Author Kertzer speaks about Judaism in the Catholic Church

· Oct 3, 2001 Tweet

Esteemed author David Kertzer spoke at the Hillel Foundation Wednesday on the historical role of the Catholic Church in fostering the rise of anti-Semitism that ultimately led to the Holocaust.

Kertzer’s book, “The Popes Against the Jews,” is based on documents released by the Vatican in 1998 focusing on the relationship between the Church and the persecution of Jews.

Kertzer said there is strong evidence that popes during the late 19th and early 20th century encouraged anti-Semitism through propaganda and political actions.

“The Vatican fought against giving equal rights to Jews and also promulgated the idea that Jews were gaining disproportionate economic power,” Kertzer said.

He also said the Catholic Church regularly spread incorrect information on the practices of Judaism.

“Catholic publications regularly charged that part of Judaism was to murder and brutally torture Christian children,” Kertzer said.

Kertzer said although his work is historical, it is still relevant to recent events surrounding the terrorist bombings.

“At a time when the country is pulling together in many ways this topic may seem inappropriate, but it is extremely important in the crisis facing the country,” Kertzer said. “There are many lessons we can learn. This is a story about how religion demonizes a religion and people and of a historical pattern of ‘deprived plotters’ against those who know ‘divine will.'”

Kertzer also cited a recent New York Times article detailing how many Pakistani newspapers are printing articles suggesting the World Trade Center bombing was part of a Jewish conspiracy.

“This topic of this book is relevant to the anti-Semitism that is a major element in the anti-American feelings in Pakistan and of those who celebrated the bombing,” Kertzer said.

The event was part of a series sponsored by the Hillel Foundation and the University Book Store that brings authors to speak on issues related to Judaism and other issues.

Assistant director of the Hillel Foundation Jamie Berman said speakers such as Kertzer allow students to gain new insight into current and historical issues.

“I felt like it was an important way for the Foundation to serve student life and offer an opportunity for students to learn outside of the classroom,” Berman said. “It lets students see different perspectives and look at important issues in a different light.”

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This article was published Oct 3, 2001 at 12:00 am and last updated Oct 3, 2001 at 12:00 am

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