Jesuit Online Bibliography

Jesuit Kaddish: Jesuits, Jews and Holocaust Remembrance

University of Notre Dame Press
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Notre Dame, Ind.

While much has been written about the Catholic Church and the Holocaust, little has been published about the hostile role of priests, in particular Jesuits, toward Jews and Judaism. Jesuit Kaddish is a long overdue study that looks at Jesuit hostility toward Judaism before the Shoah, and then examines the development of a new understanding of the Catholic Church’s relation to Judaism that culminated with Vatican II’s landmark decree Nostra aetate. James Bernauer’s study is historically accurate and spiritually ambitious in its desire to have this story of the Jesuits’ relation to Jews and Judaism contribute to interreligious reconciliation.

At the end of the twentieth century, Pope John Paul II called the Catholic Church to examine its responsibility for anti-Semitism that led to the Shoah. In this study, Bernauer undertakes such a self-examination as a member of the Jesuit order. This new book demonstrates the way in which Jesuit hostility operated, examining Jesuit moral theology’s dualistic approach to sexuality and, in the case of Nazi Germany, the articulation of an unholy alliance between a sexualizing and a Judaizing of German culture. Bernauer then identifies an influential group of Jesuits whose thought and action contributed to the developments in Catholic teaching about Judaism that eventually led to the watershed moment of Nostra aetate. At the heart of this transformation after World War II was the Jesuit Cardinal Augustin Bea. But leading to this change of view were earlier Jesuit spiritual insurrections against Nazism. This book concludes with a proposed statement of repentance from the Jesuits and an appendix presenting the fifteen Jesuits who have been honored as “Righteous Among the Nations” by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Center. Jesuit Kaddish offers a crucial contribution to the fields of Catholicism and Nazism, Catholic-Jewish relations, Jesuit history, and the history of anti-Semitism in Europe.

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