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La Pira: A Catholic Communist - Part V

Promoting Accusations of Anti-Semitism
against the Church

Dr. Carol Byrne
Continuing the theme of my last article, La Pira’s Preferential Option for the Jews, I note that Giorgio La Pira also exploited the anti-Catholic sentiments of another Jew, Salvatore Jona, who had assisted him in the foundation of the Jewish-Christian Friendship Association in Florence.

Giorgio La Pira

La Pira, up for beatification, was a supporter of the Jewish attacks against the Church

Like Jules Isaac, Jona pursued a long vendetta against the Catholic Church. La Pira maintained a copious correspondence with Jona and received him warmly at the Palazzo Vecchio, listening at great length to his unfounded complaint that the Church was anti-Semitic in her 2000-year-old animosity of the Jewish race. (1)

La Pira then collaborated with Jona in producing a book, The Jews Did Not Kill Jesus, and even wrote the preface for it.(2)   It was published in April 1963 by a Florentine Jewish family firm during the sessions of Vatican II, with the intent of maximizing its impact on the Catholic community. La Pira not only had been collaborating with Jona on the content of the book since 1962, but also had been holding conferences in the Palazzo Vecchio to gain the widest possible support for the author.

La Pira, Joe Golan & the WJC

Joe Golan (formerly Yosef Gouldin), the son of a Russian Zionist pioneer, was an Israeli Jew and a high-ranking member of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), (3) who worked as an agent of its president, Nahum Goldmann. La Pira came into contact with Golan in the 1950s during his Mediterranean travels, when the two became firm friends – or rather comrades-in-arms in their aim to change Catholic doctrine regarding the Jews by means of the upcoming Vatican Council.

World Jewish Congress

The WJC - established to 'fight' anti-Semitism and promote the Israeli State

In the years immediately preceding Vatican II, Golan played his part in the hate-fest that was being orchestrated against the Church to procure a radical revision of Catholic doctrine and liturgy. Isaac, Jona and Golan were part of a wider predatory group circling around the Church just before Vatican II and sizing up their chances, ready to move in for the kill when an opening presented itself.

Golan’s attacks on the Catholic Church repeated the same calumnious accusations of his co-religionists, asserting that her liturgy contained poisons which turned devout Catholics into Jew-haters. He referred in particular to the expression “perfidious Jews” in the Good Friday liturgy as an example of anti-Jewish hate speech and also objected to the Gospel accounts that affirmed Caiaphas and Judas had caused the death of Jesus.

Golan’s Roman strategy

Golan is on record as revealing that he was under instructions from Nahum Goldmann to use his personal contacts among Catholics to help him gain access to the Vatican, “particularly Card. Roncalli.” Golan stated that it was in the company of La Pira that he hatched his plan to bring his grievances to the Vatican with the intention of having them redressed. (4) This means that La Pira tacitly condoned and encouraged the de-Catholicizing of the Church’s doctrine and litury, and did so in collaboration with a WJC agent who was handpicked, trained and answerable to Nahum Goldmann.

After Golan introduced himself to Cardinals Tisserant, Lercaro and Bea as an emissary of Nahum Goldman, they used their influence with Pope John XXIII to remove the reference to “perfidious Jews.”(5)

The Mediterranean Conferences

In 1957 Golan approached La Pira and suggested he establish a series of Mediterranean Conferences for Cultural Affairs, ostensibly to promote peace among the Jewish and Arab peoples of Israel, Palestine and North Africa. But under the rubric of “conflict resolution,” Golan’s ambition was political: to increase Israeli influence in the emerging independence of surrounding nations and promote Jewish interests in them.

La Pira shared Golan’s opposition to European colonialism in the Mediterranean area. When he convened the first of the Conferences in 1958 in the Palazzo Vecchio, Golan was appointed to the most influential position as Secretary General. (6)

Meanwhile, while Golan engaged in a series of cynical political stunts that did not bring peace between the Arab and Israeli factions, La Pira continued to live in a fantasy world of promoting himself on the international level as an important figure in fostering rapprochement with the worlds of Judaism and Islam and establishing dialogue with them.

With stardust in his eyes, he wrote in May 1958 to his friend in the Vatican, Mgr. Dell’Acqua:

Card. Angelo Roncalli

Roncalli gave his blessing to La Pira's work with the Jews

“The Mediterranean is ‘the lake of Tiberias’ of the new universe of nations; the nations that stand on the shores of this lake are nations who adore the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the true, living God… These nations and the lake that they surround constitute the religious and civil axis around which this new cosmos of nations is to revolve …” (7)

La Pira used erroneously the metaphor of the Lake of Tiberias to illustrate his theory that Jews and Muslims worship the same God as the Christians. It was inept because the Lake of Tiberias (otherwise known as the Sea of Galilee) was the location of many of Christ’s miracles, whereas Jews and Muslims do not believe in the Divinity of Christ.

But La Pira had something else in mind: to change the status of the Catholic Church as the only means of salvation. His emphasis on the convergence of the three Mediterranean religions – Christian, Islamic and Jewish – was an anticipation of Vatican II’s novel teaching on salvation outside the Catholic Church.

In September 1958, one month before the first Mediterranean Conference, La Pira invited the Patriarch of Venice, Card. Angelo Roncalli (soon to be elected Pope), who responded enthusiastically:

“Ever since the Lord directed my steps onto the paths of the world to meet men and peoples of such different inspiration and civilization from the Christian, something that has always been a great joy to us, I have divided the 'hours' of my Breviary in such a way as to embrace in my priestly, public, and official supplication, both the East and the West.  This is enough to indicate our good intentions, my dear Prof. La Pira, and my participation in your efforts as a true apostolate.” (8)

The bogus nature of this Conference for “peace and unity” is illustrated by the in-fighting and dissension that broke out among the Arab and Israeli delegates (9) which continues unabated to this day.


  1. L. Martini, Giorgio La Pira e la vocazione di Israele, Florence: Giunti Editore, 2005, pp. 71-72.
  2. Salvatore Jona, Gli Ebrei non hanno ucciso Gesù: Presentazione di Giorgio La Pira, Firenze: Leo S. Olschki, 1963. Leo Samuel Olschki was a Polish Jew who settled in Italy and set up a publishing house in Florence.
  3. The World Jewish Congress was founded in 1936. Although its principal purpose was to defend the rights of Jews in the Diaspora, it always actively supported the aims of Zionism, i.e. creation of the State of Israel.
  4. Jean Lacouture, Jesuits: A Multibiography, Counterpoint, 2003, pp. 440-41. The other conspirators in the group were Amintore Fanfani and Enrico de Mattei.
  5. Ibid., pp. 440-441.
  6. Mordechai Bar-On, In Pursuit of Peace: a History of the Israeli Peace Movement, US Institute of Peace Research Press, 1996, pp. 19-21. Among those who attended were Maurice Fisher, Israeli Ambassador to Italy, Reuven Barakat, a member of the Knesset, and Reuven Shiloah, founder of Mossad, the Israeli secret service agency.
  7. See here
  8. Mgr Albert Giovannetti, A Portrait of His Holiness John XXIII, Westminster, Maryland: Newman Press, 1959, p. 168
  9. Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Daily News Bulletin, Vol. 25, no. 188, 6 October 1958, p. 2

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Posted May 6, 2013

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