Historian, Teacher, Writer

The Jewish Question in French Catholic Theology, 1944-1965

In 1965, the Second Vatican Council’s “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions” (Nostra Aetate) marked a turning point for Catholic attitudes toward the Jews. Article 4 of the declaration revised centuries of Church teaching by officially denying both Jewish guilt for the killing of Christ and Christians’ belief that God had cursed the Jews as punishment for deicide. The Church also affirmed the “spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews” and a desire to improve its fraternal bond with the State of Israel through collaborative study and improved dialogue.1 Surely the propagation of Nostra Aetate represented a watershed moment in Catholic-Jewish relations. But just as sure, this revolution in Catholic attitudes did not occur spontaneously.

The French Jewish historian Jules Isaac played the crucial role of catalyst for the postwar reappraisals of anti-Judaism in Christian doctrine that led to Nostra Aetate. During and immediately following the Second World War, a spirit of friendship developed between Christians and Jews that opened up new possibilities for interfaith dialogue. The International Emergency Conference on Antisemitism in 1947 at Seelisberg, Switzerland, brought together unofficial experts from the Catholic Church, Protestant churches, and Jewish communities to discuss the relationship between antisemitism and traditional Christian teachings on the Jews. At the conference, Jules Isaac circulated his book manuscript Jésus et Israël, which through acute biblical exegesis connected all modern forms of antisemitism to the historic anti-Judaism of the Church. Largely in response to the eighteen points around which Isaac had organized the book, the Christian participants of the conference issued their famous “Ten Points” statement.2 The statement adjured Christians to remember that Jesus and his first disciples were Jewish and that Christ’s command to love one’s neighbor applied to all peoples, including Jews. Christians should therefore avoid speaking of Jews collectively as “enemies of Christ,” killers of Christ, or accursed by God as punishment for deicide.3

Isaac claimed to have exerted a profound influence on French Catholic thought.4 He helped found a network, Amitié judéo-chrétienne, which established chapters in cities all over France in response to his call to work through the problem of Christian antisemitism “on the ground.” Later, he would petition Pope John XXIII to end the Church’s “teaching of contempt” toward Israel. When the Second Vatican Council opened in 1962, he attended as an expert on Jewish affairs. And in 1965, Nostra Aetate realized a large part of his program. The historian Pierre Pierrard summarizes this particular origins narrative:

It was immediately after the Shoah when the tall silhouette of historian Jules Isaac emerged. . . . [With] his book Jésus et Israël (1946-1948), he obliged his contemporaries to face the issue of the Christian origins of antisemitism; in inspiring the Ten Points of Seelisberg (1947) and in founding the Amitié judéo-chrétienne (1948), he put down the markers for a path that would lead to the Second Vatican Council, whose deliberations would give birth to the declaration Nostra Aetate (1965), a document without precedent [and] a foundational text that would completely change . . . the relations between Jews and Christians.5

But how could a Jewish writer have had such a decisive impact on Catholic thought? While Pierrard provides a good account of Isaac’s interactions with Catholic intellectuals in France, he falsely projects Isaac’s own critical perspective onto French Catholics who happened to have agreed with him. On the other hand, Pierrard portrays Isaac’s Catholic opponents as stubborn obstacles to reform who refused to accept his message. French Catholics certainly engaged energetically with Isaac’s theses, both for and against, but in many respects he remained an outsider to them. The theological debates and sociopolitical circumstances in postwar France affected Catholics differently than their Jewish interlocutors. Why then did French Catholic intellectuals care about improving Christian-Jewish relations?

Seemingly the most obvious reason for the elevation of the Jewish question in Catholic discourse was the horrible fact of the Shoah. Guy Jucquois and Pierre Sauvage argue that the “discovery of the Shoah, the ultimate manifestation of racial antisemitism, initiated an important change in the attitude of Catholics with regard to the Jews. They came to be confronted by the history of their relations with the Jews, and more particularly by their conduct during the war.”6 Jucquois and Sauvage reconstruct a long process of “recognition and remembrance” by French Catholics of their culpability in the antisemitic crimes of the Second World War. Beginning with the first news of the Holocaust in 1945 and ending with the French bishops’ “Declaration of Repentance” in 1997, they argue, the Church of France steadily succumbed to its guilt and finally decided to offer an apology to the Jews fifty years after the fact. But their account misses two things about the clergy’s postwar mentality: first, French society did not talk about its complicity in the Nazi crimes until much later (1970s and 80s); and second, many Catholics remembered positive interactions with Jews during the war, be it fighting side by side with them in the Resistance or protecting Jewish orphans from capture by the Gestapo.7 Catholics frequently identified Nazi persecution of Jews with Nazi persecution of Christians, thus inserting themselves and their Jewish comrades into a common narrative of religious martyrdom. Sometimes this meant “lowering” themselves to the level of Jews, but just as often it meant the “elevation” of Jews to their level. Testimonies from Catholics and Jews alike tell similar tales of mutual respect and sympathy together in the face of Nazi evil.8 The standard Christian interpretation considered Nazism a “pagan religion” to which Germans had converted: German Nazis were therefore not Christians.9 To repeat the commonplace assumption that the shock of the Shoah changed French Catholic attitudes toward the Jews immediately after the war overestimates both public awareness of the Holocaust and Catholics’ feeling of guilt.10 For the majority of French after the war, antisemitism referred to Nazi brutality, and only a small, detested minority of traitors was guilty of collaboration.

France after the Liberation was a fragmented land. Triumphant résistants scoured the country for suspected Nazi collaborators and waves of displaced persons returned to shattered and often dispossessed homes. As the provisional government under General de Gaulle worked to restore political and economic order, the moral and psychological wounds suffered under Occupied and Vichy France still festered. Most French men and women desired a return to normalcy, a return to before the war, before the German invasion, and before the deportations. De Gaulle encouraged this desire by denying the legitimacy of the Vichy French State and declaring null and void all legislation passed since 1940. As historian Robert O. Paxton observes, “[o]fficially, the Vichy regime and all its works were simply expunged from history when France was liberated.”11 For reasons beyond national pride or political expediency, France longed to forget its immediate past. Even the survivors of concentration camps who began to return in the spring of 1945 preferred silence to the painful task of recounting their horrible experiences.12 And the dead too remained silent.

Among the Vichy laws repealed by the provisional government’s ordinance of August 4, 1944, were all acts “that establish or apply any discrimination whatsoever founded on the quality of being Jewish.”13 Open antisemitism, soon identified entirely with Nazi crimes against humanity, became taboo. Quite simply, in France after the Liberation “it was forbidden to be an antisemite.”14 The return to Republican legality, however, did not simply turn off antisemitism in a population whose majority had tolerated fascist rule for four years and had listened often enthusiastically to Vichy’s antisemitic propaganda. After all, the volatile Dreyfus Affair had occurred within living memory for many adults.15 The gruesome revelations about the Shoah therefore had relatively little impact on a French society for which the immediate past caused discomfort, antisemitism hid beneath the surface, and the worst crimes against Jews seemed to have happened “over there” in Germany and Poland.

Although the Shoah would eventually occupy an important place in French public discourse, more pressing social and political developments persuaded Catholics to alter their attitudes toward the Jews. In the two decades preceding the Second Vatican Council, French Catholic intellectuals grappled with the theological problems of deicide (Jewish responsibility for Christ’s death) and supersession (the substitution of the new covenant of Christ for the old covenant of Abraham). And at a very important moment in the early 1950s, the Christian-Jewish discourse changed primarily from a theological dispute into a rhetorical negotiation. The so-called Finaly Affair, which involved the unwarranted baptism of two Jewish refugee children whose parents had died at Auschwitz, exposed the inadequacy of the “good relations” model pioneered by the Seelisberg Conference and the Amitié judéo-chrétienne. French Catholics continued to promote dialogue with Jews as before, but now they had to refine their language to meet new social and political demands: what they could and could not say about the Jews became more important than the theological justifications for saying it.

The most obvious case for a study of French Catholic intellectuals’ reappraisal of antisemitism would be Jacques Maritain.16 But two very different theologians, Jean Daniélou and Paul Démann, produced a rich body of literature from the late 1940s into the early 1960s that serves as a representative, although by no means comprehensive, survey of the ways in which Catholic intellectuals approached the question of Christian antisemitism. From their subtle and often conflicting arguments, two main concepts arose: “return to the sources” [ressourcement] and “coming together” [rapprochement]. By the late 1950s, the rhetorical device of “mystery” joined these two concepts as a means to defuse the Jewish question for good.


The Finaly Affair

Jules Isaac’s mission to improve Christian-Jewish dialogue through the Amitié judéo-chrétienne (AJC) largely did not succeed, despite the support of prominent Catholic figures like Maritain and Charles Journet. As Pierre Pierrard notes, the branches of the AJC in Paris, Lyon, Lille, Aachen, and elsewhere comprised isolated cells of militant activists who never gained any widespread support. The public tended to group them together with “associations in the service of human rights” rather than appreciate their particular interfaith program.17 Isaac himself even admitted failure in 1961.18 If the AJC tried, as Jacques Madaule later claimed, “not to fight directly against antisemitism — other organizations manage that — but to allow Christians and Jews to know each other better, to show [each other] their common spiritual patrimony, and to uncover their respective values,” then this ideal of “improving relations” through mutual cultural exposure quickly became obsolete by the early 1950s.19 A series of events changed the social and political terrain on which efforts toward interfaith reconciliation took place. In 1953, the scandal provoked by the so-called Finaly Affair threw French Catholics onto the public defensive and transformed the theological stakes of “coming together” into political ones.

Shortly after Hitler’s annexation of Austria in 1938, the Jewish doctor Fritz Finaly and his wife Annie fled the country to Grenoble, where over the next couple of years Annie gave birth to two children. When the Finalys learned that they would be deported in 1944, they handed over their children to the St. Vincent de Paul nursery for safety. From there, the children passed through several hands and eventually into the custody of Antoinette Brun, director of the Grenoble municipal day care center. The children’s parents died at Auschwitz, but soon after the war Fritz Finaly’s sisters attempted to reclaim the two children from foster care. They soon learned that Brun had had the children baptized and now refused to return them to their Jewish relatives. A long court battle ensued until January 1953 when a Grenoble tribunal ordered the restitution of the children to their aunts’ custody. Brun fled with the children and sought asylum in Spain. Five months later, a heroine of the Resistance and savior of many Jews, Germaine Ribière, traveled to Spain to retrieve the children at the behest of Cardinal Pierre-Marie Gerlier. After the children returned to their aunts’ custody, the Finaly Affair came to an end.20

Ample news coverage of the affair turned it into a true scandale. French Jews expressed their outrage at the children’s unwarranted baptism and at the Church’s hesitation to facilitate their return to their Jewish relatives. All of the goodwill between Catholics and Jews that had been generated by shared experiences during the war fell into doubt. This profound test of Christian-Jewish friendship provoked reactions on all fronts. Pierre Pierrard describes the affair as having “manifested at once the uncertain character of a veritable dialogue between Jews and Christians in the 1950s and the imperative necessity of this dialogue.”21 The Finaly boysCritics of the Church compared it to the infamous Mortara Affair of the mid-nineteenth century, which involved the abduction and unwarranted baptism of an Italian Jewish child by papal authorities and generated a great deal of anticlerical sentiment across Europe.22 The Catholic theologian Paul Démann was among the first Catholics to come out in favor of the Finalys. On February 7, 1953, he submitted a letter to Le Monde demanding that the secular and ecclesiastical authorities return the children to their proper family.23 Articles on the subject appeared subsequently in the Catholic journals Études, La Documentation Catholique, Cahiers sioniens, and elsewhere.24 Catholic intellectuals tried to distance themselves from the ill-advised behavior of a few individuals in the Grenoble day care system. Action by Cardinal Gerlier and others on behalf of the Finalys ultimately saved the incident from becoming another Mortara Affair, but Catholics now found themselves publically on the defensive.

Although tension had increased, the event did refocus attention on Christian-Jewish dialogue. The director of the Lille AJC and his wife recalled that “at the time of the unfortunate Finaly Affair, which hurt so cruelly first our Jewish brothers and then Christians, we tried to say everything; [but] no bittersweet words could damage our spirit of fraternity. Proof that between persons of good will the perfect entente is always possible.”25 By the early 1950s, many Catholic intellectuals in France had acknowledged that the best remedy for the “deformations” of Christian teaching toward the Jews lay “not in some sort of sweetening [édulcoration] . . . but in an effort toward biblical and theological deepening [approfondissement].”26 Events like the Finaly Affair illustrate why French Catholic-Jewish dialogue shifted gears from idealistic proclamations of universal brotherhood into more serious examinations of religious and cultural prejudices. And behind the theological “deepening” of the 1950s and early 60s always stood the reality of Catholics and Jews living together in French society. This reality became all the more visible after 1956 when 235,000 North African Jews immigrated to France in the wake of decolonization and Arab nationalist victories.27 Catholic intellectuals certainly wanted to combat antisemitism — even within traditional Church teachings — but crafting the right public image through language quickly took priority over settling the difficult theological problems of the Jewish question.


Jean Daniélou, the Moderate

The career of theologian Jean Daniélou reflects this shift in priorities, but it also demonstrates the profound devotion of a Catholic intellectual to understanding the role of Christianity in the modern world. Born in 1905, Daniélou completed studies in philosophy at the Sorbonne in 1927 and entered the Society of Jesus in 1929. Nine years later he was ordained priest, and in 1942, under the German occupation, he earned his doctorate in theology. Quickly recognized as a gifted scholar, Daniélou joined the editorial board of the journal Études in 1944 and inherited the chair in history of ancient Christianity at the Catholic University of Paris that same year. In addition to his intellectual activity, he served as chaplain for the newly formed order Cercle Saint-Jean-Baptiste. The Cercle had been the brainchild of Mère Marie de l’Assomption and had originally taken its spiritual guidance from Jules Lebreton.28 With the accession of Daniélou, the Cercle entered a period of growth and expanding influence.29 It sought “to develop the missionary spirit, that is . . . the Christian spirit in its plentitude.” Daniélou explained in the first issue of the Cercle’s monthly bulletin that

the Christian spirit is to want the Kingdom of God to embrace all the nations, “omnes gentes,” according to the word of Our Lord. For that, it is necessary, on the one hand, to penetrate more into the mystery of the divine plan through study and contemplation, [and] to know the laws according to which the propagation of the Gospel operates. . . . It is also necessary to inform ourselves about civilizations that are still strangers to Christ in order to see what Christ will accept in them and what stands in the way of their conversion.30

Internal contemplation coupled with external mission — “from one extremity to the other,” as Daniélou put it — served as the Cercle’s model.31 No longer able to rely on the old missionary tactics of organizations like the Oeuvre de la propagation de la foi, the Cercle sought a more organic approach to the evangelization of the world that would build on existing cultures instead of trying to coerce them. Cercle member Charles Couturier referred to non-Christian religions and cultures as “cornerstones” [pierres d’attente] rather than “stumbling stones” [pierres d’acchoppement] — that is, as objects of potential connection to Christianity rather than obstacles.32 This approach largely determined the Cercle’s stance toward the Jews.

One of Daniélou’s first books, Le mystère du salut des nations (1946), affirmed that “the Jewish problem is essentially a theological problem,” not a social or biological one.33 The Jewish people do not constitute a “biologically inferior race,” he argued, but they are “a race marked by a theologically mysterious curse [malédiction].”34 Jean DaniélouThe curse on the race as a whole did not mean for Daniélou that individual Jews could not be saved. It did mean that the eschatological reintegration of Israel into the Church could not occur through an accumulation of individual conversions, but only through the collective conversion of Israel as a whole. In contrast to his missionary attitude toward the Gentiles, Daniélou treated the Jewish people as a corporate body whose salvation depended on the grace of God and the mystery of the divine plan. Christians, he thought, therefore do not have a “mission” to the Jews.35

Daniélou’s primary biblical source on the Jewish question was Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. Paul had written that as a result of the Jews’ “transgression” of rejecting Christ as their savior, “salvation has come to the Gentiles” (Rom 11:11).36 In Daniélou’s interpretation, Jews therefore played a crucial role in God’s plan:

This extraordinary text [Rom 11:11-12] suggests to us that there is a certain fullness to the vocation of the Jewish people that will manifest itself only at the end of time. . . . So, there is a link between the reintegration of the Jews and the resurrection of the dead, that is, the Parousia, the end.37

He pondered how this idea might influence Christian practice “in time” — i.e. in history before the end of days — and concluded that Christians should not bother trying to reintegrate the Jews into the Church. Rather, “the salvation of Israel [is] tied to the conversion of the Gentiles.” As Paul wrote, “a hardening has come upon Israel in part, until the full number of the Gentiles comes in, and thus all Israel will be saved” (Rom 11:25-26). The conversion of the Jews themselves, argued Daniélou, rested “in suspense” until the great mass of Gentiles entered the faith. He reiterated that

it is only on the day when all people are collectively evangelized, when India is Christian, when China is Christian, when the negro world [le monde noir, i.e. Africa] is Christian, that the conversion of the Jews can occur, and once they are reintegrated, as Saint Paul says, so at that moment only can the resurrection arrive.38

Christian eschatology and philosophy of history therefore centered for him on “the evangelization of the pagans.”39 With this reading of Paul, Daniélou denied any direct Christian responsibility toward the Jews “in time.” Only indirectly through the conversion of the Gentiles would Christians ultimately save the Jews.40

Daniélou, along with most other Catholic intellectuals, came to grips in 1948 with Jules Isaac’s controversial book, Jésus et Israël. He read the work sympathetically and agreed with Isaac’s basic propositions: that Christianity grew out of a Jewish context; that Jesus and his earliest disciples had all been born Jewish; that the Jewish Diaspora had started as far back as the sixth century BCE and consequently not all Jews were in Palestine at the time of Christ; and therefore that all Jews could not be responsible for the crime of deicide. He criticized, however, Isaac’s historical portrayal of Jesus as a preacher of Judaism.41 According to Daniélou, such an interpretation minimized the novelty of Christ’s message and the importance of the new covenant. While recognizing the holiness of the Jewish vocation, he more or less upheld the traditional supersessionist view: “the sole just position is one that recognizes that Jewish Law was revealed by God and is basically good, and at the same time it reached its term and was replaced by a better Law with Jesus Christ.”42 The idea of supersession would persist in his theology through the 1950s. He would later clarify his position in writing of the old prophets that they spoke of the new covenant not as “the destruction, but the fulfillment of the old covenant”; that is, one should speak of “enlargement” [élargissement] rather than “supersession” [substitution].43 He cited his favorite example of John the Baptist, who prepared his followers for this “mysterious growth” [croissance mystérieuse] of the kingdom of God.44 But did these theological revisions amount to anything more than rhetorical refinements?

Daniélou agreed entirely with Isaac on the fallacy of the deicide argument about Jewish responsibility for Christ’s death. He reiterated Isaac’s point that all Jews could not be responsible for the act of a select few déicides in Palestine.45 He considered the destiny of Israel “mysterious” and denied that the “spiritual condemnation” of the Jewish people signified punishment for the death of Christ. Better understanding between the two faiths would require a “double conversion”: Christians would recognize the continued validity of God’s old covenant with his chosen people so long as Jews acknowledged Christ as the Law’s “completion and surpassing [achèvement et dépassement].”46 Such a two-way deal was unlikely, and Daniélou probably knew it.

Despite his theological efforts and his genuine empathy for the piety of Jewish believers, Daniélou could never quite come to terms with the fact of Jews in the world. Nothing highlighted this problem quite so noticeably as the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. The United Nations’ vote in November 1947 to partition Palestine and Israel’s declaration of independence the following May captivated the French public.47 The Catholic journals abounded with articles on the social, economic, and political ramifications of the new state. These articles also offered tentative forays into the question of what this event could possibly mean for the destiny of the Jewish people.48 If the salvation of the Jews had to rest “in suspense,” then how did one account for the extraordinary dynamism of Jews in Palestine? Did Israel have two destinies, one secular and linked to the fate of the new state and the other spiritual and part of the mysterious economy of salvation? If so, how did these destinies relate to each other?

With these questions in mind, Daniélou’s views started to change around 1951. His attention to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and his wide reading of Christian and Jewish scholars on early Judeo-Christian communities led him to soften his supersessionist claims.49 The Early Church, he realized, syncretized Jewish beliefs and Christian revelation. He began referring to the Old Testament as “a place of reconciliation [rapprochement]” for the three members of Abraham’s family, Christians, Jews, and Muslims. Just as the Old Testament could function as a “unifying link between divided Christian confessions,” he wrote, so too could it serve as “a link between Christianity and Judaism.”50

In 1953 amid the scandal of the Finaly Affair, Daniélou published a substantial book, Essai sur le mystère de l’histoire, which revisited Paul’s Epistle to the Romans.51 In his translation of Chapter 11, Verses 11-12 — “through [Jews’] transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles . . .” — he used the French word faute [“fault”] for the Greek παράπτωμα [“transgression”] whereas earlier he had always used chute [“fall”].52 The original Greek word suggests a “false step” or “falling short of the standard of the law” and English biblical translations most commonly use the word “transgression.”53 The French word for “fall” connotes a more definitive fall, as in “the Fall of Man” [la chute de l’Homme]. “Fault,” on the other hand, suggests a more common mistake or error.54 Whether consciously or not, Daniélou chose a weaker word to refer to Israel’s transgression. Here we see further evidence of the general shift from theological argument to rhetorical refinement that characterized French Catholic thought on the Jews during and after the Finaly Affair.

Daniélou’s writings in the late 1950s turned away from issues of contemporary Christian-Jewish reconciliation and toward the study of the Early Church and its continuity with many Jewish beliefs and practices. But when the Second Vatican Council summoned him to Rome as an expert in 1962, his attention returned to the present. Although he worked primarily on the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), the deliberations on Nostra Aetate greatly interested him and his order, the Cercle Saint-Jean-Baptiste. Article 4 of Nostra Aetate declared that “all who believe in Christ — Abraham’s sons according to faith [Gal 3:7] — are included in the same Patriarch’s call, and likewise that the salvation of the Church is mysteriously foreshadowed by the chosen people’s exodus from the land of bondage.”55 Other Vatican II documents appealed to the concept of mystery as well, such as Lumen Gentium, which mentioned “the mystery of the salvation of the human race” (Ch. 8, §59). But while Nostra Aetate denied the deicide thesis by acknowledging that only a small number of Jewish leaders had demanded Christ’s execution and that therefore God had not “rejected or accursed” all of Israel, it failed to address the issue of supersession. It merely appealed to the “mysterious” designs of God’s plan and the incomprehensibility of Israel’s destiny.

The language of “mystery” echoes in Daniélou’s treatment of the problem. “The destiny of the Jewish people,” he had written already in 1946, “is the most mysterious point in the designs of God.”56 His primary biblical authority on the Jews, St. Paul, wrote in praise of God’s mysterious grace, “oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways!” (Rom 11:33). The renowned Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain had also invoked the idea of mystery in his prewar book L’impossible antisémitisme (1937):

whatever the economic, political, or cultural forms this [Jewish] problem superficially puts on, it is and remains in reality a mystery of a sacred order. . . . ¶ We say immediately that if Saint Paul is right, then what we call the Jewish Question is a problem without a solution. . . . To want to find a solution to the question of Israel is to try to stop the movement of the world.57

Looking ahead to the years that followed, that is, to the years of the “Final Solution,” one recognizes the justice of Maritain’s words. Although this mysterious dissolution of the apparently conflicting destinies of Israel and the Church did not satisfy all Catholic thinkers in France after the war, the “mystery” trope would serve as a fail-safe rhetorical device that allowed many Catholics to skirt some of the more difficult theological issues.58

Daniélou basically agreed with the substance of Nostra Aetate and its language of mystery. But his thought underwent a significant transformation during the Council. The Cercle’s chronicler Françoise Jacquin observes that “as the work of the Council progressed, Père Daniélou began to foresee in it an interpretation [that was] too loose and to detect here and there some betrayals [of true Catholicism].”59 Always on guard against excessive syncretism or hasty adaptation to the modern secular world that might dilute the unique message of Christ, Daniélou went from being a moderate reformer to a conservative guardian of the faith. His sober attitude toward the Council perhaps helped groom him into a successful candidate for cardinal in 1969.


Paul Démann, the Radical

Jean Daniélou advanced a sophisticated interpretation of Israel’s role in sacred history, but he more or less stayed within the acceptable bounds of Catholic orthodoxy. Paul Démann, on the other hand, came from a much different background and offered a more radical answer. He is a good example of what John Connelly has called the Catholic “border transgressors,” or new converts who during the interwar and postwar years pioneered a reevaluation of Catholic relations with other faiths, particularly Judaism.60 Born to assimilated Jewish parents in Hungary in 1912, Démann converted to Christianity in 1934 and joined the Congrégation des Pères de Notre-Dame de Sion three years later. Founded in 1843, the Congrégation originally had the express purpose of converting Jews to Catholicism, but in the wake of the Dreyfus Affair it tried to soften its stance. It launched the journal Cahiers sioniens in 1947 to replace the its previous publication, Question d’Israël, which some had labeled too “conversionist.”61 Démann, who became chief editor for the new journal, sought to reorient the Congregation’s program entirely from “conversion” to “coming together.” He explained this project in his 1960 book which appeared a year later in English translation under the title Judaism:

The fundamental kinship, the profound solidarity, which binds the Christian to Israel, should be enough to create these conditions of brotherly understanding. A long and unhappy history, woven of conflicts, tragedies and miseries, has worked for centuries to destroy these conditions. But now a happy evolution is tending to restore to Christians of our time that open-mindedness and that desire for a respectful and brotherly approach which — in spite of all that separates us — puts us in a better position to understand the life and tradition of Judaism.62

Rather than a “non-Christian religion” subject to missionary evangelization, Judaism constituted an element separated from the Church itself. Démann, like many French and German Catholics at the time, began to view Jews as “brothers” in the same way as they did Protestant and Orthodox Christians.63 What had been an interfaith dialogue between Christians and Jews transformed into an intrafaith one, or at least into a “special” relationship that differed fundamentally from that between, say, Christians and Hindus. Unlike Daniélou, Démann promoted Jews to the same religious family as Christians: for him, Jews were “brothers,” even elder brothers, in the faith. This fraternal approach depended on the idea of a “return to the sources” [ressourcement], which he saw as a purification of Judeo-Christian teachings through a reexamination of biblical semantics and the writings of the Church Fathers.64 Misinterpretations of single words, Démann believed, could contribute to willful misunderstandings of entire doctrines.

One word of special significance to Christian attitudes toward Jews was “curse” [malédiction]. Daniélou had attempted to blunt the sharp edges of the word, but Démann went much further in trying to expunge the dual idea of curse-punishment [malédiction-châtiment] entirely from Catholic catechism, liturgy, and theology. In 1948, after having participated in the Seelisberg Conference and read Isaac’s manuscript of Jésus et Israël, Démann published an article “Are the Jews Accursed?” in which he decried the use of “curse” to describe God’s relationship to the Jews after Christ’s execution.65 The term, he argued, carried a “nuance of enmity” that encouraged “pseudo-Christian antisemitism.”66 Although the Christian mainstream may not have subscribed to any virulent antisemitism, he continued, the propagation of the “curse” idea contributed to a latent antisemitism. The idea of a curse on the Jews, with all of its negative connotations, represented a “distortion” of true Christianity. Démann’s essentialist understanding of Christian doctrine posited some true essence of Christianity from which actual Christians in practice had departed during centuries of anti-Jewish distortions.

Drawing on Paul’s Epistles to the Romans and the Galatians, the latter of which contains the Pauline interpretation of Deuteronomy’s list of maledictions and benedictions (Dt 27-28), Démann critiqued the reductionist dichotomies that had led to the distortion of Christian doctrine. Some interpreters erroneously mapped faith versus law, for example, onto Christian versus Jew (or Gentile versus Jew). Démann demonstrated through Paul (Gal 3) that faith and law as well as maledictions and benedictions applied to all of mankind, regardless of religion or culture. In the same way, Jesus did not die only for the sins of the faithful but for those of all humanity.67 In order to explain the Jewish people’s centuries of persecution, Démann argued that while their suffering might first appear as proof of punishment or a curse, it could just as well constitute proof of God’s love.68 Before the coming of Christ, he pointed out, Jews had received an “irrevocable benediction”: no amount of suffering or “punishment” could ever erase God’s blessing.69 “[I]t is unthinkable,” Démann later wrote in his book Judaism, “that God should forsake that people . . . which, on behalf of all others, had received the promises and pledges of his love, or that he should exclude this people from his designs.”70 Fixing the distortion of Christian teaching on the subject of the Jewish “curse,” he concluded, would require a sort of “revolution”: “a call from a less perfect tradition to a more perfect tradition, a ressourcement, that is, a return to the eternal sources of the Christian spirit.”71

In 1950, Démann clarified his position on the destiny of the Jewish people and its relationship to the Christian economy of salvation. In a piece called “The Reassembly of the Dispersed According to the Bible,” he established two themes crucial for the Christian understanding of the Jewish role in history: “hope for reassembly of the dispersed” [l’espérance de rassemblement des dispersés] and the “small remnant” [les petits restes].72 Both Jews and Christians shared a hope for reassembly, a hope for making whole again what was broken. The “small remnant” referred in fact to the Church, or the part of mankind supposedly set aside by God — his elect — in order to hold “the place of the masses temporarily removed from the history of salvation.”73 This remnant “constitutes a gauge of salvation for the others” and “calls for, prefigures, and guarantees the reassembly of the dispersed masses.” Démann called the shared hope of Christians and Jews a “theologal hope” [une espérance théologale], an esoteric term that alluded to the virtues traditionally associated with salvation: hope, faith, and charity (1 Cor 13:13).74

Alongside this messianic hope for reassembly, Démann added the theme of dual witness. That same year he published an article in Cahiers sioniens which traced the origin of the terms “witnessing” [témoignage] and “witness people” [peuple témoin].75 Cahiers sioniens (Sept. 1951)He transposed the philosopher Gabriel Marcel’s definition of witnessing as “the localization of the existential” into a more explicitly religious key: witnessing was “a sign of an engaged historical existence following a mission.”76 Like Daniélou, he insisted that Jews constituted a theological-historical entity. He used the idea borrowed from Marcel to demonstrate the “universal and representative significance” of the Jewish people: one could perceive in their destiny the destiny of humanity writ large.77 Moreover, Israel’s tenacious survival through centuries of persecution proved its divine role as “the witness people.”78 Démann argued much more clearly than Daniélou for the continuity between modern Jews and the Jews of the Bible. In a substantial reinterpretation of the Gospel of John, which traditionally served as the authoritative source for Christian anti-Jewish doctrine, he insisted that John’s vision of the “metahistorical” drama of salvation opened a rupture between faithful Israel (the Church) and unfaithful Israel (the Jews): the former supposedly witnessed faith in the new covenant, while the latter witnessed refusal or disbelief.79 But for Démann, this rupture was neither normative nor irredeemable. Christianity and Judaism “are not but two complementary faces, carriers of two contrasting witnesses.”80 This two-sided, dual witness, he argued, could serve a heuristic function for all of humanity.

Strikingly, Démann’s described antisemitism, or rather anti-antisemitism, as “a mirror that makes us grasp what we are and what we value about ourselves.”81 When the Nazis persecuted the Jews of Europe, he wrote, they denied them their role as witnesses to the Incarnation of Christ: “This witness of the absolute is the profound cause of the hate sworn against the Jews by a world that itself does not want the absolute.”82 The Nazis exposed the fundamentally anti-Christian character of antisemitism. The process of confronting and working through antisemitism taught Christians that Jews were the witness to Christ’s body and Christians to his spirit, and to deny one or the other would offend both faiths.83 Through this idea of “double” or “complementary witness,” both Christians and Jews could achieve a “new deepening [approfondissement]” of their mutual understanding. Soon Démann realized, however, that mere commitment to “deepening” did not suffice to sustain positive dialogue between the two faiths.

With the Finaly Affair’s climax just over the horizon, Démann published a series of articles in 1952-53 with his friend and collaborator Renée Bloch, another ethnically Jewish “border transgressor” who had converted to Catholicism at a young age.84 One in particular, “Christian Catechism and the People of the Bible,” functioned as a sort of manifesto for the journal Cahiers sioniens.85 Here Démann and Bloch confronted the supersession problem head-on, something which Daniélou had never done. In speaking of the “passage” from Israel to the Church, they claimed, one should no longer use the old terms “surpassing” [dépassement] or “supersession” [substitution], but instead “transition,” “enlargement,” or “transformation of the people of God.”86 They emphasized the historical continuity of the old and new covenants. The Jewish people do not represent a strange or obsolete aberration in Christ’s new kingdom, but rather “a provisional part, unfortunately separated from the people of God [i.e. Christians], tied to the Church by a common spiritual lineage, and which must be reunited with the Church before God’s plan can be fully accomplished.”87 This piece, “Christian Catechism,” and its sequel, “The Liturgical Formation and Christian Attitude Toward the Jews,” included a detailed survey of everyday Catholic literature: missals, evangeliaries, breviaries, prayer books, etc.88 Line by line, the authors evaluated how these catechetical and liturgical publications dealt with Judaism. Every culprit missalette was a potential “place” of antisemitism. In general, they lamented the crude doctrinal simplifications and the distorted biblical and historical perspectives that these texts proliferated among the clergy and lay people of France. “In cutting the Christian life from its biblical root,” they wrote, “one would cut Christians off from the people of the First Covenant and one would prevent them from access to the full [i.e. undistorted] Christian knowledge of the destiny of Israel, as well as of the destiny of the Church.”89 This adjuration to trust in the original word of the Bible must have sounded oddly Protestant to most Catholic intellectuals.

Démann and Bloch noticed that this Church literature tended falsely to equate “rejection of the Jews” and “call to the Gentiles,” as if God’s favor were not broad enough to encompass both peoples simultaneously. Such an argument, they thought, added a sinister element of necessity to the traditional supersessionist view, insofar as Gentiles’ acceptance into God’s grace supposedly depended on a rejection of the Jews. Nothing in the Scriptures supported this false equation, they argued. But here Démann and Bloch suggested a novel rhetorical refinement: the supersessionist view could remain valid and draw on scriptural support if only its two elements “Jew” and “Gentile” were redefined as “law” and “faith,” both of which applied to all of humanity.90 Christ preached salvation by faith against the Pharisees, who adhered to traditional rules and laws. But Christ’s disciples too would develop their own rules and laws. In Démann and Bloch’s view, Christianity had always functioned as a synthesis of faith and law that transcended Jewish-Gentile difference, not a preference for one or the other.

In his 1953 article “Israel and the Unity of the Church,” Démann returned to the twin themes of hope for reassembly and the small remnant that he had introduced in 1950 with “The Reassembly of the Dispersed.”91 But now he placed them in the familiar context of “return to the sources” [ressourcement] and “coming together” [rapprochement]. A better historical and biblical understanding, he argued, would allow Christians to recognize that the doctrinal division between Israel and the Church had given way in modern times to an ethnic division between Jews and Gentiles.92 This modern division turned all too easily into racial antisemitism, which symbolized the Church’s “alienation” from its roots [déracinement].93 The possibility of such alienation stemmed from the fact that the universal Church as an ideal must necessarily manifest or “incarnate” itself among the particular nations of the world. Thus when Christians confused the Church’s physical and thus provisional incarnation with its true metaphysical essence, they falsely identified it with an historically contingent set of nations or cultures (e.g. Europe or the West). When the Church itself began to consider this temporal reality absolute, it would set itself in opposition to other temporal realities, such as the Jewish people. This opposition occluded the essential complementarity of Israel and the Church outside of history. Démann clarified a point on which Daniélou remained ambiguous: because of the complementarity of Christianity and Judaism, one could not speak of the relationship between them in terms of “mission.”94 Instead he preferred “coming together” [rapprochement], which bore the implication that the Church too must change in order to develop a deeper understanding of its own faith and of the destiny of the Jewish people.95 Israel was the Church’s “elder brother, separated from us” by the caprice of history, the mystery of God’s plan, and Christians’ own distortions of the authentic faith. The rupture between the two faiths occurred in secular history as the result of various social and political factors, Démann and Bloch had argued a year earlier, and therefore one should not mistake it for any essential spiritual split in the sacred history of salvation.96 Démann’s passionate attempt to separate traditional anti-Judaism from modern antisemitism unfortunately did not allow him to formulate definitive solutions to either.

Démann’s thought culminated in 1960 with the book Judaism, which introduced several important rhetorical refinements. First, Jews and Judaism should no longer fall under the category of “non-Christian beliefs,” but rather “separated brethren.”97 Second, he qualified his use of the term “Jewish people” as designating “the historic community of Judaism as a unit in the history of salvation,” a quality which the Jews also applied to themselves.98 He then proceeded to summarize his ideas of the past decade, including his rejection of supersession and the false equation of “rejection of Jews” and “acceptance of Gentiles.” The rest of the book concerned itself with an explanation of Jewish doctrine and practices of worship.

Only in 1970 did Démann’s own order, the Congrégation des Pères de Notre-Dame de Sion, fully accept his ideas. Persistent disagreements and misunderstandings with his superiors had led him to resign in 1963, at the height of the Second Vatican Council.99 Yet he would continue to view his contributions to Christian-Jewish dialogue as having directly anticipated Nostra Aetate and the official reorientation of Catholic teaching on the Jews. Upon comparing the Ten Points of Seelisberg (1947) to Article 4 of Nostra Aetate (1965), he remarked that “there is no response without interrogation, without a call, and the great importance of the Seelisberg Conference for the light of the Council is having been the concrete and moving expression of that interrogation and of that call of history.”100 Démann’s recollection, however, omitted the many garbled messages between call and response in the late 1940s and 1950s.



Démann’s conclusions seem radical when compared to Daniélou’s more measured approach. Still, what Démann wrote about the apparently contradictory positions of Jules Isaac and the Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac — Daniélou’s mentor — could just as easily have applied to him and Daniélou: “there is no irreducible contradiction between these two manners of seeing, only a question of degree, of proportion, of accent.”101 They both agreed on the importance of “return to the sources” and “coming together” as guiding themes for working through the Jewish problem. On one level these themes helped in the development of new theological understandings of the relationship between Christians and Jews; on another level, they represented ways in which French Catholics could refine their language to meet new social and political demands. Words mattered a lot, sometimes even more than the theological arguments that lay behind them.

Ironically, both theologians ended up dissenting from the final position taken by the Church in Nostra Aetate. Although Article 4 reflected some of the theological developments described above, it lacked the precise language that had become necessary in the French context.102 The Church chose to respond to the Jewish question with the ambiguous concept of “mystery” — that is, the mystery of the history of salvation and Israel’s mysterious foreshadowing of Christian redemption. This solution conveniently referred all matters pertaining to the fate of Israel to the infinite and inscrutable wisdom of God, thus excusing the Church from making any definite proclamation.

The years 1944-62 in France witnessed remarkable developments in Catholic intellectuals’ attitude toward antisemitism. The next three years of Vatican II confirmed some of those tendencies while ignoring others.103 Perhaps Jucquois and Sauvage are right to place the “Declaration of Repentance” by the French bishops in 1997 as the conclusion of the story of antisemitism and Catholic intellectuals in France.104 In any case, the social and political context of postwar France often blurred the distinction between theological debate and rhetorical refinement in the work of people like Daniélou and Démann. An appreciation of such context is crucial for beginning to understand why racial antisemitism and traditional anti-Judaism persisted in France into the late twentieth century and why the Church did not always hasten to denounce them.




  1. Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, Proclaimed by His Holiness Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965. Retrieved in August 2014 from http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html.  (back)
  2. On the conference, see Christian M. Rutishauser, “The 1947 Seelisberg Conference: The Foundation of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue,” and Victoria Barnett, “Seelisberg: An Appreciation,” Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations, 2, no. 2 (2007).  (back)
  3. The 10 Points of Seelisberg, 1947: An Address to the Churches. Retrieved in August 2014 from http://www.jcrelations.net/en/?item=983.  (back)
  4. “Catholics wrote me and are still writing me emotional letters, telling me that they have been led to revise their notions [concerning the Jews].” Qtd. in Toulat, Juifs, mes frères (Paris, 1963), p. 148. See also André Chouraqui, Le destin d’Israël: correspondances avec Jules Isaac, Jacques Ellul, Jacques Maritain et Marc Chagalle, entretiens avec Paul Claudel (Saint-Maur, 2007).  (back)
  5. Pierre Pierrard, Juifs et catholiques français: D’Édouard Drumont à Jacob Kaplan 1886-1994 [1970] (Paris, 1997), pp. iv-iv. See also André Kaspi, Jules Isaac ou La passion de la vérité (Paris, 2002).  (back)
  6. Guy Jucquois and Pierre Sauvage, L’invention de l’antisémitisme racial: L’implication des catholiques français et belge (1850-2000) (Louvain-la-Neuve, 2001), p. 381. Pierrard basically shares the same view: the Shoah was the event “that decidedly made French Catholicism break with its passive attitude [attentisme] grounded in ignorance and prejudice” toward Jewish persecution. “For a Christian, and especially for a Catholic, . . . everything should be measured according to Auschwitz, where history was ripped open and where the nature of the human and divine subjects were put into question and even denied. . . . The Christian, if he is consistent in his life of faith . . . knows that the Shoah, as well as all forms of discrimination toward and persecution of the Jews that were deployed during the course of the Second World War — including the anti-Jewish measures taken by the Vichy regime in France — took place in Christian lands and at the hands of baptized [perpetrators].” Juifs et catholiques français, pp. iv, 327-28. See also Michael Phayer, Catholic Church and the Holocaust, 1933-1965 (Bloomington, IN, 2000), which provides a similar narrative.  (back)
  7. See Henri de Lubac, Christian Resistance to Anti-Semitism: Memories from 1940-1944, trans. Elizabeth Englund (San Francisco, 1990). Lubac participated in the Lyon resistance organization Témoignage chrétien.  (back)
  8. See, for example, the collection of interviews by Jean Toulat, Juifs, mes frères (Paris, 1963).  (back)
  9. This popular interpretation has not stood up to historical scrutiny. See Kevin P. Spicer, Hitler’s Priests: Catholic Clergy and National Socialism (DeKalb, IL, 2008); Richard Steigmann-Gall, The Holy Reich: Nazi Conceptions of Christianity, 1919-1945 (Cambridge; New York, 2003); Doris L. Bergen, Twisted Cross: The German Christian Movement in the Third Reich (Chapel Hill, 1996).  (back)
  10. Doris Bensimon, Les Juifs de France et leur relations avec Israël 1945-1988 (Paris, 1989), p. 226. See also Samuel Moyn, A Holocaust Controversy: The Treblinka Affair in Postwar France (Waltham, MA; Hanover, NH, 2005).  (back)
  11. Robert O. Paxton, Vichy France: Old Guard and New Order, 1940-1944 (New York, 1972), p. 330. Paxton argues that while successive postwar governments aimed to “purge” history of the Vichy past, in reality the Pétainist bureaucracy remained intact long after the Liberation. The French translation of Paxton’s book in 1973 caused great controversy and eventually prompted a more critical appraisal of the extent to which many ordinary French had freely collaborated with the Nazis. Another book that helped change the conversation was Henry Rousso, The Vichy Syndrome: History and Memory in France since 1944 [1987], trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Cambridge, MA, 1991).  (back)
  12. See Bensimon, pp. 14-15. With some important exceptions, such as memoirs like Robert Antelme’s L’espèce humain (1947) and Elie Wiesel’s Night (French edition published in 1958) and films like Alain Resnais’ 1955 documentary Night and Fog, substantial Holocaust testimony and other media of memory did not exist in France until the 1970s and 80s. See Inga Clendinnen, Reading the Holocaust (Cambridge, 1999).  (back)
  13. Qtd. in Bensimon, p. 11.  (back)
  14. Maurice Szafran, Les juifs dans la politique française: De 1945 à nos jours (Paris, 1990), p. 16.  (back)
  15. In many ways, “the scandal of the century” had never really come to an end. See Ruth Harris, Dreyfus: Politics, Emotion, and the Scandal of the Century (New York, 2010).  (back)
  16. See Richard Francis Crane, Passion of Israel: Jacques Maritain, Catholic Conscience, and the Holocaust (Scranton, PA, 2010).  (back)
  17. Pierrard, p. 353.  (back)
  18. Ibid., p. 355.  (back)
  19. Qtd. in Toulat, Juifs, mes frères, p. 211.  (back)
  20. See Bensimon, pp. 228-29; Pierrard, pp. 334-36; Joyce Block Lazarus, In the Shadow of Vichy: The Finaly Affair (New York, 2008); Michael Robert Marrus, “The Vatican and the Custody of Jewish Child Survivors after the Holocaust,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 21, no. 3 (Winter 2007), 378-403; Catherine Poujol, Les enfants cachés: l’affaire Finaly (1945-1953) (Paris, 2006).  (back)
  21. Pierrard, p. 334.  (back)
  22. See David I. Kertzer, The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara (New York, 1997).  (back)
  23. See Jean Fuks, review of Geza Vermès, “Sur Paul Démann” [in Sens, 2 (2006)], Informa-Sion, 2, no. 12 (Mar. 2006), 6.  (back)
  24. See, for example, “L’Affaire Finaly,” La Documentation catholique, 50, no. 1155 (1953), 1089-1146; Robert Rouquette, “L’Eglise et le baptême des enfants juifs,” Études, 277 (1953), 99-110; Paul Démann, “L’Actualité: L’affaire Finaly,” Cahiers sioniens, 6, no. 1 (1953), 77-105; “L’Actualité: Epilogue de l’affaire Finaly,” Cahiers sioniens, 6, no. 2-3 (1953), 215-18.  (back)
  25. Qtd. in Toulat, Juifs, mes frères, p. 214.  (back)
  26. Paul Démann and Renée Bloch, “La catéchèse chrétienne et le peuple de la Bible,” Cahiers sioniens, Special Issue, 5, no. 3-4 (1952), 150.  (back)
  27. Esther Benbassa, Histoire des Juifs de France (Paris, 2000), pp. 279-80. For the broader context of decolonization, see Todd Shepard, The Invention of Decolonization: The Algerian War and the Remaking of France (Ithaca, NY, 2006).  (back)
  28. This was in fact Marie Le Roy Ladurie (1896-1973), aunt of the historian Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie.  (back)
  29. See Françoise Jacquin, Histoire du Cercle Saint-Jean-Baptiste (Paris, 1987).  (back)
  30. Jean Daniélou, Liminaire, Bulletin du Cercle Saint-Jean-Baptiste (Dec. 1944), 1. The figure of St. John the Baptist was central to both Daniélou and the Cercle. John was the “evangelist,” the final prophet to foretell the coming of Christ, and the symbolic representative of the people of the Old Covenant waiting in expectation of the New. According to Daniélou, John followed the example of Abraham and Moses in preparing his people for a revolutionary change, which in his case was the revelation of Christ. The specific mission of John was “to bring back the children of Israel to the Lord their God and to prepare for the Lord a people well disposed [to his message]” (cf. Lk 1:16-7). Daniélou, “La spiritualité de Jean-Baptiste, I: La vocation de Jean-Baptiste,” Bulletin Saint-Jean-Baptiste, 3, no. 17 (1962), 7-16 (14).  (back)
  31. Qtd. in Jacquin, Histoire du Cercle Saint-Jean-Baptiste, p. 199.  (back)
  32. Charles Couturier, “Religions, pierres d’attente ou d’achoppement?” Bulletin Saint-Jean-Baptiste, 4, no. 24 (1963), 5-20. The “cornerstone” image appears in Is 28:16, while “stumbling stone” appears in Paul’s allusion to Isaiah in Rom 9:33. For an account of the Oeuvre’s role in furthering French imperialist interests at the end of the nineteenth century, see J. P. Daughton, An Empire Divided: Religion, Republicanism, and the Making of French Colonialism, 1880-1914 (Oxford; New York, 2006).  (back)
  33. Jean Daniélou, Le mystère du salut des nations (Paris, 1946), p. 113.  (back)
  34. Ibid., p. 106.  (back)
  35. Daniélou’s position was certainly not new. The Huguenot Jacques Basnage de Beauval made a similar argument in his 1716 treatise, Histoire des Juifs, depuis Jésus-Christ jusqu’à présent. St. Augustine, who held a less salutary view of the Jews, thought that they should exist unconverted as a “race” of people bearing witness to the truth of Christianity: “They were dispersed all over the world . . . and thus by evidence of their own Scriptures they bear witness for us that we have not fabricated the prophecies about Christ.” City of God 18.46.  (back)
  36. All biblical passages in English come from The New American Bible unless otherwise noted.  (back)
  37. Daniélou, Le mystère du salut des nations, p. 107.  (back)
  38. Ibid., p. 108.  (back)
  39. Ibid.  (back)
  40. While Daniélou may have offered an alternative to outright conversion, he nevertheless invoked an implicit racial hierarchy in his economy of salvation: between the inferior peoples of India, China, and Africa and the superior Christians of the West, Jews existed for him as a mysterious intermediate race with which, in a sense, Christians should not interfere.  (back)
  41. Jean Daniélou, “Jésus et Israël,” Études, 258 (1948), 68-74.  (back)
  42. Daniélou, “Jésus et Israël,” p. 71.  (back)
  43. Daniélou, “La spiritualité de Jean-Baptiste, I: La vocation de Jean-Baptiste,” p. 14.  (back)
  44. Ibid. Daniélou’s language sounds oddly like a medical diagnosis.  (back)
  45. He did insist, however, that all Jews implicitly “ratified” the decision of the guilty few through their continued disbelief in Christ’s divinity and their refusal to accept him as their savior. Daniélou, “Jésus et Israël,” p. 73.  (back)
  46. Ibid., p. 71.  (back)
  47. See numerous articles in Le Monde from May 1948 alone: “La résurrection de l’état juif” (May 17); “Israël demande son admission à l’O.N.U.” (May 18); “Le gouvernement favorable à la reconnaissance de l’État d’Israël” (May 20); “L’Assemblée et l’État d’Israël” (May 21); “La première République des Israélis” (May 25), etc.  (back)
  48. See, for example, “La question d’Israël devant le monde,” La Documentation catholique, 45, no. 1025 (1948), 1183-1202; Théomir Devaux, et al., “Les idées et les faits,” Cahiers sioniens, 1, no. 4 (1948), 371-95; Michaël Francis, “Le retour d’Israël,” Cahiers sioniens, 2, no. 6 (1949), 101-11; Jacques Madaule, “Israël et le monde,” Cahiers sioniens, 3, no. 10 (1950), 81-91; Théomir Devaux, et al., “Les idées et les faits: Juifs d’Israël et juifs de la Diaspora,” Cahiers sioniens, 3, no. 10 (1950), 146-9; Renée Bloch, “Structure sociale et vie en Israël,” Bulletin du Cercle Saint-Jean-Baptiste (Dec. 1950), 9-12; Paul Démann, “Que signifie la naissance de l’État d’Israël?” Bulletin du Cercle Saint-Jean-Baptiste (Dec. 1950), 5-9.  (back)
  49. He would later publish two books of his own on these subjects: Les Manuscrits de la Mer Morte et les origines du christianisme (1957) and Théologie du judéo-christianisme (1958). In the latter, he synthesized from the Dead Sea Scrolls a distinct “Jewish Christian theology” that supposedly existed in the days of the Early Church.  (back)
  50. Jean Daniélou, “Penseurs et mystiques d’Israël,” Études, 268 (1951), 362-71.  (back)
  51. Jean Daniélou, Essai sur le mystère de l’histoire (Paris, 1953).  (back)
  52. Ibid., p. 309.  (back)
  53. Lewis and Short’s Latin Dictionary.  (back)
  54. The standard French Bible de Jérusalem, first published in 1956, also used faute here. It is possible that Daniélou saw early proofs of the Bible and followed its example.  (back)
  55. “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.” Emphasis is mine.  (back)
  56. Daniélou, Le mystère du salut des nations, 113.  (back)
  57. Jacques Maritain, L’impossible antisémitisme [1937] (Paris, 1994), pp. 69, 73-74. Maritain would return to the theme of mystery in his 1965 book, Le mystère d’Israël, et autres essais. See Richard Francis Crane, “Jacques Maritain, the Mystery of Israel, and the Holocaust,” Catholic Historical Review, 95, no. 1 (2009), 25-56. In 1933 the German theologian Erik Peterson published the book Die Kirche aus Juden und Heiden, whose French edition appeared two years later as Le Mystère des Juifs et des Gentils dans l’Église [“The Mystery of Jews and Gentiles in the Church”] with a preface by Maritain. In this book, Peterson reacted to the claims of both secular and ecclesiastical liberals to have found a definitive solution to the Jewish problem. Even as early as Léon Bloy’s Le salut par les Juifs (1892), the language of mystery functioned as a non-answer to the Jewish problem.  (back)
  58. For an alternate interpretation of mystery that underscores its theological legitimacy rather than its mere rhetorical function, see Hans Boersma, Nouvelle Théologie and Sacramental Ontology: A Return to Mystery (Oxford; New York, 2009).  (back)
  59. Jacquin, Histoire du Cercle Saint-Jean-Baptiste, pp. 147-48.  (back)
  60. John Connelly, From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933-1965 (Cambridge, MA, 2012), p. 287. See also the forum essay on this book in Catholic Historical Review, 98, no. 4 (Oct. 2012), 751-66.  (back)
  61. See Jean Fuks, review of Yves Chevalier, “Liminaire,” and Paule Marx, et al., “Paul Démann : artisan d’une nouvelle approche catholique du peuple juif dans le second après-guerre” [Sens, 2 (2006)], Informa-Sion, 2, no. 12 (Mar. 2006), 2-3.  (back)
  62. Paul Démann, Judaism, trans. P. J. Hepburne-Scott (New York, 1961), p. 12. The original French title was Les Juifs, foi et destinée.  (back)
  63. See Connelly, From Enemy to Brother, p. 219.  (back)
  64. This kind of approach dated back to the 1920s with the rise of the Nouvelle Théologie movement. Nouvelle Théologie reacted to the dominant Neo-Scholasticism of the late nineteenth century, which had relied more on medieval interpretations of the Bible than the actual biblical text itself or its earliest interpretations by the Church Fathers. See Boersma, Nouvelle Théologie and Sacramental Ontology.  (back)
  65. Paul Démann, “Les Juifs sont-ils maudits ?,” Cahiers sioniens, 1, no. 4 (1948), 277-95.  (back)
  66. Ibid., p. 278.  (back)
  67. Démann, “Les Juifs sont-ils maudits?” pp. 289-90.  (back)
  68. Ibid., p. 290.  (back)
  69. Ibid., p. 295.  (back)
  70. Démann, Judaism, p. 14.  (back)
  71. Démann, “Les Juifs sont-ils maudits?” p. 294. He cited the controversial writer Charles Péguy as his source for this particular formulation of revolution as perfection or purification.  (back)
  72. Paul Démann, “Le rassemblement des dispersés d’après la Bible,” Cahiers sioniens, 3, no. 10 (1950), 92-110. Both themes derived from Rom 9-11.  (back)
  73. Ibid., p. 94.  (back)
  74. Ibid., p. 110.  (back)
  75. Paul Démann, “Le peuple témoin,” Cahiers sioniens, 3, no. 12 (1950), 253-85. Démann had touched on these themes several months earlier in “Israël et Eglise, Essais de dialectique,” Cahiers sioniens, 3, no. 9 (1950), 1-16.  (back)
  76. Démann, “Le peuple témoin,” p. 253.  (back)
  77. Ibid., pp. 254, 259.  (back)
  78. Ibid., p. 257.  (back)
  79. Ibid., p. 261. See also Paul Démann, “Fidelité et Infidelité en Israël,” Cahiers sioniens, 2, no. 7 (1949), 197-214.  (back)
  80. Paul Démann, “Le peuple témoin,” p. 275.  (back)
  81. Ibid., p. 281.  (back)
  82. Ibid., p. 282.  (back)
  83. Ibid., p. 279.  (back)
  84. Bloch died tragically in a plane crash en route to Israel in 1955 at the age of thirty-one.  (back)
  85. Paul Démann and Renée Bloch, “La catéchèse chrétienne et le peuple de la Bible,” Cahiers sioniens, Special Issue, 5, no. 3-4 (1952).  (back)
  86. Ibid., pp. 140-41.  (back)
  87. Ibid., p. 141.  (back)
  88. Paul Démann and Renée Bloch, “Formation liturgique et attitude chrétienne envers les Juifs,” Cahiers sioniens, 6, no. 2-3 (1953), 115-78.  (back)
  89. Ibid., p. 161.  (back)
  90. Démann and Bloch, “La catéchèse chrétienne et le peuple de la Bible,” p. 148. On a historical note, Démann and Bloch pointed out that the Council of Jerusalem (ca. 50 CE) did indeed make Catholicism universal by opening membership to Gentiles but never did it renounce Judaism or Christianity’s own Jewish roots. Ibid., p. 153.  (back)
  91. Paul Démann, “Israël et l’Unité de l’Eglise,” Cahiers sioniens, 6, no. 1 (1953), 1-24. This article prompted a response by Démann’s Jewish readers. He published two letters as “Correspondance sur ‘Israël et l’unité de l’Eglise’,” Cahiers sioniens, 6, no. 2-3 (1953), 179-88.  (back)
  92. Démann, “Israël et l’Unité de l’Eglise,” p. 9.  (back)
  93. Ibid., p. 12.  (back)
  94. Ibid., p. 17.  (back)
  95. Ibid., pp. 18-19. Daniélou’s “dual conversion” idea was similar, but he had emphasized the need for Jews to change whereas Démann put the onus on the Church.  (back)
  96. Démann and Bloch, “La catéchèse chrétienne et le peuple de la Bible,” p. 153.  (back)
  97. Démann, Judaism, p. 7. He drew attention to the fact that “the question of relations between separated Christians has obvious analogies with that of relations between Christians and Jews.” Ibid., p. 26.  (back)
  98. “Israel believes itself to be a fact of theology as much as of history, since its history is itself ‘theophorous,’ bearing God within it.” Ibid., pp. 10, 59-60.  (back)
  99. Fuks, “Paul Démann,” p. 3.  (back)
  100. Qtd. in ibid., p. 5.  (back)
  101. Paul Démann, review of Henri de Lubac, “Affrontements mystiques,” Cahiers sioniens, 3, no. 10 (1950), 162-64 (163).  (back)
  102. For a slightly different interpretation of Nostra Aetate that focuses on the term “stock of Abraham,” see Connelly, From Enemy to Brother, pp. 259-61.  (back)
  103. For the debates at the Council over what to include and exclude in Nostra Aetate, see Connelly, From Enemy to Brother, p. 239, and John W. O’Malley, What Happened at Vatican II (Cambridge, MA, 2008).  (back)
  104. Jucquois and Sauvage, L’invention de l’antisémitisme racial. For an English translation of the declaration, see https://www.bc.edu/dam/files/research_sites/cjl/texts/cjrelations/resources/documents/catholic/french_repentance.htm (retrieved in August 2014).  (back)