Jews in the discourse of the Catholic Church Cover Image

Żydzi w dyskursie Kościoła katolickiego
Jews in the discourse of the Catholic Church

Author(s): Marzena Makuchowska
Subject(s): Christian Theology and Religion, Jewish studies, Theology and Religion
Published by: Instytut Slawistyki Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Keywords: discourse of Catholic Church; Vatican Council II; Jews; linguistic means; discrediting; stereotypes

Summary/Abstract: The article describes the most important changes which appeared after the Second Vatican Council in the discourse of the Catholic Church in reference to its attitude to confessors of Judaism. The change is the difference between the state of texts in two different moments, which is why the first part of the article is dedicated to the characteristics of pre-Council (and mostly pre-war) discourse about Jews, and the second part to main directions of the changes caused by the realization of the Council postulates. The third part shows indications of the continuation of old, deep-rooted schemes. The analysis partly concerns texts of the Church worldwide, and partly texts of the Church in Poland. Polish pre-Council discourse on Jews was characterized by exceptional negativism. Catholic liturgy shows them as those who tortured and killed Jesus (the myth of deicides). In the sermons, pastoral letters and the Catholic press, Jews were presented as enemies of not only Christianity but also of Poles, because the Church in Poland engaged itself in creation of the nationally and religiously homogenous country under the slogan “Poland for Poles.” All the traditional myths were reproduced (Jews as wreckers, conspirators, debauchers, etc.). Many linguistic means were applied to degrade Jews, for example deminutiva, animalization (speaking about Jews as about animals), so-called cacophemism, words with pejorative meaning of moral and physical disgust. After Vaticanum II contents, which reproduced the picture of Jews as deicides, were removed from the Catholic liturgy. The positive pictures of Jews and Judaism were consequently created in the tuition of Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Linguistic means emphasize the community of Christians and Jews (bond, closeness, brothers, brotherhood, togetherness, etc.). Each pope obliges Catholics to respect Jews and memory of Holocaust; popes directly prohibit any signs of anti-Semitism. After 1989 in Poland anti-Jewish inclinations returned, especially in the circle of the so callled Catholicism of the Maryja Radio. Again Jews are accused of causing damage to Poles, and the language of those statements is very much like in the discourse before the Council.

  • Issue Year: 2015
  • Issue No: 3-4
  • Page Range: 272-296
  • Page Count: 25
  • Language: Polish