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Was Pope John Paul II Jewish?

Pope John Paul II did more than any other pope to reach out to Jews and try to reach some sort of reconciliation between Catholicism and Judaism. Could part of the motivation for this have been knowledge that he had Jewish ancestry? One historian thinks so and he may have a good case.

Manchester Metro News reports:

Although [Yaakov Wise, a researcher in orthodox Jewish history and philosophy] believes the Popeís father was an ethnic Pole, he thinks that John Paulís mother Emilia Kaczorowski - Emily Katz in English - was Jewish and that she was the daughter of Feliks Kaczowski, a businessman from Biala-Bielsko in Poland. Katz is a common surname amongst East European Jewish families. Emiliaís mother, the Popeís grandmother, was Maria Anna Scholz. Scholz, or Schulze, is also a common surname among Jews, as is Rybicka, or Ryback, which is the surname of the Popeís great-grandmother Zuzanna.

ďIím not making any firm conclusions, but what Iím saying is that there is a lot of circumstantial evidence to say that he was Jewish. The Popeís mother married out of the Jewish community to wed a Catholic. Her children were born and raised as Catholics and the Pope was baptised. It would shed light on why the Pope had to go into hiding from the Nazis in November 1940.Ē

He certainly wasn't Jewish from a Catholic perspective ó he was baptized, confirmed, and did all the things a Catholic is supposed to do. From an orthodox Jewish perspective, though, he would probably be considered as Jewish as anyone raised a Jew. There is probably no way to know for sure (DNA tests might shed strong light on the matter one way or another, but there's chance of this occurring) but it is intriguing. I wonder if he would qualify as the only Jewish pope in the history of Christianity?

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Tuesday November 15, 2005 | comments (3)

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