Joseph Lémann discovered the existence of an entire current of religious literature in France and Italy during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, dealing with the admission of Jewry to the Church.
The current had been set in motion by the disastrous blow inflicted on Christian unity by the Protestant reformers.
“The first to express fear” wrote Lémann, “at the state of apostasy, already well advanced at the time they lived and who allowed their lips or their pen to give voice to the painful previsions, whether God was not preparing to cut off certain corrupted nations, were Bossuet and Fénélon.
Bossuet cried out in alarm: “Listen, listen, O Christian, read your destiny in that of the Jews, read and listen to your heart…Should we not be terrified at the awful vengeance which overtook the Jews, since St. Paul warns us in the name of God, that our ingratitude would attract a similar punishment upon us.”
Fénélon clamored in turn: “If God, terrible in his counsels towards the children of men, did not even spare the natural branches of the cultivated olive tree, how dare we hope that he will spare us, the wild branches, mere grafts, branches, dead and incapable of bearing fruit? What future has the faith amongst peoples corrupted down to the root? Cowardly and unworthy Christians, through you Christianity is rendered vile and unrecognizable: by you, the name of God is blasphemed amongst the Gentiles. Sin abounds, charity has grown cold, darkness deepens, the mystery of iniquity takes shape. …The torch of the Gospel which should make the tour of the universe, touches the end of its course; the day of ruin approaches and the times hasten their pace.”
“Both” continued Lémann, “in their sadness and anxiety, see a source of help for the Church of God: they aspire for the admission to the faith of Israel.”
Bossuet went on to say, in speaking of the remnant of Israel: “The Lord will turn to them; he will wipe out their sins, and render to them the understanding of prophecies which they lost for so long a time…thus the Jews will return one day and they will return never to err again.”
Elias Friedman, O.C.D.
Hebrew Catholics: Jewish Identity
Chapter XIII, The Identity of Post-Christic Jewry in an Age of Apostasy