Pope Paul Vireported Instructing Withdrawal of Declaration on Jews

Reports that Pope Paul VI has ordered the removal from the agenda of the forthcoming session of the Ecumenical Council, the Vatican declaration repudiating the deicide charge against Jews, were circulating in Rome, according to a dispatch in the New York Times today.

The dispatch said that a spokesman for Amieto Cardinal Cicognai, Vatican Secretary of State and head of the Coordinating Commission which controls the Council agenda, declined to comment on the report that the Pope had sent the Commission a letter instructing it to withdraw the declaration on Jews and other non-Christian religions from Council debate.

According to the report, high church sources said that the declaration, which was overwhelmingly approved in a preliminary vote at the last session of the Council last year, was now “under study.” Under normal Council procedure, the declaration, with some allegedly minor changes already dealt with by the Secretariat for Christian Unity, should come up for a final vote at the next Council session later this year without any further “study.”

The fact that the matter was under further “study,” the Times dispatch declared, seemed to confirm reports that doctrinal conservatives in the church and anti-Israel pressures from the Arab states were combining to block the declaration.

Sources in the Secretariat for Christian Unity headed by Augustin Cardinal Bea said that they had no knowledge of any departures from the normal Council procedures and that they were confidently preparing to present the declaration for passage by the Council in the fall. They conceded, however, the Times dispatch said, that their lack of knowledge of any new moves to withdraw the declaration could not be construed as a denial of such reports. They characterized the report of Papai intervention as “weird,” but they would not say flatly that it was not true.

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