Chief Rabbi of Italy Says Jews Cannot Judge the Declaration Now

Prof. Elio Toaff, Chief Rabbi of Italy, said here today that he is unable to give an opinion regarding the document approved by the Ecumenical Council last week, spelling out the relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish religion.

He stated he was doubtful whether it was the task of Jews to judge such a document. Secondly, he declared, if the Catholic Church has changed its attitude toward Jews — “and this is acknowledged with sincere satisfaction” — Jews will be able to give final judgment only by the facts that will follow. “It is my sincerest wish,” he added, “that our opinion be unconditionally favorable.”

The Jewish people, the Chief Rabbi noted, not only “deplore” any persecutions, but “condemn” them in strongest terms “whether they are carried out against our friends or enemies.” In this way, he pointed out, the Jewish people prove their love toward their neighbors and also their faithfulness to the Law of the Lord “Who has elected us.”

Prof. Toaff said also that “a word of gratitude should be addressed to Cardinal Bea and to all who, with open and friendly spirit, inside the Council and outside the Council, fought for the triumph of truth and Justice, following the noble line opened by the late Pope John XXIII.” He was referring to Augustin Cardinal Bea, president of the Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, whom the late Pope John had charged with the task of putting through the Ecumenical Council a schema relating to Jews like the one just adopted.

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