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Vatican cardinal examines relations between the Church and Jews

Catholic World News - May 18, 2012

In a lengthy address delivered on May 16 at the Angelicum, Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and of the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews, delivered an address on Jewish-Catholic relations over the past 65 years.

After examining the roots of the Second Vatican Council’s declaration Nostra Aetate, which he described as the “‘Magna Carta’ of the dialogue of the Roman Catholic Church with Judaism,” Cardinal Koch discussed postconciliar developments in Jewish-Catholic relations, particularly during the pontificate of Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

Turning to “open theological questions,” Cardinal Koch stated:

The Christian Church is naturally obligated to perceive its evangelization task in respect of the Jews, who believe in the one God, in a different manner from that to the nations. In concrete terms this means that--in contrast to several fundamentalist and evangelical movements--the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews …The in-principle rejection of an institutional mission to the Jews does not on the other hand exclude that Christians bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews, but they should do so in an unassuming and humble manner, particularly in view of the great tragedy of the Shoah.

While generally steering clear of controversial matter, Cardinal Koch did allude briefly to the “so-called ‘Williamson affair’ and also to the very divergent opinions regarding a beatification of Pope Pius XII. On the latter topic, he said that opinion among Jews has clearly been influenced profoundly by the drama The Deputy, by Rolf Hochhuth, and "the attentive observer can hardly avoid the conclusion that on the part of the Jews the verdicts on this Pope have changed from the original profound gratitude to profound anxiety only since the drama by Hochhuth.”

“The scourge of anti-Semitism seems to be ineradicable in today’s world,” he also said, “and even in Christian theology the age-old Marcionism and anti-Judaism reemerge with a vengeance again and again, and in fact not only on the part of the traditionalists but even within the liberal strands of current theology.”

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  • Posted by: Lucius49 - May. 18, 2012 8:22 AM ET USA

    These remarks are disturbing from a Cardinal of the Church. The Catholic Church has a mission to all peoples! Of course maybe the Cardinal could point out to which peoples does the Church have an "institutional mission" and the basis for selection of peoples for that mission? There is a general post-conciliar crisis of missionary-activity! Period. Part of that crisis is the false notion that it does not matter what your religion is: the heresy of indifferentism.

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