Vatican’s Amended Text of Statement on Jews Criticized in Rome

The authoritative Rome daily, II Messagero, presented today a critical review of key changes in the original draft declaration on Catholic-Jewish relations which is scheduled for a final vote this weekend by the Ecumenical Council.

Observations on the text of the introductory report to the amendments submitted by the Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, which drafted the original strong declaration, were distributed yesterday to the 2,200 prelates attending the fourth session of the Council. While their content was not disclosed, it was understood that they summed up the principal lines of deliberation leading to the amendments and the reasons for them. It was indicated that the vote on the amended text would probably take place Friday.

The II Messagero analysis contended today that the proposed removal of the word “deicide” from the text was not adequately justified for the proposed amendment. The analysis also noted that the text approved last November, at the third session, warns Catholics against teaching or preaching anything that could create hatred or contempt against Jews. The amendment warns only against teaching or preaching “anything which is not in agreement with the evangelical truth and the spirit of Christ.”

II Messagero reported that this proposed change was considered “a real breakdown” even by many Catholics because the exhortation does not specify the Jews and, as formulated, leaves full freedom for any interpretation of “evangelical truth.” The newspaper noted that this applied particularly “in the delicate field of the catechesis where Jewish experts see the subtle forms of Catholic anti-Semitism.”

The newspaper also criticized the “unnecessary” reference to the Jews as not having” accepted the gospel and to their having opposed its spreading,” in one of the proposed amendments. The analysis also stressed the omission of the word “condemns” with regard to anti-Semitism which was seen as lacking an explanation.

‘MANY AND GRAVE DOUBTS’ CAUSED BY AMENDED TEXT, REPORT SAYS

The newspaper described the work of the Christian Unity Secretariat in evaluating the 242 reservations offered by the prelates in the November vote, noting that many of them were rejected. The article said that the amendments which the Secretariat decided to sumbit to the prelates were causing “many and grave doubts” and that this was the reason why there was “anxious expectation over the imminent vote” which will “ascertain” a much more important fact “than the numerical strength of the opposing groups at the Council.”

As seen here at this stage, the main question is whether the understanding of the reasons for Jewish concern over the proposed changes was wide enough among the prelates to bring about a restoration of the word “condemns” in the text.

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