Fadiey Lovsky passed away this past May 23 at the age of a hundred years old. As is often the case for those who row against the current, he remains relatively unknown outside the circle of Jewish-Christian relations – and probably even less known in English-speaking countries where, as far as I know, his books have not been translated. Yet this Protestant Christian historian, both big-hearted and spiritual, is one of the most important contemporary authors in the field of Christian anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, as well as in the field of relations between the Church and the Jewish people.
Born in Paris in 1914, he awoke to the faith at the end of his adolescence. His sensitivity led him towards a pietistic form of Protestantism and to become a member of Union de Prière de Charmes. A professor of history in a high school, he was able to say at the end of his life "I was protected from the temptation of pursuing a career."
Tongue in cheek, he credited "Herr Hitler" with his interest for the Jewish people and his involvement in the Jewish-Christian dialogue. He was also close to Jules Isaac, whom he helped to find a publisher for his book Jésus et Israël (Jesus and Israel, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1971) and with whom he was one of the founders of l’Amitié judéo-chrétienne de France (the Judeo-Christian Friendship of France).
Besides holding senior posts in various bodies of the Protestant Federation of France for relations with the people of Israel, he assumed, for some forty years, responsibility for the Cahiers d’Etudes juives (Review for Jewish Studies).
Finally, Lovsky had a passion for the unity of the Church. For him, the division among the various Christian denominations is but the consequence of the original split between the Church and the Synagogue.
His main works, in French, are:
1. On the mystery of Israel, anti-Semitism and the relationship between the Church and the Jews:
- Antisémitisme et mystère d’Israël, Albin Michel, 1955. A digital version is available on Pressbooks.
- L’antisémitisme chrétien, Ed. du Cerf, 1970.
- La déchirure de l’absence. Essai sur les rapports entre l’Eglise du Christ et le peuple d’Israël, Calmann-Lévy, 1971.
2. On the unity of the Church:
- Pauvrette Eglise, Mame, 1992.
- L’unité, une option non facultative, Olivetan, 1999.
3. On his life and his commitments
- an interview with the journalist Robert Masson, La Fidélité de Dieu, Parole et Silence/Cerf, 1998.
The best tribute we can pay him is by allowing him to speak for himself. Here is a page from La déchirure de l’absence (The Rupture of Absence).
“After Hitler, is forgiveness still possible? But is it not precisely when we, Jews or Christians, are reluctant to respond that Hitler in fact triumphs by having made it impossible? And if forgiveness is the key that opens all doors, who is it that must use this key? To whom is it to be offered? To whom is it to be requested? Is it time for us today to propose it to the Jews, we who do not know how to use it? Might it not be the moment for us to be the first to ask this forgiveness from the Jews? And what should we do, if they refuse, for any number of reasons to grant it to us?
We know too well how hard it is to live this grace asked for daily(*) how hard to pass it on, yet how easily, how lightly it is asked from others, as if the grace that is given to us could become a duty that we would propose to them. Still, Christians have nothing else to transmit than a forgiveness that reconciles. If they are unable to speak about it, they can live it, that is to say, as the case may be, to grant it or ask for it.
When it comes to the relationships of Christians with the people of Israel, it is only on the ground of forgiveness that the meeting can take place. Perhaps it wouldn’t be in vain to dot the i's and cross the t's: for this meeting and this dialogue, it is Christians who must first ask forgiveness from God and from the people of Israel, that is to say, from the Jews.”
(*) Allusion to the Lord’s Prayer.