A leap forward in Catholic-Jewish relations: Marmur

Dov Murmur on both current developments and the historical context:

In order to explain and strengthen the relationship between Catholics and Jews the Vatican has followed up its historic document Nostra Aetate that initiated the dramatic shift half a century ago and about which I wrote last October. Over the years the Church has issued statements which amplify its stance. Five aspects are particularly significant.

  • The Church no longer sees itself as having superseded Judaism. It now speaks of Jews as elder brothers and sisters. It maintains that God’s covenant with the Jews has not been abrogated by Christianity.
  • The accusation that the Jews are responsible for the death of Jesus has been revoked. The possibility that his contemporaries were involved in the crucifixion in no way puts the burden on their descendants.
  • Christian anti-Semitism that has been the cause of persecution and extermination of Jews to this day has been repudiated in the light of what had befallen the Jews by the hands of believing Christians and subsequent secular imitators.
  • Affirming incontrovertible historic facts about the roots of Judaism in the Land of Israel, the legitimacy of re-establishing a Jewish homeland there has been affirmed. The Vatican maintains diplomatic relations with the State of Israel. The fact that Christianity was born in that land is being celebrated by Christians without in any way denying Jewish rights.

As a result, as David Berger put it in the online journal Tablet, “No longer could a loyal Catholic assert that Jewish dispossession from the land resulted from sin of the crucifixion and that unrepentant Jewry must remain in its exile.”

Berger also reminds readers that the Catholic Church has come to occupy the middle ground between most evangelicals’ unconditional support of Israel, including the policies of the current government, and at the other end of the wide spectrum, the stance of many Protestant denominations that tend to repudiate virtually everything Israel does, at times perhaps even questioning its right to exist.

  • The latest Vatican elucidation of Nostra Aetate came last month. It states that the Church “neither conducts nor supports” any institutional missionary initiative directed toward Jews. Not only has the legitimacy of Judaism been affirmed, the accusation of deicide withdrawn, the concomitant persecution of Jews repudiated, but now also attempts to make Jews “see the light” and embrace Christianity have been removed from the Church’s agenda.

Source: A leap forward in Catholic-Jewish relations: Marmur | Toronto Star

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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