Friday, June 22, 2007


In surfing the blogs I came across blogger Danby who bills himself as an "intolerant Catholic", and says in the Catholic Restorationists weblog contributors profile that he "celebrates it." It struck me as a novel approach to life in this world where everyone is talking about the need for tolerance. Can we be intolerant Catholics while being good Americans?

Former priest James Carroll, author of "Constantine's Sword", believes we cannot. In an article at the Los Angeles Times website which introduces his documentary by the same title, premiering Sunday at the Los Angeles Film Festival. Carroll is recounting the same sad tale of Catholic anti-Semitism that has made the rounds before, including the claims about Pius XII:

Carroll learned that during World War II, Roman Jews were again stripped of their rights, rounded up and killed. The pope remained silent....

Carroll is described as "an idiosyncratic Catholic, a former priest who still celebrates his faith yet rejects the very roots of its doctrine, viewing Christianity's promise of eternal life as "destructive" and the cross as a symbol of Roman Emperor Constantine's lust for power." With Catholics like Carroll, who has need of Islamic Fundamentalists?

Not by any stretch of the imagination can Matthew 10:14 be described as tolerant: "Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words--go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet." Acts 13:51 confirms that the shaking took place: "So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium" indicating that the Apostles took Jesus at His word.

Stories of Catholic anti-Semitism are common today. According to the Los Angeles Times article:

Carroll revisits the origins of Christian anti-Semitism, traveling to Trier, Germany, Constantine's birthplace, where in the 11th century, Crusader mobs wiped out Jewish communities. Back then, the film states, when Jews begged the pope to protect them, he refused to help those who didn't convert."

That statement could just as easily be worded another way--"Back then when Jews begged the pope to protect them, he helped those who converted." What obligation did a Catholic pope have to protect those of another faith? He was not the civil authority. Would Catholics appeal to the chief Rabbi for protection?

We are constantly bombarded with accusations of anti-Semitism on the part of Catholics and Christians. Scripture paints a somewhat different picture in Acts 13:44-50:

On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the words of the Lord. When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, 'I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.'"

The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory.

Not exactly anti-Semitism, is it? It's hardly a picture of contemporary tolerance either, since contemporary tolerance says that all religions are equal.

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