Augustin Cardinal Bea, head of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, was quoted today as flatly denying that consideration of the questions of Catholic-Jewish relations and freedom of religion by the Ecumenical Council had been deferred for any other reason than lack of time.
The forthcoming issue of Civilta Cattolica, authoritative organ of the Jesuit Order, will publish an extensive interview with Cardinal Bea discussing the Council’s work on the schema on ecumenism, in which these two chapters figured. In the interview, the Cardinal was asked what were the motives for delaying detailed examination of Chapter Four (on the Jews) and Chapter Five (on religious freedom) or, at least, a vote in principle during the last session of the Ecumenical Council.
“Much was fancied about the presumed maneuvers, pressures and underhand dealings in this respect, ” the Cardinal said in reply, “Even admitting that many were puzzled by those two chapters, the reasons for the developments were not those whispered and bandied about. The facts were as follows: It was acknowledged that an en bloc vote on all five chapters risked creating much perplexity among the Council Fathers, and much difficulty in interpreting the eventual results.”
The prelate noted that there was some doubt over inclusion of the chapter on Jews in the schema on ecumenism and said: “The truth is that serious efforts were made also by responsible organs of the Council to find them for general voting on the last two chapters. So why think of intentional delays, of resistances or pressures? Therefore I stated with full conviction to the Council: If the discussion was not held, it was because of lack of time and for no other reason.”
The Jesuit organ quotes Cardinal Bea as expressing the belief that the delay has been salutary, since it had doubtlessly furthered clarification. It was better, he said, to avoid the impression of a hurried and insufficiently mature discussion and vote “In view of the importance of these chapters for the life of the Church today, and for its position in the modern world,” he stressed, “it is of the utmost necessity that their acceptance reflect really the widest and deepest conviction of the Council Fathers.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.