WASHINGTON (Nov. 23)
The National Conference of Catholic Bishops voted 100-6 to adopt a 12-page statement hailing the results of the historic changes in Jewish-Catholic relations effected by the Second Vatican Council 10 years ago and calling for further Catholic action to advance “the fruitful” communication.
The statement also contained an acknowledgement of the Jewish peoples’ historic “bond” to the land of Israel and called on Catholics “to understand this link” without denying “the legitimate rights of other concerned parties” in the Middle East.
The statement, amended in discussion on the floor at the closing session last Thursday, from the original report drafted in committee, declared “We reaffirm our wholehearted commitment to the principles” of the Second Vatican Council’s “Nostra Actate” declaration “as well as the directives of the guidelines” issued last year by the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews recently established by the Holy See to implement its principles.
All diocese in America were urged by the Bishops, who met at the Statler-Hilton Hotel, that “special attention” be given to “create and support whatever instrument or agency is appropriate for carrying out the recommendations of ‘Nostra Actate,’”
STRIVE TO UNDERSTAND THE LINK
The statement declared: “In dialogue with Christians, Jews have explained that they do not consider themselves a church, a sect or a denomination as is the case among Christian communities, but rather as a peoplehood that is not solely racial, ethnic or religious but in a sense a composite of all these. It is for such reasons that an overwhelming majority of Jews see themselves bound in one way or another to their traditional land of Israel.
“Most Jews see this tie to the land as essential to their Jewishness. Whatever difficulties Christians may experience in sharing this vision, they should strive to understand this link between land and people which Jews have expressed in their writing and worship throughout two millennia as a longing for their Holy Zion.
“Appreciation of this link is not to give assent to any particular religious interpretation of this bond nor to deny the legitimate rights of other concerned parties in the region. Nor is it to adopt any political stance in the controversy over the Middle East which is beyond the pursue of this statement.”
The phrase “nor to deny the legitimate rights of other concerned parties in the region” was inserted in that section of the statement on the floor at the instance of Archbishop Joseph Tawil of West Newton, Mass, a Melchite Rite prelate, who observed that the current fighting in Lebanon is of concern to all of the Middle East.