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Usdin Lecture Series to examine complexities between Catholics and Jews in Hitler’s Germany

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Father Kevin SpicerOn Sept. 26, Flagler College’s 2011-2012 Cecile & Gene Usdin Judeo-Christian Lecture Series will feature Father Kevin P. Spicer, C.S.C., who will speak on “Entreaty and Supplication: Catholic Clergy and Jews in Hitler’s Germany.”

The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. in the Flagler College Auditorium.

Spicer is the James J. Kenneally Distinguished Professor of History at Stonehill College, Easton, Mass. His research centers on the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the German state under National Socialism. He was the first researcher given access to privileged archives where clergy were listed by the Nazis for their political allegiances. One aspect of Spicer’s current work explores the varying ways Catholic priests responded to persecution of Jews through the end of World War II, and it is this topic that Spicer will address during his visit to Flagler.

“My current research examines what Catholic priests did in regard to speaking out for Jews,” said Spicer. “And of course, like much of history, the answers are not black and white. Under Hitler’s rule, a minority of German Catholic clergy spoke out on behalf of Jews; the majority did not. However, even among those who raised their voices, religious antisemitism was often present. I am in the process of examining the entire spectrum of responses within the Catholic Church to the Holocaust.”

Spicer’s work is the topic of his next book, tentatively titled “Catholics, Nazis, Jews: The Complexities of History.” He is also the author of “Hitler’s Priests: Catholic Clergy and National Socialism” (North Illinois University Press, 2008) and “Resisting the Third Reich: The Catholic Clergy in Hitler’s Berlin” (North Illinois University Press, 2004). He is the editor of “Antisemitism, Christian Ambivalence, and the Holocaust” (Indiana University Press, 2007). He is also a member of the Church Relations Committee of the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

In addition to Spicer’s public address, he will also work with Flagler College students and faculty, and will lead discussions on topics including theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the “Brown Priests” who worked for the Third Reich.

The Cecile & Gene Usdin Judeo-Christian Lecture Series is made possible through a generous endowed gift to Flagler College from Gene Usdin, M.D., a former president of the American Psychiatric Association and a clinical professor of psychiatry at Louisiana State University School of Medicine. His love of St. Augustine inspired him to give back to the community by fostering dialogue about Jewish and Christian principles.

The Spicer address will take place in the Flagler College Auditorium, 14 Granada St. at 7 p.m. This event is free and open to the public, but seating is on a first-come, first-served basis; reservations are not required. Sign language interpreters are provided. Call (904) 819-6400 for more information or visit www.flagler.edu.