Skip to content

Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews by James Carroll

Constantine’s Sword: The Church and the Jews by James Carroll 

By James Carroll

Wow! Constantine’s Sword is a big read but, if you can make the time, it is well worth it. The book covers the historical relationship between the Church and the Jews from 1st century Christianity. It was meticulously researched and will educate you on many unknown aspects of Catholic Church history, as well as the origins and role anti-Semitism has played in our faith tradition over the centuries. If you don’t have time to read the whole book, read the final chapters beginning with Chapter 54. James Carroll, who is a National Book Award-winning author, describes the need and his vision for Vatican III, and its role in revitalizing the Church for future generations. 
In Carroll’s telling, anti-Semitism is more than an unfortunate byproduct of the Christian religion shared by its most prejudiced members. Rather, it is central to Christianity’s identity and has been for centuries. Carroll begins by describing Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit to the grounds of the Auschwitz death camp. There, he prayed for the Catholics who died at the hands of Nazis at Auschwitz, including the Jewish convert Edith Stein, a woman later canonized as a saint in 1998 (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross). In response to Pope John Paul II’s desire for a monument commemorating the loss of Catholic lives during the Holocaust, a group of Carmelite nuns built a cross made of railroad ties on the grounds of Auschwitz. This led to an outcry among Jews who felt the monument was an attempt by Christians to co-opt Jewish suffering.

From this anecdote, Carroll launches his exploration into the role of the Catholic Church in propagating and spreading anti-Semitism, and how much blame Christians should bear for the Holocaust. And while he is careful to point out clear divisions and a significant measure of acrimony between the Catholic Church and the Nazi Party, he argues that the widespread anti-Semitism in Europe on which Hitler capitalized was in large part a consequence of attitudes taken by the Catholic Church over its centuries-long history.


Past News & Resources

Latest Posts

Interested in Building a Men's Ministry Small Group?