Cardinal Spellman Pledges to Implement Vatican Declaration on Jews

Cardinal Spellman today pledged to a group of American Jewish leaders that “the Catholic Church in this country will do everything it possibly can to implement the spirit as well as the letter” of the Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.

The Declaration, adopted by the Second Vatican Council and promulgated by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965, repudiated anti-Semitism, and the ancient charge of collective Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus, and called for fraternal dialogue between Catholics and Jews.

Cardinal Spellman voiced his pledge during an event — believed to be unprecedented in the history of America’s religious communities — at which the American cardinals and bishops assembled in Washington for the annual conference of the American Catholic Bishops joined in a ceremony with leaders of the American Jewish Committee at a reception at The Catholic University.

The occasion was the presentation by the American Jewish Committee of commemorative plaques to the American cardinals and to Archbishop Patrick C’Boyle of Washington, chairman of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in “heartfelt appreciation” for the leadership given by American members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in behalf of the passage by the Vatican Council of the “Jewish declaration,” and of its implementation.

Cardinal Spellman, dean of the American bishops, received in behalf of the Catholic Bishops of the United States a set of two tablets of the Ten Commandments, which bear the following inscription: “In heartfelt appreciation for the inspired and dedicated leadership given to the cause of Jewish-Christian understanding, the American Jewish Committee presents to the Catholic Bishops of the United States this symbol of our enduring common moral and spiritual bonds.”

PRESENTED WITH TABLETS OF TEN COMMANDMENTS WROUGHT IN HEBREW

The tablets of the Ten Commandments, hand wrought in Hebrew letters made of silver and bronze quarried from mines in Israel by an Israeli craftsman, are to be placed permanently at the headquarters of the Catholic bishops, at the National Catholic Welfare Conference in Washington. Each of the cardinals present received a commemorative plaque based on a design of Torah breastplates, and a plaque in memory of the late Albert Cardinal Meyer of Chicago was accepted by Archbishop John P. Cody. A similar plaque also was presented to Archbishop O’Boyle, who presided as chairman of the ceremonies.

Morris B. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee and U.S. representative on the United Nations Human Rights Commission, accepted a scroll for the AJC from Cardinal Spellman. In responding, he recalled a meeting at the Vatican in May 1964, when Pope Paul VI spoke to him and others from the AJC “of the Jewish tradition ‘with which Christianity is so intimately linked and from which it derives hope for trusting relations and for a happy future.’”

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