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