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Vatican Presents Directive to Be Followed by Catholics in Their Relations with Jews of Rome

February 4, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Vatican has presented, for the first time, precise and detailed directives to be followed by Catholics in their relations with the Jewish community of Rome. The directives, part of a pastoral letter addressed to the Diocese of Rome, were broadcast by the Vatican radio station yesterday.

The announcement stated; “The Diocese of Rome has placed itself in an avant-guard position in the dialogue between Catholics and Jews … in the promotion of a deeper knowledge of Jewish culture and in the consequent commitment to act as barrier against the resurgence of phenomenons of anti-Semitism.”

The letter, titled “An Outline for An Ecumenical Pastoral, ” was several years in preparation and was completed under the leadership of Msgr. Clement Riva, president of the Diocesian Ecumenical Commission. Its special section on relations with the Jews is clearly aimed at improving the climate between the two faiths in the aftermath of the terrorist attack on the main synagogue in Rome last October 9 in which a two-year-old child was killed and 33 persons were wounded.


A theme running through the pastoral letter is recognition of the spiritual affinities between Christianity and Judaism and respect for their different theologies. “The dialogue is seen not in terms of a relationship between majority and minority, between the three million baptized Romans and the 15,000 Jews in one of the most ancient communities in the world, but in a spirit of profound respect and equal dignity in a reality whose history is closely interwoven with that of Christians,” the Vatican Radio stated.

This is elucidated in the section on intermarriage. It states that the Roman Catholic spouse of a non-Catholic Christian is expected to “sincerely promise to do all that is possible to have his or her partner baptized and educated within the Roman Catholic Church.” But speaking of marriages between Catholics and Jews, the letter calls for emphasis on “the human and religious values common to Judaism and Christianity … in full respect for the consciences and freedom of the partners.”

It also cautions that “there should be awareness of the possible difficulties in these marriages” and notes that there is a special office at the Vicariate which can give permission for dispensing with the impediment on marriages between Jews and Catholics.

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