Christian Theology and the Holocaust
WITHIN a year of the liberation of France from the Nazis, a book appeared in Paris by a prominent Catholic theologian expressing his abhorrence of anti-Semitism. Charles Journet, having witnessed the virtually limitless power of Jew-hatred, was determined that it no longer be perpetuated by Christians or in the name of Christianity. Yet Journet’s attempt to reject anti-Semitism while at the same time maintaining a traditional Christian theology, with its traditional anti-Jewish elements, led him into an unresolved and unresolvable dialectic. One passage in his Destindes d’Israel makes this clear. Journet took issue with the Jewish historian Joseph Klausner, who had wondered which was worse: death by persecution or death by a kiss (conversion) . In the face of the Holocaust, Journet confidently argued, there could be little doubt concerning the answer. This was especially true because “death” by conversion was in fact rebirth into a new life, in which Israel-disencumbered of its old Law-could fulfill its true destiny. On the other hand, he conceded, the Jewish people might, if it insisted, establish itself in its ancient homeland. Indeed, as a philo-Semite, Journet was bound to support such a venture. But what the Church Fathers had reiterated remained true: this people, after Christ, was no longer a people at all, but an aggregate of individuals who merely gave the appearance of being a people.
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