Constantine's Sword (2007) Movie Script

The cross located me,
it told me who I was.
My connection to Jesus,
the cross a sign of mercy.
I saw crosses everywhere
when I was a kid.
I saw telephone poles as crosses.
I looked up in the sky and
I saw airplanes as crosses.
The cross was...
to the way I saw the world.
It was like a sighting device
even through which I looked.
And then it changed.
I began to see that this cross...
throws a shadow.
I used to be a Roman
Catholic priest.
That was a long time ago.
Now I am married and
father of two grown kids.
And I make my living
as a writer and journalist.
I cover a lot of stories...
but there is one that haunts me.
Probably because
it hits so close to home.
It's the things people are
doing in the name of God.
I went to Colorado Springs
now a scene of controversy over one
of the biggest religious revivals...
in our country.
It is also the home of the United
States Air Force academy.
A destination I'd once envision
for myself as a young man
Being here makes me remember of how
very much I wanted to be in this world.
This world of the air force.
There were always two
parts of me as a kid.
I mean I was a religious boy...
and I was tapped for the priesthood
as a kid.
There was a way in which that was
powerful but the other thing
the whole other half of me
was the love of the air force.
I once wanted to be in
that dormitory as a kid.
My first ambition for myself.
And I would have become
an air force officer...
and my story with my dad would
have been very different.
Dad started out in the slaughterhouses
in the Chicago stockyards.
He met my mother...
a telephone operator who had quit
school after 8th grade...
to support her family.
He made his way down
to night school in the loop...
and after seven years
he went into the FBI.
As a young FBI agent in Chicago, he
captured a notorious gangland criminal...
named Roger "The Terrible" Touhy.
It was such a triumph
for the bureau...
that my dad was brought
into J. Edgar Hoover's inner circle.
In 1947, when the air force
was established...
Dad was picked to set up
its first counter intelligence agency.
A guy who had done
his traveling by train.
I'm not sure if he had ever been
on an airplane at that point.
Now he is an Air Force general.
I am here now...
because I heard that members
of the faculty and administration
along with some of the Evangelicals
Churches in the area...
are on a mission to convert cadets.
In my dad's air force,
that would have been a non-starter.
Things are different now.
It's a quick ride down the
road from the academy...
to pastor Ted Haggard's
New Life Mega church.
I went to see him
there a year ago.
We started a little over 20 years ago
in the basement of our home.
We started with twenty people...
in a concrete basement...
with buckets stacked up
I'd put my bible on them.
Everybody had to bring
their own folding chairs.
So it was a kind of a cute scene.
Now we have 14,000 people that
call New Life their home church...
and on an average Sunday we have
right around 10.000 people...
that come and worship with us.
# Wonderful?
# Beautiful?
# Glorious?
Evangelicalism is growing
and developing.
There is a new mega church...
a mega church being 2000 people
in attendance or more.
There is a new mega-church
in America every two days...
and they are all Evangelical.
# We bow before you in
all of your wonders?
We believe that the bible is the
word of God, Jesus is the son of God...
and that you must be born again.
The National Association
of Evangelicals...
is a group that was formed
to be the counterbalance
to liberalism.
So it's 30 million people the largest
evangelical group in America
We are politically active...
and the predominant way the Bush
administration communicates with us...
is a Monday conference call...
with evangelical leaders
and I'm one of those.
Haggard says that it is his mission
to convert non-believers...
at the academy or anywhere else.
Now I think the US Air Force
has done a great job...
handling religious
issues over its history.
That seem absurd to me...
that they can talk about any issue
other than God.
These are not idiots.
These are not the kind of naive
students who can't think...
and need someone from the
outside to come in and say..
"Oh, listen.
You can discuss military strategy.
You can discuss political ideology.
You can discuss history...
but you can't handle
a discussion of religion...
because that may make
you a feel intimidated.
Are you kidding me?
These are students we are getting ready
to give multi-million dollar bombers to.
Do you know that as a boy...
I harboured an ambition
to come here as a cadet?
- Really?
- I did
I entered in '73
and I graduated in '77.
My father is a '53 Naval academy
My eldest son and his wife
actually graduated last year...
and my youngest son
is now a second class junior.
- What has happened there?
- On 29th July of 2004...
I was invited back to the first annual GLC,
Graduates Leadership Conference.
My son Curtis came over to me
and said...
"Dad, I know that we
are at this party
but I need to talk with you
about something. Can we go off base?"
And he never does that.
In my mind I thought that maybe he'd...
God forbid has there been
something with alcohol or drugs...
or an honour code violation?
Has he gotten somebody pregnant?
I mean what's going on?
He said look, "Dad, I'm probably going
to be getting into some serious trouble."
I said, "What have you done, Curtis?"
He said, 'No, it's not what I've done.
It's what I'm going to do."
And I said, "Ok, enough of this.
What is going on? "
He said, "The next person
who calls me a fucking Jew...
or accuses me or our people
of executing Jesus Christ,
I'm going to beat the shit out of."
I was surprised because I do have
three kids there at the time.
I called Casey and said,
"What the hell is going on?"
He said, "Dad, this is just the way
it is here".
Mickey's three kids are his sons,
Casey and Curtis...
and Casey's wife Amanda...
They met at the academy.
She was raised as a Christian.
I've never heard it in high school.
If people knew I was Jewish,
it never was a point.
It never made any kind of mention.
But once I got to the academy
it became so, I was so aware of it...
that I was kind of different.
I went to lunch that day,
I had a flyer for a movie on my plate.
It was for the "The Passion of the Christ."
It had all kinds of quotes.
Every single place in Mitchel Hall had.
- Every place sitting.
- That's four thousand place sittings.
Each single one had an advertisement
for "The Passion of the Christ."
So over a three day period,
every time that I would go
to sit down there...
there is a flyer staring back at me.
"Why is this OK to do with this movie?
Why is it that nobody is making
a fuss about this?"
So we started talking
to Chaplin Morton.
But I have this feeling the whole
time that this was all fruitless.
I had eventually more and more cadets
coming to me...
and telling me these stories
about how the academy was now...
full fledge putting their stamp
on conservative Christian ideology.
If you are a cadet and you
walk in to Mitchel Hall...
and on every table are
flyers for a movie...
then as a cadet
you're going to assume...
that your academy
is encouraging you to go see it.
If you want to see
whether or not it is
anti-Semitic, you need
to see it for yourself
- For yourself
- Right.
- And we both went to go see it.
- We did.
And I felt terrible
watching that movie.
Just absolutely terrible
I look at how they portray Jews.
These are my people.
We are being portrayed
as the people who killed Christ.
How can believers see that and not
get pissed and angry at the Jews?
It's scary.
I kept telling myself
"This is July of 2004...
it's not 1096 in the Crusades.
It's not 1492.
It's not 1939 and 1940.
It's not all the spaces in between."
It's the United States Air Force academy.
The spaces in between.
That is the journey I have to take.
Why is it a Jewish cadet
who is singled out?
I understood somehow...
that I had to take on this question
of Jewish Christian history,
which is so complicated
and so dark.
Somebody said you live your life forward
but you understand it backward.
My first memory
of hearing the word Jew...
had to be at church
when I was 7 years old.
I knew who the Jews were,
they had killed our lord.
Then they had refuse
to believe in him.
When I was a kid,
the death of Jesus was what...
first grabbed me.
It was a figure like this that I would
kneel before next to my mother.
The power of the passion story
even for someone like myself...
who cannot accept the
divinity of Jesus...
the story of his mortality
is supremely moving.
- But this is a man I loved.
- Yeah.
Also a man to whom I pray.
My problem has been that,
when I stand before a figure like this,
I can appreciate them and be moved
by them only on condition...
that I shut down a piece of my heart...
that I obliterate something
of what I know about...
the actual consequences
in the real world...
of these images
and of these figures.
- For you?
- Well, not for me.
I am an American Jew
born in the 1950's...
that makes me one of the spoiled
brats of Jewish history.
I am one of the luckiest Jews
who had ever lived.
But certainly for my parents and
the people who preceded them, yeah.
The supremacy of the cross
in European culture...
was responsible for the death...
of many of my people...
for centuries before I was born...
and eventually for the death
of my own family...
in south-eastern Poland.
I am the descendant of the victims.
So, you have a much more difficult
problem than I do.
In other words if you want
to understand Anti-Semitism...
don't study Jews, study non-Jews.
Why do we blame the Jews?
Generation after generation,
where do this contempt come from?
I'm trying to figure out where it all
went wrong between Christians and Jews.
And we go back to Jesus,
we have to go back to Jesus.
Before there were Christians...
when there were only Jews...
because Jesus certainly
saw himself as a devout Jew,
a prophet...
and was called Rabbi.
How did the story then get told...
with the Jews being cast
as the villains here?
Well, it's an extraordinary twist.
The way the stories are told
in the New Testament Gospels.
It says basically that it was the
Jewish leaders who arrested Jesus...
who tried him, who
sentenced him to death...
and who basically duped the Romans
into crucifying him.
Is that true to history?
It looks completely at odds
with what we know about history.
We know that this was a Roman charge, a
Roman punishment and a Roman execution.
But it's startling that
if you read the gospels,
you'd think that it was the Jews
that engineered it.
At every Good Friday service
with the reading of that passion narrative.
The Jews, the Jews, the Jews...
It really hits the ear
and Jesus is against the Jews.
And I don't know how else Christians
can hear this story.
And the Jews answer,
"Crucify him, crucify him."
I am Jewish.
Now, a Jew, dictionary-style,
is one who has descended from one
of the ancient tribes of Judea...
or one who is regarded
to have descended from that bride.
But you and I know what a Jew really is:
"One who killed our Lord!"
I don't know if it got much press coverage
out here on the West Coast...
cause that all happened
a couple thousand years ago...
although there should be a statute
of limitations to the crime...
we are still paying the dues.
"Why do you keep busting our balls
for this crime?"
"Why? Jew! Because you skirt the issue.
You blame it on Roman soldiers."
I'm gonna clear the air once
and for all, and confess.
We did it. My family, I did it.
We found a note in the basement:
"We killed him," signed Morty.
When I was 17, I came to Rome.
Soon after the new pope,
John the 23rd, was elected...
This was the great moment
of my family life.
My mom and dad, my four brothers,
me, my grandmother.
Coming here for a private audience
with Pope John the 23rd.
You got to understand,
my Dad was at the peak of his power...
my mother is a general's wife...
I'm a senior in high school.
But we are 1 or 2 generations
removed from the poorest of Irish poor.
This was the most important affirmation
you could imagine for people like us.
We make our way up the long Michelangelo
staircase into the...
Pope's palace.
For us it is like the Wizard of Oz.
Here we are...
Being brought as dignitaries
into the Pope's presence.
When he took a look at us
he threw his arms up...
and saluted my mother and father
for having this large catholic family.
But to my amazement
when he came in front of me...
he reached up
and grabbed my shoulders.
I was close enough to feel the whiskers
of his face against my cheek.
He was whispering something to me.
He made me feel chosen.
He made me feel conscripted.
I didn't know what he said.
It could be Latin, it could be Italian.
It didn't matter.
I just felt addressed.
I felt addressed by God in some odd way.
When I was a kid one of my favourite story
was about a hero...
who had been addressed by God.
My Dad told the story
about a miracle that happened...
to the Roman general Constantine...
right on this bridge in Rome.
I'm a little kid in St. Mary's Church
in Alexandria...
over the altar the letters IHS.
I say to my Dad, "What's that?"
He says "In hoc signo vinces", Jimmy.
"In this sign, you will conquer."
And then he tells me this story.
Constantine afield right over here
has a vision in the sky.
I guess that sky,
we are supposed to believe.
At a time when the roman empire
was still pagan...
Constantine was the general in charge
of the Northern legions based in Germany.
In the year 310, he set out
with thousands of men...
to beat his rivals
for control of the empire.
Now Rome itself was in his grasp...
right across this river.
I saw with my own eyes
the cross of light in the heavens.
It bore the inscription,
"By this sign, you will conquer."
I described the marvel
and its meaning to my men.
I told them to reproduce it.
A long spear crossed by a transverse
bar forming the figure of a cross...
to be carried
at the head of all my armies.
They are carrying their spears
in the sign of the cross...
and he comes on to this bridge...
Meets the enemy and
against all the odds wins
Constantine goes into Rome,
declares himself emperor...
And on the strength of that vision,
he becomes a Christian.
In the midst of the imperial city...
as a trophy of victory and the safeguard
of the Roman empire...
I ordered a statute of myself
with a lofty spear in the figure of a cross...
To be placed by my hand
with this inscription
''By this sign, I have conquered...
and liberated your city
from the yoke of tyranny."
What's the story?
When does this date to?
What year would they date this for?
Was made around 320
after Jesus Christ.
This was part of his glorification
as the new emperor.
Was it usually big?
- The biggest statue in Rome.
- This is the biggest? Really?
So we are all below,
and we are all subservient
But can you say what it meant that
the emperor was a Christian?
Constantine had a political strategy
to preserve the empire of Rome.
After Constantine. it was no longer
possible to go back to Pagan life.
Historian wonder whether Constantine's
conversion was real...
Or was it just a way to strengthen
his hold on power.
These frescos in an old Roman
covenant tell the story.
The great emperor falls to his knees
as he shares his crown with the Pope.
This is the moment when the sword
and the cross become one.
Christianity turns violent.
The things people do in the name of God.
When Constantine converted...
there were almost the same number
of Christians and Jews.
Today there are around
two billion Christians...
and only 15 million Jews.
Before l left Rome...
I went to look for the abandoned tomb
of Constantine's mother, Helena.
I remembered that she was
my mother's favourite saint.
Helene collected sacred
relics from the Holy Land,
the way my mother collected antiques.
- Excuse me, Mausoleum Helena?
- Yes.
Excuse me, signor Mausoleum Helena?
Thank you.
Historians know practically
nothing about the real Helena...
but she started to obsess me.
I remember the stories back in Sunday school
about her visit to Golgotha...
where Jesus had been crucified.
She found the Jew who knew
where the true cross was hidden...
and then he converted.
The story of Saint Helena and the Jew
could be a useful clue in my search.
Historians do know
that she came from Germany.
I remember my mother first told me
about Helena in Germany...
back when I was 16.
We lived in Wiesbaden, headquarters
of the US air force in Europe.
My father was chief of staff.
When my family was here in the '50s,
it was as privileged Americans.
I was just a kid but I saw my father
as a figure of tremendous power
The airbase was the point of the spear.
Fighters and bombers
targeting the iron curtain...
just a hundred miles away.
I was at home in this world
of power and virtue.
We had everything, even Elvis
stationed at a nearby army base.
In fact my brother had his eye
on a fellow 8th grader...
when the rumours spread to junior
high that she was dating Elvis.
Her name was Priscilla.
We were known in this neighbourhood as
the American General with many children.
My mother told me she was the blessed
mother's representative here on earth.
That is to say was her name was Mary...
and she made me understand
that she was associated with Mary.
Of course I was aware
that my father's name was Joseph.
My initials were J.C.
I just came of age...
and my relationship with mom and dad...
very much included God
in the family circle.
This road makes me think of my mother.
We used to drive on this road.
Where we were going were these really
important Catholic centres of devotion.
Mainz, Cologne Trier,
each one had a relic...
supposedly brought from the Holy Land
by Saint Helena...
and Mom needed to see them all.
Here in Trier in 1959...
Mom and I saw the most precious relics.
More precious even
than a piece of the true cross.
Helena is said to have brought it to Trier
because this was her hometown...
and she wanted it here
in the Cathedral...
built by her own son Constantine.
"In the ancient city of Trier, Germany...
"one of the most venerated relics
in Christendom...
"is shown publicly this year.
"United States Air force personnel
and their families...
"are among those privileged
to see a robe...
"said to have been worn by Christ.
"The vestments has been shown publicly
only at very rarely intervals.
I stood on the balcony
at the back of this church...
looking at that robe.
And to me it looked like
an over-sized T-shirt...
surrounded by people who were
profoundly moved by their conviction...
that this had been worn by Jesus.
I couldn't imagine then that the
whole idea of the robe could be fiction...
or that it would keep coming back in
the history of the Christians and the Jews.
Hollywood's version of "The Robe"
was the first movie in Cinemascope...
and the screenplay came
right out of the gospels.
Scholars now tell us...
that the robe of Jesus
in the new testament is pure invention.
It is based on the Psalm
in the Hebrew Bible...
written hundreds of years earlier.
That detail, "They will cast dice
from my robe"...
comes from Psalm 22.
It described an experience...
that seem to apply to Jesus.
The Story of the Robe was used
by the time of Constantine...
as one more excuse to blame the Jews...
for not believing in Jesus.
But if there was no robe.
And the other stories about Helena
and her relics are fiction.
What is the true story
about Constantine and his family?
I thought I might find the answer,
here in Trier.
Guten Tag.
Danke schn.
- And who is that?
- Fausta, Constantine's second wife
- So that's Constantine.
- Yes.
And this is Crispus, the son
of the first wife of Constantine.
- Crispus looks like his father.
- Indeed.
- What happened to him?
- He was killed by his father.
In the Roman baths
that Constantine build in Trier...
I met his biographer, Jon Drivers.
He ordered his eldest son Crispus
to be killed.
- Why?
- One of reasons may have been...
a relationships between Crispus
and Constantine's second wife Fausta.
What happened to Fausta?
She was killed also...
in an overheated bathroom,
on the order of Constantine.
So this one year he orders the execution
of both of his son and his wife.
It makes you actually wonder what
kind of a person Constantine was.
A ruthless,
and perhaps violent person.
Quite another person
from the Saint Constantine...
the image a lot of people have.
There is even a source
which says that...
Constantine had committed
so many sins...
there was no religion
that could forgive his sins.
Only Christianity.
And then he told me
the most surprising thing.
That the cross never been an important
Christian symbol until Constantine...
in the year 326.
For two and a half centuries...
Christians had used symbols of life.
The fish, the lamb, the shepherd.
Now this image of execution is brought in
to unify the empire...
under a single orthodox doctrine.
And why wouldn't Constantine,
a man who had murdered a son,
be drawn to a God who required
the death on the cross of his son.
The finding of the Cross at Golgotha...
proves, of course,
that the Jew actually had killed Christ,
it was used in that way
You could see the Christians could now say
Here is the cross, here is the cross
The Roman emperors
become influenced by that.
You see that gradually
the Jews became a marginal group...
in the Roman empire.
The church fathers
against Jews and Judaism.
In an empire united under the cross...
Jews were now in danger.
They might well have been
wiped out right then...
but church fathers decided...
the Jews should wander
in misery forever...
without a home.
The Roman empire fell,
despite its embrace of Christianity.
The western world descended into
chaos which for lasted six centuries.
Then the Pope cried God wills it.
Calling for a crusade,
a war of the Cross against Islam.
Europe's princess and their armies
stopped fighting each other.
They set out to fight Muslims
in the Holy Land.
But turned first on the infidels
they knew along the Rhines.
When I was a kid the crusader castles
were the point of this river I loved it.
Now I know that these communities
up and down the Rhine here...
all date back to the 11th century.
These towns included some one of the most
thriving Jewish centres in the world...
and in the spring of 1096,
in a a short 6 week period,
beginning in Cologne upriver and going
all the way down the Mainz downriver,
those Jewish communities were
wiped out by crusader mobs
People wearing the sign of the cross
on their shields and on their breast.
I had heard that Jews had been
invited here before the year 1000...
to help the Bishop conduct
his financial affairs...
and had made the mistake of thriving.
I wondered if the state archive in Trier
had records of what happened here...
during the crusades.
There is an old chronicle.
See, it says here
Gesta Treverorum on the top.
- Treverorum the word for Trier.
- It's the Latin for Trier.
It is all hand written.
I can show you a few examples.
- Are there references to Jews?
- Yes, there are references to Jews.
And the eldest references
are from the year 1066.
- That is about thirty years
before the crusades. - Yeah.
Because the Jews for centuries
have been made...
responsible for anything
which happened to a town...
whether it was sicknesses
or whether it was war...
or whether there was a problem
with the water...
or whatever it was,
it was always Jews' fault,
and also these crowds
they attack the Jews.
And so some of the Jews
committed suicide...
and some of them threw their
children in the river.
It is written here
in very clear words.
Because their parents
didn't want them to get baptized.
The account of the Rhine Crusades
in the Trier archive...
aren't widely known.
But Cardinal Karl Layman...
one of the most powerful man
in the church today...
is facing the facts.
The same scene that took place in
each of the towns along the Rhines.
Was played out long ago here in
the courtyards of his Cathedral.
Jews had begged the bishop to protect them
from the crusader mobs.
Layman's medieval predecessors told
them only the converted can be saved.
The rest would have to die.
This mob of people...
feels that here was an opportunity
to avenge...
the crucifixion right
here because the Jews...
had been considered Christ killers...
from the start of Christianity
as a state religion.
Do we know any one story?
There is a stone dedicated
to a young woman...
in the middle of the 12th century...
who took her own life because of the
persecutions that was threatening her.
He drowned herself.
Mr Sarofski what is this?
What is your role here?
- It is a good deed.
- And why does it matter to you?
I'm sorry.
God bless you.
A little later I learned that Mr Sarofski
had survived Auschwitz.
But lost his whole family there.
I was a young Catholic
brought into this perfect church.
It was the place that...
human beings were entirely pure.
We had saints,
we know who they were...
and our priests and our bishop and our popes
were holy, holy men.
I hadn't a clue about the failure.
Priests, now I know, leading
crusaders into this very territory...
to kill Jews.
I didn't know any of it when I made
the most important decision of my life.
We had come back from Germany
to Washington DC...
in the middle of another crusade...
America's struggle against
godless communism.
I was twenty.
I came of age
in a time of nuclear dread.
My father was...
well, he was part of what you could call
the nuclear priesthood.
He was an air force general responsible
for getting ready for World War 3.
When the Cuban missile crisis began...
it began when my father
saw the marks on the ground...
that suggested that the Soviet were
were putting missiles in Cuba.
And he took those photographs to...
the Secretary McNamara
and President Kennedy.
I have directed the armed forces
to prepare...
for any eventuality.
It shall be the policy of this nation...
to regard any nuclear missile...
launched from Cuba against any nation
in the western hemisphere...
as an attack by the Soviet Union
on the United States.
My father let me see how afraid he was
of nuclear war.
In fact he asked me to do
something about it...
once he told me he might not be there...
and it would be up to me to take care
of my brothers and my mother
He said to me once drive south
to Richmond, go past it
He was telling me to get away
from ground zero.
It was out of that
that I let go of this...
first dream I had of myself
being an air force man
And I embraced something else
I said to my Dad in that period...
"I think I want to give myself
to the things that last...
the things that are eternal."
For an Irish Catholic kid,
that only meant one thing.
The priesthood I thought at the time...
was a step away from war.
I was drawn not to the Jesus
of miracles walking on water.
but to the prince of peace,
who firmly rejected violence.
I began to think about religion
more critically.
Instead of making me
more obedient and accepting...
The seminary gave me the ability
to challenge...
some of the things
that I had never questioned...
about my church and about America.
It was 1969
and I am to be be ordained...
as a Catholic priest.
I am saying my first mass...
in a chapel at Bolling Air force Base
because that's where my parents live.
It's the tradition.
And in the chapel...
my mom and dad's neighbours,
friends and colleagues...
the general officers
of the United States Air force.
But we are in the middle of a war...
and I knew that the intelligence
assessments in Vietnam...
were coming from the Defence
Intelligence Agency...
from my father.
Vietnam tore this country apart...
set one generation against another.
And my father and I have long
since stopped discussing it.
But I had to give a sermon.
And I preached on a text from Ezekiel...
where he describes
a valley full of dead bones.
I said that the bones he was looking at...
had been burned,
scorched by the sun...
and then I said and by napalm.
It was as close as I could get...
to referring to the war in Vietnam.
But it was plenty close,
believe me.
The word "napalm"...
in that chapel on that day...
was a deep offense...
and my father never forgave me for it.
I was under my father's window
in the Pentagon.
He was there and I was here.
I was surrounded
by 50,000 other people...
but still it was a defining moment.
I spent the years
of the anti-war movement...
as a Boston University Chaplin...
counseling those who faced the draft.
I think we have opened up these
grievous questions a little further...
as to whether or not Americans
are allowed to kill the innocent.
A powerful wing of the peace
movement was Christian.
We hope we could change
the church's future...
even if we couldn't erase its past.
Once I focused on the good
the church could do.
Now my faith hangs
on facing directly the worst.
I looked back to the 14th century..
when the Church in Spain thought
it was extending a helping hand to the Jews...
with a campaign to convert them
to Christianity.
But it was followed by an Inquisition.
A violent paranoia that those
conversions could not be trusted.
Once a Jew, always a Jew.
The sin was no longer in their belief...
but in their blood.
In Spain and then across Europe...
Jew were tried and burned.
As mobs accused them
of poisoning well...
causing the black plague...
and killing Christian children
for their blood.
Finally the Jews were driven
out of Spain.
they were invited by the Pope
to take refuge in Rome.
They settled along the banks of the Tiber...
not far from the Vatican.
My family came to Italy
from Spain in 1492.
- Why?
- The Catholic queen of Spain, in 1942...
expelled the Jews.
We are what they call Sephardic Jews,
Jews of Spanish origin.
Sepharad in Hebrew means Spain.
There was a market place here,
across was the Jewish quarter
in ancient Roman times.
For sixty years, inquisitors threatened Jews
and Popes protected them.
Then in 1555 the Inquisitor himself
Gian Pietro Carafa
was crowned Pope Paul the 4th.
"It is absurd and improper...
that these Jews have erupted
into insolence.
They presume to dwell side by side
with Christians...
with no distinction in their dress
to separate them.
Therefore we do issue
the following ordains.
Jews are to own no real estate.
Jews are to hire
no Christian servants.
Jews are no longer to ignore
the ancient requirement...
to wear distinctive clothing
and badges.
The taxes of Jews are to be increased.
Jews are to live in a distinct quarter...
cut off from other sections of the city.
This quarter is to have only one entrance...
to be locked at sundown."
After Carafe's edict...
the Jews of Rome were walled up
in a tiny ghetto.
Four square blocks...
into which thousands of families
were squeezed...
in cramped and squalid conditions.
- So this is your neighbourhood.
- Yes.
My family they are Jewish...
start to live here in the ghetto in 1555.
- Which begins with Carafe.
- Yes.
The Jewish people cannot
go out from this area.
So my family and all the Jewish family...
that they are from all over Italy...
they come here in Jewish Ghetto...
and they lose all of their possessions.
The only thing that they remember
is that they came from Mentana.
So our name that is Limentani...
means the people from Mentana.
- To come to the ghetto was to lose your
name as well as your possessions. - Yes
And what did they do?
The Jewish people can only sell
or buy used things.
They cannot work with new stuff.
- No manufacturer
- No manufacturer. Only used things
So my family start to work with glass.
- And that was in the middle
of the 16th century? - Yes.
- And your family has been here
ever since. - Yes.
For hundreds of years,
the uneasy threat of conversion...
was hanging over the Jewish enclave.
There is a church in this neighbourhood
with a Hebrew inscription on the front...
saying, "Come, you unbelieving Jews."
And that's where the Jews were
forced to attend Catholic sermons.
It's documented that in order not
to listen to what the priest was saying...
they put wax in their ears.
So the priest was talking and talking,
but I don't know how much they listened...
or how much they believed
what they were being told
One of the cruelest stories...
was played out on this Roman bridge...
underneath statues commemorating
Helena's discovery...
of the true cross
and the holy robe.
Right on this location on what is most
probably a very cold winter morning in 1572...
a group of four women,
who were Christian,
they have been convicted by the
Inquisition of practicing Jewish rites...
were brought here and first hung
and then burned.
Many of these people underwent
forced baptisms...
or their parents or grandparents
underwent forced baptisms...
and the children continue
to practice Jewish rites...
and a group of comforters
who told them to be penitent...
and have a good Christian
death brought them here
and with some sort of crowd
looking on they were killed.
These people were called
the holy comforters?
That's right, yeah.
If you admitted you're wrong...
and you were resigned to your fate,
you can be hung first.
If not, you would just be burned alive.
In spite of this on-going persecution...
I learned that the Limentani family
had not only survived.
They had prospered.
In 1820 we opened our first store.
- Where was that?
- It was in this street.
This is your family shop over here?
Yes this is my family shop in this street.
Ah, this is my father.
Your daughter has been telling me
the story of your family.
- All the stories of the family.
- Yes.
Would you explain to me
what the passport was?
We start to work with the Pope in 1870.
When the Pope moves
to the Vatican city...
our family gave him the first set
of dishes and plates...
just to thank the Pope
for giving us the passport.
How many Popes
have you made dishes for?
Starting from 1870 till now.
Are you making plates for the new Pope?
Yes, we are expecting the order
from the new Pope.
The Limentanis received their special
passport from Pious the 9th...
in March 1870...
at the very end of the Pope's authority
over the Jews.
In November of that year the citizens
of Rome voted to join a unified Italy...
and the walls of the ghetto
were torn down.
The Jews were liberated
after more than 300 years.
The Pope had to flee from his palace
in the centre of the city...
and retreat to the Vatican.
The Italian army entered Italy
ended the power of the church...
and Rome became part of a unified Italy...
and that's when the ghetto
was closed, in 1870.
But the Jews have continued
to live here...
because it is a place to which
they feel they belong.
The Roman Jews thought they were free...
and they were for sixty years.
Free to go anywhere and to practice
their religion without pressure to convert.
The zeal to convert others to Christianity
may start with good intention.
This mission passed from the Catholic Church
to the Protestants.
Today it is alive and well in Colorado.
So this is our family getting together
to say we are about two things.
Knowing God and making God
known in our generation.
And so we would love to engraft you
as part of the family tonight...
and I think by the end of tonight
you may just want to.
But everybody,
there is a purpose behind it.
Just take a second and listen to it.
First Corinthians,
chapter 4, verse 20.
For the kingdom of God...
is not a matter of talk,
but of power.
We got a scenario going on
in our generation right here...
where they are saying
that only 4 per cent of us...
are going to be Evangelical
Bible believing people.
but there are those of us
that will say...
and are saying here tonight
at New Life Church,
"Not on my watch."
So we can now go out...
and make a difference
in Colorado Springs...
in every college,
at the academy and beyond.
It's kind of the moment where we will say
"Here am I God, send me."
Come on all over this room, let's pray.
Our father in the name
of the Lord Jesus Christ
Look down on this gathering,
this body of believers in you
Tonight we give you everything
and we pray in the name of Jesus
that you would send us out God
ship us out into our generation
to carry this powerful Gospel story
of your promises that never let go,
that never relent
that never quit, that never stop
that never say die, that never surrender
Taking that good news into our generation
Talk is cheap, we are ready for action
So here we are God
Send us in Jesus name
We are ready Amen.
A shuttle bus takes
cadets back and forth
between the academy and
the New Life Church
They will come to my room
and just try to talk me into becoming saved...
to resist this kind of pressure and intense
this kind of weight on me...
Can this not be an issue,
can this please not be an issue...
can this just be something we don't discuss
and just go about our lives?
The academy is difficult enough,
I don't need this.
They tell you you should go out
and get people to come to Christ.
That that is a part of your job as a Christian
if you are not doing that you know
you are not being a good Christian.
I don't know if they think...
about that perspective of those people
that they are talking about
that they are going to burn in Hell.
That's me.
I don't think that
by and large people feel like they are being
violated at the air force academy.
I do think that it is part of freedom to...
have to hear other
people's point of view...
when you don't actually want to hear it.
I drink Coke.
I have to listen to Pepsi commercials.
I drive a Chevrolet.
I have to listen to Ford commercials.
It is all part of living
in a pluralistic society.
If cadets come to your church
and they are convinced fine.
That is a totally different exercise
than infiltrating...
and that is what was going on down there.
It was the infiltration.
Senator Gary Hart was one of the first...
to see a danger of state sponsored
religion at the academy.
Many fundamentalist right-wing
religious organizations...
are headquartered in Colorado Springs.
There was an attempt
by those organizations...
to indoctrinate air force cadets
and faculty members.
The drum beats were getting louder...
when conservative Christian evangelical
ideology becomes the norm...
for the Air Force.
Then anything that appears other...
needs to be at least moved to the side...
if not banished and denigrated
and humiliated.
And what is most visibly other...
to conservative Christian evangelicals
is Jewishness.
I always say the same thing.
If you want an absolute guarantee
of eternal life,
Jesus is that guarantee.
If you want to try to work it out
on your own...
you got that freedom.
But if you want a guarantee,
This is the way to do it, so...
So that's what I told Barbara Walter,
Tom Brokaw and now you.
I wasn't the only one to make an nostalgic
visit back to Germany this summer.
The newly elected Pope,
Benedict the 16th,
came home to say mass
in a field for a million children.
World Youth Day,
the catholic Woodstock.
But he made another historic visit
while he was here in the Rhineland.
Pope Benedict here in Cologne...
reminded people of the Third Reich...
and quite properly in speaking
to a Jewish group...
he begins by acknowledging
the tragedy of the Shoah, the Holocaust
There was a way in which his acknowledgment
of the Shoah was incomplete.
He said Nazi hatred of Jews was...
"born of Neopaganism"...
as if that's the only source of it
Well, it was born
of Nazi Neopaganism...
but that hatred had two parents
And the other one...
the long tradition of Christian
anti-Judaism, he did not mention.
The story which most shockingly
reveals the church's involvement..
took place right here
in the Rhineland.
Within two weeks of Adolf Hitler coming
fully to power in March 1933...
Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli,
the Vatican foreign minister,
sent him warm greetings.
Treaty negotiations began
between Pacelli...
and Hitler's vice chancellor,
Franz von Papen.
In July they signed the so called
and the Vatican became
the first foreign power...
to enter into a bilateral treaty
with Hitler.
It included a secret provision...
in which the Church defend the Jews
who had converted to Catholicism.
But indicated
that it would have nothing to say...
about Nazi assaults
against other Jews.
Only after a few days after signing
the treaty for Hitler,
Franz von Papen represented the Fuhrer
at the unveiling of the robe in Trier.
The robe that would not be shown
again until 25 years later when I saw it.
The same robe that had come into the Gospels
as proof that the Messiah had come.
That robe...
had become the centre of the celebration
of the church's treaty with Hitler.
Over the next three weeks...
more than two million pilgrims
poured into Trier to see the robes.
Now the symbol of this alliance
between church and state.
Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli went on
to become Pope Pious the 12th.
While it may be unfair
to call him Hitler's Pope...
it's not too much to call him
Hitler's cardinal.
The New Pope is revising this history.
While he was here In Cologne...
Benedict invoked the memory
of Edith Stein as a catholic hero...
but fell far short of telling her real story.
Edith Stein was a brilliant young
German Jewish philosopher.
She studied the problems
of despair and empathy.
In 1922,
she converted to Catholicism.
Eleven years later, she entered
the Carmelite Convent here in Cologne...
and took the name Sister Benedicta
of the Cross.
Edith Stein was said to have written
a letter of warning...
to Pope Pious the 11th,
right after Hitler took power.
There is one nun still alive
who might know if this is true.
Sister Amata came to the convent here,
just as Sister Benedicta was leaving.
I ask her if she knew anything
about the letter.
I would be very grateful to see it.
Sister Amata told me as I was leaving...
that the Vatican had released
the letter only a year ago.
She said I was the first person
to ask to see it.
Edith Stein fled from Cologne
to another convent in the Netherlands.
But in August 1942,
she was arrested there anyway...
and put on a train to the east...
nine years after she wrote
to the Pope.
Holy Father!
As a child of the Jewish people
who by the grace of God
has been for the last eleven years
a child of the Roman Catholic Church,
I take the liberty to spell out
what oppresses millions of Germans.
For years on end Nazi leaders
have preached anti-Semitism.
Now that they have put their hands
on the powers of government,
the seeds of hate have sprouted.
For weeks now...
not only Jews, but thousands
of faithful Roman Catholics,
have been waiting for the Church
to raise its voice.
Isn't the extermination campaign
pursued against those of Jewish blood...
an insult of the most holy humanity
of our redeemer?
All of us who are faithful children
of the Church...
and who face events in Germany
with open eyes...
fear the worst for the standing of the church
should the silence wear on
Asking at your Holiness's feet.
Dr. Edith Stein.
So Edith Stein could be buried there.
As I was leaving,
I saw a nun in the distance.
She was joined by more of her sisters.
They were coming to remember Edith Stein
at the place where she had died.
When the church named her
a saint in 1998...
her letter to the Pope was not mentioned.
Nor was the entry about it in her diary.
"December 18th 1938
I know that my letter was delivered
to the Holy Father.
I never received a reply.
I have often wondered
whether this letter...
might have come to his mind
once in a while.
For in the years that followed...
that which I had predicted
for the future in Germany
came true step by step."
In the course of my journey...
I realised I couldn't help
but trace the story back to Rome.
That's where I found the episode that made
me as a Christian feel most ashamed.
Italy's fascists leaders instituted
racist laws in 1938.
The restrictions on Rome's Jews...
were a haunting reminder
of Pope Carafe's edict in 1555.
Jews are forbidden to attend
or to work in any Italian school.
Jews cannot own land.
Jews cannot employ Christian servants.
Jews cannot serve in public office.
Jews are forbidden
to marry non-Jews.
In another set of restrictions a year later...
Jews were banned from skilled professions.
To attend services,
they had to do so in secret.
They gathered in a small room,
near the old ghetto.
Jews were scared and worried...
and in '38 my father sensed
that our lives were in danger.
The Nazis pretended they were
bargaining with Jews here.
They collected, I don't remember
exactly how many kilos of gold.
It is a day that I remembered perfectly.
16th October 1943.
It was Saturday morning and raining.
I went to the smoke shop by myself...
but suddenly my father showed up.
He run over and when he reached me,
he told me to come away with him.
He said the Germans
are rounding up all the Jews.
The trucks came
and they started rounding up people.
People started running away.
They went along the staircases and grabbed
men, women, children, infants
They carried them out on trucks.
This was the end of their lives here...
where they had been living for 2,000 years.
On May 16th, we arrived in Auschwitz.
Right away, they started yelling
and hitting anyone...
who moved slowly with their clubs.
Then we saw my sister and my mother.
We ran towards them.
My mother hugged us all,
she was crying.
Her face was completely wet with tears.
I remembered her hug, mom's hug.
With my face against hers
getting wet from mom's tears.
Then she said,
"I will never see you again."
Which would be my mother's last words.
If on October 16th, when the Jews
were awaiting deportation,
not 300 yards from the Vatican,
if the Pope had only taken the trouble
to step out through those Vatican gates,
even without saying anything,
there was that great gesture
of his in 19th July 1943...
when Rome was bombed...
and he went to the ruins...
and didn't say a word.
He just opened his arms
in the sign of a cross.
If he had done something similar
when the Jews were arrested on 16th October,
I think there would never have been
a deportation.
If the Pope had spoken clearly,
what difference would it have made?
How does this history continue
to live with you?
He was very lucky man
and he always thanks our God,
the God of Abraham...
for the lucky chance that we have.
Nearly two decades
passed after the war...
without the church taking any responsibility
for what had happened.
Then Pope John the 23rd was elected...
just months before I met him,
and he so changed my life.
He was this old guy...
and they chose him as the compromise.
He was just going to be there
for a while and die. That was the plan.
He blew them away...
because the first thing did was he said
he was going to have a new Vatican Counsel.
A reforming counsel to as he said
would open the windows of the Church.
Pope John died...
but the bishops went on and approved
the change that mattered most.
They called it "Nostra Aetate."
Meaning "In our time."
Nostra Aetate went right
to the heart of the problem.
This document said no more saying
the Jews are Christ killers.
You can't say that because now
we understand where that charge led.
But Nostra Aetate is hardly known
in the Christian world.
In our own time...
Pope John Paul the 2nd was still fighting
the battle to wipe away our hatred...
that had become second nature
after 2000 years.
John Paul did what he could...
but in Poland I was shocked to see
what had been erected after the Pope's visit...
Right in front of the wall of Auschwitz.
As if Christians was trying to claim
the Holocaust for themselves.
If Jesus had died here...
it would not have been
as the saviour of the world...
but as an unknown Jew,
with a number on his arm.
An hours drive from Auschwitz in Krakow,
as elsewhere in Poland,
there is hardly a trace of the Jewish life
that flourished here before the war.
I met a young priest...
who had grown up
without knowing this Jewish past.
When he found out, he made it his calling.
They were neighbours.
Their houses are still there.
What happens to them?
Why the people forget so easily?
So it has become a kind of questions
about myself...
about the kind of memory
which I have.
The Jews were perceived as "others"...
as not part of our group.
And probably it is easy to kill someone
who is not belonging to us.
We still are unable to admit this,
most of us.
We Catholics have to take responsibility
for this...
and to say this openly.
That there is an institution,
we played a role in this.
Just saying this,
recognising this,
we are changed by this truth.
Father Obirek was demanding
a much fuller reckoning...
with the Church's failures
than the Vatican was.
His Jesuits superiors ordered him
to stop preaching in public.
He said a mass for me in the small chapel
at the seminary where he used to teach.
I cannot teach, I cannot write
as a member of the order.
- You have been silenced?
- Yes. - Why?
Because I was expressing
what I am saying to you now.
In Poland this kind of voices
are not acceptable.
I am leaving the priesthood,
I'm leaving the order...
and I will try to to build my own way,
according to my conscience.
- Still as a believing Christian?
- Yes.
In a way, it is painful...
because I have thirty years
of being a Jesuit,
twenty years as a priest.
So to change it, it is not easy.
I feel this as a new challenge
for my life.
I think ironically
you were entering the order...
as I was leaving my order...
thirty years ago
So probably you have the same experience.
My version of it, I left the priesthood.
Precisely to speak as myself...
and to write as myself,
my time as a priest,
from 1969 to 1974,
coincided with all that had been
effectively undercut...
in my life.
I couldn't be obedient after having...
the war in Vietnam
destroy my faith in authority.
The turmoil of those years
were my turmoil.
There was a moment in my life
when I realize that...
If the B52 bombers flying over Vietnam
were dropping contraceptive...
the American Catholic hierarchy would have
condemned that war in a minute.
But they were dropping napalm.
In 1973, I spent a summer
in a retreat in Tantur in Jerusalem.
When I walked where Jesus walked,
on his way to his death...
I understood that it wasn't just the pious story
that I had been raised to
to believe and to celebrate
every good Friday.
I understood in a way
I never had before...
that there were people
who had paid with their lives...
for the way their story was told.
So all of this was
bearing down on me...
and I understood
if the priesthood is wrong for you,
then leave...
because your connection to God
is unbreakable.
And the rest of my life
followed from that.
Thousands of young priests like me
left our orders.
I wonder if the liberal reform
would have taken hold if we had stayed.
In Rome, I sought out my old friend,
Father John Pavlikovsky,
who stayed when I left,
and fought for the
very things that now
matters so much to me
- How are you?
- Good. Good to see you again
- Was it '73, I think, was the first time.
- We were young priest in Tantur.
I think you know...
I think you know...
what a definitive summer
that was for me.
You confessed to me that perhaps
you weren't going to stay around.
- I was deciding to leave the priesthood
right then. - That's right.
Confession is not a bad word
for the feeling I have.
I don't feel that way so much now...
but at the time, as you know,
it was a real struggle. - It was a struggle
You stayed in the trenches.
- You have done tremendous work
over the years. - Thank you.
What has it been like?
Well, it has been very positive,
I would say.
- Then you get the Gibson film...
- Yeah.
Gibson film that kind of destroys it,
and then you get people who...
are supposed to be speaking
or something...
coming up and saying,
"Oh, this is totally wonderful.
There is no contradiction here
between what Nostra Aetate says."
And you are staring at the space,
and say...
"What planet are you on?"
If you want to make religion
a constructive force in society...
religions must begin
with an honest admission...
of those moments when they haven't been
a constructive force...
when they have been a destructive force.
And the thing that
frustrates me no end...
is when religious leaders get up
and give the impression
that religion has always been on the side
of good and virtue.
It hasn't. Let's be honest.
"This crusade...
this war on terrorism
is going to take a while."
The president may not have understood
what he was saying.
But his words calling for a crusade...
in the war we are fighting now
still haunt me.
"We are in a conflict
between good and evil...
and America will call evil by its name.
We received our rights from God...
and we know that God is not neutral."
I am convinced this really is a crusade.
Islam is accused of violence,
as if Christianity is innocent.
If you think of religion as a great lake,
it's lake of gasoline...
and all it is going to take
is someone to drop a match into it...
for a terrible conflagration...
and I'm talking literally now,
'cause ause that is what the world
of weapons of mass destruction mean.
And when you put religion into that context
as a source of hatred and violence...
the worst catastrophe of all is possible.
Every religious person
has to take responsibility...
for the way in which their tradition
encourages intolerance,
suspicion, hatred of the "other"...
and the Christian tradition,
both in relation to Muslims and Jews,
we have some very clear reckoning
with history to do.
I can't ignore what is happening
in Colorado Springs.
Religious and military power
are coming together.
It's a warning
and I hear it getting louder.
"Tonight, at one military school,
there are serious allegation...
"of religious fervour out of control.
The air force academy
face a full blown scandal...
when it was revealed
that there had been a cover-up...
of a report by the Yale
University Divinity School.
What we observed at the air force academy
was wide spread evangelizing...
from cadets to officers to chaplains.
The Yale team reported that a chaplain
delivered a sermon...
exhorting over 500 cadets
on basic training...
to threaten non-evangelicals
with dire consequences...
if they refuse to convert.
The head chaplain was telling them that
in fact if they did not come to Jesus...
that they will burn
in the fires of hell.
"Quite frankly, some of the incidents
that we looked at...
and heard about
over the last 4 or 5 years...
were vicious
and that's totally unacceptable."
The academy immediately started
trying to spin this, saying that...
"Ok, we have a little issue but the
good news is it is not systemic."
The place is not out of control.
The evangelists have not
taken over here.
This is a very normal campus,
other then it's a military school.
Rather than admit their mistakes...
the air force academy decided...
to attempt a smear campaign
on the Yale team...
ask me to also say that the things
that were in the report were not true.
And then they proceeded to tell me
that I too was a traitor...
and my career was over.
I tried working for months
with an assistant.
I love the academy.
I sued the Air Force fifteen days ago.
It was a very hard decision.
Some of you, most of you I hope
are old enough to remember...
a Walt Disney movie called "Old Yeller."
In the last scene is when the guy
has to shoot his own dog.
That is how I felt when I had
to fight my school,
my alma mater and the air force.
Now Mikey has been very clear...
but what he really wants...
is no religious expression
in the military.
And he does it
under the banner of saying...
"We want total equality between
the various religions and non-religion."
Which, you see, that's code for...
no religion.
See now that is anti-American.
We are not an atheistic country.
I think the message
that it is sending around the world,
particularly in Islamic world,
is that the American military
comes hand in hand...
with this Christian evangelical package...
that we don't separate the two...
that the force behind the United States
is this missionary zeal.
We are currently fighting a religious war.
At least our enemie
are the remnants of the Taliban...
Al-Qaeda, the jihadists,
the insurrectionists.
They already see us as invading American
Christian imperialist crusaders.
You have yourself
an evangelical background.
You were raised in the evangelical tradition.
What's different here...
is the insertion of these
fundamentalist beliefs...
by key religious figures...
into partisan politics.
And I think it is very dangerous...
this is bordering on theocracy...
and of course theocracy is...
why our founders were so insistent
on the First Amendment.
Within weeks of his suit...
Weinstein, who had served
in the Reagan White House,
found himself in open conflict
over the separation of church and state...
with the US government
and the evangelical religious right.
We are in the midst
of an ideological conflict...
and we don't like people
using the power of the state...
to keep Christians from giving
their best arguments.
So Ted Haggard filed a counter suit...
on behalf of the 30 million strong
National Association of Evangelicals...
insisting that they be allowed
to proselytize...
whenever, wherever and to whomever
they want in the US military.
My father was buried here
as the first Iraq war began.
The thing I remembered
of my Dad most I think...
was this sense I got from him
about war, which is...
why this place is always
so overwhelming to me.
Low and behold here,
we are with a terrible war unfolding.
I was foolish enough to think that
war would recede
as a threat in my lifetime.
We had learn our lesson, hadn't we?
I thought as an ex-priest,
as a writer,
I would take up other things.
But look what happen now.
The world is back on the edge
of that precipice.
Only now it has been put there
in part by religion...
by this terrible civilizational conflict
that has religion at the centre of it
I am back where I started.
Only now religion isn't the opposite of war.
Religion is involved in it,
maybe even responsible for it.
No war is holy.
# Oh the history books tell it
# They tell it so well
# The cavalries charged
# And the Indians fell
# The cavalries charged
# And the Indians died
# Oh the country was young then
# With God on its side
# For you don't count the dead when
# God's on your side