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Church & Synagogue


Church & Synagogue

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									Church & Synagogue
  A new friendship for a new era

         A parish bulletin resource
     promoting Jewish-Christian relations
          in the spirit of Vatican II

           The Story Source, 2009
Church & Synagogue                                    Church & Synagogue
                                                      A new friendship for a new era
A new friendship for a new era
                                                      A short document with plenty of punch!
What can a parish do to raise awareness among         The shortest of the ‘big sixteen’ documents
its parishioners of the importance of inter-          promulgated at Vatican II was Nostra Aetate
religious dialogue? This resource offers one          (Latin for ‘Our Times’): the Declaration on the
practical strategy. It contains a series of parish    Relation of the Church to Non-Christian
newsletter items to aid the work of Jewish-           Religions. Just five paragraphs, it was adopted
Christian relations in the spirit of Nostra Aetate.   by the council fathers (voting 2221 for, 88
                                                      against) on 28 October 1965. Paragraph 4 deals
Publish one item from this resource in your           with Jewish-Christian relations.
parish bulletin each week, and over the course of        A fascinating feature of Nostra Aetate, 4 is
several weeks your congregation will have read        that, apart from scripture references, there is a
the equivalent of a 1,000 word article on Jewish-     conspicuous absence of footnotes quoting
Christian relations.                                  church fathers, popes and earlier statements.
                                                      This gives some indication of the radical nature
For maximum impact:                                   of this document. Scripture aside, there are no
• Be consistent, include one item each week.          prior texts to quote! From the 20th century, the
    This will build momentum and allow readers        church began reflecting on its relationship with
    to follow the ‘story line’ with ease. Note that   Judaism in a new way.
    the items follow a (flexible) sequence,              We will touch upon the ground-breaking
    though each can stand alone.                      points of Nostra Aetate, 4 in coming weeks…
• Place the items in a regular spot in the
    newsletter for reader accessibility.
• Draw attention to the series from the pulpit
    from time to time, especially at the start,       Church & Synagogue
    middle and end of the series.                     A new friendship for a new era
• Use the series to support and consolidate the
    messages of other resources, leaflets,            What did Vatican II say about
    homilies, talks, DVDs on this topic.              Jewish-Christian relations?
                                                      In NA, 4 the Council affirmed the ‘spiritual ties’
                                                      that link Christians, the people of the new
Church & Synagogue                                    covenant, to Jewish people, ‘the stock of
A new friendship for a new era                        Abraham’.
                                                      • Jews and Christians have shared Scriptures
Have relationships between Christians and                  and a common spiritual heritage.
Jews changed?                                         • The Church emerged from the Jewish
Yes! Since the Second Vatican Council the                  people.
Catholic Church has expressed a clear desire and      • Jesus, Mary, the apostles, and others who
a public commitment to renew its relationship              were among the first Christians were Jews.
with the Jewish people. The Vatican II                • Christ has reconciled both Jews and
document on inter-religious dialogue, Nostra               Christians.
Aetate (Latin: ‘Our Age’), devotes chapter 4 to       • The Jews remain God’s chosen people.
this topic, launching the Church into a radical       • Jewish-Christian dialogue is to be
reappraisal of its relationship with Judaism. So           encouraged.
deep and far-reaching is this process of renewal,     • The Jews, as a people, should not be held
that it promises to change forever the way we              responsible for the death of Jesus.
Catholics relate, not only to contemporary Jews,      • There must be no discrimination against
but to our own scriptures, prayers, celebrations,          Jews. Anti-semitism is the antithesis of
people… indeed, to Jesus himself.                          Christianity.
What are the key points of Nostra Aetate, 4?          We will explore these points in coming weeks…
Read on in the weeks ahead…
                                                      Church & Synagogue
A new friendship for a new era
                                                     What has the Church said about
Why this focus on Jewish-Christian relations?        Jewish-Christian relations since Vatican II?
Haven’t we got enough to worry about as it is?       Some key documents and events:
Why put before us notes on Jewish-Christian          1965 Vatican II: Nostra Aetate, 4
relations? The answer is clear. This topic is not    1975 Guidelines for Implementing
the pursuit of anyone’s personal agenda or                  Nostra Aetate, 4. (CRRJ)
hobby horse. It is a response to the call of the     1985 Notes on the correct way to present
Church. At Vatican II, the Council fathers issued           Jews and Judaism in Roman Catholic
an important document, Nostra Aetate (‘Our                  Preaching and Catechesis. (CRRJ).
Age’), on inter-religious dialogue. In paragraph     1988 We Remember: A Reflection on the
4 they called the Christian faithful to begin               Shoah (Holocaust)
renewed dialogue with the Jewish people, to          1998 John Paul II: Dies Domini. Refers to the
rediscover together our common biblical                     Sabbath and Sunday as 2 distinct days.
heritage and shared spiritual hopes, to enter into   1999 Memory and Reconciliation: the Church
respectful conversation about our differences.              and the Faults of the Past.
   It is in response to this call that some          2000 Liturgy of Repentance: Pope John Paul
Christians give their lives to the work of Jewish-          & Cardinals.
Christian dialogue. Others collaborate in this       2003 The Jewish People and their Sacred
work. But whether one’s perspective is                      Scriptures in the Christian Bible
academic, pastoral or simply about friendships              (Pontifical Biblical Commission).
in one’s local neighbourhood, all Christians are     2003 Pope Benedict XVI at Synagogue,
called to build bridges between church and                  Cologne.
synagogue, and thereby respond to the Church’s       2005 Pope Benedict XVI Encyclical Deus
mission in our age.                                         Caritas Est. Refers to a central Jewish
  We need not feel daunted! We need simply                  prayer, the Shema.
take a small step. By taking the time to read this   2006 Pope Benedict XVI receives Chief
bulletin item you are taking a step. Watch this             Rabbi of Rome
space in coming weeks, and take another step…        2008 Forthcoming Synod of Bishops:
                                                            Topic:‘The Word of God in the Life and
                                                            Mission of the Church.’
Church & Synagogue
                                                     The deepening of the relationship between
A new friendship for a new era
                                                     Church and Synagogue is an ongoing journey in
What do Vatican II documents say about               our age, and these documents, events and
Jewish Christian relations? Point 1:                 statements are milestones along that path.
In Nostra Aetate, 4 the Church affirms the fact
that, historically and spiritually, Jews and
Christians share a common ancestry in the
patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. It was
through the chosen people of Israel that the
Church received the revelation of the Old
Testament. The salvation through Christ
proclaimed by the Church is foreshadowed in
the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in
Egypt. The teaching of the Church is that,
through Jesus’ death and resurrection, both Jews
and Gentiles (non-Jews) are reconciled and
made one in Christ.

                                                     Church & Synagogue
Church & Synagogue                                   A new friendship for a new era
A new friendship for a new era
What do Vatican II documents say about              What did Vatican II say about Jewish-
Jewish Christian relations?                         Christian relations?
Nostra Aetate, 4 notes that the New Testament       Let’s begin with a story: A Jewish scripture
scriptures say that the Jews as a people did not    scholar addressed a large audience of Christians.
accept Jesus as Saviour. However this does not      She began by asking those who actually knew a
mean that the Church considers the Jews to be       Jew personally to raise their hands. Only about
rejected by God. God does not take back God’s       eight hands went up. She then pointed to the
promises and therefore the Jews, a chosen           image of the crucified Jesus on the wall behind
people chosen, will always be dear to God’s         her, saying, ‘Ah, but you all know this Jew, do
heart. Fifteen years, later John Paul II was to     you not?” [See Amy Jill Levine, Same Stories
refer to this point when he spoke of: ‘…the         Different Understandings (Manila, CBAP, 2004)]
people of God of the Old Covenant, which has          This story brings home an essential point made
never been revoked…’ (Mainz, 1980).                 in the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate: Jesus,
                                                    Mary, the apostles, and others who were among
                                                    the first Christians were all Jews. And yet how
Church & Synagogue                                  often do we treat Jesus and the early Church as
A new friendship for a new era                      if they were somehow separate from Judaism?
                                                    At Vatican II the Council fathers sought to
What do Vatican II documents say about              correct this distortion In fact, the Church’s
Jewish Christian relations? Point 3:                deepest roots are earthed in the Jewish people.
Conscious that Christians and Jews share a          One cannot meet Jesus Christ without meeting
common spiritual heritage, Nostra Aetate, 4         Judaism.
urges a deeper understanding and mutual
appreciation between the two religions. How?        Church & Synagogue
By way of friendly dialogue as well as biblical
                                                    Adjusting our compass: Correcting
and theological studies. The Church rejects any
                                                    misconceptions of Jews and Judaism
kind of anti-semitic attitude or discriminatory
                                                    With its document on inter-religious dialogue
action towards the Jewish people. Care should
                                                    Nostra Aetatae (‘Our Age’), Vatican II ushered
be taken when interpreting scripture with
                                                    in a new era in Jewish-Christian relations. Its
reference to the death of Jesus. The Church has
                                                    groundbreaking statements needed to be
always held and continues to hold that Christ,
                                                    unpacked, explored and applied to concrete
out of infinite love, went freely to his death
                                                    situations, a process that continues to this day.
because of the sins of all, so that all might be
                                                      In 1975, ten years after Nostra Aetate
saved. Sadly, in practice, the portrayal of the
                                                    appeared, the Vatican issued Guidelines and
Jews in Christian preaching and conversation
                                                    Suggestions for Implementing Nostra Aetate.
has not always reflected true Christian teaching.
                                                    This work was furthered in 1985 with the
Nonetheless, the Church proclaims ‘the cross of
                                                    publication of Notes on the Correct Way to
Christ as the sign of God’s universal love and
                                                    Present Jews and Judaism in Preaching and
the source of all grace’ (NA, 4).
                                                    Catechesis in the Catholic Church.
                                                      What are some of these guidelines,
                                                    suggestions and corrections, and how might they
                                                    affect my own perception of Jews and Judaism?
                                                    We will explore some of these in the coming
                                                    weeks, but until then, let’s treasure the
                                                    knowledge that as Catholics we belong to a
                                                    Church which is not only beautiful and wise, but
                                                    also open to growth and change, able to admit
                                                    mistakes and move forward to a better ways of
                                                    relating to its Jewish brothers and sisters.
Church & Synagogue
A new friendship for a new era

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