Jesuit Organ in Rome Optimistic on Pro-jewish Document by Vatican
Menu JTA Search

Jesuit Organ in Rome Optimistic on Pro-jewish Document by Vatican

Download PDF for this date

Recent developments in the field of Catholic-Jewish relations were seen here today by Civitta Cattolica, the leading Jesuit publication, as having “ripened hope for some document which would definitely mean the end of equivocal exploitation of Christian themes for anti-Semitic purposes, ” Among the recent developments cited by the publication was the statement made by Pope Paul VI last May to leaders of the American Jewish Committee.

Civitta Cattolica’s hope for the emergence of positive action in the field of Catholic-Jewish relations was made as part of a 20-page listing of various statements, documents and press reports dealing with the proposed Church declaration on relations with the Jewish people on the agenda of the Ecumenical Council’s next session, scheduled to open September 14.

In an introductory note to the dossier, the publication cited a statement on Catholic-Jewish relations made by a prominent French Journalist, Jacques Maduale, when the Ecumenical Council had just opened its first session, two years ago, to the effect that “nobody can foresee the Council’s decisions, but there are strong reasons to hope they will be positive and that they will open an era of new relations between Jews and Christians.”

“Two years later, ” commented Civitta Cattolica today, “one can think of Jacques Maduale’s remark as still valid; We deem it useful, for documentation purposes only and without desiring in any way to interfere in a problem which is still under the Councils consideration, to assemble what the press has already said about this subject. “


The Jesuit organ listed a number of meetings between prominent leaders of the Vatican, including the late Pope John XXIII, It recalled visits to Augustin Cardinal Bea by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, and by Label A. Katz, president of B’nai B’rith; and the “long memorandum” given Cardinal Bea in Rome by D. Goldmann and Mr. Katz; It noted that A.M. Sonnabend, late president of the American Jewish Committee, and Dr. Immanuel Jakobovitch, formerly chief rabbi of Ireland, had met on this subject with Francis Cardinal Spellman, while Mr. Katz had an audience with Pope Paul VI recently.

The publication listed what it called “testimonials of approach” on Catholic-Jewish relations by a number of cardinals, including Cardinal Cushing of Boston. It retuted a statement by the Sunday Observer of London last year to the effect that “unfortunately, the Christian attitude against Jews stands still on the concept that the Jewish people collectively are responsible for Christ’s death. “

“On the contrary, ” stated Civitta Cattolica, “the opposite view, more balanced and more convincing reasoning, came from others. ” The publication noted that “some Jewish articles have stressed the Church’s responsibility for Jewish suffering, ” but cited other Jewish sources “which give full credit for improvement of relations to Pope John XXIII and his successor.”

Recalling Cardinal Bea’s speech before the last session of the Ecumenical Council, when he introduced the proposed declaration on Catholic-Jewish relations, and the worldwide reactions to that address, the publication listed a number of favorable reactions, including statements by Cardinals Spellman and Cushing, stressing that these reactions had also been reported by the Vatican radio.

It also listed Jewish reactions, including some from Dr. Goldmann; Sir Barnett Janner, then president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews; Maurice Edelman, then president of the Anglo-Jewish Association; Italy’s Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff; and Dr. Pitigliani, president of the Jewish Community of Rome.

In addition to listing those Jewish leaders “who were favorable” to Cardinal Bea’s address, the publication noted that there were other Jewish leaders “who remained indifferent, as well as those who found the declaration not far-reaching enough and others who feared that missionary intentions lay behind the declaration. ” Protestant reactions were also listed.


Civitta Cattolica then referred to more recent developments on this issue, including reports that the original draft declaration on relations with Jews had been “watered down. ” It asserted that such rumors stemmed from the fact that the text of the proposed declaration had not been distributed to the Council Fathers last May. It also quoted a Vatican communique of June 13, 1964, announcing the formation of the Secretariat for Christian Unity. The Jesuit organ then significantly added: “It may be presumed that this communique should serve to allay some circles, particularly those of American Jews, who were prematurely alarmed, more than necessary perhaps, but not without grounds. It is, however, interesting to know that the sentiments of such Jewish groups are not universally shared among their coreligionists. Only recently, in the United States, more than one authoritative voice was heard from orthodox Jewry against the action of those who almost seem to implore the Catholic Church for an explicit declaration absolving the Jewish nation from the decide accusation.”

Among those Americans whose opinions were cited by Civitta Cattolica are Rabbi Leon Feuer, president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, of Cleveland, as well as the Rabbinical Council of America and other “recent Jewish opinion. ” The publication also cited the more recent answer to criticisms about intervention on the issue from the American Jewish Committee, which had stated that the main purpose of the draft declaration was the improvement of Catholic-Jewish relations.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund