While the majority of Catholics were found to be somewhat ignorant of Church teaching, they were very unlikely to harbor antisemitic sentiment.
A new survey is examining the perspectives of US Catholics on the Jewish faith and its adherents. Titled “American Catholic Attitudes toward Jews, Judaism, and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” the report found that, while many Catholics remain unaware of Church teaching on the Jewish community, American Catholics hold largely favorable views towards their Jewish counterparts.
According to OSV, via UCA News, the study surveyed more than 1,200 Catholics from the United States, of whom over 54% reported a “good” or “very good” opinion of Jews.
With a further 41% citing “neutral” or uncertain views, this left only a thin sliver of about 4% who expressed a “poor” of “very poor” opinion.
The results of the study were delivered March 22 during a panel discussion with the study’s authors, hosted by the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations (IJCR) at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.
As the questions turned more theological, it was revealed that a majority of respondents do not place blame on the Jewish people for the crucifixion of Christ, with 41% citing “the sins of humanity,” and 28% calling Pontius Pilate and Rome responsible. Furthermore, 36% of Catholics said they believe that Jews “enjoy a special relationship with God,” and 42% consider God’s covenant with the Jews to remain intact.
The study found that the more Catholics have social contact with Jewish people, the more they are likely to hold favorable opinions. The study found that more than 60% of respondents with Jewish friends were more likely to believe Jews have a special relationship with God. This group was also more likely to believe that salvation is “not exclusive to Christians.”
While the survey was not especially concerned with demographics, it did find that Catholics under the age of 30 were less likely to know of God’s covenant with the Jews and were less likely to harbor antisemitic sentiment. The group found to be most likely to hold antisemitic beliefs were those who claimed great familiarity with Church teaching, who were about 20% more likely to have a “poor” opinion of Jews. The report notes that this is a paradox, as Church teaching does not support antisemitism.
Finally, the survey inquired about where US Catholics placed their support in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While many respondents agreed with the Vatican’s position that both sides must strive for a just and equitable solution, the majority of US Catholics (~54%) remained “neutral” or “unsure.” Of the remaining respondents, about 35% supported Israel and about 13% supported the Palestinians.