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Vatican Says No Decision Taken on Distribution of Document on Jews

An official statement issued here this weekend by the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, of which Augustin Cardinal Bea is the head, made it clear that no decision has been taken as yet in the Vatican regarding the distribution of the draft of a document on Catholic-Jewish relations, and nothing has been decided as yet on the manner in which this document should be presented to the Fathers attending the Ecumenical Council, which would have to act on it.

The statement was issued in denial of a report in the American press that a text on Jews was ready at the Vatican for distribution among the more than 2,000 Fathers of the Catholic Church attending the Ecumenical Council. Jewish sources in Rome were disturbed by the report. They said that premature publication of the contents of the text drafted by Cardinal Bea’s office for submission to the Ecumenical Council might cause the postponement of the presentation of the document to the Council Fathers. Members of the American press panel here deplored “gossip and guesswork in relation to this delicate matter.”

Council sources suggested that the news in the American press on the document–which is reported to repudiate in effect that the Jewish people are historically responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus–was “planted” by special-interested groups. The statement issued by the Secretariat of Cardinal Bea’s office read:

“In answer to questions that have been raised because of certain articles appearing in the daily newspapers, the Secretariat confirms already that two years ago it began to draft a document on the purely religious relations between Catholics and Jews, and submitted its final text last June to those Council authorities who are the only ones competent for its printing and distribution to the Council Fathers. These authorities have taken no decision about the distribution of the document to the Council Fathers or about the way by which the document should be introduced to them.”

The Council authorities to which the communique refers were identified as the coordinating commission of seven Cardinals, of whom Cardinal Spellman of New York is one. An adviser to Cardinal Bea’s office said that the communique was issued with the intention of indicating that “it is not helpful to have gossip” on the document in preparation.

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