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Relation of the Catholic Church to Non-Christian Religions---Vatican II

 

     All the passages below are taken from The Sixteen Documents of Vatican II. It was published in 1967 by the Daughters of St Paul, Philippines.

 

DECLARATION ON THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS

 

1. In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger, the Church examines more closely her relationship to non-Christian religions. In her task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.

     One is the community of all peoples, one their origin, for God made the whole human race to live over the face of the earth.1 One also is their final goal, God. His providence, His manifestations of goodness, His saving design extend to all men,2 until that time when the elect will be united in the Holy City, the city ablaze with the glory of God, where the nations will walk in His light.3

     Men expect from the various religions answers to the unsolved riddles of the human condition, which today, even as in former times, deeply stir the hearts of men: What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what is sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness? What are death, judgment and retribution after death? What, finally, is that ultimate inexpressible mystery which encompasses our existence: whence do we come, and where are we going?

 

2. From ancient times down to the present, there is found among various peoples a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human history; at times some indeed have come to the recognition of a Supreme Being, or even of a Father. This perception and recognition penetrates their lives with a profound religious sense.

     Religions, however, that are bound up with an advanced culture have struggled to answer the same questions by means of more refined concepts and a more developed language. Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust. Again, Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing "ways," comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites.

     The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.4

     The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.

 

3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself, merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,5 who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer; almsgiving and fasting.

     Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.

 

4. As the sacred synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham's stock.

     Thus the Church of Christ acknowledges that, according to God's saving design, the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. She professes that all who believe in Christ---Abraham's sons according to faith6---are included in the same Patriarch's call, and likewise that the salvation of the Church is mysteriously foreshadowed by the chosen people's exodus from the land of bondage. The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles.7 Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles, making both one in Himself.8

     The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: "theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh" (Romans 9:4-5), the Son of the Virgin Mary. She also recalls that the Apostles, the Church's main-stay and pillars, as well as most of the early disciples who proclaimed Christ's Gospel to the world, sprang from the Jewish people.

     As Holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognize the time of her visitation,9 nor did the Jews in large number, accept the Gospel; indeed not a few opposed its spreading.10 Nevertheless, God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues---such is the witness of the Apostle.11 In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and "serve him shoulder to shoulder" (Soph. 3:9).12

     Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.

  True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ;13 still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new People of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.

     Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.

     Besides, as the Church has always held and holds now, Christ underwent His passion and death freely, because of the sins of men and out of infinite love, in order that all may reach salvation. It is, therefore, the burden of the Church's preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God's all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows.

 

5. We cannot truly call on God, the Father of all, if we refuse to treat in a brotherly way any man, created as he is in the image of God. Man's relation to God the Father and his relation to men his brothers are so linked together that Scripture says: "He who does not love does not know God" (1 John 4:8).

     No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.

     The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to "maintain good fellowship among the nations" (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men,14 so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.15  [233-236]

 

Commentary on

DECLARATION ON THE RELATION OF THE CHURCH TO NON-CHRISTIAN RELIGIONS 

 

What Is True and Good and Human in Other Religions

     ". .. the Catholic Church looks further, beyond the boundaries of the Christian horizon. How could the Church set limits to her love if she is to make her own the love of God the Father, who sends the rain of his grace upon all (Matthew 5:45) and who has so loved the world as to give up his only-begotten Son (John 3:16)? The Church therefore looks beyond her own sphere and sees those other religions which preserve the sense and the idea of one God, the Creator, wise, supreme and transcendent, those religions which worship God with acts of sincere piety, basing on these beliefs and practices the principles of their moral and social life. Undoubtedly, the Catholic Church perceives, and with sorrow, the deficiencies, inadequacies and errors in many of these religious expressions, but she cannot refrain from addressing a word to them also, to remind them that the Catholic religion fully appreciates all that is true and good and human in them, and that in order to preserve in modern society the religious sense and the worship of God---a duty and a need of true civilization---she is in the front line as the most valid supporter of God's rights over humanity."   PAUL VI (9-29-1963).

 

Our Respect for All

     "Every religion possesses rays of light which must neither be despised nor extinguished, even if they are insufficient to enlighten men to the necessary extent and if they do not reach the miracle of Christian light in which truth and life meet. But by natural religion itself we already arrive at the transcendency of the Being without whom there is no explanation of existence, of reason, of responsible action, of hope without illusion. Every authentic truth is a dawning of faith, although not yet the full sunrise in all the splendor of Christian wisdom. But We appeal to those who profess no religion, or who oppose religion, not to condemn themselves to the burden of irrational dogmas, to the contradictions of tormenting doubt and of the absurd from which there is no escape, to the calamity of despair and nothingness."   PAUL VI (3-29-1964)

 

A Dialogue is Possible

     "Then we see another circle around us. This, too, is vast in its extent, yet it is not so far away from us. It is made up of the men who above all adore the one, supreme God whom we too adore. We refer to the children, worthy of our affection and respect, of the Hebrew people, faithful to the religion which we call that of the Old Testament.

     Then to the adorers of God according to the conception of monotheism, the Moslem religion especially, deserving of our admiration for all that is true and good in their worship of God. And also to the followers of the great Afro-Asiatic religions.

     Obviously we cannot share in these various forms of religion nor can we remain indifferent to the fact that each of them, in its own way, should regard itself as being the equal of any other and should authorize its followers not to seek to discover whether God has revealed the perfect and definitive form, free from all error, in which he wishes to be known, loved and served. Indeed, honesty compels us to declare openly our conviction that there is but one true religion, the religion of Christianity. It is our hope that all who seek God and adore him may come to acknowledge its truth.

     But we do, nevertheless, recognize and respect the moral and spiritual values of the various non-Christian religions, and we desire to join with them in promoting common ideals of religious liberty, human brotherhood, good culture, social welfare and civil order. For our part, we are ready to enter into discussion on these common ideals, and will not fail to take the initiative where our offer of discussion in genuine, mutual respect would be well received."

                   PAUL VI 

Ecclesiam Suam, Part III

 

Deep Concern of Public Opinion

     Augustine Cardinal Bea, President o f the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity: "Venerable Fathers, in speaking on the Schema of the Declaration 'Jews and Non-Christians,' I can only begin with the fact that this Declaration certainly must be counted among the matters in which public opinion has shown the greatest concern. Scarcely any other Schema has been written up so much and so widely in periodicals. Whatever the reasons for this interest and whatever judgment may be given concerning its value, the very fact of this concern shows clearly that precisely in this matter public opinion has turned its eyes toward the Church and many will judge the Council good or bad by its approval or disapproval of the Declaration.

     With regard to the first part concerning the Jews, the text was arranged in a somewhat better order, so that the progress of ideas is better expressed. Similarly, some new ideas were added, principally two texts from the Epistle to the Romans, on the prerogatives of the chosen people (9:4) and on the Christian hope for the final gathering together of this people with the chosen people of the New Testament, that is, the Church (11:25).

 

a) Many Reasons for anti-Semitism are not of the Religious Order

     Many Jews today assert that the belief in a culpability of the Jewish people as such is the principal basis of anti-Semitism, as it is called, and thus the source of the many evils and persecutions to which the Jews have been subjected through the centuries. This assertion does not stand up in any way. In the report already given last year on the Schema, I stated clearly in this hall: `Do we not know very well that there are many reasons for anti-Semitism which are not of the religious order but are political-national, or psychological, or social, or economic?'

 

b) Jews of Today Await a Conciliar Declaration

     Nevertheless, there are many historical instances from various nations which cannot be denied. In these instances, this belief concerning the culpability of the Jewish people as such has led Christians to consider and to call the Jews with whom they lived a `deicide' people, reprobated and cursed by God, and therefore to look down upon them and indeed to persecute them. For this reason, the Jews of today are trying in every way to have the Council publicly and solemnly pronounce the contrary, namely, that the death of the Lord is in no way to be attributed to the Jewish people as such. Now the question may be put this way: is a declaration to this effect on the part of the Council possible? If it is possible, how is it to be made and what should its tenor be?

 

c) Gravity of the Act of the Jewish Sanhedrin

     As is evident, there is no question here, nor can there be any question, of denying a single point of doctrine found in the Gospels. Rather the question is: certainly the leaders of the Jewish Sanhedrin, even if not democratically chosen by the people, were considered and are to be considered as the lawful authority of the people, in accord with the mentality of the times and of Sacred Scripture itself. The gravity and the tragedy of what this authority did in regard to the condemnation and death of Christ the Lord comes from the fact that it was the lawful authority.

     But we must ask what is the gravity of this act. The leaders of the people in Jerusalem did not fully understand the divinity of Christ in such a way that they could be formally deicide. On the cross the Lord prayed to his Father and said: `Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do'(Luke 23:34). This manner of speech is not an empty formula-surely a false supposition-it certainly means that the Jews did not fully understand their crime. St. Peter also, speaking to the Jewish people about the Lord's crucifixion, said: 'I know that you acted through ignorance, as did your leaders...' (Acts 3:17). Thus St. Peter in some way excuses the leaders as well. And St. Paul speaks in similar fashion in Acts 13:27.

     Besides, whatever we may say of the knowledge of the leaders in Jerusalem, the whole Jewish people of that time as such never can be charged with what was done by the leaders in Jerusalem to bring about the death of Christ. It is a statistical fact that in apostolic times the Jewish Diaspora in the Roman Empire numbered about 4,500,000. Are all these to be accused of the deeds done by the members of the Sanhedrin on that sad Friday?  

 

d) Jewish People as such not to be Accused of Guilt

     And even if we granted, which we do not: that those acts could be attributed to the whole people of that time as such, by what right may they be blamed on the Jewish people of today? We may never, in any case, attach blame to any people for deeds of its ancestors or leaders of nineteen centuries past.

     Our Secretariat has tried to take into account these conditions. On the one hand, the guilt of those who decreed the crucifixion of Christ the Lord should be asserted in accord with the Gospel accounts themselves. On the other hand, the guilt should not be ascribed to the people as such, much less to the people of today.

 

e) Difficulty of the Question

     Because of the difficulty of the question, it will be understood that one formula after another has been tried in order to satisfy the desires and the difficulties proposed by the Fathers. Thus many consultations have been undertaken which, as many of you realize, have become known even publicly, I do not know in what way. In view of this, both the Fathers of the Council and others, including non-Catholics and non-Christians, have respectfully requested that the issue of 'deicide' be somehow treated in the Declaration.

 

f) Various non-Christian Religions

     Something must now be said about the second part of the Declaration, which deals with our attitude to non-Christian religions. As I stated already, in the general discussion of the Schema on Ecumenism last year, many wish a fuller treatment of our attitude toward the followers of non-Christian religions, and some Fathers have also asked that explicit mention be made of Moslems.

     Everyone appreciates the significance of this question in the circumstances of today, when representatives of various non-Christian religions on occasion seek contact with the Catholic Church and when all religions are today surrounded by concrete evidence of irreligion and also by the proponents of theoretical atheism.

     With the assistance of some Council experts, we attempted to work out a first Schema. After examining this first text, the Coordinating Commission, in a letter dated April 18, decided that three ideas in particular should be expressed, namely, that God is the Father of all men and that they are His children; that all men are brothers; and that therefore every kind of discrimination, force or persecution on the basis of nationality or race is to be condemned. The Secretariat tried to follow this decision to the best of its ability. In the development of the Schema, explicit mention of the Moslems was made as had been the desire of many Fathers.

 

g) Relation of this Declaration to the Schema on Ecumenism

     As you recall from the debate here last year, the inclusion of this material in the Schema on Ecumenism was unsatisfactory to many Fathers. This is easily understood from the fact that Ecumenism in a strict sense means activity to promote the unity of Christians. Nevertheless, because a profound and special relationship between the chosen people of the Old Covenant is common to all Christians, clearly there is a bond between the ecumenical movement and the question treated in this Declaration. But the bond between Christians and the Jewish people is not so close as the relations among Christians. The question of our relationship to the Jews therefore is not dealt with in a chapter of the Schema on Ecumenism, but separately in a Declaration, which is instead added, and this only externally, to the Schema on Ecumenism. In this fashion perhaps all may be satisfied the more easily, because the question of the location of the topic is not of major importance.

 

h) Non-Christians in the Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam

     The matters treated in this brief Schema are of the greatest importance for the Church and for the world today. So far as the relationship to non-Christians is concerned, its importance is evident from the fact that the topic is dealt with for the first time in the history of the Church by any Council and also from the Holy See's establishment of a special agency to foster relations with non-Christian religions. The same fact is abundantly clear in the program of the encyclical Ecclesiam Suam of the Supreme Pontiff, who speaks there of non-Christians and of the dialogue with them. Let us reflect, moreover, that this is a question of the relation of Catholics to hundreds of millions of men, of our love for them, of our fraternal assistance and cooperation with them.

     As far as the Jewish people are concerned, it is necessary to say, again and again, that we do not treat here of any political question whatever, but a purely religious question. We do not speak here of Zionism or of the political State of Israel, but of the followers of the Mosaic religion, wherever they live throughout the world. Nor is it a matter of heaping honors and praise upon the Jewish people, of extolling them above other nations, or of attributing privileges to them.

     Some feel that the Schema is drawn up so that it does not mention all the severe things---and they are not a few---which Christ the Lord said to the Jews or about them, and that it forgets what blessings of God this people lost because of its unbelief. Therefore, it is said, the Schema does not provide a sufficiently balanced picture of the real situation of this people. If this is the view of many of the Fathers, evidently we must again subject the question to thorough examination.

 

i) Christ's Severity toward the Jews, due to His Love for Them

     Nonetheless it may be stated now that in no sense is it the aim of the Declaration to offer a picture of the Jewish people complete and absolute in all its parts. Otherwise how much would have to be said, how many doctrinal and historical testimonies brought forth. Certainly the Lord Jesus Himself spoke with the greatest severity of this people and to this people, as we know, for example, from the Gospel of St. Matthew, but he did all this out of love, to show them that the hour was at hand, that 'They might know the time of their visitation' (cf. Luke 19:44), and accept the graces offered them and so be saved. St. Paul also wrote of the Jews to the Thessalonians: 'They killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and have persecuted us. They are displeasing to God, and are hostile to all men, because they hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles that they may be saved. Thus they are always filling up the measure of their sins'(1 Thessalonians 2:15 ff.). But the same Apostle on the other hand affirms: 'I speak the truth in Christ ... I have great sadness and continuous sorrow in my heart. For I could wish to be anathema myself from Christ for the sake of my brethren...' (Romans 9:1-3).

     This is the purpose and the scope of the Declaration that the Church may imitate Christ and the Apostles in this love and may be renewed by this imitation, reflecting on the way God has worked his salvation, reflecting on the blessings conferred on the Church through this people.

     When there is question of the condemnation and death of the Lord in Jerusalem through the deeds of the leaders of the Jews, it is again for us to imitate the love of Christ the Lord on the cross, when he prayed to the Father for them and excused his persecutors. If the Lord, while he suffered persecution, acted thus toward his persecutors, how much more must we foster love for the Jewish people of today, who have no guilt in this matter.

     While the Church, then, is eager for her own renewal in the Council and, according to the famous expression of the Supreme Pontiff, John XXIII, tries to renew herself in the greater fervor of her youth, it seems that our hands must turn to this issue, that the Church may also be renewed in it. This renewal is of such importance that we must pay the price of accepting the danger that some may perhaps misuse this Declaration for political purposes. For there is question here of our obligations to truth and to justice, of our duty of gratitude to God, of our duty to imitate faithfully and most closely Christ the Lord himself and his Apostles Peter and Paul. In doing this the Church and this Council cannot in any way permit the consideration of any political authority or political reason." (From the report given in the Council hall on September 25, 1964, introducing the Declaration concerning the Jews and non-Christians).

 

No Excuse for Persecution of our Jewish Brothers

     Richard Cardinal Cushing, Archbishop of Boston, Massachusetts:

"Through this Council the Church must manifest to the whole world and to all men a concern which is genuine, an esteem all embracing, a sincere charity---in a word, it must show forth Christ. I would propose three amendments, specifically on the Jews.

     First: we must make our statement about the Jews more positive, less timid, more charitable. Our text illustrates well the priceless patrimony which the New Israel has received from the Law and the Prophets, and that which Jews and Christians share in common. But surely we ought to indicate the fact that we sons of Abraham according to the Spirit must show a special esteem and particular love for the sons of Abraham according to the flesh because of this common patrimony. As sons of Adam they are our brothers; as sons of Abraham, they are the blood brothers of Christ.

     Second: on the culpability of the Jews for the death of our Savior. As we read in, Sacred Scripture, the rejection of the Messiah by his own people is a mystery, which is indeed for our instruction, not for our exaltation. The parables and prophecies of our Lord teach us this. We cannot judge the leaders of ancient Israel---God alone is their judge. Most certainly we cannot dare to attribute to later generations of Jews the guilt of the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, except in the sense of the universal guilt in which all of us men share. We know and we believe that Christ died freely, that he died for all men and because of the sins of all men, Jews and Gentiles.

     Therefore, in this Declaration, in clear and evident words, we must deny that the Jews are guilty of the death of our Savior, except insofar as all men have sinned and on that account crucified him and indeed still crucify him. Especially must we condemn any who would attempt to justify inequities, hatred, or even persecution of the Jews as Christian actions.

     All of us have seen the evil fruit of this kind of false reasoning. In this august assembly, in this solemn moment, we must cry out: There is no Christian rationale---neither theological nor historical---for any inequity, hatred or persecution of our Jewish brothers. Great is the hope, both among Catholics and among our separated Christian brethren, as well as among our Jewish friends in the New World, that this Sacred Synod will make such a fitting declaration.

     Thirdly and finally: I ask, Venerable Brothers, whether we ought not to confess humbly before the world that Christians too frequently have not shown themselves as true Christians, as faithful to Christ, in their relations with their Jewish brothers? In this our age, how many have suffered! How many have died because of the indifference of Christians, because of silence! There is no need to enumerate the crimes committed in our own time. If not many Christian voices were lifted in recent years against the great injustices, yet let our voices humbly cry out now" (9-28-1964).

 

Vigorous Stand Against All Discrimination

     Albert Gregory Cardinal Meyer, Archbishop of Chicago, Illinois: "The importance of this Declaration has been stressed by many and it should be accepted with our whole hearts. It is not enough to say that the Church deplores the persecution of Jews merely because it condemns injustice to all men. There should be explicit mention of the special bonds uniting us to the Jews. St. Thomas Aquinas has reminded us that no Jew in the time of Christ was formally guilty of deicide, because they were not aware of the divinity of Christ. The text should make very clear that the Church takes a vigorous stand against any and all discrimination on the basis of nation, race, etc. This ought to be set forth in greater detail and with greater clarity." (9-28-1964)

 

Hopes for Eschatological Re-integration of the Jews

     Giacomo Cardinal Lecaro, Archbishop of Bologna (Italy): "The basic reason for this Declaration on the Jews is not the events of the last war, nor any extrinsic or political motivation. Its cause is purely religious and spiritual and comes from within the Church, that is to say, from the deeper knowledge of itself and of its own essential mystery which the Church is acquiring today. This Declaration is the maturing and necessary fruit of the dogmatic Constitutions on the Church and on the Liturgy. The text ought to suggest biblical discussions with Jews and with great reverence express the hopes of the Church for eschatological re-integration of the Jewish people. The Jews of today should not be called an accursed or deicide people, but we should recognize that all of us 'have strayed like sheep'. It is not a new doctrine in the Church but a traditional one that the Jews crucified Christ out of ignorance, as can be seen in the Catechism of the Council of Trent" (9-28-1964).

 

Reverence for the Jews

     Archbishop Leon Arthur Elchinger, Coadjutor of Strasbourg (France): "Many Jews today are authentic witnesses to Sacred Scripture in their lives, through the practice of biblical virtues. They study their Scriptures and instruct their children in them. Some of us have acquired a better knowledge of our Scriptures from studying them with Jews. The witnesses of the one God today cannot afford to give atheism the sad example of division. We must be animated with sober humility and reverence for the Jews. All over the world Jews are waiting for this Declaration. It will be for them a cause for peace and joy or an occasion of bitter disappointment. Jews are hoping for a solemn word of justice and reparation for the past, for deeds which were sometimes perpetrated in the name of the Church. We must ask pardon for all these injuries. We do not deny that at times there was fault on the part of the Jews, but this does not justify injustice toward them. It is not easy for them to understand that the transition to the Gospel would not be apostasy but fulfillment." (9-29-1964)

 

Many Jews of Christ's Time Never Heard of Him

     Bishop Stephen A. Leven, Auxiliary of San Antonio, Texas: "The text should state clearly that no one should ever call the Jews a 'deicide' people. It is suggested that the word was perhaps omitted because it is philosophically and theologically absurd, since nobody could kill God. But our concern here is not over words but over the sad reality that this word was often hurled against the Jews in past centuries to justify persecution. It is our duty to see to it that this word is never used against Jews. Our silence on this point would really be an act against justice.

     The text should also state that not all the Jews of the time of Christ are to be blamed for the death of Christ. Obviously, many of the Jews of that time, especially in the Diaspora, had never heard of him, nor could they have consented to his death. It is as absurd to accuse all the Jews of the time of Christ of his death as it would be to blame all the Romans of that time for his death because the Roman Pilate delivered him up and Roman soldiers nailed him to the cross. We should give proper expression to our eschatological hope that all men of every race and people, Jews and Gentiles, will be gathered together with God, as St. Paul wrote (1 Timothy 2:4), `It is the will of God that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth"' (9-29-1964).

 

The Moslems Also Love God

     Bishop Antonio Anoveros Ataun, of Cadiz and Ceuta (Spain): "Newspapers and other means of communication should take great care when treating of other religions. Even under pretext of providing interesting material for the public, they have no right to hold up the religious rites or the culture of any nation to derision or contempt. This is necessary if we are to achieve the required cooperation with all men in the field of human brotherhood, social work and civil order, and it is a necessary prerequisite of authentic dialogue. The Moslems love God, they are profoundly religious and very sensitive to charity, so that dialogue with them is easy and must be carried on. We must respectfully recognize their spiritual and moral values. All missionary endeavors must show forth charity and kindness." (9-29-1964)

 

Moslems as Well as Jews to be Considered

     Bishop Yves Plumey, of Garoua (Cameroons): "After the attention devoted to twelve million Jews, it is only proper that the Council should turn its attention to the four hundred million Moslems who with us and the Jews adore the Creator of the universe and Lord of the human race. The Moslems insist on God's oneness and they reject all pagan gods. Their place in the document should be right after the Jews because they refer their faith back to Abraham as their father. Moslems have a better understanding than others of the mystery of Christ and of Mary. They honor Mary as the noblest daughter of Abraham and are happy to visit her shrines. In the spirit of the recent Popes, we should show our interest in these trends, as this would open the road to a greater knowledge of God for all men of good will. A word of encouragement would be in order for those dedicated priests who are working among Moslems and whose work is often regarded as thankless and even useless" (9-29-1964).  [238-248]

 

 

Footnotes

1. Cf. Acts 17:26.

2. Cf. Wisdoms 8:1; Acts 14:17; Romans 2:6-7; 1 Timothy 2:4.

3. Cf. Apoc. 21:23f.

4. Cf. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.

5. Cf. St. Gregory VII, letter XXI to Mauritania  Anzir (Nacir), King of Mauritania (Pl. 148, col. 450f.

6. Cf. Galatians 3:7.

7. Cf. Romans 11:17-24.

8. Cf. Ephesians 2:14-16.

9. Cf. Luke 19:44.

10. Cf. Romans 11:28.

11. Cf. Romans 11:28-29; cf. dogmatic Constitution, Lumen gentium (Light of nations) AAS, 57 (1%5) p. 20.

12. Cf. Isaiah 66:23; Psalm 65:4; Romans 11: 11-32.

13. Cf. John. 19:6

14. Cf. Romans 12:18

15. Cf. Matthew 5:45.

 

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