"Hidden Encyclical" Probably Reaches Desk of Pope Pius XI

"Hidden Encyclical" Probably Reaches Desk of Pope Pius XI

Achille Ratti, Pope Pius XI
Source: Wikipedia

The so-called "hidden encyclical" (Humani Generis Unitas), a condemnation of racism and anti-Semitism that Pope Pius XI had commissioned, probably reaches his desk - though it's not clear if he ever has a chance to read it. He will never able to revise, much less deliver it, due to his death.

Although meant as a statement against anti-Semitism, it nevertheless manages to convey a number of anti-Semitic attitudes. When discussing Jews' rejection of Jesus Christ, for example, it says:

"[B]linded by a vision of material domination and gain, the Israelites lost what they themselves had sought. A few chosen souls, among whom were the disciples and followers of Our Lord, the early Jewish Christians, and, through the centuries, a few members of the Jewish people, were an exception of this general rule.

By their acceptance of Christ's teaching and their incorporation into His Church, they shared in the inheritance of His glory, but they remained and still remain an exception."

Doesn't this sound an awful lot like an attempt to provide a religious foundation to the claim that "most Jews might be bad, but I've known a few good Jews"? The encyclical continues:

"[B]y a mysterious Providence of God, this unhappy people, destroyers of their own nation, whose misguided leaders had called down upon their own heads a Divine malediction, doomed, as it were, to perpetually wander over the face of the earth, were nonetheless never allowed to perish, but have been preserved through the ages into our own time.

No natural reason appears to be forthcoming to explain this age-long persistence, this indestructible coherence of the Jewish people."

So, despite the fact that Jews are so awful and Christians have tried so hard to get rid of them, they have managed to stick around. This just isn't natural, so it must be a miracle of God - and maybe we should stop trying to get rid of them after all. That doesn't mean, though, that we should stop pointing out just how much of a threat they are to Christianity:

"The lofty concept of Church has forever held relative to the vocation of the Jewish people as seen from their past history, and her ardent hopes for their eventual spiritual salvation in the future, do not blind her to the spiritual dangers to which contact with Jews can expose souls, or make her unaware of the need to be safeguard her children against spiritual contagion.

Nor is this need diminished in our own time. As long as the unbelief of the Jewish people persists, as long as there is an active hostility to the Christian religion, just so long must the Church use every effort to see that the effects of this unbelief and hostility are not to redound to the ruin of their faith and morals of her own members.

Where, moreover, she finds that hatred of the Christian religion has driven misguided souls, whether of the Jewish people or of other origin, to ally themselves with, or actively to promote revolutionary movements that aim to destroy society and to obliterate from the minds of men the knowledge, reverence, and love of God, she must warn her children against such movements, expose the ruses and fallacies of their leaders, and find against them appropriate safeguards.

We find that in her history the Church has never failed to warn her children against the teaching of the Jews, when such teaching has been directed against the Faith. The Church has never sought to minimize the terrific force of the reproaches addressed by the protomartyr Saint Stephen against those of the Jewish people who knowingly resisted the call of grace: "Stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ear..." (Acts 7:51).

The Church has warned likewise against an over-familiarity with the Jewish community that might lead to customs and ways of thinking contrary to the standards of Christian life."

This, remember is supposed to be a defense of Jews and condemnation of anti-Semitism. Even the strongest condemnation of anti-Semitism in this encyclical quickly works its way into a condemnation of anti-Christianity:

"Zeal against the sin readily becomes zeal against the sinner; but zeal against the sinner soon throws off its mask and shows itself for what it really is, an assault, under the pretense of protecting society from a single social group, upon the very basis of society, an evocation of limitless hatred, a license for every form of violence, rapacity, and disorder, and an engine against religion itself.

Thus we find that anti-Semitism becomes an excuse for attacking the sacred Person of the Savior Himself, who assumed human flesh as the Son of a Jewish Maiden; it becomes a war against Christianity, its teachings, practices, and institutions."

So what's really wrong with anti-Semitism? It's just an excuse to attack Christianity, that's what.

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