Vatican Schedules Final Ecumenical Council Action on Jewish Issue
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Vatican Schedules Final Ecumenical Council Action on Jewish Issue

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Publication by the Vatican press office today of the agenda for the fourth session of the Ecumenical Council, which opens next Tuesday, raised the possibility that final action on the draft declaration on Catholic-Jewish relations may not take place until early next year.

The agenda is divided into two parts. The first consists of schemas yet to be discussed by the Council fathers, including the controversial declaration on religious liberty. The second part includes five items which were thoroughly discussed during the first three sessions, These, including the draft declaration on Jews, will have to be voted on.

Vatican sources said that the fact that the draft on Jews is last on the agenda did not necessarily mean it would be voted last, since a time table remains to be established. But it was indicated that the declaration on the Jews will probably be the final item when the time table is fixed. But the press office announcement was in effect an authoritative denial of rumors that the declaration on the Jews would not be on the agenda.


The question of the length of the session developed when an authoritative source said that Pope Paul VI “hoped” that the final session would be finished by Christmas. That report was viewed as raising the possibility that the fourth session might go into the first weeks or months of 1966.

The press office did not deal with continuous speculation of another effort at dilution of the draft on Jews. A diluted version was rejected, and a strong one approved at the third session last year. Since then, high Catholic sources in many countries have given assurances that the strong draft provisionally approved at the third session would receive final acceptance at the last one, to be followed by official promulgation of the document by Pope Paul.

The document, which actually deals with the Catholic Church’s relations with all non-Christian religions — including the Moslem and the Buddhist faiths — rejects once and for all the ancient charge that the Jews of any time, past or present, were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus. It also condemns anti-Semitism. At the conclusion of the Council’s third session, the fathers had approved that draft by a ballot of 1, 691 against 99, with four abstentions.

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