Vatigan Explains Why Anti-semitism Was Deplored and Not Condemned
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Vatigan Explains Why Anti-semitism Was Deplored and Not Condemned

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A member of the Secretariat for Christian Unity, which is the Vatican body responsible for the text on the declaration on Jews, today offered two reasons for the decision by the Secretariat to substitute the milder word “deplores” for the word “condemns” with reference to anti-Semitism contained in the original draft of the document.

Replying to a question at the American Bishops Press Panel of the Ecumenical Council, Father Long, member of the Secretariat on Christian Unity, said that, in accordance with the “Modi” set forth by the Council Fathers, the word “condemn” is not used in Council decrees or declarations. He recalled that, at the beginning of the present Ecumenical Council, the late Pope John XXIII had said that there should be no “condemnations” and “no anathemas.”

The other reason for the substitution, Father Long said, was the fact that the Church used the stronger word only in condemning “formal heresy.” It was recalled by competent observers, however, that the Holy Office had used the word “condemn” in a public document issued on March 25, 1928 declaring that the Holy See “condemns hatred against the people once elected by God.”


Possibilities were seen here today that the Ecumenical Council may still restore the word “deicide” into the final version of the Declaration on the Jewish Religion, and may also strengthen the proposed statement rejecting anti-Semitism by expressly using the term “condemn” rather than the milder word “deplore.”

These possibilities were envisaged as the rules to be in effect when the “Jewish document” comes up for open debate, some time next week, were revealed in detail by the Secretariat for Christian Unity. Four “voting questions” will be submitted in connection with Part Four of the overall Declaration, dealing with the Jewish religion. Some of these will concern omissions, some will propose shifting of sentences.

In any event, it will be technically possible for the prelates to restore the word “deicide” if they deem that word important enough, it was pointed out here today. The change back to “condemn.” instead of “deplore,” regarding the Church’s rejection of anti-Semitism may be left to the discretion of the moderators. It was noted here today that, since the term “anti-Semitism” was put into the latest text for the purpose of strengthening the draft, there was little reason for use of the vague “deplore” instead of the forth right “condemn.”

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