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Vatican Council Reported Not Yet Ready with Statement on Jews

Vatican circles denied today reports which appeared this morning in the American press, claiming that a declaration on relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people has been completed and is being printed for distribution to the Fathers attending the Ecumenical Council.

Circles close to the Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, headed by Augustin Cardinal Bea–who was supposed to have drafted the declaration–denied that such a declaration was about to be distributed or even that it is being printed now. They said this document is still subject to elaboration. They denied also that Cardinal Bea is about to deliver a speech to the Ecumenical Council on this subject.

In reporting that the document is already in print and ready for distribution, the report in the American press said the declaration contains the following points:

1. The Church owes its origins to Judaism, with which it shares the heritage of the Old Testament.

2. Roman Catholics should never forget that Jesus was a Jew and his family and the Apostles were Jews.

3. The guilt for the death of Jesus falls more properly on all humanity than on Jews.

4. The Church disapproves of the anti-Semitism of the past and of the present. It has an abiding affection for the Jews, and takes the strongest possible view of those who have hatred and contempt for them, or persecute them.

The report in the American press emphasized that as of today, it was still not certain whether the declaration will be debated at the current session of the Council, scheduled to close before Christmas, In all likelihood, it will be discussed at the resumed session to be held next spring, it was reported.

The report emphasized that the declaration would establish once and for all that the Catholic Church officially disassociates itself from the age-old charges of decide leveled against the Jewish people. A preliminary step toward removal from the Roman Catholic liturgy of references apt to be offensive to Jews was taken by the late Pope John XXIII in March 1959. He ordered the deleting from the Good Friday prayers of the phrase “perfidis Judaeis” in an ancient text, referring to the crucifiers of Christ and continuing “Oremus pro perfidis Judaeis,” or “Let us pray for the perfidious Jews.” The Pope’s order was implemented by the Sacred Congregation of Rites.

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