NEW YORK (Nov. 20)
Dr. Nahum Goldmann, World Jewish Congress president, has expressed sorrow, in a wire to the Vatican, over the death of Augustin Cardinal Bea, the prime mover behind the Ecumenical Council’s Declaration absolving the Jewish people of guilt for the Crucifixion of Jesus. The Cardinal was buried in Rome yesterday.
In a message to Amieto Cardinal Cicognani, Vatican Secretary of State, Dr. Goldmann said that Cardinal Bea’s “memory will always be cherished by the Jewish people. His contribution to the opening of fraternal communication with our people in the service of our common ideals will remain a source of guidance.”
Dr. Gerhart Riegner, WJ Congress secretary-general, told a seminar of the organization’s American Section here, at which Mrs. Rose Halprin presided, that Cardinal Bea’s “contribution to the opening of a new chapter in the centuries-old relations between the Catholic Church and Jewish people was second only to Pope John XXIII himself.”
Dr. Riegner said, “It will take generations before old attitudes will vanish completely. I am sure that eventually there will be a new relationship between Jews and Catholics based on recognition of the separate identity of each, mutual understanding and mutual respect. And the name of Cardinal Bea will always be remembered and cherished as principal architect of this new relationship.”
In a related statement, Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, national director of the American Jewish Committee’s interreligious affairs department, described how the late Cardinal Bea personally fought for the declaration absolving the Jewish people from collective guilt for the Crucifixion. “In Rome, I saw him on several occasions literally risk his standing by courageously opposing forces from the Arab world, professional anti-Semites and ultra-conservative prelates who sought to sabotage the declaration on non-Christian religions which he had struggled so bravely and assiduously to have adopted by the Catholic Church,” Rabbi Tanenbaum said. “The fact that Catholic-Jewish relations have improved so measurably throughout the world is the greatest living tribute to his life and monumental work.”