'I Am Joseph, Your Brother’

The turnaround in the Vatican’s view of Judaism is credited to one person: Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. Upon his ascent to the papacy in 1958, when he chose the name John XXIII, he took it with the words: 'I am Joseph your brother.'

Theodor Herzl, in his efforts to enlist international support for the Zionist project, managed to obtain an audience with Pope Pius X and to set forth his vision before the pontiff. In his diary, Herzl recalled the pope’s response: “We will not be able to recognize you because you did not recognize Our Lord. We will not be able to prevent Jews from returning to Palestine but our clergy will be ready with...