ROME (Oct. 28)
Pope John Paul said at the Vatican today that “anti-Semitism in its ugly and sometimes violent manifestations should be completely wiped out.” He made this statement to a delegation from the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) which is here for meetings with the Vatican Secretariat on Catholic-Jewish Relations October 28-30 in connection with the 20th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate,” the Vatican II Declaration on the Jews.
The Pope, in his address, referred to a Vatican document, “Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church” issued last June.
The document was criticized by IJCIC at the time as a “retrogression” from Nostra Aetate primarily because of its failure to acknowledge the religious significance of the State of Israel to the Jewish people, and its superficial reference to the Jewish people, and its superficial reference to the Holocaust — the two events that have “decisively shaped the way Jews define themselves.”
The Pontiff today said the Church was always prepared “to revise and renew whatever in her attitudes and ways of expression happens to conform less with her own identity.”
Responding to the Pope’s speech, Rabbi Mordecai Waxman, chairperson of the Synagogue Council of America, IJCIC’s U.S. Secretariat, addressed himself primarily to Nostra Aetate. “The repudiation” by that declaration “of the false teaching, responsible for so much hatred and persecution, that all Jews then and now were responsible for the death of Jesus,” he said, “encouraged Jews everywhere to feel that there was a new spirit in the Christian world.”
Waxman said Jews were “conscious that much of its vision has yet to be translated into reality and universal acceptance.” He also noted, with “distress, lapses from time to time into the old and repudiated language by some Catholic authorities.” Despite this , he said, “wise acceptance of the new approach in the Catholic world has been for us a same of hope.”
Waxman and the four other members of the American delegation at the meeting with the Pope present him with a copy of the Kaufman Manuscript of the “Code of Maimonides” in recognition of the commemoration of the 850th anniversary of the philosopher’s birth by the Jewish and the Catholic world.
Johannes Cardinal Willebrands, Secretariat president, and Waxman, are heading their respective delegations. Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, director of international relations of the American Jewish Committee, who was the only rabbi present as a guest observer during the deliberations of Vatican Council II, is scheduled to present a survey and evaluation of the present state of Catholic-Jewish relations during the two-day meeting.