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A CATHOLIC FAQs ARTICLE

Can it truly be said that the Jewish race is guilty of the sin of deicide, and that it is consequently cursed by God, as depicted in Gibson’s movie on the Passion?

Featured in the Q&A section of the March 2004 issue of The Angelus,
this answer was long enough to warrant itself as an article

The teaching of Sacred Scripture on this question is quite explicit. St. John explains that if Pilate sentenced Jesus Christ to death, it was only on account of the insistence of the Jews:

When the chief priests, therefore, and the servants, had seen him, they cried out, saying: Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith to them: Take him you, and crucify him: for I find no cause in him. The Jews answered him: We have a law; and according to the law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. (Jn. 19:6, 7)

The Synoptic Evangelists state the same thing, e.g., Lk. 23:22-24:

Why, what evil hath this man done? I find no cause of death in him. I will chastise him therefore, and let him go. But they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified; and their voices prevailed. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required.

The Jews were consequently directly responsible for the crucifixion. Deicide is the name given to the crime of killing the person who is God, namely the Son of God in His human nature. It is those persons who brought about the crucifixion who are guilty of deicide, namely the Jews.

St. Matthew’s Gospel states very clearly, not only that Pilate considered Jesus innocent of the accusations made against him, but also that the whole people of the Jews took the responsibility of his murder upon their own heads. Indeed, to Pilate’s statement: "I am innocent of the blood of this just man; look you to it," the response is immediate: "And the whole people answering, said: His blood be upon us and upon our children." (Mt. 27:24, 25) The Gospel teaches us, therefore, that the Jewish race brought upon themselves the curse that followed the crime of deicide.

However, in what does that curse consist. Surely it cannot be that there is a collective guilt of the Jewish race for the sin of deicide. For only those individuals are responsible for the sin who knowingly and willingly brought it about. Jews of today are manifestly not responsible for that sin. The curse is of a different nature, and corresponds to the greatness of the vocation of the Jewish people as a preparation for the Messias, to the superiority of their election, which makes them first in the order of grace. Just as the true Israelites, who accept the Messias, are the first to receive "glory, honor and peace to every one that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek" (Rm. 2:10), so also are the first to receive the punishment of their refusal of the Messias: "Tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek" (Rm. 2:9). The curse is then the punishment for the hardhearted rebelliousness of a people that has refused the time of its visitation, that has refused to convert and to live a moral, spiritual life, directed towards heaven. This curse is the punishment of blindness to the things of God and eternity, of deafness to the call of conscience and to the love of good and hatred of evil which is the basis of all moral life, of spiritual paralysis, of total preoccupation with an earthly kingdom. It is this that sets them as a people in entire opposition with the Catholic Church and its supernatural plan for the salvation of souls. Fr. Denis Fahey in The Kingship of Christ and Organized Naturalism explains this radical opposition. He describes "the Naturalism of the Jewish Nation" and the "age-long struggle of the Jewish Nation against the supernatural life of the Mystical Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ" (p. 42) He goes on to explain that "we must distinguish accurately between opposition to the domination of Jewish Naturalism in society and hostility to the Jews as a race" which latter form of opposition "is what is designated by the term, ‘Antisemitism,’ and has been more than once condemned by the Church. The former opposition is incumbent on every Catholic and on every true lover of his native land." (ibid. p. 43) [READ FR. FAHEY'S COMPLETE ARTICLE HERE]

Fr. Fahey develops his explanation of the nature of this naturalism of the Jewish nation, detailing the two essential truths of the supernatural order that they refused in the time of Christ Our Lord, and continue to refuse to this day:

They refused, firstly, to accept that the Supernatural life of His Messianic Kingdom was "higher than their national life and, secondly, they utterly rejected the idea of the Gentile Nations being admitted to enter the Messianic Kingdom on the same level as themselves. Thus they put their national life above the supernatural life of Grace and set racial descent from Abraham according to the flesh on a higher plane than spiritual descent from Abraham by faith. Having put their race and nation in the place of God, having in fact deified them, they rejected the supernatural Messias and elaborated a program of preparation for the natural Messias to come." (ibid. pp. 43, 44)

It is indeed very sad that the post-Conciliar Church has forgotten the elementary distinction described by Father Fahey, namely between opposition to Jewish Naturalism and hostility to the race. The door was opened to this, and to the subsequent acceptation of Judaism as a legitimate religion in the Vatican II Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate. After correctly pointing out that the Jewish authorities pressed for the death of Christ, and that neither all Jews at that time, nor today "can be charged with the crimes committed during his Passion," it then continues with the outrageous statement, so contrary to Sacred Scripture, that "the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture." (§4) It is consequently considered that since the Church reproves every form of persecution, then we must respect their false national religion, regardless of the fact that its very existence is the sign of the curse of the national naturalism that has fallen upon them.

The January 2002 statement of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, entitled The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, likewise refuses to make the same elementary distinction. It apologizes, for example, that certain New Testament passages that criticize the Pharisees had been used to justify anti-Semitism. This has never been the case in the Catholic Church, but that certainly do inspire us to stand against the hypocritical naturalism of those who refuse to convert. Our Lord is very explicit about the curse that the Scribes and Pharisees have brought upon themselves, repeating the curse "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees" no less than eight times in 17 verses in St. Matthew’s Gospel (23:13-29): "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in; and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter…" The Jewish refusal of the supernatural order, as of the Messias, has made their religion, true until the time of Our Lord, now a false one. Hence the malediction, and our opposition to their refusal of the supernatural order, which is not anti-Semitism.

From this follows the essential thesis of the above-mentioned document, namely that the Jewish concept of a future Messias does not conflict with the Christian belief in Jesus, for, it states, "The Jewish Messianic expectation is not vain." How could such an expectation be not vain, given that they refuse Christ, the only Messias, who has already come? This means, if taken to its logical conclusion, that the refusal of the mystery of the Incarnation, of the birth of our Divine Savior in the flesh, is no longer a sin of infidelity, that is a grave sin against the Faith. If this were the case, how could it still be true for Our Lord to say: "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No man cometh to the Father but by me" (Jn. 14:6)?

 
 

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