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August-September 2011

St. Laurence and the Jews


The Holy Father’s blithe disregard in Jesus of Nazareth for the traditional teaching on the Jews and the confirmation of that teaching at every level throughout Church history, is not surprising. It confirms a pattern that has emerged of his evading major inconvenient historical realities during catecheses, delivered at his Wednesday General Audiences or elsewhere, which omit defining aspects of a particular saint.

During a September 2010 reflection on St Peter Damian, for instance, Benedict completely ignored Damian's epochal campaign against the clerical sodomites. Similarly, his 23 March 2011 General Audience catechesis on St. Laurence of Brindisi (1559-1619) omitted all mention of the Saint's hugely successful, papally-mandated proselytism among the Jews, and also bypassed the Holy War he led against the Muslims. Even worse, he truly distorted the Saint’s courageous work and Gospel witness: hitching it to the anaemic "new evangelism" and a utopian ecumenical project that seeks a universal peace among all religions without pursuing the only guarantee of true peace; conversion of all souls to the one true Church. Emphasising St. Laurence's love of Sacred Scripture and successful diplomatic missions, Benedict said:

The success which Laurence enjoyed helps us to understand that today also, while pursuing ecumenical dialogue with such hope, the confrontation with Holy Scripture, read in the Tradition of the Church, constitutes an unavoidable element and a fundamental importance, as I wished to recall in the Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini (n. 46).

On the contrary, the faith and works of St. Laurence are a total repudiation of post-conciliar ecumenism: a movement based on the presupposition that no partner in “dialogue” possesses the Absolute Truth capable of terminating the endless discussion. It would be hard to find a more damning indictment of that treacherous foundation than the modus vivendi and modus operandi of this 16th century proselytiser and Doctor of the Church.

Born in Brindisi (Italy) in 1559, he entered the Capuchins at Verona at 16 years of age and made his profession taking the name of Laurence, the famous deacon martyr. He became General of the Capuchins, combatting the errors of Luther and helping liberate Austria from the yoke of the Ottomans. But he also carried out his papal mission to the Jews of Italy with such zeal and success that he gained universal admiration. In his 17 volume collection of the lives of the saints, Paul Guérin paints the compelling picture:

Informed of the merits of Father Laurence, Pope Clement VIII found no instrument more worthy of the high designs that he was pondering on the conversion of the Jews, whose errors he deplored while longing to enlighten them. He therefore summoned him, and having conveyed his [papal] intentions, blessed him and had him descend into the arena. At home, no bias, no prejudice or animosity, a Hebrew bible in hand, he went among the rabbis who, seeing him so full of his subject and so familiar with the language he spoke to them, at first took him for one of their own; his affable manner, courteous and polite tone won first of all the benevolence of his adversaries; curious to hear, they crowded around him, interest giving way to defiance, the attention of the audience encouraging the champion of the Catholic faith. The discussions were frequent, they multiplied; Brother Laurence drew from his faith and his erudition irresistible arguments, touching the crowd of Jews, ignorant like all crowds, who were won over by the insinuations of the monk. O triumph! Some of the most sturdy pillars of Judaism came round to his opinion, doubt filled others, and a considerable number of proselytes asked for baptism, while the rabbis remaining in their errors could only admire the soldier of Jesus Christ [Les Petits Bollandistes, Vie des Saints, 1865, Vol. VIII, p. 121. Translated from the French].

In his Opera Omnia, St Laurence spoke on several occasions about the death of Christ and of the Jews as principal actors of this death. In the 5th volume (parts I, II and III), he clearly affirms:

That it is the ambition and avarice of the Jews which ruins them (I, 341; II, 61) despite the admiration that they had for the doctrine of Christ (II, 356-357). Thus, blinded by a just punishment by God, they do not believe in Christ despite all the miracles they witnessed (I, 71; II, 240, 359, 390). On the contrary, they scorned Christ Himself (III, 140), they hated Him (I, 492, 515), even to wanting to kill Him (II, 43). In the hardness of their heart, they mocked and slandered His miracles (I, 335; II, 136, 364, 390) so as to reach this incredible, extraordinary madness of demanding the release of Barabbas and the death of Christ (III, 302). It is only just, therefore, that they were condemned by God (II, 530) and that in punishment for their impiety they perished in the massacre of Jerusalem (I, 55) that occurred forty years after the death of Christ (III, 359); that, always in punishment for this crime, they were led into perpetual slavery (II, 392; III, 292), a slavery much worse than the Babylon slavery, itself already worse than that of Egypt (I, 37). It is because He denounced and condemned their vices (III, 1) that the Jews hated Christ. Because they were ambitious and avaricious (III, 168, 180). They tried to stone Christ (III, 7, 272) because they were filled with a diabolic spirit (III, 32, 70, 122). They had a depraved will (III, 180). Ignoring His Divinity (III, 14), they did not believe Him and killed Him (III, 37, 104, 123, 176, 267) through the suggestion of demons (II, 332), because they feared the coming of His reign (II, 361). But Christ having not only declared being God and true Son of God but having confirmed this affirmation by the evidence of His prodigious works (III, 104), the ignorance of His Divinity on the part of the Jews was not sheer negation but on the contrary perverse affection, that is to say that it originated in their depraved and perverse will (I, 342). And, affirms the holy Doctor, this ignorance by perverse affection, “cause of all evil,” was also the cause of ruin for the Jews and it is that which still keeps them outside the Church outside of which they cannot hope for salvation [Translated from the French].

If, therefore, as the Holy Father points out, St. Laurence of Brindisi was successful, it was in combating error and converting. We are far from the ceremonies of Assisi, Jewish-Christian "dialogue," the community of Taizé, and the exaltation of the republican triptych of universal brotherhood - "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" - so dear to all globalists.

And yet, addressing the "Court of the Gentiles" in Paris last March, a venture that officially eschews evangelisation in favour of "exchanges and dialogue between believers and non-believers," Pope Benedict greeted the Taizé community and plugged World Youth Day in the Enlightenment language he prefers: "If we are to build a world of liberty, equality and fraternity...." etc. ad nauseam.

The contrast with the Catholic lexicon employed with such zeal by St Laurence to instruct and convert non-believers is stark — and disturbing.



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