Cardinal- progressive Catholics can be just as anti-semitic as traditionalists

Jerusalem: Discussion evening on "Jewish-Catholic relations"
Cardinal Koch: Jewish-Christian dialogue must not become arbitrary

Jewish-Christian dialogue should not be in an increasingly inter-religiously oriented world become just one dialogue among many. Cardinal Kurt Koch said this at a meeting on the question of Jewish-Catholic relations in Jerusalem.

The relationship between Judaism and Christianity is unique in spite of its painful history, according to the Cardinal who is responsible for the relationship with Judaism. He also warned against repeatedly resurgent anti-Semitism. - Koch meets this week in the Holy Land, along with other church representatives, the representatives of Judaism.

With regard to the earliest times of conflict which had characterized relations, the Cardinal and President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, stated that the Second Vatican Council's adoption in 1965 of the Declaration "Nostra Aetate" had opened a new chapter in Jewish-Christian dialogue in which the common heritage is confirmed.

Persecution of Jews- do not blame the Church
Explicitly the Cardinal said that the persecution of Jews under the Nazis was not the fault of the Church. The Shoah was the "act of a godless, anti-Christian regime"; the desire of the Nazis was to abolish Christianity as well, as it was an offshoot of Judaism. At the same time Koch admitted that the Church's reaction to the Nazi persecution of Jews had been inadequate because of "widespread anti-Semitism."

Still according to Koch's assessment, anti-Semitic campaigns in the Catholic Church are always returning to the fore, and this came "not only from traditionalist circles, but to the same degree from liberal circles." As an example, the Cardinal gave the tendency to drop the Old Testament readings in Catholic worship. Christians should recognize that the Jewish reading of the Bible is one possible reading. The New Testament from a Christian perspective is the fulfilment of the Old Testament, but not its replacement.

Jewish conflict
David Bollag contradicted Koch's representation of a distance between Nazi ideology and the church. Between Nazi ideology and religious anti-Judaism, there is a close connection,said the Rabbi who teaches at the Institute for Jewish-Christian Studies (IJCF) in Lucerne. "If this had not been the case, the Council's Declaration Nostra Aetate` would not have been considered necessary. '

Bollag also expressed criticism of the current backward-oriented movements in the Catholic Church. In particular, the reinstatement of the Good Friday prayer for the Jews is painful from a Jewish perspective. At the same time, Judeo-Christian dialogue since the beginning of the Second Vatican Council (1962) has made enormous progress, not least because of "Nostra Aetate," which commits both parties to dialogue.

Significant changes since 1945
Mordechai Piron, a former Israeli military chief rabbi and president of the co-organizing "Israeli-Jewish Council for Interreligious Relations" (IJCIR) stressed in his speech the noticeable changes in Jewish-Christian relations since the end of World War II. The church had taken a new attitude to the Jewish people, since the Shoah so that after a long history of insecurity and persecution a positive and fruitful dialogue between the Church and Jews now has been possible.

The Jewish appreciation of Christianity was emphasized by Rabbi David Rosen, in his concluding remarks. In particular, the "dark cloud over the Jewish-Christian dialogue, as they draw in the media", the adviser to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and International Director of the "American Jewish Committee" held to be wrong: "In a clear way, Pope Benedict XVI goes further than his predecessor in his efforts to improve relations with the Jewish people. Benedict XVI has taken the initiatives of Pope John Paul II to a higher level.


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