I'm not a neutral arbiter -- on the dust jacket of the book I call it one of the most important books ever written on modern Catholicism -- but it was good to see Peter Gordon's interesting review of John Connelly's
From Enemy to Brother
(Harvard, 2012) in The New Republic. Connelly's achievements are many: reminding us of how near a thing Nostra Aetate actually was, and how deeply anti-Semitism shaped Catholic thought at all levels of the Church, especially in central Europe during mid-20th century; quietly reorienting the tedious debate about the virtues or lack thereof of Pope Pius XII during the Holocaust; gracefully dismantling any notion that "Jewish pressure" led to the document and offering a sobering portrait of how even major Catholic theologians (Hans Urs von Balthasar, Karl Adam) did not escape the racialist terminology sadly characteristic of that historical moment.But why, then, did Nostra Aetate occur? Connelly is succinct and compelling: Without converts the Catholic Church would not have found a new language to speak to the Jews after the Holocaust. That is, only converts from Judaism (and to a lesser extent Protestantism) allowed the Church to reach beyond its own tightly patrolled borders and walls.