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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Pope Francis Calls Jews ‘Big Brothers,’ But It Ain’t a Compliment

We're nobody's brothers. We're God's favorite children without any extra-familial affiliations.

pope with pocket jew

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[Editor's Note: It's come to our attention that not everyone read or understood the fourth paragraph of this article, so here is a summary of that paragraph:

The Pope used theologically significant and degrading terminology to describe Christianity's relationship with Judaism. The Elder Brother is always the castoff, always the evil one, and always replaced by the younger brother. It wasn't an off-the-cuff statement of friendship, it was a religious and ideological attack on Jews and Judaism as illegitimate and evil and having been replaced by the "younger brother" - the central component of their "Replacement Theology".

Unfortunately, not enough Jewish media outlets understood this insult, and as a result, misunderstood his carefully chosen words.

This also follows in the footsteps of the very public snub of the Jewish State's Prime Minister Netanyahu during his visit to Rome, right after the Pope found the time to meet with PA Prime Minister Abbas.]

Pope Francis I has called the Jewish people the “big brothers” of the Roman Catholics, on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), the 1938 looting and violence against German Jews and their businesses that is considered the start of the Holocaust atrocities that would follow against European Jews.

Ah, the mischievous things brothers do to each other…

“We renew our closeness and solidarity to the Jewish people, our big brothers, and pray to God that the memory of the past and of the sins of the past helps us to be always vigilant against every form of hate and intolerance,” Francis told worshipers outside of St. Peter’s Square during his Sunday mass, according to the European Jewish Press.

Of course, to understand the full theological meaning of the pope’s “compliment,” kindly refer to your Jewish Bible, where the younger brother always gets the inheritance, as in Jacob vs. Eisav, David vs. his older brothers, Shlomo vs. his older brother Adoniah, etc. The older brother is always dark, brooding, jealous, and not the one favored by God.

It’s heartbreaking to see this papal putdown being copied verbatim and distributed without a comment by so many Jewish media outlets. Perhaps they should use a different questionnaire when they hire new Jewish journalism school graduates.

We’re nobody’s brothers. We’re God’s favorite children without any extra-familial affiliations. I accept the fact that the current pope is not a blood thirsty enemy of our nation like so many of his predecessors, but when he, too, spits on us, it’s not rain.

Incidentally, we have more in common with Muslims than we do with Christians; Jewish law permits Jews to enter a mosque… but not a church.

To insist that we have some kind of bond with religious Christians because of similar core values, is to propagate a terrible lie. Christians who base their views on what they call the Old Testament, don’t view Mosaic law as an abiding legal text. The Church has abolished Torah law as part of its attempt to abolish the very idea of Jewish nationhood.

More on that in my article that was published here last year: There’s No Such Thing as Judeo-Christian Values.

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About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.

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61 Responses to “Pope Francis Calls Jews ‘Big Brothers,’ But It Ain’t a Compliment”

  1. Yes many words can be twisted and turned, what has one meaning can be subtly altered to take on another meaning… just as this article proves. “We’re nobody’s brothers.”?? Peh, who is disingenuous now? Who is turning meanings and casting away truths, eh? To say such a thing you should be ashamed. I for one am just to have read it.

  2. This is really annoying. What the heck would you like him to say?! That he’s suddenly felt pangs of teshuva and is coming to learn in Israel for shana alef and bet? He’s the Pope! Surprise surprise he’s a very frum Catholic with all of what that implies. Let him have his own theology.


  4. Eeropa moet voor israel zijn en niet voor iran de katolieke kerk moet voor israel zijn en niet voor islam

  5. I like the Yisroel Campbell character sticking out of the Pope’s pocket.

  6. Big brothers? He’s (they are) not even part of the family.

  7. You really have to work at making a generous statement acknowledging the intimate connection between Judaism and Christianity into a slap across the face.
    It's not a compliment, it is an acknowledgement of an historic fact which I hope will
    help Chrisitans and others understand the deep connection in valueswe both share. Thank you Pope Francis, thank you very much.

  8. Lighten up he meant well.

  9. Rick Puig says:

    I'd like to see you enter a mosque and a church and see which one accepts your being there. The rabbis may have made the rule, but perhaps it's time has passed.

  10. Tuvia Fogel says:

    Here is another assimilated Obama voter, as ignorant of the Torah (which he probably calls 'Old Testament') as he is eager to wallow in politically correct moral narcissism.

  11. this is mamash hisgarus b'umos – we are in galus and you need to be more respectful – the truth is, from a Torah perspective, even if we have Theological differences with those of other faiths, Hashem accepts the sincere worship even of a heathen (which Christians and Muslims are not), as long as they are good people – read Malachi chapter 1 – the last prophet of the Bible says even if we keep the true Torah as far as ritual, but we are not good people, Hashem does not accept it, but if a heathen, who doesn't know better, is a good person, Hashem accepts his worship as "a pure offering".

  12. Vladimir Weissman says:

    Easy now! Pope Francis said what he, in his job, could. The Church has been anti-semitic for 1800 out of its 1980 year history. But the danger today is not Catholic anti-semitism, but progressive liberalism, aka socialism, and islam – the unholly alliance. I have gone in and out of churches of several denominations and of several mosques. Nobody even looked at this obviously "Yiddishkind"… As for sibblings, who needs a national younger brother, when we have so many individual brothers and sisters, who care about the fate of the Jewish people more than so many borne and bred Jews…

  13. Yori Yanover wrote: "To insist that we have some kind of bond with religious Christians because of similar core values, is to propagate a terrible lie." What a coincidence. A virulent Polish anti-Semite also denied common elements in Judaism and Catholicism. He wrote:

    "The Jewish religion is not, as it is generally believed, based on the Old Testament Mosesism. Jews rejected mosesism, which was a revelation religion. They invented Judaism, which is based on Talmud. Judaism is not preoccupied with God-people relations. Its only purpose is to give Jews absolute power over the entire world. …"

    I am quoting from the very beginning of Document #3, in:


    This webpage shows three recent anti-Semititic statements that I translated from Polish to Engish. They are full of hate. Here is what I added at the end of Document #3:

    "I am a Jew and I have interacted with a large number of non-Jews, during my long life. I know that an average Jew is not very different from an average Gentile. How God's commandments are interpreted in my synagogue is probably not very different from how they are interpreted in Christian churches. Each nation has both good and bad people. It hurts to read declarations of hate; they remind me of similar declarations made by earlier mass murderers. Racist propaganda is a dangerous weapon."
    Common elements in different theologies are worth emphasizing, the more the better.

    Ludwik Kowalski, Ph.D. (see Wikipedia)

    Professor Emeritus at Montclair State University


  14. Why the temptation to slap good-willed Christians in the face? Have we not got enemies at hand in the myriads of Muslims? Aside for the misinterpretation of the Papal utterings all of the tone is supremacist.

  15. Gil Gilman says:

    I can't agree there. I think he would cross to the other side, where the moslem terrorists are lurking ;-) he is probably releasing pent up angst from all the postings by Christians on this site, who fell it necessary to share their not-very-well-thought-out encomiums with us.

  16. "We’re God’s favorite children without any extra-familial affiliations." Not very nice, and terribly arrogant, speaking for God. Better hope you're right.

  17. Gil Gilman says:

    Intended implications and resultant inferences my be very divergent realities. This little diatribe seems to be neither. In this particular case it seems wise to side with all the Yori naysayers, and I have liked most of those comments. It seems to be a blind spot for Yori to imply that he has more in common with moslems (who accept Jesus as one of their prophets) than with the millions of christians who support the permanent existence of the nation of Israel, and the rebuilding of the Temple, which should be in the heart of every Jew, the source being personal irritation. If he truly means what he is saying, I have a few islamists in my neighborhood with whom he could board. If instead, he is living in fear of assimilation himself, well that is a different matter.

  18. Sue Johnson says:


  19. Allan Dane says:

    How dare you, you whose ancestors slaughtered my ancestors. You whose ancestors removed everything Jewish from our faith and in doing so removed the power of the RUACH HA KODESH and replaced it with your pagan garbage. As it is written it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living GOD

  20. Lana Merle says:

    Wow, you are overreacting to what the Pope said The Pope's comment that we are like the elder brother was meant to acknowledge that the roots of his beliefs are in Judaism. To call that a slap against us is is far fetched, IMHO.
    . We were "chosen" to be an example of G-d's goodness to the world, not to put ourselves above everyone else.

  21. Yori, I think you're being just a tad paranoid.

  22. Joseph Colen says:

    Jews have to learn that the important thing whether younger or older is to keep rabbinical and ecclesiastical teaching in harmony with the Torah. The rest is just liberal nonsense that approves sin without limits and violations without limits.

  23. Stuart Kaufman says:

    I am appalled by what I have just read. I spend my time working closely with Christians in support of Israel and the Jewish people. Their devotion is genuine and laudable. The problem is that too many Jews cannot understand the deep faith possessed by these people. These Christians believe literally in Genesis 12:3: "I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you I will curse." They want to be blessed. Perhaps the problem is not with them. Perhaps we Jews need to deepen our own faith in the Torah, then we might be able to understand the faith of these Christians. Of course, we cannot and should not ignore the long history of Christian anti-semitism, but it would be foolish and self-destructive to refuse to recognize that many (if not most) believing Christians have moved past that. As to Yanover's comment that we Jews have more in common with Muslims than Christians, it is so stupendously foolish that I can't think how to respond. Ever since Muhammad murdered the 50,000 Jews of Medina it has been the rule in Islam that Jews (and Christians) must either convert to Islam or be killed. The only other option, if accepted by the Muslims, is that Jews and Christians must pay the jizya, the tax upon infidels. I can only suggest that in the future someone should carefully read Yanover's copy before it is published, since he has evidenced in this column a singular lack of wisdom or sense.

  24. Leslie Green says:

    what Jew would want to enter a mosque? Not I.

  25. I am appalled as well. True Christians know God gave the land of Israil to the Jews and that they will never again be uprooted from it. Mr. Yanover is confused indeed if he thinks Muslims have more in common with Jews than do Christians. He obviously has a very big chip on his shoulder. I am not Catholic but it sounds like the Pope was simply meaning that the church of today is looking out for and standing with the Jewish people.

  26. Pauluxita Anahatha Santos says:

    do you have more in common with MUSLIMS??? really???? so maybe what you 're trying to say is that we haven't to care so much when they BLOW YOU UP?? hum … there are many kind of NAZI / FASCISM… WHAT A SHAME…

  27. The Catholic Church has thoroughly repudiated replacement theology. Yanover's interpretation of Pope Francis' simple statement is a reach at best. I know of no Jewish scholar who views the Mosiac law as legally binding on gentiles.

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