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Ecumenical Council to Close Without Voting on Document on Jews

With tomorrow set as the last day for voting at the Ecumenical Council in the Vatican, it appeared certain today that no vote will be taken by the Catholic Church prelates in the current Council session on the chapter dealing with the relations of the Church with the Jewish people, exonerating the Jews of the crime of deicide.

The final two days of the current session, Tuesday and Wednesday, will be given over to ceremonials. At the closing session, Wednesday, Pope Paul VI will announce formally that the Council will reconvene next September.

The most that can be expected tomorrow is that the Council would decide to place the chapter on relations with Jews–and a companion chapter on religious liberty–for discussion at the resumed session in September. However, an American among the 2,200 Council participants, the Most Rev. Charles H. Helmsing, Bishop of Kansas City, asked the Council this weekend to vote on the two controversial chapters at once.

Declaring that he was speaking “for most of the American bishops,” Bishop Helmsing told the Council “everyone” was expecting a vote on the two proposals, and there was “no reason why it could not be taken, even today.” “I’m sure,” he said, “that this is the dominant feeling of the American bishops.”

Expert observers of the Council’s proceedings feel that there is virtually no objection to the chapter dealing with relations with Jews, but that the chief reason for delay is the next chapter, stating that all men are free to follow their own consciences on religious convictions. During the recess between Wednesday and next September, prelates will be given an opportunity of presenting written opinions or amendments to either or both of the linked chapters.

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