25 March 1928 Pius XI condemns antisemitism but suppresses “Amici Israel” (Friends of Israel) #otdimjh

Amici Israel

Amici Israel

It was true that Pius XI had spoken out against anti-Semitism in 1928, but he had done so after banning a group in the Church that worked for improved relations between Catholics and Jews . (John Connelly writes (pp.96-97):

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This group, formed in 1925 by two Dutch priests and the Dutch convert Maria Francesca Van Leer, called itself “Amici Israel,” and demanded an end to affronts to Jews, such as the Good Friday prayer that called them “perfidious.” By 1928, this association counted as members several thousand priests around the globe, including nineteen cardinals. Its strength alarmed members of the Holy Office, and the recommended suppression. Pius XI followed the recommendation, but then appended a condemnation of anti-Semitism in order not to seem anti-Semitic. The public was told only that the group had “adopted a manner of acting and thinking that is contrary to the sense and spirit of the Church.”

Fr. Antonius Asseldonk

Fr. Antonius Asseldonk

The Opus Sacerdotale Amici Israel was an international Roman Catholic association founded in Rome in February 1926. Its purpose was to pray for the conversion of the Jews and to promote a favorable attitude towards them within the Roman Catholic Church. In the first year of its existence, the association was composed of 19 cardinals, 300 archbishops and about 3,000 priests. The Opus was dissolved by the Holy Office in March 1928. (From Wikipedia – taken from Menahem Macina)

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Its ideas were outlined in leaflets written in Latin and circulated among the clergy. Its first request to the Church was that the word “perfidis”, which described the Jews during the Good Friday Prayer for the Jews, be removed, since some believed the prayer could be interpreted as anti-Semitic.

Pius XI

Pope Pius XI asked the Congregation of Rites for to consider the proposed reform. Cardinal Schuster, who was among the Amici Israel, was appointed to monitor this issue; his congregation authorized the proposed reform. However, the Holy Office, under its secretary Cardinal Merry del Val, objected to the change on doctrinal grounds.

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The decree from the Holy Office which suppressed the association upheld on the one hand the traditional Catholic belief in supersessionism and the need to pray for the conversion of the Jews and, on the other hand, firmly condemned racist antisemitism. “The Catholic Church has always prayed for the Jewish people, depositories, until the coming of Jesus Christ, of the divine promise, regardless of their subsequent blindness, or rather, precisely because of it. Moved by that spirit of charity, the Apostolic See has protected this same people against unjust vexations, and just as it reproves all hatreds and animosities between people, so it especially condemns hatred against the people elected by God, a hatred that today is vulgarly called ‘anti-Semitism’.”

The leaders of the group included Maria Franzeska Van de Leer and other Jewish believers in Yeshua who would be instrumental in preparing for Nostra Aetate, some 40 years later. But it is tragic that this group, which so actively opposed the growing anti-Semitism in Europe, and had much support, was so firmly suppressed, and its aims thwarted by the church hierarchy.

Prayer: Lord, again we see the failure of those called by your name to stand up for your people Israel. Father, have mercy, and strengther your church today to stand against injustice, oppression and persecution, especially when done supposedly in your name. Amen.

Much material here for further study:

Elias H. Füllenbach: Päpstliches Aufhebungsdekret der „Amici Israel“ (25. März 1928), in: Handbuch des Antisemitismus. Judenfeindschaft in Geschichte und Gegenwart, vol. 6: Publikationen, ed. by Wolfgang Benz, Berlin / Boston 2013, p. 525-527.







Antisemitism, Christian Ambivalence, and the Holocaust edited by Kevin P. Spicer





«La nature et la fin de l’association appelée “Amis d’Israël” ayant été soumises au jugement de la Congrégation du Saint-Office, ainsi qu’un opuscule ayant pour titre Pax super Israel, édité à cet effet [idcirco][2] par les dirigeants et répandu abondamment pour mieux en faire comprendre les caractéristiques et la méthode, les Éminentissimes Pères préposés à la garde de la foi et des mœurs ont d’abord reconnu le côté louable de cette association, qui est d’exhorter les fidèles à prier Dieu et à travailler pour la conversion des Israélites au règne du Christ. Il n’est pas étonnant qu’à ses débuts, cette association n’ayant en vue que cette fin unique, non seulement beaucoup de fidèles et de prêtres, mais encore bon nombre d’évêques, y aient adhéré. L’Église catholique, en effet, a toujours eu coutume de prier pour le peuple juif, qui fut le dépositaire des promesses divines jusqu’à Jésus-Christ, malgré l’aveuglement continuel de ce peuple, bien plus, à cause même de cet aveuglement. Avec quelle charité le Siège apostolique n’a-t-il pas protégé le même peuple contre les vexations injustes ! Parce qu’il réprouve toutes les haines et les animosités entre les peuples, il condamne au plus haut point la haine contre le peuple autrefois choisi par Dieu, cette haine qu’aujourd’hui on a coutume de désigner sous le nom d’“antisémitisme”. Toutefois, remarquant et considérant que cette association des “Amis d’Israël” a adopté ensuite une manière d’agir et de penser contraire au sens et à l’esprit de l’Église, à la pensée des Saints Pères et à la liturgie, les Éminentissimes Pères, après avoir recueilli les votes des Consulteurs de l’Assemblée plénière du 21 mars 1928, ont décrété que l’association des “Amis d’Israël” devait être supprimée. Ils l’ont déclarée abolie effectivement, et ont prescrit que nul, à l’avenir, ne se permette d’écrire ou d’éditer des livres ou des opuscules de nature à favoriser de quelque façon que ce soit pareilles initiatives erronées. Le jeudi suivant, 22 du même mois et de la même année, en l’audience accordée à l’Assesseur du Saint-Office, le Très Saint-Père Pie XI, pape par la divine Providence, a approuvé la décision des Éminentissimes Pères et en a ordonné la publication. Donné à Rome, au Palais du Saint-Office, le 25 mars 1928.»

english translation via google translate


“The nature and purpose of the association called” Friends of Israel “was submitted to the judgment of the Congregation of the Holy Office, and a booklet entitled Pax super Israel , edited for this purpose [ idcirco ]  by management and spread extensively to better understanding of the characteristics and method, attendants Eminent Fathers to guard the faith and morals were first recognized the commendable side of this association, which is to urge faithful to pray and work for the conversion of Jews to the reign of Christ. It is not surprising that at the beginning, this association having in mind that this single purpose, not only many faithful and priests, but many bishops, have acceded. The Catholic Church, in fact, has always been used to pray for the Jewish people, which was the custodian of the divine promises up to Jesus Christ, despite the continual blindness of that people, even more, because even this blindness. With what charity the Apostolic See has he not protected the same people against unjust vexations!Because it rejects all hatred and animosities between peoples, condemning the utmost hatred against the people formerly chosen by God, this hatred that today we usually refer to as an “anti-Semitism “. However, noticing and considering that this association “Friends of Israel” then adopted a way of acting and thinking contrary to the meaning and spirit of the Church, at the thought of the Holy Fathers and the liturgy, the Eminent Fathers, having received the votes of Consultors of the Plenary Meeting of 21 March 1928, decreed that the association of the “Friends of Israel” should be deleted. They declared effectively abolished, and prescribed that no one in the future, will allow to write or edit books or pamphlets to promote nature in any way similar erroneous initiatives. The following Thursday, 22nd of the same month of the same year, in the audience granted to the Assessor of the Holy Office, the Holy Father Pius XI Pope by Divine Providence, approved the decision of the Fathers and Eminent ordered its publication. Given in Rome, at the Palace of the Holy Office, 25 March 1928. ”

This text contains some significant expressions, which seem likely to better illuminate the deeper motives of the decree. I quote below, the top five, making them follow a brief commentary  [3] .

  1. A booklet entitledPax super Israel , published for the purpose by the officers and poured plenty to better understanding of the characteristics and method [was also submitted to the judgment of the Congregation of the Holy Office].

This attests, if any were needed, that the Association and its officers were conducting intensive dissemination of documents outlining their minds and methods of apostolate.The Holy Office implicitly confirms what I have said above, namely, that since the beginning of the company, the higher Church authorities were well aware of this “doctrine” in which the posterior Censors believe they see the reason for his conviction. Only unknown: there is nothing to identify the nature and date of the booklet Pax super Israel , to which reference is made, nor its content. If, as I believe, it is all or part of the brochure bears the date of 1925, and while it is true that part of the material in it in 1927 [4] , how allegedly erroneous points of his doctrine would they have so long escaped the vigilance of prelates members of the Association, and more so to the malevolence of the enemies of the latter? I will return to this issue in point 4 below.

  1. Eminent Fathers attendants to guard the faith and moralswere first recognized the commendable side of this association,which is to exhort the faithful to pray and work for the conversion of Jews to the reign of Christ .

Point 2, if indirectly confirms that the designs that were the basis of the ideal of Amici had nothing heterodox also specifies, by identifying it, which constitutes “the laudable side:” pray for and work for the conversion of the Israelites.

  1. It is not surprising thatin its beginnings , this associationhaving in mind that this single end , not only many faithful and priests, but many bishops, have acceded .

This 3 dissipates in advance any ambiguity arising from the phraseology of point 2. For the Holy Office, in fact, it is “clear” that at the origin , the Association “was for that that purpose only “. So agree to prayer and the apostolate for the conversion of the Jewish people, and rejection of any other perspective. This evocation of an alleged “state earlierorthodox ‘Association, and the reducing presentation of limitations it is supposed to have assigned itself to its spirit and its activities, allow to get rid of the considerable difficulty posed the accession of many bishops (the 19cardinals are not mentioned).

  1. This association of “Friends of Israel” adoptedthen a way of acting and thinking contrary to the meaning and spirit of the Church, at the thought of the Holy Fathers and liturgy .

4 This is crucial in that it leaves no chance for a possible defense of orthodoxy of the work. First, the thesis of the purity of the latter, originally , in the previous sentence (point 3), is supported by the adverb ” then “found in the following. According to the decree, therefore, is later than the association “has adopted a way of acting and thinkingcontrary to the meaning and spirit of the Church, at the thought of the Holy Fathers and the liturgy of the Church  ” [5] . But here a difficulty arises. To believe Fr. Levie, followed by almost all commentators, is the “brochure”, mentioned in the first sentence of the decree (see point 1 above), which “seems to have been the main cause of decree of suppression. However, as stated above, this brochure is dated 1925 and begins with the concise statement  [6] of the “detailed method of apostolate, developed by the Committee, subsequently ratified and amended by the work of the Congress”  [ 7] . So unless we assume that the officers of the Association have backdated their fraudulently booklet, it seems difficult to escape the conclusion that this presentation goes, if not 1925, at least for the first few months of 1926. And in this case, the question posed above is back with more force: how church authorities, some prelates were themselves part of Amici , could they not be aware, in the first months of operation of this work , heterodoxy or at least recklessness proposals expected to have motivated his subsequent conviction? As for the serious allegations of deviations from the doctrine of the Church Fathers and the liturgy, I will return later.

  1. That no one in the future, will allow to write or edit books or pamphlets to promote nature in any waysimilar initiatives that are incorrect .

This leaves no doubt about the final disgrace of the Association that has just abolished the decree: it is now classified as “initiatives that are incorrect” ( erroneis inceptis).

  1. Titre latin :Decretum De consociatione vulgo « Amici Israel » abolenda, texte latin du Decretum de consociatione vulgo «Amici Israel» abolenda, in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, vol. XX, 1928,  cit., p. 103-104, reproduit dans Levie, s.j., “Décret de suppression de l’Association des «Amis d’Israël»”, Nouvelle Revue Théologique, Namur, 1928, op. cit., p. 532-533. Je cite ici, en la retouchant légèrement, la traduction française qui figure dans R. Laurentin, L’Église et les Juifs à Vatican II, Casterman, Paris, 1967, Annexe 2, op. cit., p. 104-105, et que reproduit G. Passelecq et B. Suchecky, L’encyclique cachée de Pie XI. Une occasion manquée de l’Église face à l’antisémitisme, La Découverte, Paris, 1995, op. cit., p. 141-142. 

The public was told only that the group had “adopted a manner of acting and thinking that is contrary to the sense and spirit of the Church.

“Amici Israel” and the condemnation of anti-Semitism in 1928

To justify the attitude of the Catholic Church to the persecution of the Jews in the Nazi era is often cited that the Church had in 1928 clear and unambiguous condemned anti-Semitism. Besides the fact that this unique condemnation from 1928! rather an indictment for an excuse to write: In the context considered in which it originated, it says little or nothing to the “attitude of the Church” from (although their effect after certainly very welcome news is). The condemnation was in fact in a decree embedded, the priests association “Amici Israel” banned. “Amici Israel”

The priestly association “Amici Israel” (“Opus sacerdotale amicorum Israel”) in 1926 in Rome, at the initiative of the Jewish convert to Sophie (after baptism Franziska) van Leer, which the Franciscan Father Laetus kingdom of heaven and the Crusaders’ Anton van Asseldonk of the Order of St. Cross joined, was founded. The association – the soon about 3000 priests, 287 bishops and 19 cardinals, including Archbishop Michael von Faulhaber and Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val belonged – campaigned for improving relations between Catholics and Jews, but with . The aim of the conversion of the Jews * Advocates of their main concerns: the Jews will not be further accused of deicide, the blood libel and accusations of host desecration are banned from ecclesiastical thought and the liturgy of anti-Jewish passages, such as the infamous “perfidis” be in the Good Friday prayer, cleaned. In addition, they promoted, probably for theological reasons, Zionism, the Vatican faced hostile. (Franziska van Leer end of 1924 also stayed for three months in a kibbutz in Paläsina on, until, when it was found that they proselytise only because was kindly been adopted). With its irregularly appearing brochure “Pax super Israel” they sought to win supporters for their cause. On January 2, 1928, the Chairman, Father Benedict Gariador, a written petition to the Vatican filed: It was requested “perfidiam” to delete the terms “perfidis” and in the Good Friday prayer or replace them with others, as well as the formula “bow down his knees and lift you” – as in all other prayers – as well as in the re-established for the Jews. According to the Gospels, there are namely not the Jews but the Romans were, who had mocked Jesus with scornful squat; However, the custom to omit this, arose in the course of the second millennium.

‟J’ ai consacré, il y a douze ans, une première etude visant à élucider les motivations et les circonstances de l‟abolition, le 25 mars 1928, de la pieuse association de prêtres dé-nommée Opus sacerdotale Amici Israel dont les membres se vouaient à la prière pour les juifs et à l’apostolat en vue de leur conversion, et à laquelle avaient adhéré une foule de prêtres et un nombre non négligeable de membres du haut clergé. J‟estimais que n‟était

pas crédible le motif, invoqué par le décret de dissolution, selon lequel, après des début sirréprochables, les  Amici Israel  auraient « adopté ensuite une manière d‟agir et de pensercontraire au sens et à l‟esprit de l‟Église, à la pensée des Saints Pères et à la liturgie ». Enconséquence, me fondant massivement sur les écrits des contemporains et des biographes flamand s du secrétaire de l‟association, Anton van Asseldonk, procurateur à Rome del‟ordre des Croisiers , j‟avais alors supposé que c‟ étaient le zèle du religieux pour le peuplejuif, estimé démesuré par ses supérieurs, et son comportement peu conforme aux stan-dards de la vie religieuse d‟alors, qui constituaient les vrais motifs de la suppression subite et brutale de cette association, événement que rien ne laissait présager.

Causes of the abolition by the Holy Office of the “Opus Priestly Amici Israel” (1926-1928)

Menahem Macina

Contribution to Conference “Jews and Christians, between ignorance, hostility and Reconciliation (1898-1998)”, held at the Charles de Gaulle University – Lille 3, and published under the same title in the series “Research Works University “Lille 2003, p. 87-110.


February 24, 1926, was created in Rome, a pious association of priests, called Opus Priestly Amici Israel , whose members devoted themselves to prayer for the Jews and apostolate for their conversion [1] .

This initiative was not the only one of its kind [2] , and she would probably never have attracted the attention of researchers had it not been abolished, expeditiously and seemingly arbitrary, since 1928, only two years after its official founding, despite the number   and quality of its members, among which were many members of the Church hierarchy, as evidenced by the pro anno exacto operis Status  (status of the work for the past year) , published in early 1927 by implementing officials. It identifies eighteen cardinals, two archbishops and bishops and two hundred thousand priests. Among the cardinals, we see familiar names: van Rossum, Gaspari, Faulhaber, etc. The entire episcopate of the Netherlands had joined the Association, and an impressive number of bishops around the world. The patronage committee was chaired by the Benedictine Abbot Dom Benedict Goriador [3] , Bishop Vanneuville was the Vice President and the Father van Asseldonk, Attorney General, in Rome, the Crosier Order, secretary; among the members of this Committee were the Fathers Garrigou-Lagrange, a Dominican, Damien, the Crosier Order, Himmelreich, of the Franciscan order, and Dom Chuard, Canon Regular of the Immaculate Conception. At the time of dissolution (March 1928), had joined the Association: nineteen cardinals (including Merry del Val, van Rossum, Früwirth, Pompili and Perosi, members of the Holy Office), nearly three hundred bishops and about 3,000 priests. [4]

As in other similar cases whose circumstances are not yet clear – mainly because of the tight secrecy surrounding the disciplinary decisions of ecclesiastical authority, compounded by the lack of access to Vatican archives within a reasonable time – ecclesial disgrace, as sudden and unexpected, which struck the Association without the alleged grounds for deletion appear convincing, has attracted the interest of specialists and for several reasons, the main one seems to be the positive evolution the traditional attitude of the Church toward Jews since Vatican II. Among specialists, theologians and church historians, it was accompanied by an increase and deepening of the documentary investigation, if only for the purpose of examination of the previous church practice in the material. Another important factor is the increasing number of monographic studies of all kinds, devoted to subjects directly or indirectly related to the “Jewish question” and having excursus or extracts from unpublished or little known documents likely to throw light on how generally suspicious, even hostile, which, for centuries, was perceived by Christianity, Jews and their beliefs. In this respect, one can not underestimate the role that could play the rediscovery of the first official condemnation of anti-Semitism by the Magisterium, which specifically included in the expected decree canceling the associationAmici Israel (25 March 1928)  [5] .

Without minimizing the contribution of previous work, here we will try to shed a different light on this association, based on a careful review of known documents, but also largely inspired by two very long articles documented in Dutch by Crosiers Fathers A. Ramaekers (DCD) and J. Scheerder,   who had access to the personal papers of van Asseldonk and the archives of the Order, much of which has not been exploited by researchers [6] .

Before attempting to elucidate the circumstances and motivations that led the ecclesiastical authorities to end such a promising experience, it should be more about the two major personalities who have made ​​their mark as the specific mind, the specific terms of the apostolate toward the Jews, which were specific to the ideal of Amici Israel .This will be the subject of the first part of this study.

The results of this basic brief investigation that cleared the ground and allowed to do justice in passing a number of misconceptions and prejudices nature of a skew the objectivity of research or direct its results so as to justify a preliminary thesis by retracting the objective elements that could invalidate or nuance considerably, we will revisit the theories received concerning the reasons actual deleting this pious Association. This will be the subject of the second and final part of this presentation.

Finally, in a general conclusion, we will offer our own attempt at elucidation of this complex case that even today, perplexed church historians and theologians.

It would have been desirable to an overview of attitudes and religious views of the surrounding Catholic environment in general and ecclesial, in particular, to better situate and possibly perspective of events and behaviors rather embarrassing or offensive to the mentality of today. But such a development would have given to the investigation of improper dimensions which would have rendered unfit for publication. However, we will endeavor to overcome this deficiency by point evocations of historical and religious context in which the event occurred that is the subject of this study.


If the outline of the creation and official reasons for the removal of the Association Amiciare well known by cons, unable to consult the file (which is part of the Vatican archives remain inaccessible [7] ) is known of the reasons that led the ecclesiastical authorities to take the penalty, say that the comments of the time, more or less biased or misinformed. These are probably largely responsible retrospective discredited were victims Franceska Maria van Leer, Dutch Catholic converted from Judaism, zealous propagandist of the work, and to a lesser extent, Father van Asseldonk, its founder.While falling on the religious wall of silence of the silent disapproval that was customary then in circles   ecclesiastics, with regard to those who had the misfortune to incur a penalty from the Holy Office F. van Leer became the scapegoat that we undertook all the exaggerations and deviations, real or supposed, alleged the association Amici Israel . The following passages from the book of the writer Stanislas Fumet are quite representative of this mindset  [8] :

“… This Jewish converted … was given the right to speak in Holland or Germany churches to preach in his way. She had a great apostolic temperament and she had tried to communicate his enthusiasm for the cause of Judeo-Christianity […] She was sincere, dynamic, electrifying. It will galvanize several Dutch priests who ended a little unhinged .But we loved her vitality, her Jewish audacity, his trust in God. However, we did not think being accorded to such a prestigious Rome . ”

And, again, about the causes of the dissolution of the Association  [9] :

“The Friends of Israel , the association which had been founded around Franceska van Leer two Dutch priests, and to which we belong [10] , lost their credit with the Vatican in 1926. The Cardinal Van Rossum supported them his best, Pius XI had shown their sympathy […] But it is likely that skilled theologians of “fundamentalist” adventurous considered the doctrine preached with an exaltation which hardly escaped us , in us, in France, and not deprived not to peel the texts of Friends of Israel without much kindness. We do not think unless our Dutch were of mystical inflation and might go off the rails … So the Association of Friends of Israel one day less beautiful, was dissolved.It was better that way, because our two Dutch priests, nice abbot Klinkenberg and especially the excellent priest that was the P. Van Asseldonk, president of the Association [actually, he was secretary], began with too much to feeling prophets . ”

It is amazing that these two summary texts (even if they are not entirely irrelevant) could serve as a base material, or ulterior evoked – and sometimes only – to most of the work on the unfortunate history of Amici Israel .

So let the point for which is F. van Leer first, and P. Van Asseldonk then.

  1. Franceska Maria van Leer

Born in 1892, in good Dutch Jewish family Franceska is first seduced by the pacifist ideals of the revolutionary Spartacus she shares the point of participating alongside Kurt Eisen, its confrontation with power, and bind to friendship with Rosa Luxemburg.Arrested and sentenced to death, she promised herself to believe in God, if she came out alive. Released, she converted to Catholicism in 1919, in Munich, and even studied under the Dutch Franciscan theologian Laetus Himmelreich, who would later become (is this a coincidence?) One of the founding members Amici Israel [11] . We know that, eventually, she decided to devote his life to the conversion of the Jews [12] . Lack of documents, we have little understanding of what motivated his approach, especially not his brief foray in Palestine, in November 1924, where she taught catechism in a kibbutz before being forced to flee the country, three months later because of his missionary activities [13] . What is certain is that she was fascinated by Zionism, witness the vibrating section and submit it in 1925, the journal of the Benedictine monks of St. Andrew (Belgium), to plead the cause of this movement [14] , not without naivety also, as evidenced by this paean  [15]  :

“Who would dare say that Zionist groups are less literally Catholic religious community that severely observe holy poverty  ? Who is to say that it is dangerous Bolsheviks that we must counteract by all means? Who would dare to say that after the witness, even for a month of love of neighbor that exists in Jewish settlements  ? “.

This is the place to specify that F. van Leer was not alone among Catholics in a sign of Providence in the political events of the time, the most resounding of which was theBalfour Declaration (1917) by which England, which had the mandate of the League of Nations on Palestine, recognized the Jewish exiles the right to create a “Jewish homeland” in the land of their ancestors. Some Christians, as Maritain saw in the beginning of a process of national revival which could benefit Christianity to evangelize those “lost sheep”. Thus, at the end of 1925, he wrote these lines to a close collaborator of Pius XI, which he sent a report on Zionism, for the Pope  [16] :

“Israel is reborn … For us, it is crucial to whether this new ethnic formation will or will not completely closed from the beginning to the penetration of the faith of [ sic ] Christ.Finally, we can see in these events a remarkable fulfillment of prophecies that commands respect and more attention … I know the other a Catholic witness sympathy for Zionism would have a great influence on many young Jews worked by the grace of God, and who would be willing to ask for baptism if they thought denying thereby the interests of their race and nationality. »

The reaction of the pope was not encouraging, as evidenced by an extract of the reply sent to Jacques Maritain through the P. Hugon [17] , after a hearing of one hour, which shows that the Pope feared that makes use of the Catholics or the Holy See for the triumph of the Zionist cause, and that “without wearing any defense,” it was far from certain that idea. “For the moment, writes Father Hugon, it relies on your prudence, advising the reserve  . ” Maritain must understand that “a visit of Dr. Jacobson to the Vatican seems inappropriate” and that “if the Pope did not mean absolutely refuse the hearing, he prefers it is not required. »

This coincidence of the Catholic enthusiasm for Jewish conversion work and the Zionist phenomenon [18] , seems likely to throw an unexpected light on the ideological background, even mystical, ideals which were animated founders of Amici Israel . Later we will return. Still trying to better describe the positive role could play F. van Leer in the development and spread of innovative ideas of the movement of Amici , and the possible responsibility to the discredit into which he fell next.

First, it appears beyond doubt that the meeting of the Dutch Catholic of Jewish origin with P. van Asseldonk (probably in the last months of 1925, if not earlier) encouraged to found the famous Croisier the work of Amici , and his fervor for the conversion of his people met and probably that of galvanized P. van Asseldonk for the same cause.Unfortunately, the documents that were accessible we are silent on the circumstances of the meeting. They do not even allow to corroborate or refute safely, divergent claims of researchers that F. van Leer was the inspiration of the spirit of the company [19] , or the co-founder of Amici Israel  [20] , even its founder exclusive [21] . It is striking that, with few exceptions, they have focused most of their attention to F. van Leer, overshadowing, intentionally or not, the role of P. van Asseldonk. In reading some of them, one wonders if they knew that this religious croisier was secretary-founder ofAmici Israel , and in this case, if they saw him as anything but a pale ecclesiastical influenced and, anyway, handled by the zealot movement [22] , therefore promoted to the rank of “true” founder, around which revolved these clerics, which, incidentally, mediation was essential to a pious institution wishing to obtain recognition of the Church.

The explanation for this shift in perspective is probably due to the strong impression left by his contemporaries this fervent convert, and “preaching” intensive to which she indulged in favor of the new attitude that Amici advocated to the Jews, to better win them to Christ. We know, in fact, between October 1925 and February 1926, with the approval of the ecclesiastical authorities, she “gave over two hundred conferences in Flanders” [23] and that, according to biographer van Asseldonk, it recurred in late 1926, but this time the general Procure Crosier in Rome [24] .

Moreover, it is undeniable that F. van Leer was part of the “columns” of the Association.Evidenced two strong commendations contained in a founding document [25] . The first states that the Association was able to cope with the first operating expenses through lectures in Flanders by F. van Leer, which triggered with Flemish a generosity that is praised as these that the zealous [26] . The second attributes the expansion of the work in much of Western Europe at the time, to “countless lectures” by F. van Leer, and the opportunity to devote in passing almost hagiographic praise. It states, in fact, that,

“Coming of Judaism, and after many efforts to find the Truth, it succeeded in 1919 in Munich, and since for the glorification of God’s mercies which it was filled, she has gained the greatest merits in helping his people and now, spreading our work ” [27] .

To support the view, which is likely to be correct, that the zealous of the work, besides being one of the kingpins of the latter, was active in the very process of creation of the Association, we have a document that appears to prove that she was a true spokesman of the movement. This is a report sent by F. van Leer to Review Missions of St. Andrew Benedictines, Bruges [28] . In it, we read a founding text, which literally translated passages of the first existing brochure (in Latin) side with own designs F. van Leer, but there is little doubt that they were also those P. van Asseldonk, as will be shown later, the analyzes devoted to the “pro-Jewish” vocation of the latter. It seems useful useful to quote the text verbatim  [29] :

“First of all, it is to aim for the sanctification of priests who, in a growing inner life ever want closer union with Christ Jesus, son of David according to the flesh , who want to better understand its human character and Jewish power and, in this way, to penetrate the Jewish mentality . Christ, as a Jew , is too little known, too little loved, this supernatural love that Jehovah was wearing and door people of his Son . Christ is the King of the Jews. The priest is another Christ. The priest has to Christ to be another King of the Jews and fully realize the functions of the royal priesthood has abandoned him, to realize them to the benefit people born with the Savior . That’s the thought that presides over the foundation of this new work created in Rome at the beginning of this year [1926]. When a priest becomes friend of Israel is responsible to practice and propagate in an efficient manner that supernatural charity which he wishes to be entered vis-à-vis Israel, the spread in the Christian people, so that a true apostolate of prayer and love preparing and supporting the redemption of Israel by removing the age-old prejudice that Jews are victims and teaching Christians to watch the Israelite people with the same eyes of Jesus Christ . Only then will begin the great movement of the return of Israel to the Messiah; because the Jew is eager to make contact with the doctrinal truths of the Catholic Church on the day he found everywhere in the Church a deep sense of love for him . »

It seems difficult to attribute to a strictly personal initiative that communication for publication in a monastic missionary magazine. It seems, however, that F. van Leer had then acted as spokesman “authorized” the founders of the Association. Indirectly demonstrates this text, which puts the situation zealot movement “member” of the Founding Committee, or, at least, of “observer” privileged  [30] :

“As Melle van Leer, who gives us this information, asked the P. van Asseldonk if there was nothing to add, the Secretary-founder of Friends of Israel answered, “Yes, add our best wishes Burning is to make our work as soon as possible and it useless in getting the entire conversion of the Jewish people. Our work is only a means which should be repealed at the earliest, when God has finally found his people. Because it is time. ” »

Finally, according to the author of this text, though in the early days of his action, F. van Leer was able to win the esteem of the Dutch Cardinal van Rossum, the confidence of the latter ends up being shaken  [31] :

“The cardinal, like many others, was convinced by the power of persuasion Francisca van Leer about the spiritual connection between Jews and Christians and the need for recognition and compensation for damage caused to Jews over history, including the Church. She advocated the friendship between the two peoples as way back [= conversion] of Israel. But soon, doubt the Cardinal won because of the use of certain terms and exaggerations that characterized the expression and propagation of the ideal that she wished perform in collaboration with van Asseldonk. »

Conclude this brief survey of the personality of F. van Leer, by an attempt evaluation of the role that could be his, both in the creation and expansion of the work of Amici , in his fall. We believe we have established that we can not reasonably be credited with the founding role or even a co-founder of the work. Content of brochures Amici does not support this hypothesis. As to its influence, both in mind that the operation and expansion of the work, it should not be underestimated. It is difficult to distinguish what in official writings, up to intuitions of the zealot. Personally, we can not divest of the impression that the designs of F. van Leer had much to those of van Asseldonk, or were so in tune with his own, that the latter, which his religious state and tall functions in his order commanded some public reserve, used his zealous as an accredited and efficient propagandist.

Finally, we personally inclined to exempt the converted suspicion of having, by his words and his excessive zeal contributed to the further discrediting of the Association. As discussed below, when referring to P. van Asseldonk, the writings of F. van Leer, as far as we could tell, based on the documents consulted, do not allow the taxing of heterodoxy, unless reflect the “wrong note” that constitutes the following judgment, formulated by the Dominican van der Ploeg, professor at Nijmegen, who had met F. van Leer in 1947  [32] :

“What it told me at that time was not entirely acceptable [33] and made ​​me understand the intervention of the Holy Office, who watched while the purity of doctrine. ”

That said, and although in the absence of reliable documents and objectives, it is difficult to be certain, it will be necessary to consider the recurring charge against F. van Leer was the subject of the part Crosier Fathers of the time, to have exercised an influence on van Asseldonk or a fascination that ancrèrent, directly or indirectly, religious in its certainty of having to follow the call of his vocation for the Jews, even if it was be the price of a showdown with his Order [34] . We will return to this point in Part II of this study.

  1. Father Anton van Asseldonk[35]

Nothing seemed to predispose this Dutch religious, born as F. van Leer, in 1892, the passionate vocation that was his throughout his life, to understand, to understand, to love and be loved Jews. At most he interested in his youth, a few Jewish families living Uden. He told himself, in three articles autobiographical [36] , internal growth of this particular call, we will endeavor to describe in closely following sums it up Father Ramaekers.

Paradoxically, it is by focusing on Freemasonry, which he wished to counter the influence deemed harmful by him in accordance with the ideas of his time, the young van Asseldonk discovered antisemitism. He, Freiburg, knowledge of an extremely anti-Semitic priest and was horrified by his hatred of the Jews. At the same time, he immersed himself in the study of theological issues related to the Incarnation and the Redemption of Christ, in Saint Thomas. He found that was developing in him a great love for the people who had been born Mary and Jesus. The more he studied St. Paul, the more reinforced in him the need to pray for the Jews, he even wrote that it “became apostolic.” But the deep desire to be everything to them, as Christ was, back to the beginning of his stay in Rome in 1918. Perhaps it was at this time that it happened the next experiment, that can be regarded as a mystical  [37] :

“In Austria, there was prayer after communion and meditating on Jesus’ crown of thorns.Reached the words “Hi! King of the Jews” was “as if Jesus said to him,  I am King of the Jews “(as always) . He had never seen it that way. “And his love for the Lord led him to also have love for the Jews.” »

In March 1925, in the Church of Saint Laurent Panisperma in Rome, he undertakes to do everything before God and suffer for Israel [38] . It was, hitherto, an indoor experience, even intimate, and therefore without translation to the outside. Based on the documentation that was available to him during his investigation, Father Ramaekers believed that the action ad extra began with the meeting in the fall of 1925, between P. van Asseldonk and F. van Leer. Still on the document databases, the same author relates that it was in December 1925 that the P. van Asseldonk wrote to the General of his Order, Fr. Hollmann he would like to write something about Israel and give a lecture on this topic . It should be noted that at this time, van Asseldonk has for several years, Attorney Crosier in Rome. This is an important personality and well regarded in the Vatican. His function gives him the opportunity to meet the most important figures in the Curia, and sometimes the Pope himself. Father Hollmann granted the request of van Asseldonk, but it leaves him little hope on the outcome of such an initiative  [39] :

“You can put anything on Israel in L’Osservatore Romano and I want to give my blessing to the conference you will do, but I want to say this: I do not trust any Jew, even if they are converted from years . I have had negative experiences. Then I will be silent, although it is almost certain that it will make noise. »

At the same time, van Asseldonk written several articles regarding the conversion of Jews in Kruistriomf , first under the name of Romanus , and under his own name. The Dutch magazine announced, from the end of 1925,   its intention to publish the headings, columns and articles on the conversion of the Jews. She did it in those terms  [40] :

“Recently, more than before, a movement has created among Catholics for the salvation of Israel. Kruistriomf considers it his duty to take account of this new trend. To this end, one of his most loyal employees who have feelings for Jews willing to follow our lead and be featured. So we do not want to work only with the conversion of pagans and of those who think differently from us, but also the return of the “lost sheep of Israel.” »

This “faithful collaborator” was none other than P. van Asseldonk which, in previous years, sent his articles in Rome, under the pseudonym of Romanus . By 1926, this topic will appear under his own name, in the series Volk van vloek in Zegening (People’s Curse and Blessing) and Naar Israel (Toward Israel). Subsequently, several other employees will write it. The ideas expressed certainly had an influence in the same order, and well beyond. In Flanders, the De Zegepraal of Kruises (The triumphal march of the Cross)resumed van Asseldonk of the items.

In the spring of 1926, was born in Rome, the Opus Amicorum Israel , which announces its creation in its first publication ( Pax super Israel ). The priests group convened for the occasion by van Asseldonk, wants to continue the mission of Christ to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” It outlines  [41] :

“Jews scattered all over the earth, oppose so strongly the rights of Christ and his Church, that we must work for the Father, pray and worship too, can bring them to the Son, parent and King. For this, we need to be aware of their mission in history, meet with kindness and respect, because we know from our belief that they will one day return to the Lord. We now see that many convert, while others are “on the road to Damascus,” Ananias already looking after [cf. Ac 9, 10 et seq.], Ie d. the love and care of the priests of Christ. It is precisely we, the “friends of Israel” to show deference and respect to the people (Rom 10: 2;. 9: 4-5), to pray for them (10, 1), to suffer with them (9: 1-2), dedicate ourselves to God as a victim for them (9, 3) and to exercise our priesthood to them (11, 13-14). This is to promote the return of Israel that the work was founded on February 24 [1926] in Rome. »

And the same text specify:

“The priests who are true friends of Israel are committed to memory the people every day during the Mass, speaking of Israel regularly believers during sermons and courses, and for those who the ability to write from time to time about it, or at least spread written about them, they also undertake to meet the Jews to Israel has   quickly his apostles, and finally to sacrifice and devote their lives to this task. »

The secretariat of the work is set in Rome, 54 Via di Monte Tarpeo, address of the Procure Crosier [42] , which is understandable if one remembers that van Asseldonk, Secretary-founder of Amici is also Attorney General of the Order. The second publication in June 1926. It appears more clearly defines the terms Amici and Israel . It is emphasized that this is a work unselfish, and in which there is no question of seeking spiritual favors, privileges or indulgences, and even less of honorary titles. Y are expressly mentioned publications of Our Lady of Sion and others, which are the subject of a recommendation. It insists that the priests are helping and supporting existing institutes having the same vocation, especially the Fathers and the Sisters of Zion. For laymen, mention is made ​​of several brotherhoods which they may be affiliated. No contributions are required from Amici , only spontaneous donations are accepted [43] .Obviously we take care not to overshadow organizations working in the apostolate to the Jews, but to work with them.

Reference was made ​​earlier, the indefatigable zeal of F. van Leer in the service of the spread of the ideals of the work of Amici . It is now time to clarify that the fervent converted from Judaism was not the only propagandist work. Indeed, while it gave lectures in the Netherlands and Germany, Father van Asseldonk displayed an extraordinary awareness event with bishops and priests in several countries. So he went to the Netherlands, at the Milan diocese, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Poland. In many dioceses were created under his leadership, the Piae uniones with Amici Israel . On this occasion, he discovered, Poland, Hungary, and Austria, unimaginable Semitism, and even in the ranks of the clergy. This finding only strengthened his apostolic intentions.He later reported that he was sent to a dean who held such remarks about Jews, whom the Father said, “If I was in such arrangements, I would not dare go up to the altar the next day” [ 44] .

The interpersonal skills of P. van Asseldonk in spreading its ideals quickly bore fruit in his own congregation. Indeed, the Crosier Order had recommended the work of Amici its members during the General Chapter of 1926 [45] . The craze also won the Franciscan Order, under the influence of P. Himmelreich, secretary of the Superior General of the Order, and, remember, one of the founding members of Amici Israel . Present at the general chapter of the Franciscans in 1927, Fr. Himmelreich spoke of this work new in terms that had to be convincing, since all provincial of the Order, about a hundred, were affiliated to the Association.

For his part, Father van Asseldonk repeatedly insists on the need for members to take very seriously the obligations related to the ideal to which they adhered. No purely nominal affiliation but fulfilling commitments in all their rigor where personal sanctification for the “passage” of Jews to Christianity plays a decisive role. According to his temperament to the limit of excessive, and his piety tinged with mysticism and asceticism, P. van Asseldonk himself gave the example of extreme loyalty to its commitments. He soon distinguished by the sobriety and simplicity of the heroic life, but also by the confession he made ​​to the Superior General of the Order, Fr. Hollmann of the special appeal he strongly felt in his heart, going to work in Palestine .

It is time now to speak briefly to the difficulties occasioned P. van Asseldonk, by the end of 1926, his dedication, more and more pervasive, the cause of Amici Israel . Father Scheerder provides this helpful information. He recalls that then, at the request of his superiors, van Asseldonk was supposed to acquire a doctorate in Sacred Scripture at the Biblical Institute in Rome, perspective – should he insist? – Hardly smiled the zealous work’s creator for the “return” of the Jews [46] . As highlighted as Ramaekers that Scheerder Procure Crosier, in Rome, which always received a very hospitable manner, especially the Dutch, began to feel the effects of the propensity of the Prosecutor to win and impose on those who adhered to his ideal, a very ascetic lifestyle and supererogatory practices of mortification. Such an attitude, inspired by the “charisma” of the founder, faced the brunt of the rather peaceful and quite provincial lifestyle that prevailed in Crosier. To add to the annoyance that was beginning to win those who did not share the zeal of P. van Asseldonk for the sanctification of life for the conversion of the Jews, Franceska van Leer, his close collaborator (some probably thought ” his muse “) was often present. Therefore, once friends no longer came to the Procure. Faced with this harmful situation, the P. Hollmann wrote to P. van Asseldonk asking him “to return to his old friends.” But van Asseldonk, this amounted to “go back to my old imperfections.” So he thought that his superior was outside its remit. He wrote about it with great freedom and frankness, as he had done many times before for other cases. At the same time, he asked advice from   his confessor and Cardinal van Rossum, protector of the Order. Their response was along the same lines: the Superior General could, of course, make demands related to the function of the Attorney P. van Asseldonk, but apart from that, it was exceeding its prerogatives. With this support, the religious zealous strongly urges his superior that he does not undermine ascetic practices he recommends to his colleagues in Rome, in the area of tobacco abstention and beverages[47] :

“Let the freedom of conscience and does not force anyone to …   overlook mortifications he has had to win after careful consideration and under the influence of grace … Let me in my work among Jews and am mindful that some are willing to engage in an apostolate among the Jews. ”

Van Asseldonk is willing to do whatever is asked of him as a prosecutor, and even “to go with love to meet the requirements of hospitality and conversation, and take into account the interests of the Order and Provides “. But who was served with no explicit prohibition, he continues to work tirelessly in the sense of his vocation for the Jewish people. In addition, despite the development of Amici , fears he feels facing the threatening anti-Semitism, continue to preoccupy him. He feels the need to increasingly urgent to fight against it, by prayer, by the behavior and the apostolate. This concern is reflected in the publication of Amici  : Pax super Israel. Next to a recommendation of the work of Our Lady of Sion, face an incentive to reflect on the Jews and the “perceive intuitively, not From the press or profane literature, but from the Book par excellence, Sacred Scripture, in which the Holy Spirit makes us know “. This modest booklet includes a short section entitled Antisemitica , which ends with two striking examples. First, that of the wife of Ludendorff, who recently blamed Jews, Jesuits and Freemasons responsibility of the previous World War (1914-1918). Then that of Hitler and his followers in Germany, where Christians and even Catholics profaned and ransacked Jewish cemeteries  [48] .

It’s probably in the summer of 1927, the P. van Asseldonk made ​​a first trip to the Holy Land, which delighted him. All he saw and pondered, and his contact with the people, strengthened its growing motivation to work among them. The expression of his feelings, as it can be read in a letter he then addressed his family may seem excessive, but Ramaekers, which evokes the words, is convinced that religious thought what he wrote .The biographer of Asseldonk certainly has reason to believe that expressions like the following to a better understanding of the author and his subsequent attitude [49] :

“I went to some places of NAZARETH, where the announcement of the Incarnation of Jesus was to Mary; I also visited BETHLEHEM and the Sea of ​​Galilee. For the rest, I lived there, among the people of the blood of Jesus, among the JEWS. And God wonderfully blessed my priestly visit! My heart is constantly facing this country that I have visited, and alas! I had to leave, I’m so unbreakable connected to Jerusalem; indissoluble is love that binds me to have so many Jewish souls, by the Grace of God, listened to my word and want to see me again! Pray you, too, for the Hi back quickly within Israel. I can not tell you what it’s like to come to these places where Jesus lived, suffered, preached, and especially where it died, was buried and rose again the third day, I can only say that it is almost a miracle I do not trépassai of that … And what will it be to see Him HIMSELF! ? »

A final number Pax super Israel appeared in January 1928 marked a special day of prayer It includes pro Reditu Israel (for the return of Israel), which took place during the international prayer week. In the church S. Paulus ad Regulam , began a forty-hour prayer vigil. The Central Committee of Amici asked each member to do half an hour of worship in this church that day [50] :

“So all day, priests … all parts of the world prayed that the king of Israel calls His people to Him. Even the Sisters of Zion and the Confraternity of Prayer have joined this adoration for the return of Israel. »

At that time, the Holy Office was already involved certainly the conviction of Amici Israel, who intervened quickly, March 25, 1928 [51] . Father Ramaekers has done this event, picked up a story and dramatic  [52] :

“A few weeks before the publication of the decree of the Holy Office, the removal ofAmici by it was announced in van Asseldonk and total submission was asked, “blind” without stating the reasons for that decision. Dominican Father, who is always present in the hall of the Holy Office, expressed regret for the way that required it to follow. The van Asseldonk response was that he regarded it as a cross and he found solace in the words of Christ: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies …”. When Cardinal Merry del Val [prefect of the Holy Office] came in, van Asseldonk knelt down and offered his unconditional submission without asking the reasons for the removal. He asked only whether he should resign Attorney function of the Order. The cardinal said that this case had nothing to do with him and he was well regarded in Rome, so that its function prosecutor was not questioned. Yet he will relate, I was speechless when, once the decree appeared, I read the reasons. One of the members of the Committee (which he does not mention the name) came crying home. Both were then offered it to God. At that time, he realized, as he himself wrote that the Church would be overwhelmed by anti-Semitism. »

As is often the case, following this kind of conviction, many were old relationship broke contact with “wicked” and all the resentment fell to the Secretary and Secretariat Crosier. It is unclear whether the president and other members of the Central Committee were affected. Van Asseldonk, meanwhile, suffered terribly at the time and also afterwards. He was a man of great sensitivity, on the edge of sentimentality. This condemnation weighed on him for years as an outrage. The review of the correspondence with General Hollmann, mentioned above, can detect the P. van Asseldonk did not support the general answer him with some harsh, and that differences of opinion between him and intervened its top seemed to him likely to jeopardize their friendship.

Moreover, it is certain that the conviction of its initiative for Jews earned van Asseldonk lasting distrust from superiors of his Order. Will testify, much later, the rejection of his application in February 1957, to be allowed to accept a professorship at the seminary of Bishop Hakim in Haifa. Same attitude on the part of the Holy See, which turned a deaf ear to all his attempts, direct or indirect, of being washed of doctrinal deviation suspicion, had resulted in the removal of his work. By mentioning the ultimate step that made ​​van Asseldonk in October 1959, more than thirty years after the removal of Amici Israel , with Pope John XXIII for his rehabilitation, Ramaekers was surprised  [53] :

“I’ve never understood this from a man who had such a position in Rome and should have known that Rome never retract anything.”

This bad reputation continued the time, and she asked him a lot of problems during the work on the unity of the Church, he had begun in Vienna since 1957, with O. Schwarz, another converted from Judaism [ 54] (putting, moreover, almost exclusively focused on the problem of the people of Israel). Thus one of Vienna diocese auxiliary bishops forbade Sion Sisters to work with him. During an audience with the bishop, were discussed the record of conviction of Amici Israel , as well as complaints about a conference that would have given F. van Leer in Vienna in 1927 [55] . The auxiliary bishop then it probably confused with O. Schwarz. Pope John XXIII sent the letter to van Asseldonk, and a letter from Dr. Schwarz, the Holy Office, which then asked for additional information to Cardinal König of Vienna; he replied that we should let the Father and Dr. Schwarz work quietly [56] .

If his brief “running away” exception in Palestine [57] , following the abolition of his work by the Holy Office, van Asseldonk showed a total external submission until the end of his life. Despite his years of mission in Java, and his twenty years of teaching Greek and Latin in a college of Hannut, before his retirement, the certainty of its mission to Israel never gave up, even if the sublima by offering to God the sacrifice of his failure.

What has been said above, will suffice, we seem to illustrate the originality, strength and perseverance of this exceptional vocation. In this light, one can better perceive the theological and spiritual role capital played the P. van Asseldonk in the “invention” and the formulation of the ideal of Amici Israel , as well as awareness of clergy and laity, which is Always ignore the number, the need to address the Jews “another look.”

It is a shame that the experience was brutally interrupted by the same ecclesiastical authorities who approved, even if the excessive zeal and recklessness of its initiator are something to do, as we shall soon see.

  1. Synthesis

Whoever carefully read the above analyzes will probably also embarrassed that some specialists, eager to provide at all costs a satisfactory solution to the paradoxes of the file, tried to prove the improbable, especially to separate the inseparable. For some, it is the extreme emotionalism and lack of measurement of the Secretary-founder who were the cause, but some unspoken in their eyes, the victim was discredited the Association.For others – that we would be tempted to tax unconscious anti-feminism –   that is, “obviously” the zealous F. van Leer, boldness of his language ignorant of theology, the “Zionist mystique moved “, besides the excitement and exacerbated romanticism, his own sex, who are responsible for the attitude, first suspicious and repressive of the hierarchy.

What strikes us most personally is the trend, often unspoken but still underlying value judgments of those who absolutely want to dissociate from one another P. van Asseldonk and F. van Leer . As if, for one, to be a man and, moreover, ecclesiastical, and the other, that of being a woman and, moreover, ex-revolutionary Spartacus – so a   priori suspected of “exaltation” – made ​​unthinkable hypothesis of their collaboration in a common task. Not to mention the aggravating factor that was prolonged celibacy Franceska, which it will put an end relatively late, to marry a “young man” as delights to highlight the author, which we deplore, once Furthermore, we refer too readily without any critical distance, when dealing with the complex history of Amici  [58] :

“A few years have passed [after the dissolution of Amici Israel ], we learned that she had married the knot with a young man who was eighteen years younger . »

The blink of an eye of malicious Catholic judéophile but respectful of the authority of Rome, who was the writer-journalist Stanislas Fumet, was enough to more than one author who prides history, to discredit, to From the outset, the fervent apostle of the people she came from, and that not only she never denied, but to honor it was struggling against the contrary the mainly anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic current in his time, that n ‘spared neither Christianity nor even some members of the hierarchy. Defects or excesses, as some have tried to highlight in these two characters special issue are in fact unique to many people. Personalities that they have succeeded, were none free, and it is easy to locate traces in many saints. Nevertheless, as we shall see later, these deficiencies and weaknesses inherent in congenital imperfection of human nature, have certainly played a role in the process that led to the removal of Amici Israel , even if no official document are clearly alludes.

As for the close cooperation that characterized the relationship between two people, apparently so different, it has to resort to a popular saying that does not lack wisdom: “Birds of a feather flock together.” To us, at least, there is no doubt that between the Jewish convert, but incurably wounded by love, as much as atavistic supernatural, for his people, and religious who had heard once in a mystical transportation ”  But I am (as always) the King of the Jews  “and had come out with unshakeable conviction that God not only had not rejected his people (Rom 11: 2), but the latter could not recognize their Messiah and God that if he were first rehabilitated in his own eyes and in the eyes of Christians – so, between these two, there was a “communion” or a real “complicity” spiritual, of those that unite two people for life in a convenient service that is common, these friendships, strong like love, “strong as death” may include only those who have had the grace ‘to experience [59] .

In summary, van Asseldonk, who was not a Jew by birth, needed F. van Leer, who was and was for him to mediate way, but no less significant, the actual umbilical link with Israel, which he missing was essential to it, and without which it could never bring himself to witness that “his life was characterized by his love for Israel” . Especially without which he would probably never done later in the hands of Patriarch Maximos, who blessed this serious commitment, sacrifice his life for Israel, “because the love of the people had been too little lived in the Church “ . [60]

By his knowledge and his mystical gifts, Father van Asseldonk was the theologian and the theorist of the work of Amici Israel . His charisma and his Jewishness, F. van Leer was its soul, the witness and as the living “referent”.

So it is futile to attempt to separate or oppose them, and even more so to attribute to one or the other the responsibility of the sinking of the work to which both devoted themselves body and soul, with total dedication, certainly, but not without excess or imprudence, as we’ll see shortly.


Now that the two are best known promoters of the ideal of the Association which is the subject of this study, we are better able to tackle the difficult problem causes real its dissolution by the same ecclesiastical authority had approved, praised and honored the accession of some of its most prominent members. To do this, we will first quote in full the text of the decree of the Holy Office. Then we briefly review the main opinions of the commentators regarding any “deviations” of literature published by the Association, alleged to have caused his conviction. Finally, in the Conclusion, we will offer our own assumptions on the matter.

  1. The decree of the Holy Office abolishing the associationAmici Israel(March 25, 1928)

Before you even try to understand what may have led the ecclesiastical authorities to end an initiative that could have been very positive, it should be put before our eyes the text of the abolition decree [61] .

“The nature and purpose of the association called” Friends of Israel “was submitted to the judgment of the Congregation of the Holy Office, and a booklet entitled Pax super Israel , edited for this purpose [ idcirco ] [ 62] by management and spread extensively to better understanding of the characteristics and method, attendants Eminent Fathers to guard the faith and morals were first recognized the commendable side of this association, which is to urge faithful to pray and work for the conversion of Jews to the reign of Christ. It is not surprising that at the beginning, this association having in mind that this single purpose, not only many faithful and priests, but many bishops, have acceded. The Catholic Church, in fact, has always been used to pray for the Jewish people, which was the custodian of the divine promises up to Jesus Christ, despite the continual blindness of that people, even more, because even this blindness. With what charity the Apostolic See has he not protected the same people against unjust vexations!Because it rejects all hatred and animosities between peoples, condemning the utmost hatred against the people formerly chosen by God, this hatred that today it is customary to designate as not to “Anti-Semitism “. However, noticing and considering that this association “Friends of Israel” then adopted a way of acting and thinking contrary to the meaning and spirit of the Church, at the thought of the Holy Fathers and the liturgy, Eminent Fathers, having received the votes of Consultors of the Plenary Meeting of 21 March 1928, decreed that the association of the “Friends of Israel” should be deleted.They declared effectively abolished, and prescribed that no one in the future, will allow to write or edit books or pamphlets to promote nature in any way similar erroneous initiatives. The following Thursday, 22nd of the same month of the same year, in the audience granted to the Assessor of the Holy Office, the Holy Father Pius XI Pope by Divine Providence, approved the decision of the Fathers and Eminent ordered its publication. Given in Rome, at the Palace of the Holy Office, 25 March 1928. ”

This text contains some significant expressions, which seem likely to better illuminate the deeper motives of the decree. We quote below, the top five, making them follow a brief comment.

  1.  A booklet entitled Pax super Israel , published for the purpose by the officers and poured plenty to better understanding of the characteristics and method[was also submitted to the judgment of the Congregation of the Holy Office].
  2.  The attendants Eminent Fathers to guard the faith and morals were first recognized the commendable side of this association , which is to exhort the faithful to pray and work for the conversion of Jews to the reign of Christ .
  3.  It is not surprising that in its beginnings , this association having in mind that this single purpose , not only many faithful and priests, but many bishops, have acceded .
  4.  The association “Friends of Israel” adopted then a way of acting and thinkingcontrary to the meaning and spirit of the Church, at the thought of the Holy Fathers and liturgy .
  5.  That no one in the future, will allow to write or edit books or pamphlets to promote nature in any way similar erroneous initiatives .

Point 1 attests, if any were needed, that the Association and its officers were conducting intensive dissemination of documents outlining their minds and methods of apostolate.The Holy Office implicitly confirms what we said above, namely, that since the beginning of the company, the highest authorities of the church were well aware of this “doctrine” in which the posterior censors think they see the reason for his conviction. Only unknown: nothing allows us to identify the nature and date of the booklet Pax super Israel , to which reference is made, nor its content. If, as we believe it is all or part of the brochure bears the date of 1925, and while it is true that part of the material in it in 1927 [63] , how allegedly erroneous points of his doctrine would have if he escaped   the vigilance of long prelates members of the Association, and more so to the malevolence of the enemies of the latter? We will return to this issue in point 4 below.

Point 2, if indirectly confirms that the designs that were the basis of the ideal of Amicihad nothing heterodox also specifies, by identifying it, which constitutes “the laudable side:” pray for and work for the conversion of the Israelites.

Point 3 dissipates in advance any ambiguity arising from the phraseology of point 2. For the Holy Office, in fact, it is “clear” that at the origin , the Association “was for that that purpose only  “. So agree to prayer and the apostolate for the conversion of the Jewish people, and rejection of any other perspective. This evocation of an alleged “state earlierorthodox ‘Association, and the reducing presentation of limitations it is supposed to have assigned itself to its spirit and its activities, allow to get rid of the considerable difficulty posed the accession of many bishops (the 19 cardinals are not mentioned).

Point 4 is crucial in that it leaves no chance for a possible defense of orthodoxy of the work. First, the thesis of the purity of the latter, originally , in the previous sentence (point 3), is supported by the adverb ”  then  “found in the following. According to the decree, therefore, is later than the association “has adopted a way of acting and thinkingcontrary to the meaning and spirit of the Church, at the thought of the Holy Fathers and the liturgy of the Church  ” [64] . But here a difficulty arises. To believe the P. Levie, followed by almost all commentators, is the “brochure”, mentioned in the first sentence of the decree (see point 1 above), which “seems to have been the main cause of decree of suppression. However, as stated above, this brochure is dated 1925 and begins with a concise statement [65] of the “detailed method of apostolate, developed by the Committee, subsequently ratified and amended by the work of the Congress” [ 66] . So unless we assume that the officers of the Association have backdated their fraudulently booklet, it seems difficult to escape the conclusion that this presentation goes, if not 1925, at least for the first few months of 1926. And in this case, the question posed above is back with more force: how church authorities, some prelates were themselves part of Amici , could they not be aware, in the first months of operation of this work , heterodoxy or at least recklessness proposals expected to have motivated his subsequent conviction? As for the serious allegations of deviations from the doctrine of the Church Fathers and the liturgy, we will return to this later.

Finally, paragraph 5, meanwhile, leaves no doubt about the final disgrace of the Association that has just abolished the decree: it is now classified as “erroneous initiatives” ( erroneis inceptis ).

  1. “justifications” unconvincing of conviction

Before attempting to elucidate the circumstances and, if possible, the reasons for the brutal suppression of Amici , it seemed useful to list the principles advocated by the movement. In fact, the “new look” before the   ( and quite revolutionary for its time), it was about the Jewish people, announced over twenty years in advance, “the teaching of esteem”, including Jules Isaac [67] was the one of the pioneers, which found its first expression in the “Ten Points of Seelisberg” [68] before becoming the norm in the Church today. The twelve were following the charter of the Christian relationship with the Jews, the   Amici dreamed of acclimatization in Christianity [69]  :

“1. That we refrain from talking about the deicide people; 2. the deicide city; 3. the conversion of the Jews – rather than being told “return” or “pass”; 4. inconvertibility of the Jewish people; 5. incredible things that are told about Jews, especially the “blood libel”; 6. to speak without respect for their ceremonies; 7. exaggerate or generalize a particular case; 8. to speak Semitic terms. 9. But we emphasized the prerogative of divine love which Israel has; 10. sublime sign of this love in the incarnation of Christ and his mission; 11. permanence of this love best: its increase due to the death of Christ; 12. the testimony, the evidence of this love in the conduct of the Apostles. »

These are, according to the common opinion, the articles summarizing their ideal, that would have earned the Amici removing their Association. Expected decree of the Holy Office thereof have been several comments. The classic, which refer almost all serious writers is that of the Jesuit Levie in the New Theological Review in 1928. To this theologian, the reasons disrepute into which fell the Association seem obvious.Summarize his critics, which reflect the traditional Christian conceptions of the Jewish people  [70] :

  • While it is laudable to urge the truth and justice toward Jews … never doubt the grace of God … is it legitimate to conceal the role played by Israel to Christ?
  • Nobody wants to make the “deicide” a kind of “original sin” of every Jew today …[71]
  • Can we ignore Israel’s infidelity to his mission, his involvement in the death of Christ?
  • Why systematically omit the word conversion, after the divine punishment that constituted the destruction of Jerusalem, and as Jewish unbelief has endured through the centuries?

The same theologian criticizes the brochure Pax super Israel to include the following:

“If ensued, from books and discussions of the Fathers” against the Jews “a certain hardness and mutual estrangement of hearts. Insist on this story would be useful to anyone. ”

“Like the passage, said Father Levie, seems to assume a general blames the attitude of the fathers to the Jews,” then something inconceivable. Finally, the religious issues critical outcrops anti-Jewish stereotypes:

“Certainly, we must show to the Jews that their race is the subject of any contempt of any prevention from us, but is it necessary to encourage conversions, magnifying ever race as such, and create … among converts, a kind of “separatism” touchy and proud? … That is not prepared to strengthen conversions among the Jews, so fiercely nationalist already fundamentally a state of mind “anti-Catholic” and whose St. Paul admirably said gaps and deficiencies. ”

Such considerations, which Father Levie was far from being the preserve, are nothing but the faithful echo and non-critical theology then prevailing. They enlighten us about the problems, prejudices, phobias and ignorance of the authors on the subject. Also we there seems to struggle in vain those who absolutely want to discover, in the grounds of the conviction of the Holy Office and in subsequent apologetic comments, patterns objectivesof the abolition of the business of Amici .

It is hard to believe, indeed, that the allegedly improper considerations and concepts contained in the brochures published by the Amici Israel (especially Pax super Israel ), and in which the mentioned theologians believe finding the reasons for the conviction by the Holy -Office, were able to escape the vigilance of cardinals, bishops and theologians illustrious who had adhered to the ideals of the Association to become members of the latter [72] .

The following testimony seems likely to relativize the theory that the famous pamphlet was, somehow, the straw that broke the camel. During the year 1947, a leading scientist, the Dominican Prof. van der Ploeg, Nijmegen, requested numbers Pax super Israel on loan, to study the theological content; he later wrote to Father A. Ramaekers he ”  found nothing blameworthy in this little magazine  ” [73] .

  1. discernment test the immediate causes of the disgrace ofAmici Israel

There is obviously no question of closing the investigation of a rebuttal, so compelling as it is, the accepted theory, supposed to make a credible account of the reasons which led the Holy Office to dissolve the first attempt to acclimate in the Church a positive attitude toward the Jewish people. So he will have to risk propose another explanation, failing to impose a binding manner, appears at least as plausible, if not likely. This will be the subject of our conclusion.

Below, as the title of this chapter, it is mainly the immediate causes of the penalty that will be of our thinking. It will initially focus on the expected most of the abolition of the decree, “the association” Friends of Israel “then adopted a way of acting and thinking contrary to the meaning and spirit of Church at the thought of the Holy Fathers and the liturgy . “She continues with a brief review of a working hypothesis that van Asseldonk himself was primarily responsible for the removal of his work.

1) heterodoxy or are they imprudence of expression at the origin of the sanction?

A review, however short, the content of the latest version of the main brochure of the Association, Pax super Israel , found that rewarding and even laudatory conceptions of the Jewish people, which advocated, might seem exorbitant to the Catholic world that then. In any case, they were breaking with the traditional attitude of the Church Fathers inherited, in which prevailed the controversy, the haughty condescension or contempt for the people “and fallen deicide” believed to have been supplanted in his election by the ”  true Israel “, ie Christians. This is the opinion of an expert on Christian anti-Judaism, who died recently [74] :

“… The work of the Friends of Israel was probably removed because he was accused ofcalling into question , in the Church itself, an interpretation of the tradition, language and prejudices which could only add to the contempt and hatred of Jews professed by media does not necessarily claiming Christianity. ”

This judgment was confirmed by the examination of some reactions, mainly damning for the fallen, who spoke in Catholic newspapers and magazines of the time. Witness, “kick the ass dead lion” fired by an author who was usually more inspired in his judgments, and his remarks about Jews [75] :

“It seems that, driven by a poorly lit zeal that betrays race [76] , developers and inspirers of the work sometimes exceeded the limits of truth and justice; ways of speaking, they wanted to be only sensitive oratorical [77] , turned into apologeticsspeculative and practical Judaism […] By this we also unwisely foments the exclusive spirit of separatism and nationalism, to which Israel is only too willing and making it harder his conversion to Catholicism, the transition to a church where he must blend in a fraternal holy nation, a royal priesthood. »

And the Jesuit added with disapproval:

“Meaningful coincidence, many of these exaggerated friends of Israel are passionate about the Zionist movement and promote  “.

In this respect, seems particularly instructive to the mind of the ecclesiastical circles of the time on the “Jewish question”, the summary of the reactions of a converted Jew, issued over three unpleasant articles, where author struggling to hide his bad joy of the debacle of Amici Israel [78] :

“The founders of Amici were – rightly – passionate admirers of the people that saw the birth of Jesus and Mary, St. Joseph and the apostles; as also the country where Jesus lived, was crucified and resurrected. But this love was sentimental and unrealistic. The organization was becoming more and more attractive for fans and unilateral Jewish worshipers, whereas such work should have been inspired only by the love for Jesus. “Do not love the Jews for themselves, but for Jesus; it’s not as friends of Israel, Amici Israel , but as friends of Jesus, we ask for the return of the Jews. ” Otherwise “we will fall into serious errors, such as the League of Priests [ Amici Israel ] fell into serious errors. ” The fundamental error of Amici is not having distanced themselves from the so-called Judeo-Christian movement, which is a danger inherent in any action in favor of the Jews. The converted aspire to rapid reforms, comes a time when they are experiencing disillusionment towards their new religion, and it was only after years they discover that the imperfection of the institution and the people began nothing in the perfection of the Church. The critical Semitic recognizes the priority of his company and his own religious culture. He feels so superior and consider its passage to the Catholic Church as beneficial to his fellow Catholics. Gradually, he will come to wish that Judaism becomes “a Christianity of choice”: a Christian society made ​​by a Jewish noble conduct. No, the Jew must go, humble and contrite in the church of God, even if it is normal that it keeps its national pride. Otherwise, a rapid increase in Jewish converts will not be a blessing to Christianity. This is the Jew who must be absorbed within the Catholic Church, not the Catholic church must accept something Jewish. This is what often lose sight of the enthusiastic admirers of the Jews, not just those responsible for Amici Israel . Other organizations fulfill their task with modesty and without being inspired by other love than that of Christ. ”

And this “new” Catholic – who, like many converts feels obliged to pro-Christian bidding at the expense of the Jewish roots from which it came in the flesh – to complete the defeat, saying,  [79] :

“It is unfortunate that some Amici Israel have begged too passionately Jewish sympathies and have become so sentimental in their philo-Semitism, and that high place we did not act against such a friendship with Judaism. Sentimental friendship between Jews and Christians is too unnatural and it could not and should not last. Unfortunately, due to the intervention of ecclesiastical authority, reconciliations of good quality between the Church and Israel have also been achieved. For the disrepute into which have fallen friends too sentimental Israel might be interpreted by the public as blaming anyone interested in the Jewish nation. »

These evocations, which – need I elaborate? – Are far from unique in the literature of the time, have nothing idle or free. In contrast to the extreme generosity of the attitude towards Jews, advocated by the Amici , they reveal the severity of prejudices and relational blockages, rooted in Christian attitudes in respect of anything that seemed likely to call question the “substitution theory” and its corollary, visceral conviction had to hold the Church alone, the whole truth, and be obliged in conscience to preach, or even the demand for their salvation to all nations of the earth, and, especially, the worst of which misguided Christianity had never come to end, despite eighteen centuries of seduction enterprises, pressures, threats or of persecution, the eternal “unconvertible  “ : Jews .

While it is clear that the principles of the new Christian attitude toward Jews, advocated by the association Amici Israel , expressed designs a complete break with those of the Fathers of the Church in this matter, and if, moreover – as I believe I have demonstrated – it seems impossible to maintain that the highest authorities of the Church there had not been paying attention, so they were probably since 1926, in the famous pamphlet mentioned by the decree of suppression – which was not published late as some would have us believe – it must be concluded that the Church hierarchy initially saw nothing wrong with this new attitude, but instead she condoned, at least tacitly, to the beginning of 1928. Under these conditions, it is necessary that have occurred one or more events that sparked fears serious enough to bring eminent prelates who had become members of Amici to end them -Same to this work who enjoyed prestige. And as the examination of the doctrine and writings of the work has revealed no serious enough element to motivate the penalty imposed, it has to look elsewhere.

So rather than assuming, as Stanislas Fumet that this collapse was due to “qualified theologians as” fundamentalist “,” who “considered adventurous doctrine preached with excitement … and deprived themselves not to peel the texts of Friends Israel without much benevolence ”  [80] ; rather than to pose as Levie, a responsibility on the pious language exaggerations of some members of the Association [81]  ; short, instead of going so far to seek, why not look like Ramaekers suggests, on the side of the Secretary-founder himself, Father van Asseldonk?

2) Van Asseldonk did it not primarily responsible for the removal of his work?

In the light of what the survey found – alongside great qualities (generosity, charity, free reports, etc.) – some aspects excessive or obsessive personality of the great Croisier, and above all emotionality and hypersensitivity, such as to bias his judgment and discernment, we rallied by the assumption of one of his best biographers, Father Ramaekers, who not only knew him well personally and benefited from many secrets from him and that of his colleagues and friends, but still had access to many personal documents as well as the archives of the Crosier Order, almost completely unknown to researchers before it we delivers part of their contents in a long article to which this research is largely indebted. According Ramaekers, indeed, it is van Asseldonk itself eventually became “bone of contention and a sign of contradiction.”

To see more clearly in this tangled case that combines ideal and subjectivity vocation and temperament, it seems useful to divide the following analysis in two parts.

The first will deal with the “apostolic imprudence” van Asseldonk in matters where doctrine and ecclesial authority are at stake.

The second will examine the behavior, at least strange and bold, van Asseldonk, in religious discipline and obedience.



  1. a) “apostolic imprudence” van Asseldonk

Two events appear to have been decisive in the process of favor of the association founded by the Attorney General Crosier.

According Ramaekers, indeed, probably believing his work free from intrigue, because of the prominent churchmen who were part of, and perhaps convinced, because of the extraordinary success of his intuition – which showed Thousands of priests memberships in the world – that the time had come for the Church to radically change their attitude towards the Jews, and that his work could contribute, P. van Asseldonk have underestimated the negative impact that had had on Pius XI’s bold suggestion he had made ​​to him, during a hearing in the summer of 1927, and Ramaekers summarized as follows  [82] :

“[He asked] if, in his capacity as Secretary of Amici Israel , he could meet with him the following question. Since the gospel was preached to the Gentiles of the world, the time would it not came to turn, more than before, to the Jewish people elected?  ”

One can imagine the embarrassment of the Pope faced with this “exit” unexpected. Pius XI tacked, arguing that “it it was not possible to resolve this question as well.” And it is conceivable that the initiative must have seemed odd to him or exalted, and in any event, be unrealistic; which could legitimately worry about from a church person exercising a function as important as that of the Prosecutor of the Crosier Order.

But the founder of Amici commit another odd, much more serious consequences, that one [83] :

“According to colleagues who were studying in Rome [the time when van Asseldonk was responsible for the Procure Crosier], one of the reasons that motivated the decree of suppression of Amici Israel was a suggestion addressed by him to the Congregation of rites that in intercessory prayer of the Liturgy of Good Friday, we remove the word “perfidious” prayer ”  pro perfidis Iudaeis  “. As such a measure was apparently contrary to the spirit of many Fathers of the Church, and that of the liturgy of the time, the Congregation of Rites forwarded the request to the Holy Office. »

This initiative – whose reckless daring surprise, as it is a familiar of the Roman Curia as was van Asseldonk which, as such, had to know the ecclesiastical reluctance in such a serious matter, made ​​more sensitive yet by the adage: ”  lex orandi, lex credendi ” [84]– that this initiative, therefore, has earned a final disgrace to the great Croisier, shows itself in a private letter dated 14 June 1968 which reads a brief excerpt [85] :

“We had absolutely no sense to ask a revolutionary act , and we do not doubt that this proposal would have the effect of an atomic bomb to the Holy Office and would undermine our work … The idea of removing words ”  perfidis Iudaeis  “and”  perfidiam “texts Friday, was suggested by a prominent member of the Congregation of Rites, Archbishop Di Fava” [86] .

This is also reflected, albeit indirectly, the complaint made ​​by the abolition decree, that the Association had “subsequently adopted a way of acting and thinking contrary … to the liturgy  . ” However, the documents of Amici which we have been able to access express no explicit condemnation of some liturgical formula whatsoever. One is tempted to infer that the van Asseldonk approach to the Congregation of Rites, to abolish the invocation “pro perfidis Iudaeis” – initiative immediately denounced to the Holy Office, as noted above – will been, if not the only, at least one of the major causes of the abolition of his work.


  1. b) Special designs van Asseldonk on discipline and religious obedience

Despite the negative impact some of these events, it would be critical not stick to this aspect “doctrine” of things and to conclude prematurely that the two mentioned indiscretions were originally the suppression of Amici Israel . A closer examination of the record shows that the disrepute into which fell the Association may be due as much or more to the deterioration of relations between van Asseldonk and superiors – increasingly annoyed by the excitement and independence Increasing evidence which was religious literally obsessed with his ministry to Jews – that hypothetical “doctrinal deviations”.

The copious correspondence or on van Asseldonk, that have exploited his biographers Dutch, it is apparent that he had a conception of obedience, which the least one can say is that it was totally at odds with ecclesiastical discipline of the time, especially in the case of a religious.

In the first months following the establishment of the Association, the differences in point of view had emerged, which then multiplied, between the general and the definitors one side and van Asseldonk, on the other, concerning the how it intended to achieve what he considered his special calling. First, the general direction of the Order was that he gets his doctoral thesis at the Bible Institute, to assume the professorship in exegesis we intended for him in Ste Agathe. Then the diffinitors disapproved the constant presence of Franceska van Leer to Procure. We saw earlier [87] , with what force and what passion van Asseldonk defended his point of view, without yielding, even an inch on what he considered its rights. It will not be useless to tender an additional room, overlooked by Ramaekers, in this case this excerpt from the answer van Asseldonk addressed in this connection, the previous general, P. Hoffmann, and cites the P . Scheerder  [88] :

“Do not insist on the thesis or doctorate in biblical sciences! This requires a regular life and studies is NOT compatible with the prosecutor, superior, and in addition to consultant. Believe me, sincerely: the professors of the Biblical Institute themselves have often told me. ”

It is hardly necessary to say that in this case, van Asseldonk was sure to be confronted with the dilemma was that of illustrious saints and the Apostle Peter himself: “Should we obey men rather than God? “(Acts 5, 29). Today, we would say that the ecclesiastical authority shall require a true to an act that his conscience condemns. But van Asseldonk was it in this case? Following the events, we shall see, shows that in the eyes of the superiors of the Order and of the highest ecclesiastical authorities – including especially Cardinal van Rossum, protector Crosier – Religious behavior of a matter of the discernment of spirits, as Church advocates, following the Apostle Paul (cf. Rom 12: 2; 1 Thessalonians 5: 19-21; Eph 5: 10; Phil 1, 10), facing protests in mystical allure, or religious and unconventional disciplinary behaviors. This is what seems to think Scheerder, citing the example of many saints, as painful as was the sacrifice demanded of them, were, after all, come to the conclusion that the best way to serve God was to obey the directives of their ecclesiastical superiors. [89]

But there were more serious than the problems associated with religious obedience. A review of correspondence between the new general and van Asseldonk reveals some problematic aspects of personality and behavior of the latter, which, apart Scheerder and, to a lesser extent, Ramaekers, which are made ​​only footprints allusions understanding [90] , no researcher has, I think, given the attention they deserve.

Bishop Hollmann, died May 28, 1927, van Asseldonk came under the authority of the new, Fr. van Dinter, formerly superior general. November 23, 1927, van Asseldonk wrote[91] :

“You should know that with regard to the ‘other’ [92] , I suffer a lot  ! mainly because of the lack of faith of many of you, including Cardinal [van Rossum] and yourself because you have not thought a moment to defend myself against the Cardinal; if you said everything was arranged with diffinitors and yourself, first, and me, on the other hand, it would have been preferable for the Glory of God. In agreement with the diffinitors and at my request, you accepted the   task of making me regain the confidence of the Cardinal.Nothing has been done! I do not blame you, but … I have every reason to suffer! »

According Scheerder, it is difficult to escape the impression that, when he had an unshakable conviction van Asseldonk was able to push hard and to implement all its persuasiveness. But his superiors and experienced religious in spiritual ways, such as Cardinal van Rossum, van Dinter, van Mil and van Dooren, seem not to have been influenced. It is found in the archives of the Generalate, a handwritten draft reply attached to the letter cited, where we read the following passage  [93] :

“Regarding the ‘other’, may I remind you, dear Brother, it was decided when I was with you in friendship and the greatest love, and that this decision was generously accepted by you? We can not return it. Again I certify that this decision was made out of love for you, for the procurement office in Rome and for our Holy Order “.

December 4, 1927, on the occasion of the anniversary of van Dinter, van Asseldonk sent him a letter full of underlines and exclamation points  [94] :

“… My wishes will come true only when you will see and recognize that the Priesthood of Christ for Israel means to me, and you will understand and accept that my love for Francisca van Leer and my collaboration with them and involve true! We will settle in the future the term and externalization of this Love and this collaboration a more prudent and, now, more carefully!   But the way the thing is set by you now … .. at the request and under the threat of Brother van Ross, is intolerable and unworthy! Unbearable  : I mean that our will and love in the Cross and carry the can carry it, but for my health, I feel that I can not live longer this way … .. unless God wants to accept my life as an offering for Israel sicut fuerit voluntas in coelo, sic fiat  ! The situation is also unworthy .All apologize and are convinced that “all is well”, but at the same time, it is as if I was seriously at fault, to the point that the Cardinal has threatened “to refer to the higher authority” something which is possible that if convicted . In fact, I would like us to do this step, because the more we deepen this “case”, the more “shine” of holiness, safety and wholesomeness of our love! But what concerns us (Franc [eska] and I), we ourselvesdecided to modify the expression of our love and our collaboration propter Fratres that not possunt portare modo [95] […] But our gesture Goodwill is now locked in the threat, which suggests to those outside that we do not do our own will. Your order – following threats of C. v. R [Brother van Ross] – means … .. we as sinners or weak people … .. and presents our “relationship” [F. van Leer – van Asseldonk] as inferior, as “no can go on. ” Do not you see that you have created a FALSE situation? The Cardinal came out of his reserve to keep up appearances  ; of “unfair” way (since I left) and unfair, he let make a “search” to Procure, and now must complete the proper detective work vis-à-vis the threat with you … .. Nothing! While five days earlier, I was alone at home; so that at the end, I reminded him that … .. innocent pertransivit [ sic ], I discovered face market!»

According Scheerder van Asseldonk would then complained that van Dinter did not do defended with Cardinal van Rossum. It is likely that the latter was much concern about what he saw as an unfair development in the van Asseldonk apostolate, and wished it could be corrected, as it was before warnings and complaints. He also regretted saying that, contrary to what was happening before, van Asseldonk not come to see and consult only rarely about the case. Moreover, according Scheerder it must be questioned on whether the hard way used by the Cardinal to restore the situation. However, this researcher believes that it is difficult to judge from the outside and without knowing all the factors that played a role in the matter. In any case, the reaction of van Asseldonk was extremely vehement, and he felt he had no reason to change its policy.

In this respect, his letter to van Dinter, dated January 18, 1928, sounds like an ultimatum  [96] :

“The Work towards Israel has grown so much that it now requires ENTIRE HUMAN – and has become so important that it can bring happiness to this man, and she’s given me and if deeply rooted in me by the Grace of God, that I COMPLETELY FILLED: gratia in vacua me not leaking  ! [(Sa) with me was not in vain, cf. 1 Cor 15, 10.] I am now in the Name of the God of Israel, defending the grace and asks definitively to free myselfentirely for this grace  ! I can let her suffer the work of increased activity to which I am compelled in God’s name by others! I can not leave to extend the ambiguity in which the Order set me and I want an answer from him! Therefore, I ask you a final and clear answer; I take evasive as any temporary or definitive answer – that is to say negative – and I will give you my answer. ”

Finally, as the strong justly remarks Fr. Scheerder his letter of 7 February 1928 contains expressions “in the style of the prophets of doom” as it  [97] :

“And I ask you one last chance to be given to whether [we can also understand, ‘so that I am’] innocent of my sufferings, that you can listen to your best and accept the Truth.”

Or, more exalted:

“… Little understanding and esteem for my grace in this matter, God will punish you soon, and the Order.”

3) Synthesis

We saw neither the grounds alleged by the Holy Office to motivate the abolition of the association Amici Israel nor the justifications that have given commentators theologians, contemporary and later, appear to be fully convincing.

In addition, two years of existence, in the case of such an innovative experience and likely to worry the timid and conservative minds is too long a time for a trial period.Conversely, it is too short a time, it was an initiative that had the favor of the Church.

In one as in the other case, in view of the negative outcome, the deep reasons behind the decision of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, initially favorable to the existence of this work, and hostile to its continuation, remain obscure.

Moreover, as stated above, no reason could justify such a sanction proves restrictive, and the evidence was made ​​of the weakness of using the argument of discovery “late” an alleged “deviation “in the designs and action of Amici Israel .

We are therefore faced with a dilemma which the two terms are also difficult to accept than the other:

–             Either, after his, at first, innovative designs very favorable to the Jews (without worrying about what they were out with patristic and ecclesial tradition almost unanimously hostile to the latter), authority Threaded would eventually backed down (probably under pressure from powerful detractors), while attributing his about-face to the wrong direction taken subsequently by the work.

–             Or, frightened by the exaltation, obstinacy in his own judgment and disobedience of the founder, a religious view, hierarchical authority has decided to put an end to his work for the Jews, despite it included good, alleging that the reasons for this were not true.

We will see below, there is a middle way of interpretation that does justice to both the legitimate concern of any religious institution to preserve its doctrine and pastoral action of serious deviations, and also honored people sincere and respectable, whose only crime was to have been too far and want to act too quickly, in a socio-religious context is not conducive to the emergence of concepts as radically break with the ideas and prejudices of the time.

  1. Van Asseldonk prophet gagged Gyrovagues exalted, or precursor misunderstood?

Well known and often cited the judgment of the writer-journalist Stanislaus Catholic Fumet that “our Dutch were of mystical inflation and might go off the rails … [and] began to feel too prophets”  [98] seems to correspond to reality. In any event, it is supported by a fair number of witnesses who were not all, far from it, hostile to van Asseldonk. This is the case, for example, the prelate H. Noots, including van Asseldonk said it was his “amicissimus” [great friend], who, shortly after the removal of Amici , wrote these lines  [99 ] :

“I did not know that something was afoot against [ Amici Israel ], and I only learned of his conviction by the Acta Ap. Sedis . Now this does not surprise me. There are about a year I was asked by Card. A. van Rossum on [Anton van Asseldonk] and his work; again, I knew that the most important members of management [100] had withdrawn following the remarks A strange. And now, after that conviction, we know about the strangest yet.We talk a lot. We see ever again, and we are all convinced that this Francisca van Leer, who, both here in Holland, is considered as a person to avoid (if not more) is guilty of what happens to TO

This is also the case of Cardinal van Rossum, the long-time adviser and friend of van Asseldonk. August 23, 1928, five months after the dissolution of the Association during the “running away” van Asseldonk in Palestine, he wrote these lines van Dinter  [101] :

“I sympathize with the sadness of HEU [the meaning of the abbreviation is not clear] and that of the whole Order, for the loss of P. Van Asseldonk  [102] . I have always been in my heart, I helped him in everything and I felt great. But from the moment he made ​​his own guide, and this in extremely important cases, and when, for true love for him and for the order, I wanted to have knowledge of what was going on and inform superiors, he felt that I was against him and me longer recognized me. It could do so many things, especially for the Order. I continue to pray for him, that God forgives him his obstinacy, enlightens and preserves serious deviations “.

To better understand the sequence of events, it should stop for a moment on this “running away” in Palestine, later – let us remember – the abolition of Amici Israel .

Upon his arrival in Haifa, van Asseldonk van Dinter written a first letter, dated 14 July 1928 and sent on 20 July, without identifying the sender address  [103] :

“When you receive this letter, I will already gone where you did not want to send me, but where God would undoubtedly I go. For after having tried everything and did not have to listen from my superiors, I realized that I could not wait for God to enlighten you. May I left convinced that I am acting in accordance with God’s will, because I am pious and have never left the path of perfect obedience. ”

He prays van Dinter not make assumptions alarming nor take exceptional measures or conduct audits. He says he will contact him as soon as possible and communicate her address, “for the glory of God.” He implores you do not consider him to flight, and you do not treat it apostate because, he says, God is witness that he acts on his order. Then again, it is justified by Scripture  [104] :

“And” we must obey God rather than man “[cf. Acts 5: 29] … ” Gratia Dei sum id quod sum  ” [it is by the grace of God I am what I am; cf. 1 Cor 15, 10]. And: ” Nolite ante tempus judicare  “[refrain from judging prematurely; cf. 1 Cor 4: 5] … ”

And Scheerder comment:

“For now, the general will be content with that, until the true light rises for him. »

In a second letter, dated August 21, 1928, van Asseldonk continues to plead his case with a lot of scriptural quotations [105] :

“You must understand and accept that especially in conscience I accomplished the Holy Will of God, and I did what God called me to do … After everything else failed, I had to execute God’s order without the consent of authorities … But I want to do for my grace is part of the hierarchy, as was the case with Paul, who could say, ” and cognoveruntgratiam data is quae mihi! ” [and they recognized the grace that had been divested me;cf. Gal 2: 9] … I beg you not warn or not to involve any ecclesiastical authority whatsoever, especially not in Palestine, because I live here incognito and nobody, neither in Europe nor in Palestine, not knows where I am. Let’s leave it there, and put all side nervousness, and I especially ask you to refrain from taking canonical measures because they are not applicable in my case, since I went on the order of God! ” Ecce ! coram Deo, quia non Mentior “[I testify before God that I am not lying; cf. Gal 1: 20]. ”

Van Dinter was not a man to be intimidated by these kinds of arguments. Van Asseldonk had forwarded his PO box number in Haifa, he replied immediately. The draft, dated September 4, 1928, was retained. We do not find any trace approval arguments van Asseldonk to justify his departure in Palestine. Father General is clearly insensitive to biblical quotations which his religious appeals to justify his conduct, and he leaves her responsibility. His letter is sticking to the disciplinary implications of the act of insubordination characterized, posed by van Asseldonk  [106] :

“The entire Order, as well as myself, deplore your strange way of acting. You do you realize that you have left your job illegally in Rome and that you fall within the scope of Canon 2386? [107] You do not be led by God, but hallucinations. I beg you to come immediately to Ste Agathe and you make available to your legitimate superior.Recommending to the mercy of God, please accept in Christ …  “.

A third and very long letter from van Asseldonk arrived in Haifa on September 20, 1928. Here is a brief excerpt of the very significant state of exaltation which was that of the religious during this period  [108] :

“You must know that I am so little led by hallucinations, my confessor himself, who understood everything, I was responsible to do what I did and how I did it, because he saw clearly that God required it of my consciousness  [109] . Also, I like him the conviction that the church authorities and those of the Order would understand and approve of my act retrospectively – such as illegal initiative of Jonathan the son of Saul [to save David’s life; cf. 1 S 20] … ”

It will not be useful at this stage to tell the outcome of this adventure [110] .

Cardinal van Rossum had asked Bishop Luigi Barlassini, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, and as quickly trace the religious. This mission successful, the patriarch had a long talk with van Asseldonk in the church of the Carmelites of Haifa  [111] . Dutifully, he wrote a report for Cardinal van Rossum, who lived in Rome. Rutten, the Prosecutor Crosier Acting was convened on the evening of Friday, October 10, 1928, the cardinal, who made ​​reading it. According to the report, van Asseldonk prayed a lot and remained convinced of his special vocation for Israel. The patriarch was nevertheless able to convince him that the way he thought would respond to this vocation was not good. Van Asseldonk had honestly and forthrightly acknowledged his mistakes and promised to obey his superiors. The Patriarch had insisted that any meeting or correspondence with Van Leer Franceska should be avoided. In conclusion, the Patriarch Barlassini wrote:

“The case can easily be arranged, as long as we proceed with love. Car [van Asseldonk] is still a good ” servo di Dio “[servant of God], even if it is in its own way. ”

The Patriarch added that “it is desirable to reassure the superiors on the fact that [van Asseldonk] did not act against the will of God.” More importantly, he recognized “unable to deny that the Father Antonius came easily to fit in, and with good results in intellectual circles of Jewish settlers.” Bishop Barlassini therefore suggested that the prospect of a van Asseldonk Catholic mission to Palestine to be considered.

The reaction of Cardinal van Rossum to this suggestion was categorical and uncompromising  [112] :

“I have no jurisdiction over him and can not give him orders. But if you want to rely on my opinion, I would say that the Order must always have the last word. [Van Asseldonk] must return to Holland without conditions … The first requirement of the work of God is obedience … If he stays there, with the permission of the authority [local church is -to say that the Latin Patriarch], this will amount to a permanent exclaustration. Of such means, God does not want them to conversion of Israel. If Bishop gives him this authority now, his authority will suffer. Obedience should come from subordinates, and not be extorted from the authority. ”

At the end of the summary of this dramatic episode, where religious vocation van Asseldonk seemed about to sink, we will act Scheerder the soundness of his judgment that “it was a wise choice as the patriarch to bring the religious at odds better awareness. ” Similarly, one can only approve this researcher’s insistence on “the respect due the way van Asseldonk reacts.” Indeed, he says, “although he remained convinced until his death to have a special mission for Israel, he submitted, from this moment, not only with words full of dignity, but also act in the direction of the Order and the Church authorities. ” By cons, we can find some reductive Scheerder draws the lesson that an event where all light is far from being done, and that we know today might have had a more positive outcome and, thus more fruitful for improving relations between the Church and the Jewish people, problems which, lest we forget, was at the heart of the intuition of the founder [113] :

“An obedient man, can in one way or another, speak of victory, even if it is only on himself. »

More empathetic is the overall judgment of Ramaekers who, better than anyone, we apparently, knew understand the explosive mix of the complex personality of van Asseldonk, made ​​with extreme sensitivity, combined with a supernatural overflowing love for God and for humanity, though not devoid of human defects which were not, moreover, as is often the case, the excess or the back of exceptional qualities – passion-love, stubbornness, perseverance, willingness to persuasive power-force, daring, courage, eloquence grandiloquence, Enlightenment-sense things of God, mystical exaltation, gift, etc.  [114] :

“It seems that here we are in front of the secret of his spiritual life and his conduct towards others; he could give wise advice, but he could do it with words as with his heart. His love for Israel was deep and passionate. Similarly his love for the Order is often expressed in his letters. He loved too much people. His sincere interest, helpfulness, its actual submission, and total availability, could be associated with severity and requirements, as well as sensitivity or sentimentality. But they exist. One felt them.He expressed them in his letters, which seem excessive but were sincere. It was not a mistake, but it could be like for people who did not know him in this way, or who were not themselves well; it could be a mistake when certain limits are exceeded. I think in this case,   this is to look for the point at issue of Amici Israel , which made ​​van Asseldonk a “sign of contradiction”. In our time, some would see a charisma  ; others speak of sentimentality. Now, as then, love it or do not like the way some appeal to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as leitmotifs of prayer … Whether we take for one or the other opinion, we will on the reservation to van Asseldonk, or we follow it with conviction. I think this [side of things] played a greater role than the alleged grounds mentioned in the decree of the Holy Office. A case like that of Amici Israel not she could have – without intrigues – be a warning, without the need to dissolve as much a movement of prayer and personal sanctification, scope modest, certainly, in quantitative terms, but nonetheless promising on the action plan? [the italics are in my fact ]. Some have said, and still say, van Asseldonk, he came too soon, he was ahead of his time, or that because of his membership in an Order modest than Crosier, he had not enough experience and lacked support. »


Reached the end of the study, and since we must take the risk of proposing another reading of events as that imposed far without convincing, first say, whatever the realreasons pushed the Church authorities to put an abrupt end to the initiative of the precursor of “the teaching of esteem”, that was the P. van Asseldonk, it is certainly not the latter that must allocate the responsibility for this decision, but the ecclesiastical and religious attitudes of the time . No doubt, in fact, that in the climate “conversionniste” that prevailed in a large part of the Christian intelligentsia and its hierarchy [115] , and even to the Pope himself [116] , positive attitude unique to the Jews, advocated by theAmici , has disturbed or even shocked many clerics and faithful.

But since is no longer credible – as has been seen – the thesis that the Association after impeccable debut, would have “adopted then a way of acting and thinking contrary to the meaning and spirit of the Church, Holy Fathers thought and liturgy ” [117] , it must have occurred that one or more events sufficiently strong, the point of view of ecclesiastical authority, to push it to remove a movement it had itself approved and   widely promoted during the two years of its existence [118] .

So we propose to see in what we have called “apostolic imprudence” and “specific designs van Asseldonk on discipline and religious obedience”, discussed above, “the immediate opportunity” of the decision, that took the Holy Office to end the existence ofAmici Israel .

In the absence of compelling evidence, the chronological coincidence of the alleged acts and attitudes founder seems to argue in favor of this interpretation of our real reasons for the abolition of his work. Indeed, the “imprudence” back to the summer of 1927; acts of indiscipline and disobedience coincide with the inauguration of General van Dinter, who had succeeded P. Hoffmann (who died in May 1927) and was visibly less conciliatory than the latter; they multiply and then worse, the fall of 1927 in early February 1928. Now it is March 25 of the same year was published the decree of dissolution of Amici Israel , whose content was served to van Asseldonk few weeks earlier. This series of events that take place in a period of time as close and culminate in the decree of the Holy Office seems lends support to our view that, exceeded the growing excitement of the founder, his open revolt against criticism of the encroachment of his vocation for Israel on its condition Croisier, and its refusal to halt its collaboration fusion with F. van Leer, senior van Asseldonk, first, and then – following Complaints of these – Cardinal van Rossum, protector of the Order, the crowd felt the religious had crossed the line and that it was high time to put an end to this harmful situation.

But if this was indeed so, the recurring question arises again: why deleted the workinstead of punishing the founder to bring him to reason?

Our explanation of this aporia is this: the superiors of the Order and the Roman authorities had come to the certainty that what fanned congenital propensity van Asseldonk enthusiasm and exaltation, it was precisely his work for the Jews, who devoured the more outwardly by the increased activity that was causing it, and internally, by the constant concern it generated in his mind, at the expense of its original purpose of Croisier which from the point of view of those responsible for his Order should have been the main focus of his zeal and solicitude .

And to use a pregnant metaphor, brimming with affectivity, he does not always succeed in mastering the impetuosity, and he was always ready to pour on to or invest in a cause, it was religious torn between two loves  : one of his Order and of the Jewish people . In addition, he was conscious or not, it was as if F. van Leer embodied for him the Jewish nation, the salvation of which he had devoted his life. Under these conditions, it is understandable that many of his colleagues and his superiors have seen, in the outward manifestations of this burning vocation, that passion, disordered affection, enlightenment and determination to follow his own will. In accordance with the spirit and the ecclesiastical discipline of the time, such a state of mind was considered a disease of the soul and treated accordingly, a radical medication. And first, the brutal and final separation of the “sick” from the object of his passion . That is, we seem, because of the conviction of his superiors that there was no other remedy for this “addiction” spiritual and emotional, estimated harmful, we saw fit to subjecting van Asseldonk a moral double amputation : that the work of his life , first – the most painful; that of his friendship with F. van Leer , then – who badly affected, although nothing in the available literature, no evidence that he could be a wrong link.

It remains to try to realize why the grounds alleged by the decree of the Holy Office to justify the removal of Amici Israel . It would not be seemly to tax, without evidence, that high ecclesiastical authority of lying or hypocrisy. So we propose, faute de mieux, the following explanation, as a hypothesis.

It seems that, outraged by the behavior, deemed ineligible, the founder of this work, the superiors van Asseldonk, assisted ecclesiastical censors have sought in the texts of the Association, traces or components in this they saw as a deterioration of the vocation and discernment of one of their most deserving religious and brightest.

And everyone knows that you can always find when we look for, previous signs or warning signs of subsequent fiasco. Thus, in the case at hand, the expressions and the most innocuous words used once, without a second thought, van Asseldonk, were replayed in shock events perceived as disturbing at distorting mirror the negative opinion which had now, in person and F. van Leer. Examined on new charges, but this time with a critical eye or inquisitor, some passages in the publications Pax super Israel , once read a watchful eye, otherwise distracted, in the euphoria of the beginnings, appeared,retrospectively , as heralding the subsequent storm and carriers of germs of what is now regarded as aberrations in the behavior of the work’s founder.

Well, we seem, how the editors of decree of suppression of Amici Israel could no bad conscious faith, convince that Amici Israel had forfeited his first excellence and had come to such serious deviations that it was necessary to terminate the business, despite the very important commitment of management and the clergy, which so many members had adhered to the ideal and goals of the Association.

No doubt irreducible see in the unfortunate outcome of this experience, proof of land-Judaism of the Church. In our opinion, this opinion is not credible. We do not see, indeed, why the ecclesiastical authority would give ridiculous approve, for then abolish without major reason, a work she herself had condoned and indirectly disavow twenty cardinals and the hundreds of prelates who were part of, and which one of the most prestigious members, Cardinal van Rossum – which is to better understand his interest toAmici – standing this, amazing for the time [ 119] :


“We have so much to blame us regarding the Jews! »

Moreover, there was no requirement to make the Church, the body of the decree-suppression of Amici Israel , punishment, also a pioneer as categorical, antisemitism[120] :

“Because he rejects all hatred and animosity among nations, [the Holy See] condemns the utmost   hatred against the people formerly chosen by God, this hatred that today it is customary to designate as name of anti-Semitism. ”

We believe we can legitimately see in this text [121] , an indirect proof of the existence, within then high Catholic hierarchy, a more positive attitude towards the Jews that one was believed to date  [122] .

So do we not justified in regretting that ecclesiastical authority has applied to the disease (treatable) of religious exaltation, the brutal treatment of a coercive authoritarianism – in the name of principles and a “holy obedience “that comforted so long the Church in its distrust of individual charisms and dictamen of human consciousness?

That said, it seems excessive to say, as we hear here and there that the removal of the pioneering work of Amici pushed some forty years the advent of the “new look” at the Jews.

By cons, without our tone of categorical certainty which it is expressed, we are likely to recognize the element of truth that contains the statement of Eckert  [123] :



 “If the van Asseldonk views were able to make their way at the time,

Hitler would never have done what he did. »

* On the threshold of this study, we want to honor and thank those without whom it would not have been possible. First of all the Crosiers Fathers Ramaekers (alas, deceased) and Scheeerder whose valuable contributions in Dutch, rich new details have allowed us to introduce French readers a state of the question, I believe, he n ‘there is no French language equivalent. Our deep appreciation also goes to the journal Clairlieu , which published the valuable contributions of these religious, as well as translator of the items this study was inspired, who wished to remain anonymous. Finally, it is our pleasure to thank Sister Margaret Mary Kraentzel, Brussels, which often reviewed and corrected our translations of the Latin texts and re akribeia with the trials of this work.

[1] List of consulted publications: 1) Comitatus Centralis “Amicorum Israel” Pax super Israel , 35-page brochure, Latin, Rome, March 1925; 2) F. van Leer , “In front of Zionism,” Bulletin of the Missions , T. VII / 21, No. 8, Abbey of St. Andrew, Bruges, March-April 1925, pp. 233-240; 3) Don Ed. Neut , “The” unconvertible “,” Bulletin of the Missions , T. VII / 21, No. 9, May-June 1925, pp. 265-275; 4) S. Fumet , “” Let them preach Israel “,” Bulletin of the Missions , T. VII / 21, No. 12, 1925, pp. 369-371; 5) Don Ed. Neut , F. van Leer , A. Fumet , “Jesus, Son of God and Israelite. The “Friends of Israel”, ” Bulletin of the Missions , T. VIII / 22, No. 2, Abbey of Saint-André, Bruges, 1926, pp.81-85; 6) Pax super Israel , tract 1, 3 pages, Rome, Feb / Mar 1926.   7) Opus Priests: “Amici Israel” , Comitatus Centralis Romae, tract 2, 3 pages, 13 June 1926;   8) Don Ed.Neut , “Prayer for the Jews,” Bulletin of the Missions , T. VIII / 23, No. 8, 1926, pp. 245-248; 9) Decretum of consociatione common people “Amici Israel” abolenda , in Acta Apostolicae Sedis , Vol. XX, 1928, pp. 103-104; . 10) Don Ed Neut , “The removal of” Amici Israel “,” Bulletin of the Missions , T. IX / 24, No. 3, 1928; 11) “There pericolo giudaico e gli” Amici Israele “” La Civilta Cattolica 79, II, Rome, 1928, pp. 335-344; 12)Levie , SJ, “Removal Order of the Association of” Friends of Israel “,” New Theological Review , Namur, 1928, pp. 532-537; 13) J. Bonsirven , SJ, “Some remarks on the removal of” Friends of Israel “,” Israel’s Question , Paris, No. 24, 6th grade, 15 August 1928, p. 2-9; 14) T. Devaux , “The Jewish Press and the decree of St-Office,” The Question of Israel , Paris, No. 24, 6th grade, 15 August 1928, p. 27-30; 15) J. Bonsirven , “The removal of” Amici Israel “,” Bulletin of the Missions , T. IX / 24, No. 3, 1928; 16) R.Laurentin , The Church and the Jews Vatican Casterman, Paris, 1967, Annex 2, pp. 103-106; 17) C. Hall , “The Friends of Israel”, review of SIDIC , T. I, No. 3, Rome, 1968, pp.6-10; 18) A. Ramaekers , “Doctor Anton van Asseldonk bones crucis 1892-1973 “(in Dutch) in Clairlieu , Achel, 1978, pp. 14-51; 19) S. Fumet , History of God in my life , Fayard-Mame, Paris, 1978, pp. 295-303; 20) J. Boly , OSC, “The Father van Asseldonk,”Journal of Veterans of Holy Cross, No. 21, Hannut (Belgium), 1979, pp. 3-11; 21) A.Ramaekers , Chronicle “Wien” (in Dutch) in Clairlieu , 38, Achel, 1980, p. 128-130; 22) J.Scheerder , “Wilhelmus Antonius Van Dinter” (in Dutch) in Clairlieu , 44, Achel, 1986, pp.95-123, 182-235; 23) Cardinal Johannes Willebrands , “The Church Facing Modern Antisemitism” Christian-Jewish Relations , vol. 22, No. 1, 1989, pp. 9-10; 24) Id. ,Church and Jewish People. New Considerations , Paulist Press, New York / Mahwah, New Jersey, 1992, pp. 128-129; 25) Lieven Saerens , “The attitude of the Belgian Catholic clergy with regard to Judaism (1918-1940)”, in R. Van Doorslaer (ed.), The Jews of Belgium. Immigration genocide: 1925/1945 , CREHSGM, Brussels, 1994, pp.   31-33;26) Jacques Maritain , The impossible Semitism , preceded by Jacques Maritain and the Jews , by Pierre Vidal-Naquet , Desclée de Brouwer, Paris, 1994; 27) G. Passelecq and B.Suchecky , hidden encyclical of Pius XI. A missed opportunity for the Church in the face of anti-Semitism , La Découverte, Paris, 1995, pp. 140-144; 28) L. van Belkom , Chronicle “” Amici Israel ‘”(in Dutch) in Clairlieu , 53, Maaseik 1995, pp. 106-109; 29) Id. , Chronicle “” Amici Israel ‘”(in Dutch) in Clairlieu , 54, Maaseik, 1996, pp. 156-157; 30) Ph. Chenaux, “The Friends of Israel”, in “From Judaism to Catholicism: Conversion networks in the period between the two wars,” in The converted the nineteenth and twentieth centuries , Artos University Press, 1996 Arras , pp. 96-100; 31) And. Fouilloux , The French Christians between attack and release 1937-1947 , Seuil, Paris, 1997, pp. 35-39.

[2] These include, among others: the Congregation of Our Lady of Sion, founded in 1852;the Confraternity of prayer for the return of the people of Israel, founded in 1905, and Anglo-American branch, the Catholic Guild of Israel. Protestant side, there were at the end of the nineteenth century, at least thirty companies dedicated to the mission to the Jews, cf. Rev. WT Gidney , The Jews and Their Evangelization , London, 1899, pp. 91-102.

[3] In a 1921 article entitled “About the” Jewish question “”, in op. cit. in note 1 above, 26), p. 67, Maritain noted that Dom Gariador has “participated in the 1920 novena” for the conversion of Jews.

[4] Famous Christian intellectuals also an interest in this movement point to join unions or consider doing so. This was the case of Stanislas Fumet, editor of the journal Letters , who devoted several pages of his autobiography to Amici Israel (see note 1 above, ref. 19). Such as Paul Claudel, in a letter addressed to August 18, 1926 Aniuta Fumet: “I read with emotion in a Belgian missionary magazine the beautiful letter you wrote about the new Society” Friends of Israel, “which I would be happy and proud to be. This movement is beautiful […] it looks like a veil is lifted from the eyes of Christianity and begins to see not only Israel but the Godslayer Christophore the Abraham for the salvation of mankind sacrificed his only son “; cf. Paul Claudel – Stanislas Fumet ,Correspondence 1920-1954. Story of a friendship , L’Age d’Homme, Paris, p. 57.

[5] Decretum of consociatione common people “Amici Israel” abolenda (March 25, 1928), in Acta Apostolicae Sedis , Vol. XX, 1928, pp. 103-104.

[6] Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , . op . cit , note 1, above, 22); and Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18). The latter was a colleague and friend of Father Anton Van Asseldonk.

[7] It is known that the opening of the Vatican archives is by pontificate. And can only be viewed, for now, unless special dispensation, as the archives relating to the pontificate of Benedict XV (1914-1922). The next ones will be accessible archives of the pontificate of Pius XI (1922-1939). Regarding those Amici Israel , it will probably take the 2020-2030 years. Habits in opening the papal archives, read the informative pages learners devoted E. Poulat, in his preface to Passelecq , hidden encyclical , op. cit. , note 1, above, 27) pp. 25-26.

[8] Fumet , History of God in my life, op. cit. , note 1, above, 19), p. 300. This emphasis.

[9] Id ., Ibid. , pp. 301-302. This emphasis. Fumet fact, F. van Leer, the soul of the Association, which is anything but settled.

[10] This plot precision J. Boly (art. cit., note 1, above, 20). And in fact, we have seen, above, that Amici Israel was a “priestly work.” But the difficulty disappears if one takes into account the following clarification, which is found in the article by Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 18: “In many dioceses were created foruniones piae with Amici Israel  “.

[11] Much of this information comes from the article by C. Hall , “The Friends of Israel”, in op. cit. , note 1, above, 17), p. 8.

[12] Cf. Fumet , in op. cit. , note 1, above, 19), p. 300.

[13] Cf. Saerens , “The attitude of the Catholic clergy …”, in op. cit. , note 1, above, 25), p. 31. The researcher used an autobiographical manuscript which we have not had access [F. van Leer ] Mijn reis naar Palestina [My trip to Palestine], 1927 (manuscript archives Rookmaker Mr van Leer).

[14] Cf. F. van Leer , “In front of Zionism”, in op. cit. , note 1, above, 2).

[15] Cf. Ibid. , pp. 237-238. This emphasis.

[16] Letter of October 1925, addressed to the Father Hugon, Dominican, professor at the Angelicum, which had Pius XI trust; it is reproduced in Cahiers Jacques Maritain , No. 23, Kolbsheim, October 1991, pp. 27-28 (our emphasis). The report Maritain was to seek Pius XI agreement on the involvement, albeit only in private, Christian elites in a “pro-Zionist Catholic Panel”. Maritain also inquired whether the Pope would consent to grant a private audience to Dr. Jacobson, delegate in Paris for Europe, the Executive Committee of the Zionist organization. The response of the Pope was lukewarm and Maritain stopped stroking the project. Moreover, we find, in the article by Hall , “Friends of Israel” ( op. cit. in note 1, above, 17), pp. 7-8), an overview, brief but excellent, the enthusiasm of some pro-Zionist Catholic at the time, and the attitude of the Holy See with regard to this movement, Benedict XV First envisioned to promote, in the hope that it would lead to the conversion of many Jews, but then treated with suspicion or even hostility, on the basis of hostile reports from Palestine. To give an idea of the passion and gross ignorance that characterized the latter, it is only read this piece of anthology, from a conference that gave in 1922 in Rome, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem “As the reports show based on the intention of the Zionists is to gradually expropriate the Arabs and Christians … To increase the number of their co-religionists, they organize emigration to Palestine of Russian Jews, almost all Bolsheviks . No less fatal is the work of the Zionists immorality  ; since they became the   masters of Palestine, it is terribly common in this land, washed by the blood of Jesus Christ. The closed-houses were opened in Jerusalem, Haifa, Nazareth … of loose women swarm everywhere, and shameful diseases spread . “(Our emphasis).

[17] Quoted from the Cahiers Jacques Maritain 23, p. 30. The italicized words are underlined in the original document.

[18] This “Catholic Zionism” ambient was briefly analyzed by Chenaux , “The Friends of Israel”, in op. cit. , note 1, above, 30). This researcher aptly highlighted the major role played in the spread of the ideals of Amici Israel , the missions of the Bulletin of the Benedictine Abbey of Saint-André-lez-Bruges. These monks, impressed by the experience of the Vincentian missionary Vincent Lebbe, who had been entirely Chinese with the Chinese, and had become a familiar Abbey since his return from China in 1920, saw in a reply within designs Amici , who advocated respect for Jews and Jewishness saw in the Zionist enterprise, an environment for a Jewish inculturation of the Christian faith, for the creation of a “Jewish Catholic Church.”

[19] Thus Saerens , in op. cit. , note 1, above, 25), p. 31: “On the basis of” Amici “there is the personal initiative of Maria van Leer Franceska …”, probably following on this Fumet , in op. cit. , note 1, above, 19), p. 302, which uses the term as a “work inspired by Franceska  “. This emphasis.

[20] Thus Fumet , in op. cit. , note 1, above, 19), p. 301: “The Friends of Israel , the association which had been founded around Franceska van Leer two Dutch priests … “This emphasis.

[21] Thus Fouilloux, in op. cit. , note 1, above, 31), p. 36: “Upon his return [to Palestine],she founded elsewhere in Rome under the name of Amici Israel , Israel’s friends, that canon law calls a “pious union” … “This is us Emphasis added.

[22] Cf. Fumet , op. cit. , p. 300: “It will galvanize several Dutch priests who ended a little unhinged. »

[23] According to the brochure Pax super Israel , op. cit. , note 1, above, 1), p. 25. And see Saerens , in op. cit. , note 1, above, 25), p. 33, which is based, among other references, the brochure of a Belgian Catholic educator, Canon A. De Coene , Vrede over Israel [Peace on Israel], Leuven, 1927, p. 35 document that we could have access.

[24] Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 19.

[25] This is Pax super Israel (March 1925), in op. cit. , note 1, above, 1), p. 4. The reference and the printing date shown on the cover page do not fail to amaze “Comitatis Centralis” Amicorum Israel “Romae Mart. 1925 “. However, with the exception of this brochure, all accessible documents and almost all of the literature that addresses this mention Association in February 1926 as the date of its foundation, although some sources admit a beginning to this previous occupation Date. The publishers of this brochure would they backdated by carelessness or intentionally? The question remains open. In our case, we propose to see in this publication, which can be dated 1927 (but contains earlier material), a summary of the deliberations and actions of the Association since its inception. The mentioned date (March 1925) would be one of the early “non-Roman” initiative, as a diocesan association of clerics in Holland, following a private trip (van Asseldonk?), Which is mentioned in the same document, p. 24: “Pro Opere iter praeterea factum leaking private, firstly in Hollandiam, cuius exitus leaking, quod ibi erigeretur in Opus Opus diocesanum Cleri” (a trip was undertaken privately, first in Holland, the result was that [ Amici ] it was erected in diocesan clergy work). Finally, it is difficult to doubt the chronology of the stages of the creation of Amici Israel , provided by the Bulletin of the Missions of the first quarter 1926, which holds itself directly F. van Leer (see ref. 5, note 1, above): “This work was born in Rome in November [1925] … The first meeting of the Friends of Israel took place in Rome December 10, 1925 and took place at the Secretariat of the League in Pax Christi Regno Christi … February 24, [1926] the work of the Friends of Israel was thus definitively constituted “(pp. 81-82).

[26] Pax super Israel (March 1925), in op. cit. , note 1, above, 1), p. 4: “huius the expense solvere po [you] imus ex nummis quos populus catholicus FLANDRINUS in Belgio DNAE as said Mr. van Leer Franciscae pro  [word returned by hypothesis, but on the photocopy illegible] eius Collationes: ei and populist Flandrico in Domino Gratias agimus , omnesque nobis bona facientes Amicorum etiam orationibus commendamus . »

[27] Ibid. , p. 25: “Quod autem in Bavaria Monachii Opus Unioni Missionariae Sti. Ludovici unitum leaking and in Brugensi Belgii in Opus diocesanum erectum and per quod totum Belgium and iam magnam partem Bavariae Opus extendi coepit, debemus hoc Collationibus innumeris, quas in Belgio mensibus Octobris and Novembris Februarii and now, in dioecesi Moenchen, mense Decembris Dna. Maria Franciska van Leer habuit, quae ex Iudaismo and co vario-in [?] ut conamine Veritatem inveniret ad Eam Pervenit Monachii anno 1919 and dein tota is in eo, ut misericordiis Domini in to profusis glorificandis of populist suo adiuvendo and Opere nunc of nostro propagando optime nunc mereatur. »

[28] Don Ed. Neut , F. van Leer , A. Fumet , “Jesus, Son of God and Israelite. The ‘Friends of Israel’ ‘, in op. cit. , note 1, above, 5), pp. 81-82.

[29] Ibid. , p. 81. Italics starts are our fault. They aim to highlight expressions which express the newness of the Christian attitude toward Jews, advocated by the Amici Israel.

[30] Ibid. , p. 82.

[31] Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit. , Note 1 above, 22), p. 104.

[32] Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , Note 1 above, 18), p. 24. Without questioning the reality of the matter reported by the renowned Professor of Nijmegen, its documentary value must be relativized. In fact, good historical method, a formulated about almost twenty years after the events, one can not reasonably infer that such was the state of mind of the perpetrator at the time of the facts.

[33] Other possible translation: ‘going a bit far’ Dutch ‘niet allemaal door of beugel “ .

[34] By the way, here’s wrote, after the conviction of the work of Amici , one of the best friends of van Asseldonk: “We are all convinced that Francisca van Leer, who both here that Holland, is considered as a person to avoid (if not more) is guilty of what happens to A. (van Asseldonk]. ” Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., footnote 1, below -dessus, 22), p. 113. See below, II. 4, § 1-2.

[35] For what will follow on P. van Asseldonk, we are largely indebted to the major items of Crosiers Ramaekers Fathers (cf. Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18) and Scheeerder (cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter ), sometimes we follow to the letter.Regarding the first, we would like to thank publicly here, unfortunately he passed away several years ago. Our gratitude therefore postpones the P. Scheerder and the excellent review Clairlieu , which published the valuable contributions of these religious.

[36] Titles in Kruistriomf , numbers IV, V, VI between 1925 and 1927. You can read some details about the “Jewish dating” van Asseldonk, during his youth in Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit. , note 1, above, 22), p. 102.

[37] Quoted text by L. van Belkom , Chronicle “” Amici Israel “” in op. cit. , note 1, above, 28). This emphasis.

[38] According Scheerder, which refers to an autobiographical account entitled “Naar Israel” [to Israel], published under the pseudonym of Beniamin in Kruistriomf , 5, 1925-1926, pp. 339-345 (non consulting), van Asseldonk considered the mission entrusted to him by God. Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit. , Note 1 above, 22), p. 103.

[39] Letter dated December 5, 1925, Archives of the Procure Crosier in Rome extract quoted by Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 15. Emphasis added.

[40] Kruistriomf , IV, 1924-1925, p. 353. See also V, 1925-1926, p. 28.

[41] Pax super Israel , first published (4 pages in 4), p. 1-2, in February-March 1926, Followed by a sheet, published in June 1926. Then was born a periodical of the same title small (10 x 15 cm), which appeared three times, each delivery with respectively 36, 32 and 18 pages. Finally, still seemed a double page with the statutes of the members and moderators. Copies of these publications are kept in the archives of the cloister, Diest.

[42] Pax super Israel , First Publication pp. 2-3.

[43] Pax super Israel , second publication, p. 1-2.

[44] Pax super Israel , No. 1, p. 22-25. Letter from Dr. A. Ramaekers O. Schwarz, dated 1-3-1974, quoted byRamaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 18 .

[45] The number of members is mentioned on a separate sheet, see note 40, above; see Nederlandse Katholieke Stemmen , XXVI, 1926, p. 186; St. Jansklokken , IV, 1926, No. 173, 24-4, p. 66. Concerning the General Chapter of 1926, we find the following trace in Chronicon Cruciferorum , III, Issue. 1 Diest, 1969, p. 110:“Capitulum unanimiter agnovit, Opus Pro reditu Israel Ovile ad esse juxta mentem Ordinis Christi and omnes confratres subscribere huic operi in votis habet” .

[46] Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit. , Note 1 above, 22), p. 103.

[47] P. Ramaekers Note: “Letter from 13-11-1926 to General Hollmann; the letter to which she responds is considered by van Asseldonk as ” a collective letter ”  ; so it certainly was issued by Father General and Definitors. He also leaves reflected the reason of his conduct; before leaving Rome, he had talked with Father General and had not had the slightest remark; therefore considered unfair the letter containing binding orders, which had immediately followed his frank discussion with the general. Although the style of this letter is humble, van Asseldonk is not shy to express his opinion. ” Analysis complete and correct by that of Scheerder, more detailed and far less favorable than that of van Asseldonk Ramaekers: see Scheerder , Van Dinter ,op. cit., note 1, above, 22), p. 106-107.

[48] ​​Pax super Israel , I, 1927, No. 2, p. 52 .

[49] Father Ramaekers does not provide the reference of this mail. The capital letters are the work of van Asseldonk itself.

[50] Pax super Israel , II, 1928, No. 1, pp. 15, 16, 14. In the same issue, the topicAntisemitica mentions persecution of Jews in Romania.

[51] Acta Apostolicae Sedis, XX, 1928, op. cit. , note 1, above, 9).

[52] Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 35.

[53] Ibid. , pp. 24-25.

[54] The P. van Asseldonk met her in 1950. Ottilie Schwartz, of Jewish origin by his father, became Lutheran First, in Vienna. She took part in Amsterdam, a group of Jewish Christians. She undertook Lutheran theological studies until his conversion to Catholicism. It is the Father van Asseldonk who introduced the Catholic Church in Utrecht on 25 July 1951. She worked with the professor Willebrands, who then began his ecumenical work   internationally. She studied Catholic theology in Nijmegen first, then in Vienna, under the direction of Professor van der Ploeg, and became in 1965 the first woman doctor in theology from the University of Nijmegen. Information provided byRamaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 44.

[55] In the article, we follow closely in relation van Asseldonk biography, Father Ramaekers said that the relations between the religious and the bishop then améliorèrent to become friendly (correspondence in the archives of provincialate of Leuven and the personal archives of P. Ramaekers).

[56] Correspondence in the personal archives of P. Ramaekers.

[57] He stayed there from July to September 1928, which earned him dismissal from the post of the Prosecutor. From what was said Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 34, it appears that, without the authorization of his superiors and unwittingly, “van Asseldonk remained approximately four months Haifa and addressed the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem to ask him to leave work among the Jews. The latter sent him to the Roman authorities. “According Ramaekers ( ibid. ), to understand this seemingly irresponsible behavior “must be entered in thought and psychology van Asseldonk. We can not justify its conduct in the light of objective criteria. But, as he himself wrote, a few weeks after the decree, he realized that he had a responsibility to give a sign in the Church, that “the case of Israel” must become a priority for the Church and the world. For this, he wanted to go to Palestine, to reflect, within the Jewish population, about how God could be achieved concerning Israel. He sought advice from his confessor who told him to go. He later told that although this decision has the ground, he seriously thought he was to remain faithful to its vocation for Israel. “. At this stage, the precise P. Ramaekers that he drew the information it provides about the conviction of Amici Israel “in the letters of van Asseldonk and letters or evidence (collected between June and July 1978) to colleagues who have experienced it in Rome as prosecutor during the years 1924-1928. ” We will return to this strange episode in Part II of this study.

[58] Fumet , in op. cit. , note 1, above, 19), p. 302. Emphasis added.

[59] No doubt this friendship so uncommon between a priest and a woman of the same age as him, has contributed to discredit van Asseldonk, supposed to act only under the influence of F. van Leer, that we also finally ban him again.

[60] According Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 46. ​​Emphasis added.

[61] Latin Title: Decretum De consociatione common people “Amici Israel” abolenda , Latin text of the Decretum , in op. cit. , note 1, above, 9), reproduced in Levie , Decree suppression , in op. cit. , note 1, above, 12), pp. 532-533. Here we quote, touching up slightly, the French translation appearing in Laurentin , The Church and the Jews , op. cit., note 1, above, 16), pp. 104-105, and reproduced Passelecq , The encyclical , op. cit. , note 1, above, 27), pp. 141-142.

[62] Laurentin and Passelecq, which follows it, translate, erroneously, the ”  idcirco  “Latin for” there is little time. ” In our view, this contradiction is responsible for the theory that it was not until I discovered  late , “the pamphlet published for that purpose “(not” recently  “) mentioned in the decree, the principles (incorrect ) who presided over the apostolate of Amici , the Holy Office decided to end the business.

[63] The difficulty is documentary. Father Levie, in his article cited ( Decree suppression , in .. supra , note 1, above, 12), and details the Publications Amici  “two sheets of 4 and 2 pages, published in 1926; the first entitled “Pax super Israel”; the second, “Opus Priestly Amici Israel ‘” ( Ibid. , pp 533-534, n. 4.). Then a brochure entitled “Pax super Israel”, which “seems to date from 1927, since repeatedly mentions the events of the first months of 1927; However, the date given on the second page after the imprimatur of March 1925. It contains 36 pages. The second brochure continues (p. 37-68) bears the imprimatur of June 1927. The third (18 pages) is January 1928. ” ( Ibid. , p. 535, n. 1).

[64] Cf. Levie , Decree suppression , in op. cit. , note 1, above, 12), p. 535.

[65] “Conspectus Brevis” in Pax super Israel , op. cit. , note 1, above, 1), pp. 3 ff.

[66] Levie , Decree suppression , in op. cit. , note 1, above, 12), p. 535. Note that, in his bibliography, Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 48, n. 44, assigns this ”  Conspectus Brevis  “the date of 1927, and says:” document approved and corrected by the Central Committee of Amici and, in my opinion, certainly from the hand of van Asseldonk. ”

[67] Historian business and inspector general of the teaching of history in the Department of Education, Jules Isaac Marx, a Jewish French (1877-1963), horrified by the Nazi anti-Jewish persecution (wife, daughter and his son died in the death camps), devoted the rest of his life studying and denounce the Christian roots of anti-Semitism and to advocate a radical reorganization of the Church’s teaching about the Jewish people.Highly unwelcome early and contested in its analyzes, deemed incompetent, the New Testament – which he claimed that the anti-Jewish teaching was at the root of Christian anti-Semitism – he managed to be heard by some Christians and even the Pope John XXIII, who gave sympathetic consideration to his impassioned plea in favor of making explicit positive position of the Church towards the Jewish people and a rectification of its traditional anti-Jewish teaching. He was behind the increasingly discredited misconceptions such as the charge of “deicide” and the abolition of the formula “Pro perfidis Iudaeis” in the office of Holy Week. And there is no doubt that his action – though it was not the only one in that – had a hand in the decision that took the supreme authority of the Church to treat Jews at Vatican II. Main works: Jesus and Israel, Paris, 1948 Genesis of anti-Semitism , Paris, 1956. The teaching of contempt , Paris, 1962.

[68] Named after the famous meeting, which took place in 1947 in the Swiss village of Seelisberg to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism Christians. In comparison with the twelve points of the Amici , a summary of the “Ten Points” said Seelisberg: 1. Remember this is the same living God who speaks to us all in the Old and New Testament. 2. Remember that Jesus was born of a Jewish virgin, of the seed of David and the People of Israel and His everlasting love and forgiveness embraces His own people and the world.3. Remember that the first disciples, the apostles and the first martyrs were Jews. 4. Remember that the fundamental tenet of Christianity, that of love of God and neighbor, already enacted in the Old Testament and confirmed by Jesus, is binding “Christians and Jews” in all human relations without exception. 5. Do not belittle the biblical and post-biblical Judaism in order to exalt Christianity. 6. Avoid using the word “Jews” in the exclusive sense of “enemies of Jesus,” or the phrase “enemies of Jesus” to refer to the entire Jewish people. 7. Avoid presenting the Passion in such a way that the blame for the killing of Jesus falls on the Jews only … 8. Do not bring curses Scripture and the cry of an excited crowd, “His blood be on and on our children “without recalling that this cry can not prevail against the infinitely more powerful prayer of Jesus:” Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. ” 9. Avoid promoting the superstitious notion that the Jewish people are reprobate, accursed, reserved for a destiny of suffering. 10. Avoid speaking of the Jews as if they were not the first to be the church. You can read useful overviews of Seelisberg event in the Twenty-seventh book of Jewish Studies of the Protestant magazine Faith and Life , Vol. XCVII / 1, Paris, January 1998, and Sens , our 7/8, 1997 and 10 of 1998.

[69] They are included in the brochure of the movement Pax super Israel , pp. 3 ff. This publication is coated with the Imprimatur Roman and dated March 1925. This is probably the “libellus” the booklet, mentioned in the order.

[70] Levie , SJ, “Decree of suppressing the Association” Friends of Israel “”, in op. cit. , note 1, above, 12), pp. 536-537.

[71] However, it is what wrote, in an article entitled “Who will pay? “, Published in La Croix of 22 December 1888 some Tardif de Moidrey: “The Jew is born with a double original sin  : that of Adam First, it is not baptized; that of Caiaphas then: hatred of Christ. “Text quoted by P. Sorlin , The Cross and the Jews 1880-1899 , Grasset, Paris, 1967, p. 147 (our emphasis). For information, note that this topic will be found, less than 11 years after the dissolution of Amici Israel , from the pen of a Catholic intellectual, Thomist and former disciple of J. Maritain, “We know that Israel is marked with the seal of God, terrible seal and hot. We know that there is a kind of original sin of a new genre to be born Jewish . “(Our emphasis) in   Marcel de Corte , “Jacques Maritain and the” Jewish question “,” article published in The Catholic Review of ideas and facts , Liège, March 17, 1939, reprinted in Jacques Maritain , L impossible Semitism , op. cit. in note 1, above, 26), p. 185.

[72] It should be noted that among the Amici were theologians who were authoritative, as Father Garrigou-Lagrange.

[73] Letter from van der Ploeg of 24 October 1973 (personal archive Ramaekers). SeeRamaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 24, n. 20. But it may be objected that in 1947, attitudes had changed under the impact of the Holocaust.

[74]  According Passelecq , The encyclical , in op. cit. in note 1, above, 27), pp. 143-144.This emphasis.

[75] Bonsirven , Delete , in op. cit. in note 1, above, 18), pp. 6-8. This emphasis.

[76] Allusion unworthy propagandists Catholics of Jewish origin of the movement of Amici, and no doubt, particularly at F. van Leer, which we have seen the important role it played in the spread of this ideal.

[77] Here again, Bonsirven gone wrong. Examination of the documents of the Association, the articles published by its founder and some of its members and supporters, all supported by the vast correspondence van Asseldonk and that of his friends and relations, clearly proves that the eight first negative points of their program (“omits to say that,” speaking of the Jews), have nothing to do with “oratorical”. On the contrary, the reform of language and the attitude to adopt in dealing with the Jews, constitutes the ideal of Amici and inseparable from their innovative intuition of the need to address the Jews what we call today ‘ hui “a new look” before trying to win them to the Christian faith.

[78] This is JH Boas in Maasbode Of the 17, 19 and 20 May 1928. We summarize here the synthesis, in fact  Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 29.

[79] Cf. Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 29. P. van Asseldonk biographer states that this text has been copied under the title Sentimentaliteit (sic)vrienden Israel [sentimentality Friends of Israel] by Dr van Lieshout, from an article by W. van de Rest, appeared in the Zondagcourant , VIII, No. 5, February 1, 1931. He is in the archives of Diest.

[80] Cf. Fumet , History of God in my life, op. cit. , note 1, above, 19), pp. 301-302.

[81] Cf. Levie , “Decree of suppressing the Association” Friends of Israel “”, in op. cit. , note 1, above, 12), p. 536, n. 1: “Elsewhere in lectures [particularly targeted: F. van Leer] or Articles [particularly targeted: Aniuta Fumet] have crept too often ways to talk about the Incarnation and the Eucharist, which might have be happier. “Personally, we have not encountered such expressions in the writings of F. van Leer. By cons, this is the case for A. Fumet who, in a letter addressed to a Belgian missionary magazine in April 1926, issued this statement theologically shocking: “When a Christian communion, he became the seed of Israel, since receiving the pure blood in the veins of Israel “(cf. Don Ed. Neut , F. van Leer , A. Fumet , “Jesus, Son of God and Israelite. The” Friends of Israel “”, in op. cit. in note 1 above, 5), p. 83). This is probably a reaction to such things as Levie remarked ( ibid. , n. 1): “What we need to exalt in the Incarnation is that, united with Jesus, we become through him” consortes divinae naturae “[participants of the divine nature] in the Eucharist that we communicate the Word of God made ​​flesh. The question of “Judaism” [today we would say ‘Jewishness’] Jesus does not have to be marked here, since it has no effective religious . “The highlighted are Levie.

[82] Cf. Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 32. Emphasis added.

[83] According Ramaekers , Ibid. , p. 27. Emphasis added.

[84] Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church , Art. 1124-1125: “The faith of the Church predates the faith of the believer who is invited to join … From there the old adage: “Lex orandi, lex credendi” … The law of prayer is the law of faith. The Church believes as she prays. Liturgy is a constitutive element of the holy and living Tradition. This is why no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the discretion of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority can not change the liturgy at will, but only in the obedience of faith and religious reverence for the mystery of the liturgy. “. In the light of this explanation authorized, we better understand the scandal of “deposit guards” of the time, faced with a proposal like that of P. van Asseldonk. We now know that these were prophetic intuition and anticipation of a process whose conditions were not yet asked. Indeed, after the timid corrections of Pius XII hesitant (1947), the “good Pope John” prophetic audacity (John XXIII) finally abolished this discriminatory ceremonial and offensive phraseology (1960). A brief but useful summary of this evolution in the churches to Judaism. Official Records 1948-1978 , collected texts, translated and annotated by Marie-Thérèse Hoch and Bernard Dupuy, Editions du Cerf, Paris, 1980, pp.350-352.

[85] According Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 27, n. 27. Emphasis added. Scheerder   supports the event by quoting this excerpt from a contemporary letter of facts, probably written in 1928 by a good friend of van Assedonk the prelate H. Noots: “The occasio proxima [next time] that conviction seems being an application to the Congregation of Rites, so that in the office Friday, it deletes the wordspro perfidis Judaeis and that we do genuflection  [like other invocations] Oremus, Flectamus genua [pray , kneel]. I also learned that A. [van Asseldonk] claimed that the word ” deicidae ” [deicides] could no longer be used for Jews! “; see Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., note 1, above, 22), pp. 113-114.

[86] This emphasis. Ramaekers added to cryptically: “He gives several reasons that we can not mention here.” Proof, if any were needed, that many unknowns in this case could be resolved, even before it is possible   to access the Holy Office of the file (to 2028), provided that researchers have access to all the personal archives of van Asseldonk and those of the Crosier Order, relating to the case.

[87] Note 46.

[88] Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., Note 1 above, 22), p. 107. exclamation points and capital letters are van Asseldonk.

[89] Characteristic in this respect is the extract of the negative response that made ​​Cardinal van Rossum at a higher van Asseldonk, in which the latter in “running away” in Haifa, following the abolition of his work, asked the permission to work among the Jews in the Holy Land: “Obedience should come from subordinates, and not be extorted from the authority.” Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., Note 1 above, 22), p. 119. We find  more details on this “fugue” in Conclusion

[90] Cf. Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , Note 1 above, 18), pp. 31-32.

[91] Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., Note 1 above, 22), p. 109. The italics are the work of van Asseldonk. From here, I am very closely the contribution of Scheerder, which provides a number of important details, drawn from sources that Ramaekers not known or has not thought it necessary to mention.

[92] The PA van Dooren, General Treasurer and novice master in Ste Agathe, replacing the new General van Dinter, then traveling to the Americas.

[93] Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., Note 1 above, 22), p. . 109 The author includes in this quote the following note: “italics, exclamations and use of capital [and ellipsis] are van Asseldonk. The entire letter gives an excitation printing; the relationship between superiors and subordinates seem reversed. ” The disjointed nature of this text and those who follow their ground and often obscure style, made ​​it difficult for the translator; we therefore wish to excuse the heaviness and inaccuracies of some expressions, it was sometimes necessary to translate word for word without always being sure of their exact meaning.

[94] Ibid. , pp. 109-110.

[95] In consideration of brothers who can not stand the now.

[96] Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., note 1, above, 22), p. 111. The exclamatory punctuation and capital letters are van Asseldonk.

[97] Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., note 1, above, 22), p. 111.

[98] Cf. Fumet , History of God in my life, op. cit. note 1, above, 19), pp. 301-302. The italics are ours. The transition figure, verbatim , in I, § 1 above.

[99] Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., note 1, above, 22), p. 113.

[100] This is probably the Central Committee of Amici Israel .

[101] Ibid. , pp. 114-115.

[102] Scheerder states: “The Cardinal speaks of the” loss “of van Asseldonk for the Order.This was not entirely imaginary … for about six months earlier, precisely 8 April 1927 [So nearly a year before the dissolution] he wrote to Father General: “He   then came – I summarize briefly – I estimated that, in conscience , having to leave our beloved Order, I have served and loved as a child because I could not see how he could feed the Cross passionate love inside me. You’ve probably never realized how much it was hard for me you know: I will never forget this day! When you have me escorted by car, the next day, it was like a funeral for my soul. ‘” Scheerder and added: “It can be assumed that he had considered leaving the College to fulfill its prophetic task. This was a motivation that seems incorrect. And following his letter reveals he later changed his mind about it. ”

[103] Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., Note 1 above, 22), p. 115.

[104] Ibid. , pp. 115-116. Emphasis added van Asseldonk.

[105] Cf. Ibid. , p. 116.

[106] Ibid. , pp. 116-117.

[107] The Canon 2386, in force at that time, states: “The fugitive loses ipso facto the function it may assume in the Order; in addition, it has received major orders, he incurred the latae sententiae suspensio [from the clerical state because of major excommunication] , reserved for his superior. ”

[108] Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., Note 1 above, 22), p. 117.

[109] This is the   P. Laetus Himmelreich, OFM (1886-1957), who was a member of the Central Committee of  Amici Israel and close associate of van Asseldonk. It was also her confessor and spiritual guide. He later wrote to van Dinter he had realized since it was not him who guided van Asseldonk but it was he who was guided by Van Asseldonk.Scheerder reports that on 24 September 1928, Fr. Rutten, Attorney Crosier interim reports that Laetus father came the day before while agitated, ask forgiveness for the bad advice given to van Asseldonk

[110] It follows closely Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., Note 1 above, 22), pp. 117-118.

[111] The Flemish Discalced Carmelites have a parish church in Haifa.

[112] Cf. Scheerder , Van Dinter , op. cit., Note 1 above, 22), p. 119.

[113] Ibid. , p. 118.

[114] Cf. Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , Note 1 above, 18), pp. 31-32.

[115] It was the constant concern of many congregations and fraternities of prayer and apostolate dedicated to the conversion of the Jews, as is quite clear from reading their propaganda pamphlets and periodical publications. It’s the same zeal that inspired the famous Thomist philosopher Jacques Maritain, in his article of 1921, “About the” Jewish question “” (cf. op. cit. in note 1, above, 26) pp. 65-68). It was also an obsession that within twenty years, was spread on a delirious fashion, in a book, as many anti-Semitic is enlightened, moreover coated with the imprimatur (cf. Rev. Charles Marcault , How Israel return -t he the Messiah? , Paris, 1924). The Jewish converts in the history, see AAWinogradsky , “Hebrew Attendance in the history of the Church”, in Review of Religious Sciences 74/4, 1986, pp. 511-536. On the same subject, about twenty to thirty years, see Chenaux , conversion Networks , cf. op. cit. in note 1 above, 30), pp. 96-100; etc.

[116] According to Maritain (cf. op. cit. in note 1 above, 26), p. 67) “concept, launched in London in 1918, Masses to celebrate novenas for the conversion of Israel,” and had “flourished singular way” – to the point that “in France only 510 Masses was celebrated in 1920, more than a thousand have been recorded for 1921 […] received the approval of Pope Benedict XV, “which had” promised to offer himself during the novena in preparation for the feast of the Sacred -Coeur, the sacrifice of the Mass for the conversion of Jews. “.

[117] Excerpt from the decree of suppression, cited above: II. 1.

[118] Recall, in fact, a year after its founding, eighteen cardinals, two archbishops and bishops and two hundred thousand priests had joined the work.

[119] Fumet , History of God in my life, op. cit. , note 1, above, 19), p. 302. Emphasis added.

[120] Decretum , in op. cit ., note 1, above, 8). The italics are ours. More reason to wonder what the drafters of Nostra Aetate , which in paragraph 3 devoted to Islam, made ​​mention of the precedent of a letter of Gregory VII (XI c.) the king of Mauritania ( cf. Second Vatican Council Constitutions • • • Decrees Declarations ., Centurion, Paris, 1967, p 696, note 5), did not see fit to use in paragraph 4 devoted to Judaism, this other previous – much more how significant and positive, although it is in a sanction context – that is cited as nowadays, most often without recall the context. As for the argument that sees in this passage “compensation” for “sweeten the pill” of the decree of suppression of what was then the sole initiative of favorable Church to the Jewish people, it does not deserve to bother to refute it. Recall that just as anti-Semitic Christians who harbor anti-Jewish feelings do not bother to match their acts or unfavorable about the Jews’ compensation formulas. ”

[121] It would be worthwhile to inquire into the existence of similar contemporary or earlier statement from another organization, civil or religious. Personally, we do not have knowledge.

[122] Recall that in 1937, Pius XI conceived the idea of an encyclical against racism and anti-Semitism . His death in 1939 and the war put a definitive end to the company. See, in this regard, Passelecq / Suchecky , hidden encyclical , op. cit. , note 1, above, 27) . In the light of the famous exclamation of the Pope, at the same time – “Anti-Semitism is unacceptable; a Christian can not be anti-Semitic; spiritually, we are Semites! “- We are inclined to see in this papal failed project, a real continuity with the positive state of mind in which the Church had shown towards the Jews, ten years earlier, in approving the work of Amici Israel and an irrefutable indication that the Jewish problem did not stop the worry.

[123] This is WP Eckert , Beiträge zur Christlichen-Jüdischen Begegnung in Freiburger Rundbrief of 1 December 1967; article cited by Ramaekers , Van Asseldonk , op. cit. , note 1, above, 18), p. 27, n. 27.

About richardsh

Messianic Jewish teacher in UK
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4 Responses to 25 March 1928 Pius XI condemns antisemitism but suppresses “Amici Israel” (Friends of Israel) #otdimjh

  1. The Roman Catholic Church regards it’s “Tradition,” which encompasses Papal Encyclicals as definitive and inerrant authority and Synodical pronouncements as having a binding value, cannot embrace Messianic Jewish theology and practice as being at variance with its own theology and practice.


  2. Rivtsion says:

    I am the author of this study (in French). Congratulations for your translation. Just to mention that I wrote a further study, which takes account of the book of Hubert Wolf: “Réévaluation des motifs invoqués par le Saint-Siège pour justifier la suppression de l’association philojudaïque ‘Amici Israel’ (1926-1928)” (https://www.academia.edu/8392562/Réévaluation_des_motifs_invoqués_par_le_Saint-Siège_pour_justifier_la_suppression_de_lassociation_philojudaïque_Amici_Israel_1926-1928_)
    Shalom in Yeshua hammashiach!


  3. Pingback: 25 March 1928 Pope Pius XI closes “friends of Israel” #otdimjh | On This Day In Messianic Jewish History

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