U.S. Prelates Announce Plan to Carry out Vatican Declaration on Jews

The Sub commission for Catholic-Jewish Relations of the American Bishops Commission for Ecumenical Affairs intends to begin carrying out the program of fostering better relations between Catholics and Jews, as set forth in the draft declaration before the Ecumenical Council, without waiting for promulgation of the declaration by Pope Paul VI, it was indicated here.

Details of the planned work of the sub commission were reported at the American Bishops’ press panel by Msgr. George Higgins of the social action department of the National Catholic Welfare Conference of Washington, D. C. Msgr. Higgins also disclosed the names of the American prelates composing the sub commission.

He described the task of the sub commission in the words of the draft that “since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is so great, the Council wants to foster and recommend a mutual knowledge and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogue.”

The NCWC official noted that during the past five years “encouraging collaboration” between Catholics and Jews in the United States had already been underway. He added that “significant developments” could be expected from formation of the sub commission and from further contacts on a national basis with Jewish official and unofficial representatives and groups.

COLLABORATION TO BE SOUGHT WITH ALL GROUPS OF AMERICAN JEWRY

In reply to a question, he said such collaboration would be sought with all Jewish “confessional” groups, including Orthodox, Conservative and Reform, and also with lay groups. American Orthodox leaders have criticized Jewish leaders for their contacts with Catholic prelates in the handling of the draft on Catholic Jewish relations.

In the press panel of the American bishops the amended text of the statement on the Jews was received with general approval, most of the leading American spokesmen stating that the text should not be judged by the inclusion or rejection of a single word.

Actually, the text as distributed in English by the American press panel, showed not only that the word “deicide” had been dropped, but also that anti-Semitism was only deplored, and not condemned. The summary also showed that the title of Chapter Four of the Declaration on Relations with Non-Christian Religions had been changed. Originally, that chapter had been headed “On Jews.” Now it is entitled “On the Jewish Religion.”

Most of the sub commission members are also members of the American delegation to the Council. In addition to Msgr. Higgins, other members of the sub commission are: Msgr. J.M. Oesterreicher, director of the Institute of Judeo-Christian Studies at Seton Hall University, Newark; Rev. Raymond Bosler, editor of the Indianapolis diocese newspaper, the Criterion; Rev. G. F. Van Ackeren, SJ of St. Mary’s College, St. Mary’s, Kan.; Rev. Edward Flannery, editor of “The Providence Visitor,” of Providence, R. I.;

Also, Rev. Roland Murphy of the Carmelite Order, Washington, D. C.; Msgr. Francis J. Lally, editor of “The Pilot” of Boston; Msgr. Daniel Cathwell of the Catholic Council of Chicago; Msgr. Mark J. Hurley of San Francisco College; Rev. Edward Duff, SJ of Holy Cross College, of Worcester, Mass.; Rev. Elmo L. Romagosa, of New Orleans and Rev. Donald Campion, SJ of New York.

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