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Church & Synagogue
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
"Church & Synagogue"