LETTER 20:

Dear Mr. Solomon:---My lengthy reply to your inquiry as to how, I, of Jewish parentage, could become a Catholic, is, in summary, because I believed in Old Testament principles and predictions, which call for religious and moral guidance by God, through His authoritative, priestly, sacrificial Church. These I found manifestly full formed and majestic in the Catholic Church, that displaced the Church of our Jewish forebears, as foretold by Moses and the prophets.

I fully appreciate your feelings regarding the Spanish Inquisition, and the resultant suffering its decisions caused the State to inflict upon the Marranos, for the guilt of heresy. Whether or not the crime warranted the punishment, the fact remains that the heretics in Spain deserved punishment. Your judgment of the Inquisition is based upon failure to realize that European civilization was virtually a unit in faith during the Middle Ages. The Gospels and the laws of the Catholic Church formed the basis of legislation. Religion was considered of vital import to the State, as civil unity depended to quite an extent upon religious unity. Therefore an attack upon religion, through heresy, was an attack upon the prevailing order of society, which the Catholic Church caused to evolve from paganism, through the Dark Ages, to Christian order. Hence heresy was considered a crime by the State, and a sin by the Church. The severe methods of punishment resorted to by the State during the years of the Spanish Inquisition, which you resent as do I, were always condemned by the Church. They were not of Spanish origin. They were universal for centuries before there was an united Spanish Kingdom. Yet they never reached the number or severity in Spain that Catholics suffered in other countries for the "crime" of loyalty to their religious faith.

The people of the Middle Ages were no more shocked by the excessive punishments, than the people of our country are shocked by the hanging of convicted criminals; putting them to death in lethal chambers; before firing squads; and electrocution for kidnapping, and sometimes burglary. The Catholic Church was never guilty of imposing such punishment; whereas execution by stoning, burning, the sword, and strangling, were the methods used by the Jewish Church authorities to punish blasphemers, Sabbath-breakers, witchcrafters, idolators, and sex sinners. St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death for proclaiming Jesus, the Son of God, to be the Messiah. I have dealt with your impassioned questioning of my judgment in a Christian spirit, prayerfully hoping to allay the hostility that usually arises in the hearts of Jews, when discussing the Catholic Church with a convert from Judaism. Such hostility is due, generally, to failure to appreciate that conversion from Judaism is prompted by love, and not by repudiation of the faith of our fathers of old in Israel, as recorded in the Old Testament. I have stressed the fact that Jewish Holy Writ, which the Catholic. Church made part of the Christian Bible, contains the historic principles and predictions that prompted me, and other Israelites, to become Catholics. I have endeavored to make plain that such conversions are due to the realization that Judaism has been divinely transformed from the Church of an exclusive people, to full stature in the Universal Church, wherein its ancient potentialities are seen manifesting in all their religious and moral glory.

My conversion has given me an advantage in discussing things Catholic with you, due to having overcome my inherited and acquired Jewish misconceptions of things Catholic, thanks be to God. This meant an end to suspicion of converts, the beclouding, spirit that lurks in the hearts of Jews, even Jews who are friendly with "cradle Catholics." This suspicion is often expressed in Jewish publications, and in Jewish homes, to such an extent that one has to be blest with the grace of God to overcome it. This dominant Jewish hostility toward converts from the Synagogue to the Church, was expressed by Charles H. Joseph, a special feature writer, in one of his syndicated articles I came across in the Jewish Advocate of Boston, viz:---"When a Jew says he was converted, he was converted for money ... I can't bring myself to believe that most Jews who become converted can normally 'swallow' Orthodox Christian theology with its miracles, the virgin birth, the resurrection, Jesus as the only son of God, and all the rest that even liberal Christians do not believe. They are either hypocrites or fanatics."
As far as the integrity of converts from Judaism is concerned, judgment must be left to God, and with those who have known them personally; and not to anyone who, in addition to repudiating Catholic belief, classifies them as either "hypocrites or fanatics." If this Jewish columnist, and you as well, my dear Mr. Solomon, were to study dispassionately, and inquiringly the Old Testament texts quoted in this column during the past few weeks, your error of judgment might be realized. Then might there also be a realization on the part of Mr. Joseph that the things he thinks converts cannot "normally swallow," were swallowed by the Apostles, all Jews; by the thousands of Jews who were the first members of the Catholic Church; and by all the learned converts from Rabbi Saul of Tarsus in the first century, to Dr. Anton Zolli, the Chief Rabbi of Italy, during recent years. Their learning, and religious illumination, caused them to "swallow" the teachings of "Orthodox Christian theology," and without any thought of profiting financially by their conversion.

Rev. Stuart Conning, realizing the price in suspicion, misrepresentation, and hostility Jews must pay for accepting Christ, said in The Watchman-Examiner, national monthly of the Baptist denomination: "Every Jew that I have known has had to make a real sacrifice in becoming a follower of Christ. The adherent of no other faith has to encounter greater difficulties in becoming a Christian. Expulsion from the Synagogue, ostracism by the community, loss of employment, scorn and abuse from his own family and friends, the charge of being a renegade from their faith, and traitors to their people, are often the price a Jew must pay in taking upon himself the name of Christ, the greatest in history" (March 7, 1946).
This suspicion, hard though it be to bear, is a small price to pay in heartaches for the glorious gift of Catholic faith.
My closing word for you, my dear Mr. Solomon, and for all my other fellow Israelites, is the prayer I utter daily in union with thousands of other Catholics: "God of Goodness, and Father of Mercies, we beseech Thee by the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and through the intercession of the Patriarchs and Apostles, to cast a look of compassion on the Children of Israel, so that they may be brought to the knowledge of our only Saviour Jesus Christ, and that they may partake of the precious fruits of the Redemption."