Cardinal Says Church May Not Now Try to Absolve Jews of Deicide
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Cardinal Says Church May Not Now Try to Absolve Jews of Deicide

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A leading American member of the Vatican’s College of Cardinals has confirmed widespread reports which have held that a Catholic Church declaration absolving the Jewish people of special responsibility for the killing of Jesus has been rejected “for the time being,” from inclusion on the agenda of the forthcoming Ecumenical session.

However, he said, he did not believe the Council, which will open the third session next September, will be satisfied with a “watered-down” declaration on relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people.

Joseph Elmer Cardinal Ritter, of St. Louis, in an interview in today’s New York Times, noted that the planned condemnation of the ancient charge of deicide against the Jewish people “has not been retained, from what I have observed.” He added that that condemnation might be reinstated when the subject is discussed by the Church fathers at the Ecumenical Council. which will open its third session on September 14.

Cardinal Ritter also said in the interview that he felt that the deicide charge, as well as the proposal to condemn it, had been “unduly emphasized” by forces fighting against anti-Semitism. Much of the bitterness against the Jews, he was quoted as saying, could be attributed “to ignorance on the part of people who don’t go to any church.” “We are all deicides,” he added.


Dr. John Slawson, executive vice-president of the American Jewish Committee, commenting on the interview with Cardinal Ritter, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today:

“The deicide charge against the Jews, namely the collective responsibility of Jews for the death of Jesus, has been a basic source of anti-Semitism throughout the ages. Any weakening of the clause dealing with the rectification of this charge would be a disservice to the position of Jews throughout the world, and would constitute a negative factor in Catholic-Jewish relations.

“I am happy to read the Cardinal’s observation to the effect that he did not believe the Council would be satisfied with a watered-down version of the declaration. I trust that the American Prelate will take a vigorous position on this matter.”

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