Did Pope Pius Xii Silence Make Him An Antisemite?

1110 words - 5 pages

Did Pope Pius XII silence make him an antisemite?

What is antisemitism?
Antisemitism is refers to anti-Jewish prejudice, to feelings of suspicion, contempt, hostility, and hatred towards Jews, both those who follow the religion of Israel and those who are merely of Jewish percentage (1). One who discriminates against or who is hostile towards or prejudiced against Jews is considered an antisemite. The term antisemitism was coined in the 1870s by Wilhelm Marr, a German journalist, who wanted to contrast his supposedly scientific hatred of Jews with religious forms of anti-Judaism. Antisemitism was not something that originated at the beginning of World War II. It actually predates Christianity. Roman authorities worried that Jewish refusal to worship local and imperial gods would jeopardize the security of the state. In 70 C.E. the Romans destroyed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem; sixty years later they dispersed the Jews of Palestine, scattering them far from the region that had been their home. The rise of Christianity made antisemitism much worse. Christianity grew out of Judaism; Jesus himself was a Jew as were the apostles. Yet, early Christians tried to separate themselves from other Jews. Some early Christian accounts blamed Jews for Jesus’ death even though crucifixion was a specifically Roman form of punishment commonly practiced during Jesus’ time. Anti-Judaism had long been a visible part of Christian society. Here are a couple of comparisons of Canonical Law and Nazi measures: Synod of Elvira (306) stated prohibition of intermarriage and of sexual intercourse between Christians and Jews and the Nazi measure stated Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honor (1935) , Third Synod of Orléans (538) stated Jews not permitted to show themselves in the streets during Passion Week and the Nazi decree authorizing local authorities to bar Jews from the streets on certain days (1938) (2).
Even during the fifteenth century antisemitism was still ongoing. For example, in1492, King Fernindad and Queen Isabella of Spain expelled all Jews and Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula except those who agreed to convert to Christianity. Throughout the Middle Ages, Jews everywhere in Europe faced many limitations on the occupations in which they could engage as well as the kinds of property and titles they could hold. Antisemitism continued into the sixteenth century as well. The Protestant Reformation did not make the life of the Jews any better either. Martin Luther, the leader of the Protestant Reformation, hoped that his break with the Church of Rome would inspire mass conversions of Jews to Christianity .When Jews did not convert, Martin Luther turned on the Jews. In 1542 he wrote a pamphlet called Against the Jews and Their Lies that had vicious characterization of Jews as parasites and it called to “set their synagogues and schools on fire” (3). This actually occurred four centuries later in November of 1938. That dreadful night was...

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