US bishops correct 2002 statement on Jews and New Covenant
June 22, 2009
Acknowledging significant deficiencies in a 2002 statement on the Church's mission and the role of Jews, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has issued an unusual clarifying statement. At the conclusion of the USCCB meeting in San Antonio last week, the bishops' doctrine committee-- headed by Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut-- warned: Reflections on Covenant and Mission should not be taken as an authoritative presentation of the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Reflections on Covenant and Mission was prepared by a group of Catholic and Jewish scholars, and released by the USCCB under the sponsorship of Cardinal William Keeler in 2002. In their clarifying statement, the US bishops said that the document "contains some statements that are insufficiently precise and potentially misleading."
While Reflections emphasized the unique relationship between God and the Jewish people, the clarifying statement notes:
This acknowledgment needs to be accompanied, however, by a clear affirmation of the Church's belief that Jesus Christ in Himself fulfills God's revelation begun with Abraham and that proclaiming this good news to all the world is at the heart of her mission.
The Church does not single out the Jewish people as a target for corporate conversion, the clarification continues. Nevertheless, the faithful should always be mindful of "St. Paul's complete teaching about the inclusion of the Jewish people as whole in Christ's salvation," the new document states.
The new USCCB statement goes on to observe that the emphasis in Reflections on the importance of the Jewish witness "could lead some to conclude mistakenly that Jews have an obligation not to become Christian and that the Church has a corresponding obligation not to baptize Jews." The Church can never compromise her commitment to evangelize all people, the bishops' doctrine committee states.
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