Pope to Promulgate Declaration on Jews; Decree to Bind All Catholics

The promulgation by Pope Paul VI of the declaration on Jews endorsed last Friday by the Ecumenical Council — declaring that the Jews as a people cannot be blamed for the Crucifixion of Jesus and deploring anti-Semitism — is expected before the end of this month, making the declaration a Church decree binding on all the world’s Roman Catholics.

Reaction to the declaration, which was accepted by a final vote of 1,763 to 250, ranged from enthusiastic praise to disappointment over the fact that the word “deicide” was deleted from the text and the word “condemns” was replaced by “deplores” with regard to anti-Semitism. The vote to leave out the word “deicide” in absolving the Jewish people from the blame for the Crucifixion was 1,821 to 245. The vote “deploring” anti-Semitism was 1,905 to 199.

Bishop Francis P. Leipzig, chairman of the American Bishops Commission for Catholic-Jewish Affairs, declared today that work will be started in the United States within three months to carry out the program of fostering better relations between American Catholics and Jews, as set forth in the declaration approved at the Ecumenical Council.

The American bishops, he said, are determined that “all manifestations of anti-Semitism — like all hatred, all persecutions, all discriminations of whatever kind — must disappear from the face of the earth.” He emphasized that both Catholics and Jews should equally “engage themselves” to carry out the approach to collaboration between the two faiths.

U.S. BISHOP ADMITS AMENDED DECLARATION HAS ‘MINOR IMPERFECTIONS’

The American prelate met criticisms of the final draft by stating that he expected the declaration to “usher in a new era of friendship and cooperation with our Jewish breth-for the benefit of all men,” despite “a few minor imperfections.”

“The amendments carry less weight than the entire document,” he declared. “What counts is the overall text and spirit, and this expresses kinship, reverence and determination, as well as a consciousness of the common heritage of the Church and the Jews.”

He was asked which aspect of the declaration — that regarding the desirability of a continuing Christian-Jewish “dialogue,” or that stating the Church’s opposition to anti-Semitism — seemed more important. He and other U.S. prelates agreed that the two were interrelated because the removal of anti-Semitism was a condition of the “dialogue,” and the “dialogue” would help remove the prejudices that germinate anti-Semitism. It was also stressed that the declaration should be considered as the beginning of a fruitful development.

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