Synagogue & Church Conference Schedule
Free and Open to the Public.
Formal registration has ended. You are welcome to attend any of the lectures, please join us!
Opening Remarks – Acting President Belton
7:00 p.m. – Holy Secrets: Behind the Scenes (Scandinavian Cultural Center, Anderson University Center)
Documentary filmmaker Steve Pressman discusses his upcoming film, which will explore some of the actions (and inactions) taken by the Vatican during the Holocaust and in the years leading up to it. In particular, the film will focus on a variety of Americans – diplomatic and clerical – who attempted to influence Vatican policies during this period. Pressman will share clips from the film and take us behind the scenes as he talks about the film’s production.
9:00 a.m. – Registration (Regency Room Lobby, Anderson University Center)
10:00 a.m. - 11:40 a.m. – The “Pius Wars” (Regency Room, AUC)
“Responsibility, Accountability and Judgement: Pius XII and the Holocaust” – Robert Ventresca
The so-called ‘Pius War’, that war of words over the Pope’s role during the Holocaust, has done great harm to our understanding of this major historical figure, and of the institution he governed for nearly two decades. Papal biographer Robert Ventresca provides a critical assessment of the debate, and offers a new framework for the proper historical and ethical evaluation of religious leadership during the Holocaust.
“The Holocaust and the Pope’s Dilemma” – Jacques Kornberg
Pope Pius XII presided over the Catholic Church during one of the most challenging moments in its history. Elected in 1939, Pius XII spoke out against war and destruction, but his refusal to publicly condemn Nazi Germany and its allies for mass atrocities and genocide remain controversial over seventy years after the end of the Second World War. I conclude that neither his defenders nor detractors are right.
- Robert Ventresca, Associate Professor of History, King’s University College at Western University in London, Ontario (Canada)
- Jacques Kornberg, Professor Emeritus, Department of History, University of Toronto
11:45 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. – Mayer Summer Research Fellow Presentations (Room 133, AUC)
Mayer Summer Research Fellows will offer brief overviews of their summer research projects as the conference participants enjoy box lunches.
Kurt Mayer Summer Research Fellows:
- Lottie Duren ’19, Pacific Lutheran University
- Courtney Olsen ’18, Pacific Lutheran University
- Sadie Powell ’17, Pacific Lutheran University
12:40 a.m. - 1:35 p.m. – Catholic Poets and the Holocaust (Regency Room, AUC)
“Mystics, Martyrs, and Resisters: Two French Catholic Poets of World War II and the Holocaust” – Mary Anne O’Neil (Mary Anne O’Neil’s paper will be presented by PLU student, Sophia Mahr)
Pierre Jean Jouve and Pierre Emmanuel: French Catholic Poets of the Holocaust
Catholic poets figured prominently in the intellectual resistance to the German Occupation of France. This presentation will examine the works of two French Catholic poets — Pierre Jean Jouve, and Pierre Emmanuel — written between 1939 and 1946 that address the Holocaust and explain the poet’s role as witness to the Nazi atrocities and resister. Jouve, a disciple of Freud with mystical tendencies, interprets the Shoah as the imminent Second Coming of Christ. Emmanuel becomes a member of the French Resistance and sees both the war and the Holocaust as episodes in the history of sin and redemption narrated in the Bible and re-enacted symbolically in the Catholic liturgical year. In four volumes of poetry written during the war, his thought evolves from a view of Hitler as the Anti-Christ to a concern with the rise of atheistic totalitarian regimes that seek to destroy the Judeo-Christian foundations of Western civilization. In conclusion, I would like to discuss critical reactions to this poetry both from the 1940s and today and attempt to situate these three poets in the history of poetry of mid-twentieth- century France.
I will provide brief English translations of the poems I discuss, as well as photographs of these poets in a power point.
- Mary Anne O’Neil, Professor of French emeritus, Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington
- Sophia Mahr ’18, Pacific Lutheran University
1:45 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. – The Question of Catholic Antisemitism (Regency Room, AUC)
“The Plight of Erna Becker-Kohen, a Catholic of Jewish Heritage in Hitler’s Germany” – Kevin P. Spicer and Martina Cucchiara
In 1931, Gustav Becker and Erna Kohen married. He was Catholic and she was Jewish. Erna and Gustav had no idea their religious affiliations, which mattered so little to them, would define their marriage under the Nazis. As one of the more than 20,000 German Jews married to an “Aryan” spouse, Erna was initially exempt from the most radical anti-Jewish measures. However, even after Erna willingly converted to Catholicism, the persecution, isolation, and hatred leveled against them by the Nazi regime and their Christian neighbors intensified, and she and their son Silvan were forced to flee alone into the mountains. Through intimate and insightful diary entries, Erna tells her own compelling and horrifying story and reflects on the fortunate escapes and terrible tragedies of her friends and family. The Nazis would exact steep payment for Erna’s survival: her home, her family, and ultimately her faithful husband’s life. The Evil That Surrounds Us reveals both the great evil of Nazi Germany and the powerful love and courage of her husband, friends, and strangers who risked everything to protect her.
“Weimar Catholics: Antisemites and Anti-Racists” – Martin Menke
Since the Wilhemine Empire, German Catholics defended Jewish rights not because of a particular affinity for the Jews of their era, but because they believed liberal democracy would respect Catholic rights if it were forced to respect all religious rights. During the years of the Weimar Republic, German Catholics all defend the rights of Jews because this defense applied to the rights of Catholics. More importantly, opposing the Nazis, German Catholics condemned racism as contrary to Catholic teaching, but did not understand Antisemitism to be racist. Thus, while German Catholics opposed Nazi racism, they continued to endorse or at least tolerate Nazi Antisemitism.
“Radical Catholic Traditionalists, the Holocaust and American Politics” – Mark Weitzman
The radical Catholic traditionalist movement in the US reflects the movements broad issues with antisemitism and religious freedom. I will trace their thought on those issues, as well as their attempts to influence American politics which have recently come under media attention.
- Kevin P. Spicer, the James J. Kenneally Distinguished Professor of History at Stonehill College, Easton, Massachusetts
- Martina Cucchiara, Assistant Professor of History, Bluffton University in Ohio
- Martin Menke, Professor of History and Political Science, Rivier University in Nashua, New Hampshire
- Mark Weitzman, Director of Government Affairs for the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Chief Representative of the Center to the United Nations in New York
3:45 p.m. - 5 p.m. – Resisters and Persecution (Regency Room, AUC)
“The Persecution of the Catholic Church in German-Occupied Poland.” – Jonathan Huener
With a focus on the region known as the “Reichsgau Wartheland,” this talk will discuss the diverse ways in which the Nazi occupation regime persecuted the Catholic Church in occupied Poland, the regime’s motives for these measures, the experiences and responses of the Polish clergy and laity, and the Vatican’s responses to the persecution of the Polish church.
“Bernhard Lichtenberg: Priest, Critic and Martyr of the Nazi Regime” – Brenda Gaydosh
Bernhard Lichtenberg: Priest, Critic and Martyr of the Nazi Regime is the definitive English biography of the martyred Nazi-era Berlin provost, Bernhard Lichtenberg. There is no thesis per se. The biography responds to the questions: “Why did Bernhard Lichtenberg take a path through the Nazi regime that differed from the majority of his fellow clergymen?” Why did he resist and protest Nazi measures? Why did he pray for the Jews? Vatican officials told Hermann Goering during his visit to Rome in 1931, that German bishops “had to follow their consciences and their religious convictions.” This seemed to be the Vatican’s expectations during the Third Reich. Bernhard Lichtenberg offered no criticism for papal inaction (the Pius debates), but simply followed his conscience. In hindsight, many criticize the Pope. Lichtenberg, however, who experienced the dire situations first hand, continued to look to the Pope as his Christian leader.
- Jonathan Huener, Associate Professor of History at the University of Vermont
- Brenda Gaydosh, Associate Professor of History at West Chester University of Pennsylvania
5:00 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. – Dinner Break (Scandinavian Center, AUC)
For those that have pre-registered, a reception with light fare will be in the Scandinavian Cultural Center
7 p.m. – Keynote Speaker: John F. Connelly (Regency Room, AUC)
“How the Catholic Church overcame its own Theology and Proclaimed that God loves Jews” – John Connelly
God loves the Jewish people. That is what the bishops of Vatican II proclaimed in 1965. Yet these words contradicted what the Church had taught about Jews for over a millennium. How was a revolution in teaching possible in a church that abhors change?
According to J. Connelly, it grew out of the Church’s encounter with the evil of Nazi racism. The theologians who advised the bishops in the 1960s began their careers by opposing Hitler in the 1930s. Many of them were converts from Judaism, and themselves targets of anti-Semitism. Yet for them the Church’s new teaching about Jews was not a revolution; it was a return to the ideas of the Jewish thinker Saul of Tarsus, known to Catholics as Saint Paul the Apostle. Far from a revolution, the new teaching of Vatican II was a return to the Church’s origins.
8:15 p.m. – Dessert Reception (Regency Room Lobby, AUC)
8:30 a.m. – Registration (Regency Room Lobby, Anderson University Center)
9:00 a.m. - 10:15 a.m. – Post-Holocaust Theology and the Jews (Regency Room, AUC)
“Political Correctness or revolution? Theological consequences of the post Vatican II Council theology of Judaism in the Polish context” – Zuzanna Radzik
“The Construction of Holocaust Memory in the Post-Conciliar Church” – Karma Ben Johanan
This lecture concentrates on the ways in which the Catholic discourse on the Holocaust functioned in the construction of the Church’s post-bellum identity and in the re-forging of Jewish-Christian relations from the Second Vatican Council to the present. In particular, Karma Ben Johnanan will consider the theological tension which the negotiation on the nature of Holocaust memory generated among Catholic leaders and theologians and between Catholics and Jews. Focusing on Popes John Paul II’s and Benedict XVI’s pontificates, Ben Johnanan will address the transition of Catholic Holocaust memory from a theological realm centered around Christ’s suffering to a moral-historical realm debating the Church’s responsibility for the destruction of European Jewry. In other words, Ben Johnanan will follow a process during which the Holocaust had ceased to be perceived as “a Christian event” and became a “Jewish event”, albeit one that has consequences for Christians.
- Zuzanna Radzik, Catholic theologian specializing in Christian-Jewish relations and feminist theology
- Karma Ben Johanan, post-doctoral scholar at the Polonsky Academy at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute
10:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. – Legacies of the Holocaust in Jewish-Christian Relations (Regency Room, AUC)
“Invoking an Absent Past: The Holocaust in Catholic Responses to Contemporary Debates over Immigrants ,Refugees, and the Rise of Anti-Semitism” – Raymond C. Sun
Church leaders in the United States and Europe have responded to contentious contemporary debates over issues of immigration, refugees, and the rise of anti-Semitic hate crimes by strongly calling for Catholics to practice the virtues of love, mercy, and compassion regardless of race or religion. However, references to the Holocaust, while common in popular media analyses and advocacy as a compelling historical comparison and call to action, are largely absent from official Catholic statements. This presentation analyzes the rhetoric, symbolism, and historical precedents employed by church leaders in urging Catholics to oppose the persecution or exclusion of targeted groups, explores possible reasons for the absence of direct references to the Holocaust, and ponders the implications of this for Catholic memory of the Holocaust.
“‘The Restoration of Jewish Faith in the D.P. Camps” – Gershon Greenberg
The revival of Judaism in the German D.P. camps began with the question: “Why was I still alive?” The survivors’ answer was, in order to study Torah – which in turn nourished life. Torah found sacramental expression in religious practice (Sabbath; ethnicity; festivals) and thought (Hasidic, Da’at torah, religious-national). Insofar as sacramental existence was drawn simultaneously from the sacred above and the profane below, how, given its obliteration during the Holocaust, could its revival have been initiated solely from below? The fact that it was revived necessitates the conclusion that somehow, some way, sacramental existence never totally disappeared, even during the catastrophe.
- Raymond C. Sun, Associate Professor of History at Washington State University (Pullman)
- Gershon Greenberg, Visiting professor of Jewish thought at Hebrew University of Jerusalem and professor of philosophy and religion at American University in Washington, D.C.
12:30 - 2:00 p.m. – ``Madame Celine Morali and daughter Simone, Holocaust Rescuers`` - Marie-Anne Harkness (Chris Knutzen Room, AUC)
Marie-Anne Harkness’s presentation will focus on the role of Catholic family members and others who rescued Jews in France.
Claude Zenatti was a Jewish teen smuggled out of Paris to the Free Zone in January 1942 by Celine Morali. He and his family were then sheltered near Albi under the supervision and encouragement of Msg. Joseph Moussaron, Bishop of Albi. Madame Morali was the first in a line of four Catholic rescuers honored by Yad Vashem in Israel, as Righteous Among the Nations for their part in saving the Zenatti family. Hear the story of Celine Morali told by her granddaughter.