French Catholics Express Misgivings on Vatican Declaration on Jews

A number of prominent French Catholic laymen expressed “serious misgivings” last night concerning the actual results of the recently-promulgated Ecumenical Council declaration on Catholic-Jewish relations. The statement, which is now official Catholic dogma, deplores anti-Semitism and repudiates the charge of deicide against the Jewish people in the crucifixion of Jesus.

The views were expressed at a meeting attended by some 50 Catholic prelates, historians and intellectuals sponsored by the International League Against anti-Semitism and Racism. A typical view was that of former French Justice Minister Edmond Michelet, a prominent Catholic layman, who told the gathering that he still harbored “a certain mistrust” toward the Council which he said seemed to behave like “an assembly of strict jurists.” He expressed the hope that in the future the Catholic Church would “open new roads and not have to follow the masses.”

Father Riquet Prayor of Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral called the declaration “a text which imposes on Christians a brotherly attitude toward all non-Christians and a full respect for their beliefs.” Dr. Jacob Kaplan, Chief Rabbi of France, said he deplored the fact that “the schema did not erase from the Catholic catechism the roots of anti-Semitism.” He said there were two reasons, one the Council’s refusal to clear all the Jews of the “guilt” of deicide and two, the fact that the statement deplored but did not condemn anti-Semitism and hatred of Jews.

NEXT STORY