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Vatican Council Resumes Today; Early Action on Jews Predicted

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The likelihood that the Vatican’s declaration on Jews will be voted on within a few days after tomorrow’s opening of the Ecumenical Council was indicated here today, following a press conference by Julius Cardinal Doepfner, one of the Council’s four moderators. Supporters of the document, which had been overwhelmingly approved at the last session of the Council, were optimistic that the declaration, which exonerates the Jews from the charge of deicide, would be adopted.

Cardinal Doepfner, who told the newsmen that the opinion of the Fathers on the document would be known in a few days, said that the work of Augustin Cardinal Bea’s Secretariat for Christian Unity, the body responsible for preparing the text, has been “exhaustive.”

The prelate said that the new formulation of the text will be such as to avoid any misunderstanding, either from the viewpoint of its doctrinal substance or from the viewpoint of the significance which the declaration will have in the world,” particularly in the Arab world.” His remarks were interpreted here as confirming the report by the Ansa Italian News Agency, last weekend, that one of the changes proposed by the Secretariat was the substitution of another expression for the term “deicide.” It was generally believed here that there are no other significant changes in the amended version.

In reply to a question, the Cardinal told the press conference that there was no reason why the voting on the amended text should not be taken during discussions on other schemas, again raising the possibility of an early vote on the declaration.

While some reports indicated that certain of the amendments would change aspects of the declaration regarded as essential by its supporters, it was pointed out here that, unless such amendments are accepted by a Council majority, the original text, approved by the last session of the Council, must prevail under the present Council rules.

(Pressure by Christian Arabs was still being exerted on the Vatican today from Syria. According to a dispatch from Damascus, Christian communities in the Syrian town of Aleppo organized a procession to protest the Council’s declaration on the Jews. The demonstrators, who sent telegrams to Eastern bishops in Rome, urging them to block passage of the document, carried placards reading “Christianity will never absolve Jews of deicide,” and “the Pope will not frustrate the hopes of the Arab peoples.”)

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