CHICAGO (Mar. 27)
The last Vatican declaration on improvement of Christian-Jewish relations was “an expression of regret or contrition” by the Catholic Church, Archbishop John P. Cody, of the Chicago archdiocese, told the Chicago Board of Rabbis.
Speaking before the rabbinical body on the invitation of Rabbi Edgar Siskin, president of the board, Archbishop Cody conceded that the document adopted by the Ecumenical Council, and since promulgated as a decree by Pope Paul VI, “has not satisfied everyone and, in truth, is not without its defects.”
However, the prelate stated, a careful examination of the text indicates answers to some of the criticisms. He said that many of the prelates at the Council would have preferred to mention the word “deicide,” which had been deleted in the final version, “if only to see it permanently laid to rest.” But even if the word was omitted, he pointed out, “a clear definition of the term is there, and that is more important.”
The archbishop replied to those who criticized the document for not “exonerating” or “forgiving” the Jews for “deicide” by declaring: “The Church has no right of ‘exonerating’ or ‘forgiving’ the Jews for something they, as a people, did not commit. Its intention was simply to declare the fact that the Jews, as a people, were never guilty of the crime. This is an important distinction which has been overlooked by many, particularly the press.”
“To my mind,” said the archbishop, “too much attention has been paid to the wording of the statement and not enough to its historical significance when seen as a whole.” He told the rabbis that the Church’s expression of regret or contrition “was certainly the intent of Pope John XXIII who called for it; and, no doubt, it was, at least implicitly, that of the Council Fathers.”