Pope Paul VI (Giovanni B.E.A.M. Montini) at the United Nations on Oct 4, 1965

How The Jews Changed Catholic Thinking


How The Jews Changed Catholic Thinking 

By Joseph Roddy, Look Senior Editor

 from LOOK Magazine, January 25, 1966, Volume 30, No. 2

  For the simple tenets of their faith, most Roman Catholics rely on 
the catechism's hard questions and imprimatured answers. Children in 
Church schools memorize its passages, which they rarely forget the rest 
of their lives. In the catechism, they learn that Catholic dogma does 
not change and, far more vividly, that Jews killed Jesus Christ. 
Because of that Christian concept, for the past 20 centuries 
anti-Semitism spread as a kind of social disease on the body of 
mankind. Its incidence rose and fell, but anti-Semites were never quite 
out of style. The ill-minded who argued all other matters could still 
join in contempt for Jews. It was a gentlemen's agreement that carried 
into Auschwitz.

  Few Catholics were ever directly taught to hate Jews. Yet Catholic 
teaching could not get around the New Testament account that Jews 
provoked the Crucifixion. The gas chambers were only the latest proof 
that they had not yet been pardoned. The best hope that the Church of 
Rome will not again seem an accomplice to genocide is the fourth 
chapter of its Declaration on the Relation of the Church to 
Non-Christian Religions, which Pope Paul VI declared Church law near 
the end of Vatican Council II. At no place in his address from the 
Chair of Peter did the Pope talk of Jules Isaac. But perhaps the 
archbishop of Aix, Charles de Provenchères, had made Isaac's role 
perfectly clear some few years earlier. "It is a sign of the times," 
the Archbishop said, " that a layman, and a Jewish layman at that, has 
become the originator of a Council decree."

  Jules Isaac was a history scholar, a Legion of Honor member, and the 
inspector of schools in France. In 1943, he was 66, a despairing man 
living near Vichy, when the Germans picked up his daughter and wife. 
From then on, Isaac could think of little but the apathy of the 
Christian world before the fate of incinerated Jews. His book Jesus and 
Israel was published in 1948, and after reading it, Father Paul Démann 
in Paris searched schoolbooks and verified Isaac's sad claim that 
inadvertently, if not by intent, Catholics taught contempt for Jews. 
Gregory Baum, an Augustinian priest born an Orthodox Jews, called it "a 
moving account of the love which Jesus had for his people, the Jews, 
and of the contempt which the Christians, later, harbored for them."

  Isaac's book was noticed. In 1949, Pope Pius XII received its author 
briefly. But 11 years went by before Isaac saw real hope. In Rome, in 
mid-June, 1960, the French Embassy pressed Isaac on to the Holy See. 
Isaac wanted to see John XXIII. He was passed from the old Cardinal 
Eugene Tisserant to the archconservative Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani. 
Ottaviani sent him on to the 83-year-old Cardinal Andrea Jullien, who 
stared without seeing and stayed motionless as stone while Isaac told 
how Catholic teaching led to anti-Semitism. When he had finished, he 
waited for a reaction, but Jullien stayed in stone. Isaac, who was hard 
of hearing, stared intently at the prelate's lips. Time passed, neither 
spoke. Isaac thought of just leaving, then decided to intrude. "But 
whom should I see about this terrible thing?" he asked, finally, and 
after another long pause, the old Cardinal said," Tisserant." The 
silence settled in again. The next word was, "Ottaviani." Isaac shook 
that off too. When it was time for another, the word was, "Bea." With 
that, Jules Isaac went to Augustin Bea, the one German Jesuit in the 
College of Cardinals. "In him, I found powerful support," Isaac said.

  The next day, the support was even stronger. John XXIII, standing in 
the doorway of the fourth-floor papal apartment, reached for Jules 
Isaac's hand, then sat beside him. "I introduced myself as a 
non-Christian, the promoter of l'Amitiés Judéo-Chrétiennes, and a very 
deaf old man," Isaac said. John talked for a while of his devotion to 
the Old Testament, told of his days as a Vatican diplomat in France, 
then asked where his caller was born. Here, Isaac felt a rambling chat 
with the Supreme Pontiff coming on and started worrying about how he 
would ever bring the conversation around to his subject. He told John 
that his actions had kindled great hopes in the people of the Old 
Testament, and added: "Is not the Pope himself, in his great kindness, 
responsible for it if we now expect more?" John laughed, and Isaac had 
a listener. The non-Christian beside the Pope said the Vatican should 
study anti-Semitism. John said he had been thinking about that from the 
beginning of their talk. "I asked if I might take away some sparks of 
hope," Isaac recalled. John said he had a right to more than hope and 
then went on about the limits of sovereignty. "I am the head, but I 
must consult others too....This is not monarchie absolue!" To much of 
the world, it seemed to be monarchy benevolent. Because of John, a lot 
was happening fast in Catholicism and Jewry.

  A few months before Isaac spelled out his case against the Gentiles, 
a Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity was set up by Pope 
John under Cardinal Bea. It was to press toward reunion with the 
churches Rome lost at the Reformation. After Isaac left, John made it 
clear to the administrators in the Vatican's Curia that a firm 
condemnation of Catholic anti-Semitism was to come from the council he 
had called. To John, the German Cardinal seemed the right legislative 
whip for the job, even if his Christian Unity secretariat seemed a 
vexing address to work from.

  By then, there was a fair amount of talk passing between the Vatican 
Council offices and Jewish groups, and both the American Jewish 
Committee and the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith were heard 
loud and clear in Rome. Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel of New York's Jewish 
Theological Seminary, who first knew of Bea in Berlin 30 years ago, met 
with the Cardinal in Rome. Bea had already read the American Jewish 
Committee's The Image of the Jews in Catholic Teaching. It was followed 
by another AJC paper, the 23-page study, Anti-Jewish Elements in 
Catholic Liturgy. Speaking for the AJC, Heschel said he hoped the 
Vatican Council would purge Catholic teaching of all suggestions that 
the Jews were a cursed race. And in doing that, Heschel felt, the 
Council should in no way exhort Jews to become Christians. About the 
same time, Israel's Dr. Nahum Goldmann, head of the World Conference of 
Jewish Organizations, whose members ranged in creed from the most 
orthodox to liberal, pressed its aspirations on the Pope. B'nai B'rith 
wanted the Catholics to delete all language from the Church services 
that could even seem anti-Semitic. Not then, nor in any time to come, 
would that be a simple thing to do.

  The Catholic liturgy, where it was drawn from writings of the early 
Church Fathers, could easily be edited. But not the Gospels. Even if 
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were better at evangelism than history, 
their writings were divinely inspired, according to Catholic dogma, and 
about as easy to alter as the center of the sun. That difficulty put 
both Catholics with the very best intentions and Jews with the deepest 
understanding of Catholicism in a theological fix. It also brought out 
the conservative opposition in the Church and, to some extent, Arab 
anxieties in the Mideast. The conservative charge against the Jews was 
that they were deicides, guilty of killing God in the human-divine 
person of Christ. And to say now that they were not deicides was to say 
by indirection that Christ was not God, for the fact of the execution 
on Calvary stood unquestioned in Catholic theology. Yet the execution 
and the religion of those demanding it were the reasons Jews were 
"God-killers" and "Christ-killers" in the taunts of anti-Semites. 
Clearly, then, Catholic Scripture would be at issue if the council 
spoke about deicides and Jews. Wise and long-mitred heads around the 
Curia warned that the bishops in council should not touch this issue 
with ten-foot staffs. But still there was John XXIII, who said they 

  If the inviolability of Holy Writ was most of the problem in Rome, 
the rest was the Arab-Israeli war. Ben-Gurion's Israel, in the Arab 
League's view, like Mao's China in the world out of Taiwan, really does 
not exist. Or, it only exists as a bone in the throat of Nasser. If the 
Council were to speak out for the Jews, then the spiritual order would 
seem political to Arab bishops. Next, there would be envoys passing in 
the night between the Vatican and Tel Aviv. This was a crisis the Arab 
League thought it might handle by diplomacy. Unlike Israel, its states 
already had some ambassadors to the papal court. They would bear the 
politest of reminders to the Holy See that some 2,756,000 Roman 
Catholics lived in Arab lands and mention the 420,000 Orthodox 
Catholics separated from Rome, whom the Papacy hoped to reclaim. 
Bishops of both cuts of Catholicism could be counted on to convey their 
interests to the Holy See. It was too soon for the threats. Instead, 
the Arabs importuned Rome to see that they were neither anti-Semitic 
nor anti-Jewish. Arabs, too, are Semites, they said, and among them 
lived thousands of Jewish refugees. Patriotic Arabs were just 
anti-Zionist because to them, Zionism was a plot to set a Judaic state 
in the center of Islam.

  In Rome, the word from the Mideast and the conservatives was that a 
Jewish declaration would be inopportune. From the West, where 225,500 
more Jews live in New York than in Israel, the word was that dropping 
the declaration would be a calamity. And into this impasse came the 
ingenuous bulk of John XXIII - not to settle the dispute but to enlarge 
it. Quite on his own, the Pope was toying with an idea, which the Roman 
Curia found grotesque, that non-Catholic faiths should send observers 
to the Council. The prospect of being invited caused no crisis among 
Protestants, but it plainly nonplussed the Jews. To attend suggested to 
some Jews that Christian theology concerned them. But to stay away when 
invited might suggest that the Jews did not really care whether 
Catholics came to grips with anti-Semitism.

  When it was learned that Bea's declaration, set for voting at the 
first Council session, carried a clear refutation of the decide charge, 
the World Jewish Congress let it be known around Rome that Dr. Haim Y. 
Vardi, an Israeli, would be an unofficial observer at the Council. The 
two reports may not have been related, but still they seemed to be. 
Because of them, other reports-louder ones-were heard. The Arabs 
complained to the Holy See. The Holy See said no Israeli had been 
invited. The Israelis denied then that an observer had been named. The 
Jews in New York thought an American should observe. In Rome, it all 
ended up with a jiggering of the agenda to make sure that the 
declaration would not come to the Council floor that session. Still, 
for the bishops, there was quite a bit of supplementary reading on 
Jews. Some agency close enough to the Vatican to have the addresses in 
Rome of the Council's 2,200 visiting cardinals and bishops, supplied 
each with a 900-page book, Il Complotto contro la Chiesa (The Plot 
Against the Church) In it, among reams of scurrility, was a kind of 
fetching shred of truth. Its claim that the Church was being 
infiltrated by Jews would intrigue anti-Semites. For, in fact, ordained 
Jews around Rome working on the Jewish declaration included Father 
Baum, as well as Msgr. John Oesterreicher, on Bea's staff at the 
Secretariat. Bea, himself, according to the Cairo daily, Al Gomhuria, 
was a Jew named Behar.

  Neither Baum nor Oesterreicher was with Bea in the late afternoon on 
March 31, 1963, when a limousine was waiting for him outside the Hotel 
Plaza in New York. The ride ended about six blocks away, outside the 
offices of the American Jewish Committee. There, a latter-day Sanhedrin 
was waiting to greet the head of the Secretariat for Christian Unity. 
The gathering was kept secret from the press. Bea wanted neither the 
Holy See nor the Arab League to know he was there to take questions the 
Jews wanted to hear answered. "I am not authorized to speak 
officially," he told them. "I can, therefore, speak only of what, in my 
opinion, could be effected, indeed, should be effected, by the 
Council." Then, he spelled out the problem. "In round terms" he said, 
"the Jews are accused of being guilty of deicide, and on them is 
supposed to lie a curse." He countered both charges. Because even in 
the accounts of the Evangelists, only the leaders of the Jews then in 
Jerusalem and a very small group of followers shouted for the death 
sentence on Jesus, all those absent and the generations of Jews unborn 
were not implicated in deicide in any way, Bea said. As to the curse, 
it could not condemn the crucifiers anyway, the Cardinal reasoned, 
because Christ's dying words were a prayer for their pardon.

  The Rabbis in the room wanted to know then if the declaration would 
specify deicide, the curse and the rejection of the Jewish people by 
God as errors in Christian teaching. Implicit in their question was the 
most touchy problem of the New Testament. Bea's answer was oblique. He 
cautioned his listeners that an unwieldy assemblage of bishops could 
not possibly get down to details, could only set guidelines, and hope 
not to make the complex seem simple. "Actually," he went on, "it is 
wrong to seek the chief cause of anti-Semitism in purely religious 
sources - in the Gospel accounts, for example. These religious causes, 
in so far as they are adduced (often they are not), are often merely an 
excuse and a veil to cover over other more operative reasons for 
enmity." Cardinal and rabbis joined in a toast with sherry after the 
talk, and one asked the prelate about Monsignor Oesterreicher, whom 
many Jews regard as too missionary with them. "You know, Eminence," a 
Jewish reporter once told Bea, "Jews do not regard Jewish converts as 
their best friends." Bea answered gravely, "Not our Jews."

  Not long after that, the Rolf Hochhuth play The Deputy opened, to 
depict Pius XII as the Vicar of Christ who fell silent while Hitler 
went to The Final Solution. From the pages of the Jesuit magazine 
America, Oesterreicher talked straight at the AJC and B'nai B'rith. 
"Jewish human-relations agencies," he wrote, "will have to speak out 
against The Deputy in unmistakable terms. Otherwise they will defeat 
their own purpose." In the Table of London, Giovanni Battista Montini, 
the archbishop of Milan, wrote an attack on the play as a defense of 
the Pope, whose secretary he had been. A few months later, Pope John 
XXIII was dead, and Montini became Pope Paul VI.

  At the second session of the Council, in the fall of 1963, the Jewish 
declaration came to the bishops as Chapter 4 of the larger declaration 
On Ecumenism. The Chapter 5 behind it was the equally troublesome 
declaration on religious liberty. Like riders to bills in congress, 
each of the disputed chapters was a wayward caboose hooked to the new 
ecumenical train. Near the end of the session, when On Ecumenism came 
up for a vote, the Council moderators decided the voting should cover 
only the first three chapters. That switched the cabooses to a siding 
and averted a lot of clatter in a council trying hard to be ecumenical. 
Voting on the Jews and religious liberty would follow soon, the bishops 
were promised. And while waiting around, they could read The Jews and 
the Council in the Light of Scripture and Tradition which was shorter, 
but more scurrilous than Il Complotto. But the second session ended 
without the vote on the Jews or religious liberty, and on a distinctly 
sour note, despite the Pope's announced visit to the Holy Land. That 
pilgrimage would take up a lot of newsprint, but still leave room for 
questions about votes that vanished. "Something had happened behind the 
scenes," the voice of the National Catholic Welfare Conference wrote." 
[It is] one of the mysteries of the second session."

  Two very concerned Jewish gentlemen who had to reflect hard on such 
mysteries were 59-year-old Joseph Lichten of B'nai B'rith's 
Anti-Defamation League in New York, and Zachariah Shuster, 63, of the 
American Jewish Committee. Lichten, who lost his parents, wife and 
daughter in Buchenwald, and Shuster, who also lost come of his closest 
relatives, had been talking with bishops and their staff men in Rome. 
The two lobbyists were not, however, seeing a lot of one another over 
vin rosso around St. Peter's. The strongest possible Jewish declaration 
was their common cause, but each wanted his home office to have credit 
for it. That is, of course, if the declaration was really strong. But 
until then, each would offer himself to the American hierarchs as the 
best barometer in Rome of Jewish sentiment back home.

  To find out how the Council was going, many U.S. bishops in Rome 
depended on what they read in the New York Times. And so did the AJC 
and B'nai B'rith. That paper was the place to make points. Lichten 
thought Shuster was a genius at getting space in it, but less than 
deeply instructed in theology. Which is just about the way Shuster saw 
Lichten. Neither had much time for Frith Becker. Becker was in Rome for 
the World Jewish Congress, as its spokesman who sought no publicity and 
got little. The WJC, according to Becker, was interested in the 
Council, but not in trying to shape it. "We don't have the American 
outlook," he said, "on the importance of getting into print."

  Getting into print was even beginning to look good to the Vatican. 
Yet an expert at the public relations craft would say the Holy See 
showed inexperience in the Holy Land. When Paul prayed with the bearded 
Orthodox Patriarch Athenagora in the Jordanian sector, the visit looked 
very good. Yet when he crossed over to Israel, he had cutting words 
about the author of The Deputy and a conversionest sermon for the Jews. 
His stay was so short that he never publicly uttered the name of the 
young country he was visiting in. Vaticanlogists studying his moves 
thought they saw lessened hope for the declaration on the Jews.

  Things looked better at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. There, at a 
Beth Israel Hospital anniversary, guests learned that, years earlier, 
Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver had told Cardinal Francis Spellman of Israel's 
efforts to get a seat in the United Nations. To help, Spellman said he 
would call on South American governments and share with them his fond 
wish that Israel be admitted. About the same time, il Papa americana 
told an AJC meeting it was "absurd to maintain that there is some kind 
of continuing guilt." In Pittsburgh, Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum of the AJC 
spoke to the Catholic Press Association about the deicide charge, and 
the editorial response was abundant. In Rome, six AJC members had an 
audience with the Pope, and one of them, Mrs. Leonard M. Sperry, had 
just endowed the Sperry Center for Intergroup Cooperation at Pro Deo 
University in the Holy City. The Pope told his callers he agreed with 
all Cardinal Spellman had said about Jewish guilt. Vaticanologists 
could not help but reverse their reading and see a roseate future for 
the declaration.

  Then came the New York Times. On June 12, 1964, it reported that the 
denial of deicide had been cut from the latest draft of the 
declaration. At the Secretariat for Christian Unity, a spokesman said 
only that the text had been made stronger. But that is not the way most 
Jews read it, nor a great many Catholics. Before the Council met and 
while the text was still sub secreto, whole sections of it turned up 
one morning in the New York Herald Tribune. No mention of the deicide 
charge was to be found. Instead, there was a clear call for the 
ecumenical spirit to extend itself because " the union of the Jewish 
people with the Church is a part of the Christian hope." Among the few 
Jews who did not mind reading that were Lichten and Shuster. They could 
look at it professionally. It read, say , much better over coffee in a 
morning paper than it would if the Pope were promulgating it as 
Catholic teaching. On other Jews, its effect was galvanic. Their 
disappointment set off indignation among some American bishops, and 
Lichten and Shuster appreciated their concern. Chances that a 
deicideless declaration, with a built-in conversion clause, would ever 
get by the American bishops and cardinals at the Council were what a 
couple of good lobbyists might call slim.

  About two weeks before that, Msgr. George Higgins of the National 
Catholic Welfare Conference in Washington, D.C., helped arrange a papal 
audience for UN Ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg, who was a Supreme Court 
Justice at the time. Rabbi Heschel briefed Goldberg before the Justice 
and the Pope discussed the declaration. Cardinal Richard Cushing, in 
Boston, wanted to help too. Through his aide in Rome, the Cardinal set 
up an audience with the Pope for Heschel, whose apprehensions had 
reason to exceed Cushing's. With the AJC's Shuster beside him, Heschel 
talked hard about deicide and guilt, and asked the Pontiff to press for 
a declaration in which Catholics would be forbidden to proselytize 
Jews. Paul, somewhat affronted, would in no way agree. Shuster, 
somewhat chagrined, disassociated himself gingerly from Heschel by 
switching to French, which the Pope speaks but the Rabbi does not. All 
agree that the audience did not end as cordially as it began. Only 
Heschel and a few others think it did good. He invited notice in an 
Israeli paper that the declaration's next text had emerged free of 
conversionary tone. To the AJC, that interview was one more irritant. 
The Rabbi's audience with Paul in the Vatican, like Bea's meeting with 
the AJC in New York, was granted on the condition that it would be kept 
secret. It was undercover summit conferences of that sort that led 
conservatives to claim that American Jews were the new powers behind 
the Church.

  But on the floor of the Council, things looked even worse to the 
conservatives. There, it seemed to them as if Catholic bishops were 
working for the Jews. At issue was the weakened text. The cardinals 
from St. Louis and Chicago, Joseph Ritter and the late Albert Meyer, 
demanded a return to the strong one. Cushing said the deicide denial 
would have to be put back. Bishop Steven Leven of San Antonio called 
for clearing the text of conversionary pleas and , unknowingly, uttered 
a prophetic view about deicide. "We must tear this word out of the 
Christian vocabulary," he said, "so that it may never again be used 
against the Jews."

  All that talk brought out the Arab bishops. They argued that a 
declaration favoring Jews would expose Catholics to persecution as long 
as Arabs fought Israelis. Deicide, inherited guilt and conversionary 
locutions seemed like so many debating points to most Arabs. They 
wanted no declaration at all, they kept saying, because it would be put 
to political use against them. Their allies in this holy war were 
conservative Italians, Spaniards and South Americans. They saw the 
structure of the faith being shaken by theological liberals who thought 
Church teaching could change. To the conservatives, this was 
near-heresy, and to the liberals, it was pure faith. Beyond faith, the 
liberals had the votes, and sent the declaration back to its 
Secretariat for more strength. While it was out for redrafting again, 
the conservatives wanted it flattened into one paragraph in the 
Constitution of the Church. But when the declaration reappeared at the 
third session's end, it was in a wholly new document called The 
Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. 
In that setting, the bishops approved it with a 1,770 to 185 vote. 
There was considerable joy among Jews in the United States because 
their declaration had finally come out.

  In fact, it had not. The vote had been an endorsement only for the 
general substance of the text. But because votes with qualifications 
were accepted (placet iuxta modum is the Latin term for "yes, but with 
this modification"), the time between the third session and the fourth 
- just finished - would be spent fitting in the modifying modi, or 
those most of the 31 voting members of the Secretariat thought 
acceptable. By Council rules, modi could qualify or nuance the 
language, but they could not change the substance of the text. But 
then, what substance is or is not had always kept philosophers on edge. 
And theologians have had trouble with it too.

  But first there were less recondite troubles to face. In Segni, near 
Rome, Bishop Luigi Carli wrote in the February, 1965 issue of his 
diocesan magazine that the Jews of Christ's time and their descendants 
down to the present were collectively guilty of Christ's death. A few 
weeks later, on Passion Sunday, at an outdoor Mass in Rome, Pope Paul 
talked of the Crucifixion and the Jews' heavy part in it. Rome's chief 
rabbi, Elio Toaff, said in saddened reply that in "even the most 
qualified Catholic personalities, the imminence of Easter causes 
prejudices to reemerge."

  On April 25, 1965, the New York Times correspondent in Rome, Robert 
C. Doty, upset just about everybody. The Jewish declaration was in 
trouble was the gist of his story reporting that the Pope had turned it 
over to four consultants to clear it of its contradictions to Scripture 
and make it less objectionable to Arabs. It was about as refuted as a 
Times story ever gets. When Cardinal Bea arrived in New York three days 
later, he had his priest-secretary deny Doty's story by saying that his 
Secretariat for Christian Unity still had full control of the Jewish 
declaration. Then came an apologia for Paul's sermon. "Keep in mind 
that the Pope was speaking to ordinary and simple faithful people - not 
before a learned body," the priest said. As to the anti-Semitic Bishop 
of Segni, the Cardinal's man said that Carli's views were definitely 
not those of the Secretariat. Morris B. Abram of the AJC was at the 
airport to greet Bea and found his secretary's views on that reassuring.

  In Rome a few days later, some fraction of the Secretariat met to 
vote on the bishops' suggested modi. Among them were a few borne down 
from the fourth floor of the Vatican over the signature of the Bishop 
of Rome. It is not known for certain whether that special bishop urged 
that the "guilty of deicide" denial be cut. But the alternate 
possibility that the phrase would have been cut, if he had wanted it 
kept, is not pondered on much any more. Accounts of the Secretariat's 
struggles over deicide agree that it was a very close vote after a long 
day's debate. After deicide went out, there remained the Bishop of 
Rome's suggestion that the clause beginning "deplores, indeed condemns, 
hatred and persecution of Jews" might read better with "indeed 
condemns" left out. That would leave hatred and persecution of Jews 
still "deplored." The suggestion stirred no debate and was quickly 
accepted by vote. It was late, and nobody cared to fuss any more about 
little things.

  That meeting was from May 9 to 15, and during that week, the New York 
Times had a story every other day from the Vatican. On May 8, the 
Secretariat denied again that outsiders were taking a hand in the 
Jewish declaration. On the 11th, President Charles Helou of Lebanon, an 
Arab Maronite Catholic, had an audience with the Pope. On the 12th, the 
Vatican Press Office announced that the Jewish declaration remained 
unchanged. If that was to reassure Jews, it came across as a Press 
Office protesting too much. On the 15th, the Secretariat closed its 
meeting, and the bishops went their separate ways, some sad, some 
satisfied, all with lips sealed. A few may have wondered if something 
out of order had happened and if, despite Council rules, a Council 
document had been substantially changed between sessions.

  The Times persisted in making trouble. On June 20, under Doty's 
by-line, was the report that the declaration was "under study" and 
might be dropped altogether. On June 22, Doty filed a story amounting 
to a self-directed punch in the nose. Commenting to Doty on his own 
earlier report, a source close to Bea said it was "so deprived of any 
basis that it doesn't even deserve a denial." For those who have raised 
refutations to a fine art, that was a denial to be proud of, because it 
was precisely true while completely misleading. Doty had written that 
the declaration was under study when in fact, the study was finished, 
the damage was done, and there existed what many regard as a 
substantially new declaration on the Jews.

  In Geneva, Dr. Willem Visser 'tHooft, head of the World Council of 
Churches, told two American priests that, if the reports were true, the 
ecumenical movement would be slowed. His sentiments were not kept 
secret from the U.S. hierarchy. Nor was the AJC saddened into 
inactivity. Rabbi Tanenbaum plied Monsignor Higgins with press 
clippings from appalled Jewish editors. Higgins conveyed his fears to 
Cardinal Cushing, and the Boston prelate made polite inquiry to the 
Bishop of Rome. In Germany, a group for Jewish-Christian amity sent a 
letter to the bishops claiming, "There is now prevailing a crisis of 
confidence vis-à-vis the Catholic Church." At the Times, there had 
never been a crisis of confidence vis-à-vis its reporting from Rome, 
but if there had been one, it would have passed on September 10. In his 
WORD "DEICIDE," Doty allowed no Times reader to think he had pried into 
Vatican secrets. He was pleased to credit as his source, "an authorized 
leak by the Vatican."

  Similar stories in the Times foretold Council failings before they 
happened. Most of these were substantiated in magazine pieces and books 
published later, though some had traces of special pleading. The 
American Jewish Committee's intellectual monthly, Commentary, had 
offered a most bleak report on the Council and the Jews by the 
pseudonymous F. E. Cartus. In a footnote, the author referred the 
reader to a confirming account in The Pilgrim, a 281-page book by the 
pseudonymous Michael Serafian. Later, in Harper's magazine, Cartus, 
even more dour, added to the doubts on the Jewish text. To buttress his 
case, he recast Pilgrim passages and cited Council accounts in Time, 
whose Rome correspondent had surfaced for by-line status as author of a 
notably good book on the Council. At the time, both Time and the New 
York Times were glad to have an inside tipster. Just for the 
journalistic fun of it, the inside man's revelations were signed 
"Pushkin," when slipped under some correspondents' doors.

  But readers were served no rewritten Pushkin on the Council's last 
sessions. The cassock had come off the double agent who could never 
turn down work. Pushkin, it turned out, was Michael Serafian in book 
length, F.E. Cartus for the magazines, and a translator in the 
Secretariat for Christian Unity, while keeping up a warm friendship 
with the AJC. At the time, Pushkin-Serafian-Cartus was living in the 
Biblical Institute, where he had been known well since his ordination 
in 1954, though he will be known here as Timothy Fitzharris O'Boyle, 
S.J. For the journalists, the young priest's inside tips and tactical 
leaks checked out so well that he could not resist gilding them every 
now and then with a flourish of creative writing. And an imprecision or 
two could even be charged off to exhaustion in his case. He was known 
to be working on a book at a young married couple's flat. The book 
finally got finished, but so did half of the friendship. Father 
Fitzharris-O'Boyle knew it was time for a forced march before his 
religious superior could inquire too closely into the reasons for that 
crisis in camaraderie. He left Rome then, sure that he could be of no 
more use locally.

  Apart from his taste for pseudonyms, fair ladies, reports on the 
nonexistent and perhaps a real jester's genius for footnotes, 
Fitzharris-O'Boyle was good at his job in the Secretariat, valuable to 
the AJC and is still thought of by many around Rome as a kind of 
genuine savior in the diaspora. Without him, the Jewish declaration 
might well have gone under early, for it was Fitzharris-O'Boyle who 
best helped the press harass the Romans wanting to scuttle it. The man 
has a lot of priests' prayers.

  Other years, Fitzharris-O'Boyle was around Rome when the declaration 
needed help. At Vatican II's fourth and last session, there was no help 
in sight. And things were happening very fast. The text came out 
weakened, as the Times said it would. Then, the Pope took off for the 
UN, where his jamais plus la guerre speech was a triumph. After that, 
he greeted the president of the AJC in an East Side church. That looked 
good for the cause. Then, at the Yankee Stadium Mass, the Pope's lector 
intoned a text beginning "for fear of the Jews." And on TV that sounded 
quite astonishing. Everywhere, there were speeches on the rises and 
falls of the Jewish declaration, many of them preparing for a final 
letdown. Lichten's executive vice-president, Rabbi Jay Kaufman, had 
told audiences of his own puzzlement "as the fate of the section on 
Jews is shuttled between momentary declaration and certain confutation, 
like a sparrow caught in a clerical badminton game." Shuster could hear 
about the same from the AJC. He could also hear the opposition. Not 
content with a weakened declaration, it again wanted the total victory 
of no declaration at all. For that, the Arabs' last words were 
"respectfully submitted" in a 28-page memorandum calling on the he 
bishops to save the faith from "communism and atheism and the 
Jewish-Communist alliance."

  In Rome, the bishops' vote was set for October 14, and to Lichten and 
Shuster, the prospects of anything better looked almost hopeless. 
Priests had slipped each a copy of the Secretariat's secret replies to 
the modifications the bishops wanted. The modi made disconsolate 
reading. In the old text, the Jewish origin of Catholicism was noted in 
a paragraph, beginning, "In truth, with a grateful heart, the Church of 
Christ acknowledges..." In the modi sent to the Secretariat, two 
bishops (but which two?) suggested that "with a grateful heart" be 
deleted. It could, they feared, be understood to mean that Catholics 
were required to give thanks to the Jews of today. "The suggestion is 
accepted," the Secretariat decided. The replies went that way for most 
of 16 pages. Through all of them, few reasons were advanced for taking 
the warmth out of the old text and making the new one more legal than 

  When Shuster and Lichten had finished reading, there were telephone 
calls to be made to the AJC and B'nai B'rith in New York. But these 
were not much help at either end. It was Higgins who first tried 
convincing two disheartened lobbyists to settle for what they would 
get. Yet for a day or two, Bishop Leven of San Antonio gave them hope. 
He thought the new statement was so weakened that the American bishops 
should vote en bloc against it. If followed, the tactic would have 
added a few hundred negative votes to the Arab-conservative side and 
marked the Council as so split that the Pope might not promulgate 
anything. The protest-vote tactic was soon abandoned. Lichten's remorse 
lasted longer. He sent telegrams to about 25 bishops he thought could 
still help retrieve the strong text. But again, it was Higgins who 
quietly told him to give up. "Look, Joe," the priest with the 
labor-lawyer manner told Lichten, "I understand your disappointment. 
I'm disappointed too." Then, he went off to console Shuster.

  In his own room, where Higgins thinks he had Lichten and Shuster 
together for their first joint appearance in Rome, the priest could 
sound as if he were putting it straight to company men looking for a 
square shake from the union. "If you two give New York the impression 
you can get a better text, you are crazy," he told them. "Lay all your 
cards on the table. It's just insane to think by some pressures here or 
newspaper articles back in New York, you can work a miracle in the 
Council. You are not going to work it, and they will think you fell 
down on the job."

  Lichten remembers more. "Higgins said, 'Think how much harm can be 
done, Joe, if we allow these changes to erect barriers in the path we 
have taken for such a long time. And this may happen if your people, 
and mine, don't respond to the positive aspects.' That was the 
psychological turning point for me," Lichten said. Shuster was still 
unreconciled, and he can remember the day well. "I had to break my head 
and heart," he said, "to think what should be done. I went through a 
crisis, but I was convinced by Higgins. The loss of deicide, frankly, I 
did not consider a catastrophe. But 'deplore' for 'condemn' is another 
thing. When I step on your toes, you deplore what I do. But massacre? 
Do you deplore massacre?"

  A differing view was taken by Abbé René Laurentin, a Council staff 
man who wrote to all the bishops with a last-minute appeal to 
conscience. Of itself, the loss of the deicide denial would not have 
mattered to Laurentin either, if there would never be anti-Semitism in 
the world again. But since history invites pessimism in this, Laurentin 
asked the bishops to suppose that genocide might recur. "Then, the 
Council and the Church will be accused," he contended, "of having left 
dormant the emotional root of anti-Semitism which is the theme of 
deicide." Bishop Leven had wanted the word deicide torn out of the 
Christian vocabulary when he argued a year earlier for the stronger 
text. Now, the Secretariat had even torn it out of the declaration, and 
proscribed it from the Christian vocabulary so abruptly that even the 
proscription itself was suppressed. "With difficulty, one escapes the 
impression,' Laurentin wrote, "that these arguments owe something to 

  Before the vote in St. Peter's, Cardinal Bea spoke to the assembled 
bishops. He said his Secretariat had received their modi "with grateful 
heart" - and the words just happened to be the very first ones deleted 
by his Secretariat's vote from the new version. A year earlier, Bea had 
argued for getting the deicide denial into the text, and now he was 
defending its removal. He spoke without zeal, as if he, too, knew he 
was asking the bishops for less than Jules Isaac and John XXIII might 
have wanted. Exactly 250 bishops voted against the declaration, while 
1,763 supported it. Through much of the U.S. and Europe, the press 
minutes later made the complex simple with headlines reading VATICAN 

  Glowing statements came from spokesmen of the AJC and B'nai B'rith, 
but each had a note of disappointment that the strong declaration had 
been diluted. Bea's friend Heschel was the harshest and called the 
Council's failure to deal with deicide "an act of paying homage to 
Satan." Later on, when calm, he was just saddened. "my old friend, the 
Jesuit priest Gus Weigel, spent one of the last nights of his life in 
this room," Heschel said. "I asked him whether he thought it would 
really be ad majorem Dei gloriam if there were no more synagogues, no 
more Seder dinners and no more prayers said in Hebrew?" The question 
was rhetorical, and Weigel has since gone to his grave. Other comments 
ranged from the elated to the satiric. Dr. William Wexler of the World 
Conference of Jewish Organizations tried for precision. "The true 
significance of the Ecumenical Council's statement will be determined 
by the practical effects it has on those to whom it is addressed," he 
said. Harry Golden of the Carolina Israelite called for a Jewish 
Ecumenical council in Jerusalem to issue a Jewish declaration on 

  With his needling retort, the columnist was reflecting a view popular 
in the U.S. that some kind of forgiveness had been granted the Jews. 
The notion was both started and sustained by the press, but there was 
no basis for it in the declaration. What led quite understandably to 
it, however, was the open wrangling around the Council that had made 
the Jews seem on trial for four years. If the accused did not quite 
feel cleared when the verdict was in, it was because the jury was out 
far too long.

  It was out for reasons politicians understand but few thought 
relevant to religion. The present head of the Holy See, like the top 
man in the White House, believed deeply in pressing for a consensus 
when any touchy issue was put to a Council vote. By the principle of 
collegiality, in which all bishops help govern the whole Church, any 
real issue divided the college of bishops into progressives and 
conservatives. Reconciling them was the Pope's job. For this rub in the 
collegial process, the papal remedy, whether persuaded or imposed, 
played some hob with the law of contradiction. When one faction said 
Scripture alone was the source of Church teaching, the other held for 
the two sources of Scripture and Tradition. To bridge that break, the 
declaration was rewritten with Pauline touches to reaffirm the 
two-source teaching while allowing that the other merited study. When 
opponents of religious liberty said it would fly against the teaching 
that Catholicism is the One True Church, a similar solution trickled 
down from the Vatican's fourth floor. Religious liberty now starts with 
the One True Church teaching, which, according to some satisfied 
conservatives, contradicts the text that follows.

  The Jewish issue was an even more troublesome one for a 
consensus-maker. Those who saw a dichotomy in the declaration could 
find it in the New Testament, too, where all are agreed it will stay. 
But to what extent was that issue complicated by the politics of the 
Arabs? In Israel, there is the feeling since the vote, and in Mideast 
journals there is considerable evidence for it, that the masses of Arab 
Christians were more indifferent to dispute then the Scriptural 
conservatives would like known. By the Newtonian laws of political 
motion, pressure begets counterpressure more often than lobbyists like 
to admit. And one of the hypotheses that B'nai B'rith and the AJC must 
ponder is that much Arab resistance and some theological intransigence 
were creatures of Jewish lobbying. There was anxiety all along about 
that, and Nahum Goldmann cautioned Jews early to "not raise the issue 
with too much intensity." Some did not. After the vote, when Fritz 
Becker, the WJC's silent man, admitted he once called on Bea at home, 
he said the declaration was not mentioned. "We just talked, the 
Cardinal and I," Becker said, "about the advantages of not talking."

  There are Catholics close to what went on in Rome who think that 
Jewish energy did harm. Higgins, the social-action priest from 
Washington, D.C., is not one of them. If it had not been for the 
lobbying, he felt, the declaration would have been tabled. But in his 
usual gruff way, Cardinal Cushing said that the only people who could 
beat the Jewish declaration were the Jewish lobbyists. Father Tome 
Stransky, the touchy, young Paulist who rides a Lambretta to work at 
the Secretariat, thought that once the press got on to the Council 
there was no way to stop such pressure groups. If the Council could 
have deliberated in secret with no strainings from the outside, he 
thinks the declaration would have been stronger.

  As it stands, Stransky fears that some Catholics may gleefully pass 
it off as if it were written to and for Jews. "This, you have got to 
remember, is addressed to Catholics. This is Catholic Church business. 
I don't mind telling you I'd be insulted, too, if I were a Jew and I 
thought this document was speaking to Jews." For the Catholics, he 
thinks it is now written for its best effect.

  It was Stransky's superior in the Secretariat, Cardinal Bea, who came 
around most to the claims of the conservatives. Bea apparently realized 
fairly late that there were some Catholics, more pious than instructed, 
whose contempt for Jews was inseparable from their love for Christ. To 
be told by the Council that Jews were not Christ-killers would be too 
abrupt a turnabout for their faith. These were Catholicism's simple 
dogmatics. But there were many bishops at the Council who, if far less 
simple, were no less dogmatic. They felt Jewish pressure in Rome and 
resented it. They thought Bea's enemies were proved right when Council 
secrets turned up in American papers. "He wants to turn the Church over 
to the Jews," the hatemongers said of the old Cardinal, and some 
dogmatics in the Council thought the charge about right. "Don't say the 
Jews had any part in this," one priest said, "or the whole fight with 
the dogmatics will start over." Another, Father Felix Morlion at the 
Pro Deo University, who heads the study group working closely with the 
AJC, thought the promulgated text the best. "The one before had more 
regard for the sensitiveness of the Jewish people, but it did not 
produce the necessary clearness in the minds of Christians," he said. 
"In this sense, it was less effective even to the very cause of the 
Jewish people."

  Morlion knew just what the Jews did to get the declaration and why 
the Catholics had settled its compromise. "We could have beaten the 
dogmatics," he insisted. They could, indeed, but the cost would have 
been a split in the Church. END