Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity, and Poland

By Brian Porter-Szűcs | Go to book overview

8
The Jew

Many scholars have urged us to disentangle the history of Catholic-Jewish tensions from the history of modern anti-Semitism, arguing that these two phenomena have different roots and different consequences. The historian Krzysztof Lewalski, for example, distinguishes between “anti-Judaic” beliefs (the theological teachings that distinguish Christianity from Judaism), “anti-Jewish” attitudes (the day-to-day hostilities that came from social and economic conflicts between Jewish and Christian communities), and anti-Semitism sensu stricto (the distinctly modern ideology of racialized hatred).1 Others have rejected this differentiation. Most famously, David Kertzer argues that the Church propagated all the major tenets of modern anti-Semitism, thus serving as “antechamber to the Holocaust.”2 The political scientist Andrzej Korboński asserts bluntly that “one of the most important sources of antisemitism in Poland before WWII could be found in the teachings of the Catholic Church.”3 Not surprisingly, the polemics surrounding this issue are fraught with emotions, but if we set aside both the indictments and the apologetics we are left with two points that are hard to dispute: representations of the Jews in Catholic texts (particularly prior to World War I) did indeed differ from the writings of secular, racial anti-Semites; nonetheless it is impossible to completely separate Catholic anti-Semitism from racial anti-Semitism, because religious hatred and secular hatred coexisted in mutually formative ways. Catholic anti-Semitism would not have taken the shape it did had racialist ideas not been such a key component of European culture at the time, and secular anti-Semitism could not have gained so much support had it not shared a lot of common ground with Christianity.

Whatever the role of Christianity in the origins of anti-Semitism, there can be no doubt that the interwar Catholic Church was thoroughly penetrated by paranoia over Jewish conspiracies and stereotypes about Jewish vice. Anyone who reads the Catholic press in Poland from the 1920s and 1930s cannot help but be shocked by the intensity and frequency of the anti-Semitic diatribes.4 This was not a tangential issue at the time, but something that the editors of nearly every

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Faith and Fatherland: Catholicism, Modernity, and Poland
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - The Church 16
  • 2 - Sin 54
  • 3 - Modernity 81
  • 4 - The Person and Society 118
  • 5 - Politics 158
  • 6 - The Nation Penitent 208
  • 7 - Ecclesia Militans 232
  • 8 - The Jew 272
  • 9 - Polak-Katolik 328
  • 10 - Mary, Militant and Maternal 360
  • Conclusion 391
  • Notes 397
  • Bibliography 449
  • Index 471
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