have to be anti-sin, i.e. the rejection of God or his Holy Will, with no prejudice whatsoever.

I hope the above examples illustrate how the Catholic Church has been promoting the dignity and life of the Jewish people from the beginning, and has been consistent in this plight throughout the ages. Also, I hope that the claim of a radical departure from the past in 1965 has been sufficiently debunked.


OP: The Church had the Good Friday prayer that addressed "the perfidious Jews." That prayer is no longer said...

Not only that, this prayer should never have been said this way in English, because the translation is incorrect. This word "perfidious" was a mistake, and was not found in the original formula of this prayer. Even so, this prayer has not been omitted. The prayer that is said today has been revised.

1955 Roman Missal
Let us pray also for the faithless Jews: that Almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord. Almighty and eternal God, who dost not exclude from thy mercy even Jewish faithlessness: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness, Amen.

The prayer in the original Latin formula begins, Oremus et pro perfidis Judaeis. The correct English translation is, "Let us pray also for the faithless Jews...". When translated incorrectly as "perfidious", it means "deceitful and untrustworthy". These mistaken translations led to a great misunderstanding, and demands for the prayer to be changed.

The demands did not begin at Vatican II however. In the 1920s, a group called Friends of Israel, which was backed by 19 Cardinals, 278 Bishops and 3,000 Priests, who were concerned with the conversion of Jews to the Christian faith, began petitioning Rome, asking the Holy See to remove this "insulting expression" from the Good Friday liturgy. This may not have been the first time.

The request was rejected in the 1920s, but in 1959, almost 40 years later, still before Vatican II, due to the translation problems and in light of the severe harm which was done to the Jewish people during the second World War, the word "perfidis" was removed from the Latin by Pope John XXIII, thus the word "faithless" was removed from the English translation, and no further mistaken translations could be made.

1962 Roman Missal
Let us pray also for the Jews: that almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts; so that they too may acknowledge Jesus Christ our Lord. Almighty and eternal God, who dost also not exclude from thy mercy the Jews: hear our prayers, which we offer for the blindness of that people; that acknowledging the light of thy Truth, which is Christ, they may be delivered from their darkness. Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

More complaints were made, now for the description of the Jews as blind, and the request for their conversion. The Vatican II council published another edition.

1970 Roman Missal
Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant. Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

The prayer was revised again, after another 40 years, by Pope Benedict XVI.

2008 Roman Missal
Let us also pray for the Jews: that our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Savior of all men. Almighty and eternal God, who want that all men be saved and come to the recognition of the truth, propitiously grant that even as the fullness of the peoples enters your Church, all Israel may be saved.

The prayer of today seems to barely contain what is essential, and the tone is softened further. Softening the tone is certainly within the bounds of pastoral-style changes that can be made without interfering with doctrine or dogma. All of the other things that have ever been said or taught by the Church about the Jews over the millennia have not been unsaid, but now take some digging outside of the liturgy to uncover.

There are still strong similarities between the sentiments of St. Bernard in 1146 and those we see in the current Good Friday prayer.


OP: "Pope St. Pius X had a conversation with..."
OP: "I've even heard senior Churchman refer to..."

Ordinary conversations involving members of the Church hierarchy are just that, ordinary. The kind of narratives cited in the question do not have the authority of official Catholic teaching, especially when the ideas expressed are novel, in which case they can be disregarded after prayerful consideration, in light of Tradition and previous teaching.

There is a hierarchy to the offices of the clergy, and there is a hierarchy of the types of words and deeds that can be said and done by clergy as well, which have more or less force in terms of teaching authority, depending on the circumstances. Catholic teaching which must be believed, or that is infallible is limited to:

  • Dogmas of divine faith, typically from revelation.
  • Definitive teachings on faith and morals. Teaching of this nature must be declared as such.

Therefore, what is said and done by church men in the ordinary fashion should be respectfully considered, and put to the test of how consistent it is with the Tradition of the Church up to that point.

Across history, there can be found varying levels of obedience, varying degrees of faithfulness, and varying amounts of courage among the faithful and the clergy to stand up for the Truth. However, neither the unfaithfulness, disobedience, dissent or cowardice of the clergy, nor that of the faithful can change the Truth.


OP: "...Before Vatican II..."
OP: "...after Vatican II..."
OP: "...in the wake of Vatican II..."

Vatican II itself was not convened to make doctrinal changes, as it was primarily a pastoral council. This is not to say that changes in practice and belief did not occur in the mid 1900's, but it is incorrect to say that everything that changed or became confusing after 1965 was ordained by the Second Vatican Council.

The changes to the Mass (which are not dealt with in this answer) were a primary concern of the Council, and these were far more extensive, serious and far reaching. Furthermore, I could illustrate in great detail the incongruence between what Vatican II required in the liturgy, and what is being done in practice, but this is outside the scope of this question.

Regarding doctrine, the official teaching of the Catholic Church is not confined to what is being said recently in the here and now, nor does a Council replace or refute everything that came before it. The Councils and other literary works build upon each other, and need to be accumulated to understand the teaching of the Church as a whole. If one actually reads the Vatican II documents, one will find a fair amount of ambiguity. Little if any of the current crisis in the Church today was actually prescribed by Vatican II explicitly.

To understand this, I can not recommend highly enough this article by Bishop Athanasius Schneider, where the following excerpts can be found in context:

The Interpretation of Vatican II and the Current Crisis of the Church

"The original intention of the Council has been distorted, and its less clear or ambiguous doctrinal statements have been abused in order to create another church – a church of a relativistic or Protestant type.

Traditional and constant doctrinal statements of the Magisterium during a centuries-old period have precedence, and constitute a criterion of verification regarding the exactness of posterior magisterial statements. New statements of the Magisterium must, in principle, be more exact and clearer, but should never be ambiguous and apparently contrast with previous magisterial statements. Those statements of Vatican II which are ambiguous must be read and interpreted according to the statements of the entire Tradition and of the constant Magisterium of the Church.

There have been cases in the history, where non-definitive statements of certain ecumenical councils were later – thanks to a serene theological debate – refined or tacitly corrected.'

There must be created in the Church a serene climate of a doctrinal discussion regarding those statements of Vatican II which are ambiguous or which have caused erroneous interpretations. In such a doctrinal discussion there is nothing scandalous, but on the contrary, it will be a contribution in order to maintain and explain in a more sure and integral manner the deposit of the immutable faith of the Church.

One must not highlight so much a certain council, absolutizing it or equating it in fact with the oral (Sacred Tradition) or written (Sacred Scripture) Word of God. Vatican II itself said rightly (cf. Verbum Dei, 10), that the Magisterium (Pope, Councils, ordinary and universal Magisterium) is not above the Word of God, but beneath it, subject to it, and being only the servant of it (of the oral Word of God = Sacred Tradition and of the written Word of God = Sacred Scripture).

In summary, my answers to the questions presented are:

  • the Catholic Church teaching with regards to the Jews has been consistent
  • the Catholic Church is unable to teach contradiciton in faith and morals
  • the Catholic Church has taught against driving out the Jews
  • ordinary conversations with clergy are insufficient to establish Catholic Church teaching
  • once established, Catholic teaching is everlasting
  • the Catholic Church prays for the conversion and salvation of the Jews
  • The Church needs Jews to exist, so the Church would never sanction genocide of the Jews. The Church has at various times sanctioned their being expelled from various states (and lots of other aggressive actions besides) and anti-Jewish rhetoric has been a feature of the Church from the beginning, and was common until the 1960s. Many modern Churchman are Noahides. True Catholics don't schmooze with rabbis and kiss the Talmud. You gave a very poor answer, but I suspect it will get lots of upvotes due to your Pharisaical cleverness. – user8547 May 14 at 10:41
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Drawing from: Judaism | Crossing the Threshold of Hope | Pope St. John Paul II [the Great]


Why did the Catholic Church change so radically after Vatican II in regards to the status of Jews?

It is not so much a radical change, than recognition that while there have been setbacks and obstacles in the past, the insights which inspired the Declaration Nostra Aetate are finding concrete expression in various ways, all being under the mysterious workings of God and his plan of Salvation for all peoples.

I am pleased that my ministry in the See of Saint Peter has taken place during the period following the Second Vatican Council, when the insights which inspired the Declaration Nostra Aetate are finding concrete expression in various ways. Thus the way two great moments of divine election-the Old and the New Covenants-are drawing closer together.

The insight of this saintly Pope, shaped by personal experience, has also helped mold the post Vatican II relationship between the Church and the the people of God of the Old Testament:

The New Covenant has its roots in the Old. The time when the people of the Old Covenant will be able to see themselves as part of the New is, naturally, a question to be left to the Holy Spirit. We, as human beings, try only not to put obstacles in the way. The form this "not putting obstacles" takes is certainly dialogue between Christians and Jews, which, on the Church's part, is being carried forward by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.


For the true children of God in the Old and in the New, there is always this understanding:

Once, after the conclusion of one of my meetings with the Jewish community, someone present said: "I want to thank the Pope for all that the Catholic Church has done over the last two thousand years to make the true God known."

These words indirectly indicate how the New Covenant serves to fulfill all that is rooted in the vocation of Abraham, in God's covenant with Israel at Sinai, and in the whole rich heritage of the inspired Prophets who, hundreds of years before that fulfillment, pointed in the Sacred Scriptures to the One whom God would send in the "fullness of time" (cf. Gal 4:4).

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    The Jews today are not at all the "people of God of the Old Testament" because (1) the Old Covenant ceased when the temple veil ripped 2 millennia ago and (2) Jews today follow a different religion, that with the Talmud as a "holy," anti-Christian text (cf., e.g., the Council of Florence's Cantate Domino). – Geremia Aug 18 '14 at 0:45
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    @Geremia Maybe this should be taken up in another question. The Old covenant lapsed, hoping I have used the right terminology, but Israel is still God's People, Jesus himself being the New Israel and incorporating into his [Mystical] Body the Church, both Jew and gentile, in the New and Everlasting covenant. – user13992 Aug 18 '14 at 4:12
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    @FMShyanguya Israel is the Catholic Church. Unless the Jews convert, they are not part of the Catholic Church. See this; he explains everything very well. – Geremia Aug 18 '14 at 4:27
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CC597 The historical complexity of Jesus' trial is apparent in the Gospel accounts. the personal sin of the participants (Judas, the Sanhedrin, Pilate) is known to God alone. Hence we cannot lay responsibility for the trial on the Jews in Jerusalem as a whole, despite the outcry of a manipulated crowd and the global reproaches contained in the apostles' calls to conversion after Pentecost. [Cf. Mk 15:11; Acts 2:23, 36; 3:13-14; 4:10; 5:30; 7:52; 10:39; 13:27-28; I Th 2:14-15] Jesus himself, in forgiving them on the cross, and Peter in following suit, both accept “the ignorance” of the Jews of Jerusalem and even of their leaders. [Cf. Lk 23:34; Acts 3:17] Still less can we extend responsibility to other Jews of different times and places, based merely on the crowd's cry: “His blood be on us and on our children!”, a formula for ratifying a judicial sentence. [Mt 27:25; cf. Acts 5:28; 18:6] As the Church declared at the Second Vatican Council: . . .

Neither all Jews indiscriminately at that time, nor Jews today, can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion. . . the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture. [NA 4]

  • This does not really answer why the Catholic Church changed their stance. If you are saying that they did it because it was wrong (as can be seen from the support your reasoning has in the Bible), it begs the question on why the Catholic Church noticed that simple fact first nearly two millennia after Jesus was killed? – coderworks Jul 10 '16 at 19:44

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