Catholic View of Judaism-Rome and Phila.

The first is from the secretary of the Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism, a bureaucratic not theological position. He seems to ever slowly be inching to treat Judaism as another part of Christianity. The second is the liberal American Catholic perspective of recognizing Judaism also acknowledges a radical change to viewing Judaism as a continuous covenant but points in the opposite direction that the Church should recognize Judaism as unique, preferably as an independent Mosaic covenant with God.

From ASCA news service (Italy);
L’Osservatore Romano: For the Pope, [the Jews are] not “elder brothers” but “fathers in the faith”
ASCA / Vatican City, January 15: In his interview-book “The Light of the World,” Pope Benedict XVI “re-examines the older definition of the Jews as ‘elder brothers’ and links it to his own expression, ‘fathers in the faith,’ which, he contends, explains even better the relationship between Jews and Christians.” This is what was stated in an article published today in L’Osservatore Romano by Father Norbert J. Hofmann, the secretary of the Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism.

The Vatican’s point-man for dialogue with the Jews explains: “John Paul II, during his historic visit of April 13, 1985 to the Synagogue of Rome, addressed the Jews as ‘specially beloved brothers,’ as ‘elder brothers’.”

But, on the Jewish side, several voices had criticized this new definition. In fact, in the Bible, the elder brother doesn’t always come off best; it is sufficient to recall the example of Jacob and Esau, where it is precisely the elder brother who is not chosen”. As Hofmann explains, “Benedict XVI has demonstrated [his] sensitivity in the face of such criticisms, preferring to opt for the term ‘fathers in the faith’.”

This concerns an expression which “clearly recalls the Jewish roots of Christianity and, thus, the fact that, as Christians, we have inherited from our ‘Jewish fathers’ faith in the one God of Israel, and we share in common with them the same religious tradition, even if we interpret it in a new and different way, in light of the Christian event. As Christians, we have in Christ a different image of the Jewish ‘motherland,’ from which we ourselves have been born.

This is from a statement of St Joseph’s University honoring Cardinal Kasper, Fr Nobert Hofmann’s former theological superior.

* Your insistence that after Nostra Aetate, “the way Christians look at Jews has changed radically” because “the old theory of substitution is gone since II Vatican Council.” Demonstrating the frank honesty of an authentic scholar, you have observed that “the most important spiritual and ethical impulse for … the revolutionary shift of the relations between Jews and Christians was the horrors of the Holocaust.”

* Flowing from Nostra Aetate, you have also consistently stressed the uniqueness of the Church’s relationship with Judaism and the Jewish people. “Judaism is not one religion among the non-Christian religions,” you have written. “Christianity has a particular and a unique relation with Judaism. We cannot define Christianity and its identity without making reference to Judaism.”

* You have frequently stressed that “God’s Covenant with Israel has not simply been replaced by the new Covenant. God … has not repudiated and forsaken his people. Israel is still God’s partner. God is still devoted to his people with love and loyalty, mercy, justice and pardon; God is always with his people especially in the most difficult moments of history. Every Jew, as one of His people, lives in promise.” Moreover, you have drawn out the implications of this conviction: “So from the Christian perspective the covenant with the Jewish people is unbroken (Rom 11,29), for we as Christians believe that these promises find in Jesus their definitive and irrevocable Amen (2 Cor 1,20) and at the same time that in him, who is the end of the law (Rom 10,4), the law is not nullified but upheld (Rom 3,31). This does not mean that Jews in order to be saved have to become Christians; if they follow their own conscience and believe in God’s promises as they understand them in their religious tradition they are in line with God’s plan, which for us comes to its historical completion in Jesus Christ.”

* “In the end,” you have written, “the relationship of Israel and the church is a mystery of election and judgment, of guilt and even greater grace, which Paul is able to approach only with doxology (cf. Rom 11:33-36). The continuing existence of Israel confronts us [Christians] inevitably with God’s unconditional faithfulness to his people. The existence of the church is also a mystery, for without deserving it, out of pure grace, God’s covenant commitment has been extended to the Gentiles. So the relationship of Israel and the church is an absolute mystery. ”

* Finally, your dedication to pursuing these challenging topics has prompted you to support relevant sustained academic research. One example of this has been your consistent encouragement of the work of a transatlantic team of scholars, culminating in the important foreword you have authored for their forthcoming book, Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships. Your support has been edifying for everyone involved.

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