Nostra Aetate deliberations
- Created: September 29, 1964
- Written by Council Fathers at Vatican II
(The second Declaration On Jews and Non-Christians)
Archbishop of Seville (Spain)
Of course, Ecumenism in the strict sense is directed at fostering Christian unity and, therefore, there is an inclination, as His Eminence Cardinal Bea explained, to disassociate the chapter on Jews and non-Christians from that draft. From another perspective, however, it seems necessary for the most holy Council to turn toward non-Christians as well, whom even God wishes to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. The Church’s dialogue, full of charity, wishes to exclude no person, except for the person who willingly excludes himself: to teach all nations, to preach the gospel to every creature is Christ’s command that the Church is always ready to fulfill, driven by charity for all people who are truly our brothers, and at the same time brothers to one another since natural reason itself teaches that all have God as Father Who makes His sun rise over everyone. There is, therefore another reason why Ecumenism, taken in a wider sense, is of great importance in the modern world, according to which, as our Holy Father recalls in his Encyclical Ecclesiam suam, dialogue even with non-Christians must be initiated and consideration must be taken of the relationship of Catholics to the hundreds of thousands of people, of charity towards the same, of helping them in a fraternal way and of cooperating with them: these are the words of His Eminence the reporter [Cardinal Bea].
It seems inappropriate if the declaration On the Jews and Non-Christians were banished from the council.
But from another side, the words, spoken yesterday by His Eminence Tappouni, in his own name and in the name of some oriental patriarchs, deserve, I think, serious consideration. Certainly the text of the declaration, as the reporter said, in some way touches upon political questions and envisions only a religious consideration. We cannot, however, guarantee that, even beyond our intent, some may lay hold of an opportunity from this declaration to condemn the council. Bearing this fact in mind, I propose the following improvements:
1. Let there be added to the draft, as a first appendix, a declaration in which the Catholic Church offers a word of charity and an invitation to dialogue to all non-Christians. The title of this statement would fittingly be: On Non-Christians, and under this title would be included absolutely all people whom Ecumenism properly speaking does not reach.
2. The texts of this declaration would begin from no. 33 of the present text, namely “All people have God as their Father” and go up to line 20 on page 48. The Church desires to embrace all these people as brothers, wishes to start a dialogue with them, to help them fraternally, to cooperate with them in every human undertaking, especially, however, in fostering peace and in protecting the demands of human dignity.
3. After this, no. 33 and no. 34 would be more precisely aimed at the Jews whom the Church wishes to embrace in a particular way by reason of the common patrimony with Christians, as is stated in the actual no. 32.
4. I ask that the words “Therefore let them see to it, etc.,” in lines 28-33, be deleted; today, no person of good will would consider the people of Israel as a rejected nation, and they are no longer blamed for those things that by the hidden mystery of God took place twenty centuries ago. It seems to me that the mere recollection of these things will be troublesome to them.
5. Let another paragraph be added under a distinct number, where it would be pointed out that the Church also wishes to embrace that numerous family of Muslims with whom we also in some way have a common patrimony, as is said in lines 21-24, page 48.
6. Let there be a mention also of the numerous families who, like sands on the seashore, fill India, China, Japan, and other countries who follow Confucius or Buddha, or attempt as it were to seek to find God under other forms because He is not far from them.
7. Nor would it be bad if under another number a brief word at least was given to those who do not know God, or even want to remove Him from their hearts; if, however, in good faith they consider according to the ideas of natural reason humanity, created in the image of God, and the world through which the invisible things of God are revealed. For, they are not excluded from the salvific will of God and from Christ’s redemption, and the Church has for them also a care that is informed by charity.
8. Let the declaration be concluded with a condemnation of every kind of discrimination as in the actual draft, no. 34.
9. After the declaration On Non-Christians by way of a second appendix, there would be a second declaration concerning religious liberty or concerning the right of an individual and of communities to freedom in religious matters; because the principles of this declaration are universal both for Christians and non-Christians.
I think that these slight changes of the structure of the draft would be able to dissipate to some extent the danger that I mentioned above. I have spoken.
Archbishop of Zagreb (Yugoslavia)
We have1 already in this second session heard very many extraordinary Fathers speaking either against the text itself of the declaration or against its timeliness. This opposition does not come from theological reasons, but rather from some fear that the document may occasion a false interpretation. But no good-willed individual will be able to perceive a political element in the draft. From the explanation, however, presented in this hall, it is very clear that no political intent lies behind this declaration.
The reasons, however, that demand this document are serious.
1. The Church is intimately connected with the Jewish people. In our very liturgy our Church frequently identifies herself in some way with the people of Israel. Daily in the Canon of the Mass, e. g., we speak of Abraham the Patriarch. In the Easter Vigil, however, we pray “that the fullness of the entire world may pass over to the children of Abraham – and the meaning is the Church — that it pass over to the children of Abraham2 – and to the dignity of Israel.3
2. In the face of the persecutions, that the Jews have suffered not just once, the Church cannot be indifferent. For, she is4 the Mother of all peoples even of those who do not yet acknowledge her as such. For she will be acknowledged to be mother from the maternal care that she shows for peoples. The very atrocious persecutions to which the Jews have been exposed in our century make this declaration of the Council urgent. There are certainly here in this hall — for example, myself — who know from personal experience and can witness to how many and how great the sufferings innocent persons have had to endure, only because they belonged to the people of Israel.
3. Persecutions and hatred of the Jews in past centuries were sometimes justified by reasons that seem to have been drawn apparently from the Christian patrimony. Equality, prudence, and sincerity demand that an end be finally put to similar attempts by means of a declaration of the Council. The Council has a singular occasion, when no reckoning of suitable time should prevail, but the evangelical spirit and prophetic office of the Church that demands that the truth be proclaimed without any ambiguity should clearly shine forth. For the rest, no one failed to notice how good an impression on the entire world that was made by the declaration of the episcopate of Germany on this subject on the eve of the First Session of this Council! Today the entire world is awaiting such a declaration from the Council.
A proposal concerning the draft:5 in our judgment some improvement is needed to be able to initiate a true and real dialogue with the Jews, in the sense of the encyclical letter Ecclesiam suam. As it now stands, the draft seems to be more doctrinal than pastoral. It speaks rather of the relationship of the Church to the Jewish people as it was in the history of the Old Testament, only in a few instances does it turn to the Jews of today. It is necessary for the text to begin with the Jewish people of today and from a description of the situation and relationship in which the Church and the Jews are found toward one another today. We propose, therefore, a reordering of material so that it may be more obvious that we are holding a discussion with the Jews of today.
First of all, there should be a description of what we have in common with the Jews today under the religious aspect. That is:
1. The sacred books of the Old Testament, as the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI said to the members of a Jewish association last year:6 We have a large common patrimony: the Bible, sacred to Israelites and Christians."7
2. We have in common the hope of salvation through the coming of the Messiah. There is, indeed, a sad difference in the understanding of this hope of salvation through Christ, but this religious idea — it is proper only to Judaism and Christianity — is of the greatest importance and can in no way omitted.
3. We have in common a salvation history that we believe to be a true history. This history is in part the same for us and for the Jews, in part, however, it is connected with innermost necessity. For:
The salvation history of the Church up to Christ was one and unique with the history of the Synagogue and included in this. Let the contents found in the draft in lines 1-16 be interwoven here.
Christ, Mary, and the apostles were members of the Jewish people. The first nucleus of the Church was made of up Jews: wine from the vine of David, with which the waters of people were then mixed, so that they may pass over to and be changed into the blood of Christ — the blood of the New and Eternal Covenant. The fullness of the nations has not yet passed over into “the dignity of Israel,” but the Church’s history properly consists in this always progressive mixing together of the fullness of the nations.
The eschatological expectation of a future joining or access of the Jewish people to the fullness of the people of God (cf. line 23-27) must be so described that it does not smack of proselytism, but that it be clearly obvious that the beginning and end of the history of the Church and of the Jewish people meet in the same place. For, the manner and the time of this union is a mystery in the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God (cf. Rom 11).8
Then let there be stated a proposal concerning our dialogue with the Jews of today where what are lines 17-22 are found, but they have to be completed. The final objective of religious dialogue is as quickly as possible to bring about the eschatological hope concerning the union of the Jews with us in the new People of God, to speed up that hope. To this end the following are necessary:
Fraternal and sincere cooperation with the Jews in inquiring into and thoroughly investigating archaeology and Jewish history, which is at the same time Christian; prudent cooperation in research into Sacred Scripture; in all things, however, charity and mutual respect.
After these things there would be a passage that condemns antisemitism, that is in lines 20-22 of the text. I note that this was better expressed in the earlier text where there was talk of “persecutors” (in the new text “ill-treatment”) and, indeed, “whether at one time or in our times.” This expression is left out of the new text.
The children of the Church, however, are particularly called to take care to avoid everything that would be offensive to the Jewish people. Let this be the final comment in no. 32.9
In this way the draft of the declaration would be better unified and would preached more effectively the elements of our conversation with the Jews, but would lose none of its historical and doctrinal perspective.
Then, it will be necessary to establish a more particular Directory, for the organization of a dialogue with the Jews. A special, well-organized section for relations with the Jews should be — in a permanent way — set up, however, with the Secretariat for Unity. Thank you.
In the written text sumitted:
3. Prayer after second reading.
4. The Church.
6. The Supreme Pontiff had spoken on this subject in an audience grated to the member of “Study Mission United Jewish Appeal” on 14 October 1963.
7. L’Osservatore Romano, 16 Oct. 1963.
8. cf. Rom 11, 25, 33.
9. lines 28-32.
Bishop of Garoua (Cameroon)
Venerable Fathers, beloved Observers and Auditors
The declaration On Jews and Non-Christians seems to be excellent. Nonetheless, I would like to propose that an addition be made in the paragraphs where the Muslims are being discussed after the words, “who adore a single, personal God, Who is a rewarder,” they adore the same God as our own.
Till now, according to strict logic, the Council was satisfied after its statements about twelve million Jews to add something about forty millions of Muslims, who like the Jews and us adore a God whose oneness they firmly proclaim, while energetically rejecting the errors of the pagans, and bringing back their faith to Abraham.
I, indeed, find the first reason for this addition in the fact of the relations between the Papacy and a greater part of the Islamic States, and in the peaceful relations and contacts, sometimes even in collaboration and friendship, of the missionary bishops and civil individuals, indeed with political authorities, that very frequently sincerely praise our work of education and charity.
I take my second reason from the case of priests who in areas where Muslims particularly live, exercise a ministry that is very frequently called thankless because of scant results, so that their confreres sometimes consider them useless, while they have to bear the burden and heat of the labor among pagan tribes that hasten in groups to the catechumenate and baptism. These less blessed men have a work of greater consolation, and the silence of the Council seriously increases their temptations to depression of spirit.
As the aforesaid text clearly showed, there is no doubt that the Jews are closer to us. Grounds for hope, however, are not lacking.
1. The Muslims, more than all other non-Christians, understand Christ. Heirs of Abraham, they completely recognize Jesus as first in holiness among the prophets, virginally born of the Virgin Mary, and Mary herself as the greatest daughter of Abraham. They defend both Mary’s virginity and Jesus’ virginal birth. As a result, it should be noted that in all creation only Jesus is designated by His mother’s name: namely “Jesus son of Mary.”
2. They piously visit the sanctuaries of Mary, they join in processions in her honor, they devoutly honor her images, they frequently give her name to their daughters, and implore her protection in all places: this is frequently reported in India, Pakistan, Mozambique, Egypt, Persia, Turkey, and especially in Ephesus, where the Authority graciously approves and grants the opportunity.1
3. It seems best to quote the words of Pope Gregory VII in his letter to the Sultan of Northern Africa: “We, you and us, owe this charity especially to ourselves more than the rest of the nations; we, granted in a different way, believe in and confess one God, who daily praise and venerate Him as creator of the ages and governor of this world."2
Indeed, at the encouragement and inspiration of John XXIII, of pious memory, as well as of Paul VI, happily reigning, it behooves the Second Vatican Council to have a sincere dialogue set up with all people of the present time. Concern of this type, however, should even reach a height that people's eyes spontaneously turn to it. Therefore, filled with this evangelical spirit, those Christians who live with Muslims will very opportunely behave in an utterly fraternal way with them. As for the remaining Christians, namely those who are distant, let there rightfully be the expectation that they as quickly as possible perceive and appreciate the seriousness and usefulness of the abovementioned concern.
In this way, finally, the friendship of very many priests and laity, who have attempted for years to take the lead and slowly spread wider the way of love among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, i.e. among the children of Abraham, will be extended so that the way may be open to a greater knowledge “of God’s ways” among people of good will.
Therefore, it is greatly to be hoped — it is the prayer of many bishops, especially in Africa — that a special commission or secretariat for Muslims be set up in the Catholic Church.
In the written text submitted:
2. Migne, PL vol. 148, p. 450.
4. His Excellency Sergio Mendez Arceo
Bishop of Cuernavaca (Mexico)
The question concerning the Jewish people which, as the report of Cardinal Bea made absolutely clear, was introduced at the expressed will of John XXIII, of most holy memory, is now before us as a declaration that I think is substantially to be approved. For, it would be utterly impossible to work out a whole draft on Ecumenism so freshly that that perspective of Catholic Ecumenism would clearly be apparent. That perspective, of course, would start from religious liberty as from a root and first source, and would wander through the atheistic world, through religious people, who are not united, through non-Christian religions, through Islam, through the Jewish people, through Christians and non-Christians in individual chapters.
The declaration should be approved, because, although it deals with non-Christian people as well, the Jewish people (not the State of Israel) is presented in it as a religious and unique singularity, which the Church has from revelation and history.
1. From revelation especially we know what the Jewish people were before Christ, at the time of Christ, and after the death and resurrection of Christ.
2. Among other things, the history of the Church warns us of the evils that Christians from every level have inflicted on the Jewish people, indeed not only for religious reasons but most certainly because of a radically erroneous interpretation of revelation and a practical forgetting of the law of justice and charity.
Therefore, it follows that at the same time the declaration be in humble and joyful obedience to the Gospel and a generous and perfect reparation of evils committed.
As in the case of the declaration on religious liberty in which God—who makes the sun to rise upon the good and the wicked2—cleanses us now from those actions that were committed against religious liberty in the name of the Gospel throughout the ages by Christians, even if the world is still doubtful,1 by the recognition of liberty for all people, in order that we may bear more fruit,3 so in this declaration concerning the Jewish people, we purify ourselves of actions that were not praiseworthy.
The draft actually contains such elements that a brief and elegant image of the Jewish people is clear to us. But that lamentable omission in the second draft about the excusing from Deicide should be corrected, perhaps by means of the formula that was found in the earlier draft, in which in even a better way than in the present draft there was a rejection of the Curse that, as is reported in different places, has hung over the Jewish people.
It has to be wished that there should be included the explicit, although generic, rejection of the erroneous interpretation of some texts that are especially used by antisemites, e.g. Mt 27,25,4 etc.
Moreover, a formula should be chosen that very clearly extols the truth of the expectation, taught by St. Paul, and at the same time suggests no suspicion of the social destruction of the Jewish people. Among other possibilities I suggest this one because the elements introduced anew into the second draft produced confusion among very many Jews.
"With St. Paul as her teacher,5 the Church awaits with firm faith and great desire the riches which the People of Israel, by fulfilling the office that God Himself assigned them in salvation history,6 will bring into the world, when, as the apostle says7 they again at some time recognize this Christ whom He gave and thus reach their own fullness.”
For, the recognition of Christ will be the Jewish people’s gift for the world and not the destruction of, but the fulfillment of their own vocation.
In accordance with the Jewish people’s biblical image, not an integral one indeed, but a true one, thus restored, the recognition of, and compunction for, and the deploring of the things done against the Jewish people will be not a burden but a joy for the Church, so that for the future no one among the Christians on the pretext of religion, either openly or secretly, would dare to cultivate and promote antisemitism. Such a recognition, more explicit, was found in the earlier draft, page 4, lines 8-10, and now, reduced to a minimum, is insufficient in no. 32, lines 20-21.
It would be better not to say “it severely condemns injuries inflicted on human beings in any place” as if it were a question of some generic case, which is, of course, excluded by the word “more” in the old draft.8 Simply say that “the Church in a maternal spirit deplores and condemns hatred of, and persecutions against the Jews, whether inflicted of old or in our own time” and it should be added9 “especially those that in any way arose from the Christians.”
This declaration10 and condemnation take in all those Christians who because of religious prejudice are so prone to oversimplify historical complexities, in service of which, it should be admitted, there is no movement or group of people in the world that could not be or seem to be anti-Catholic, and whose origin and existence cannot be ascribed to the Jewish people, e.g., the Freemasons with whom I have no doubt we should have peace, as soon as possible.
It would be best, indeed, to avoid ambiguity in the use of words so that it is clearly understood that we are constantly dealing with the Jewish people as they appear in revelation and as they persevere in invoking God.
Finally, in the last place the should be treatment of those things that contribute much to the fostering of good relations in the future, as was in the earlier draft that was greatly superior to the second.11 Appreciated by the Jews, it would seem very fitting at this point.
May God grant that all the Jews, dispersed throughout the world, may look into the righteousness of our spirits, our humility, as well as faithfulness to God’s word, and along with us bear witness to the world of our knowledge of a common God who constantly manifests Himself to us in the Scriptures. I have spoken.
In the written text submitted:
1. may doubt.
2. Mt 5, 25.
3. Jn 15, 1.
4. Mt 24, 2 and parallels; Rom 9, 22.
5. Rom 9-11.
6. Rom 11, 1-25; 30-32.
7. Rom 11 12, 15.
9. My addition.
Bishop of Saitama (Japan)
I am speaking in the name of all the bishops of Japan. We must certainly rejoice that in the second declaration there were added nos. 33 and 34 that treat of our behavior to non-Christians. May it be permitted, however, to suggest the following improvements especially in regard to no. 33.
1. Concerning the title of the declaration. Our declaration's title reads: On the Jews and Non-Christians. Since the Jews, however, are not Christians, let the title read better: On the Jews and the Other Non-Christians.
2. On the citation of texts of Holy Scripture. In no. 33 the universal brotherhood of all people under our common heavenly Father is established as the theological foundation of our relationship toward non-Christians. This universal brotherhood is then illustrated by various texts from Holy Scripture.
It is noted, however, that very many of the texts that are cited or offered, as confirmation, are not to the point because they do not treat of the universal brotherhood of all people,1 but rather either treat2 of brotherhood among the Jews themselves or of brotherhood among Christians. Thus, e.g., the text of Mal 2, 10 deals with fraternity among the Jews; 2 Chron 19, 7 deals with the procedures of Jewish courts; Eph 6, 9 ad Col 3, 25 deals with the way that Christian masters should treat their slaves and vice versa; 1 Pet 1, 17 and 1 Jn 4, 20 are concerned with charity among Christians. Therefore, other biblical texts that are more suitable and directly treated on the universal brotherhood of humanity have to be chosen.
3. Concerning the theological argument itself. Our text earnestly begs Christians to love non-Christians; and, indeed, because those who do not love their brothers, who were created in the image of God, really cannot love God, the Father. Because, however, a human relationship is not unilateral, but reciprocal, to inculcate a fraternal relationship among Christians and non-Christians, besides that sublime and strictly Christian reason, another reason has also to be clearly set forth of some brotherhood in a common nature that is grounded on the dignity and destiny of people to be easier understood and acceptable3 to non-Christians to whom as well,4 as “all people of good will” as the text states, our declaration is directed.5 For the rest, we proceed in this way also in the introduction of the draft of the Church in the Modern World and in the Encyclical Letter on the Church, which speaks of the establishment of dialogue with the world and with non-Christians.
4. Concerning a concrete way of behaving with non-Christians. In the text, on page 48 lines 17-21, it rightly affirms our sincere will to acknowledge in non-Christian teachings and opinions a ray of the Truth that enlightens every person. And in this manner that way of judging and condemning a priori everything that is found in non-Christian religions as pagan and, therefore, contrary to our religion with a single term “paganism” is happily rejected and our disposition is positively affirmed to embrace the sincere attempts of non-Christians as they seek indeed6 the truth itself and also to find the vestiges of the Truth that they possess, as it were, as a sort of preparation for the Gospel. There is, however, in our text no mention of another way in which Christians concretely can and must live together with and cooperate with non-Christians. For one must commend the spirit of cooperation with non-Christians in promoting truly human values in this way, e.g., in protecting human morality, be it private or public; in promoting social justice; in developing works of social assistance; in fostering the sciences and the fine arts.
5. Because7 the special mention of the Muslims as it is in the draft may appear8 excessively abrupt, to avoid an erroneous interpretation among9 non-Christians, if it is decided to keep it, a similar mention, at least in a general way, should be made of the other significant religions.
I conclude. From my statements one may legitimately conclude10 that the text is in need of revision under various aspects. It seems useful for the “Secretariat for non-Christians” that was recently set up by the Supreme Pontiff to play a part in the revision of the text. I have spoken.
In the written text submitted.
7. Concerning Muslims.
9. Indeed the Muslims could make the interpretation that we ourselves are introducing some sort of discrimination between.
10. It is obvious.
Bishop of Gdańsk (Poland)
In the name of all the bishops of Poland, gathered in this Holy Council, may I be permitted to begin by saying that the second declaration On the Jews and Non-Christians is more acceptable than the earlier declaration.
Only several things seem noteworthy, and indeed:
Concerning the title.1 The title of the declaration would more appropriately read: On the Jews and Other Non-Christians. The reason for this is because even the Jews, mentioned in the declaration, are not Christians.
In line 2.2 After the words “of its election,” let the word “prophetic” be added, and indeed for the sake of precision.
In line 13.3 After the words “were born,” let the words “Peter and the rest” be added” for the sake of the same precision.
After the word “ill-treatment”4 let the words “and persecution” be added.
The reason for this is: the earlier Declaration used the word “persecution.” Therefore, the word “ill-treatment” used here rather than that found in the previous declaration provokes a rather serious debate in the newspapers as not being adequate for the torments that the Jews suffered, and since it has a meaning that is scarcely synonymous in at least modern-day usage.
The argument, that some make, does not help much. They maintain that Cicero would have made use of the word “vexation (ill-treatment)” in the particular passage because he reserved the word “persecution (persecution)” only for judicial inquiry. For indeed, it seems that the Church’s practice is to make use of language that is intelligible to the modern world rather than the recherché art of Cicero, and especially since in Cicero the word “vexatio” did not always have the same synonymous meeting. And so, e.g., Georges in his dictionary5 indicates, as he cites Cicero, “vexatio” can also me “Misshandlung (mishandling)” or maltrattamento (maltreating).”
For the rest our Eminent reporter [Cardinal Bea] in his report on the second declaration last Friday always used only the word “persecutio.”
As regards to a): The supreme injustices, indeed the most ferocious cruelties that were inflicted on the Jewish people in our day before our very eyes not only touch our hearts with profound sorrow and even more draw us with a sweeter Christian and indeed a profound compassionate love to this people, but they also prove to us how greatly the world needs the Church of Jesus Christ as a Mother and Teacher. As a matter of fact, the statements in no. 32 of the second declaration, up to line 26 clearly go into that tender strength of holy Church and that providential function of hers.
But the more beautifully and the more magnanimously that aforesaid doctrinal explanation resounds, the more exceedingly stingy does the pastoral conclusion in lines 28-30 appear, especially as it can motivate discordantly. For, it is limited to two precepts that are negative concepts, namely, something that must not be done.
Therefore, the pastoral conclusion needs a new treatment, and indeed in a positive form.
As regards to b): The advice, indeed,8 in lines 32-32, produced in such a such a stingy and forced way, since, of course – in a different way in the earlier declaration – it teaches about the Jews only of our times, could give rise to at least confusion in one way and reaction in another, and therefore it seems that it should rather be omitted.
Page 8, after line 20,9 let word be added that would make clear to the non-Christian people the Christian hope of uniting them with the Holy Church of God. The reason for this is: a) because the same hope is of the essence of the Church’s salvific mission, and b) because that hope will have been very beautifully laid open to the Jews and therefore, were it not mentioned here, it could at least provoke surprise. I have spoken. Thank you.
In the written text, submitted:
1. I, p. 7.
2. II, p. 7.
3. III, page 7.
4. IV. Page 7 in line 21.
5. ed. V.
6. page 7.
Bishop of Ðà Lat (Viêt Nam)
The addition of this declaration that, I think, is not only opportune but also compelling, is completely acceptable: for the Church of God, as Christ Himself, has been sent not just to Christians (no one was a Christian at his birth), but to all the dispersed children of God whom it would gather into one. To this end, the Church should enter in a fitting way into frequent and amicable contact with all people without exception. However, not only for peaceful coexistence but for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, and leaving behind a rather antiquated sense of legalism and triumphalism, it should decisively turn in a spirit of charity. I am permitted, however,1 to make a few observations.
1. On the Jews. In any dialogue, a sympathetic mind-set is needed between the speakers in order to be fruitful. Furthermore, as far as the Jews2 are concerned, I think that they rightly expect from us a mention of Moses, whom they very highly venerate as leader and law-giver. So3 also did Christ, by relating the perfection of His teaching indeed to Abraham and the Patriarchs, but more to Moses (the law) and Elijah (the prophets) cf. 5, 17. Likewise in the Transfiguration, “Behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him."4
Likewise we find in the draft On Revelation;5 “to the great people whom he taught after the Patriarchs, through Moses and the Prophets.”
Then, in no. 32, page 7, line 3, the name of Moses should be added: “already he taught among the Patriarchs through Moses and the Prophets.”
Likewise in line 5 let there be added “with Moses as leader:” “and in the exodus of the people, under Moses’ leadership, out of the land of slavery, the salvation of the Church is mystically foreshadowed."6
In line 22: it seems that the following must be opportunely added: “it deplores and condemns the hatred and ill-treatment of the Jews, wherever it source.” Since this expression is used in the draft On Ecumenism in regard to non-Catholic Christians, the same would have to be said in a more accommodated way about the Jews, all the more so because their bitterness, that was provoked by certain Christian groups, looks back directly to the past. By means of such a discrete acknowledgment of guilt and universal condemnation of the deed, the Holy Council will doubtless stir up a sense of gratitude and of confidence on the part of the Jews.7
2. On the Non-Christians. More than half of the whole world’s population are neither Christians nor Jews. The Council does well in saying something about them. Among them are quite a few nations that, granted they are oppressed under the harsh yoke of the communists into whose hands my own Fatherland has fallen, they observe and profess faith in one supreme God, Lord of heaven and earth and observe natural moral teaching, and as it were are disposed willingly to embrace the Catholic faith, with the help of God’s grace, if the light of the Gospel at long last reaches them.
Concerning them, therefore8 let mention be made as it was concerning the Muslims, or let nothing be said about anyone, as our eminent speakers well noted yesterday.
The true charity that should respect all people is commended to all of them: body and especially soul in every possible way: with affection and accomplishment, in word and deed. Actually,9 in the practice of charity, let humility be the companion of affability and the attempt to understand, by throwing aside every superiority complex and the desire to annul those things10 in their culture that are not opposed to revealed teaching.
Likewise, it must be noted that sometimes in Christian journals certain pictures are presented that do no honor to the nation to be evangelized, or articles are written that describe the customs and ways of acting and living of these nations, that show little charity with the intent of influencing the readers and of opening generous hands; however, these approaches rather stir up difficulties for the people to be evangelized and the path to dialogue is firmly closed.
Finally, in catechesis, let all who are not Catholic be any longer [taught as] cast down into hell, because salvation depends on the grace of Christ and the faith of the subject.
Let no. 34, line 34 read: “he commands them to love, in word and deed, not only their neighbor but also their enemies."11 Thank you.
In the written text submitted:
3. In this way.
4. Mt 17, 3.
5. No. 3, page 6, line 25.
6. line 19. Since the way of dialogue is not the only way to mutual knowledge and to promote respect, the word “especially” should be added and it would read: “Respect that is especially obtained by theological studies, fraternal discussions, and the reading in common of Sacred Scripture and the recitation of psalms.”
7. Line 3, p. 8, let the word “renuimus” be changed for the sake of euphony (re appears three times).
Titular Bishop of Antandrus, coadjutor of Strasbourg (France)
Venerated Fathers, industrious Experts, beloved Observers and Auditors
Pardon me if the discussion is still about the dialogue with Jews and indeed about the importance and conditions of this dialogue.1
After the last war, which was especially atrocious for the Jews, in the city of Strasbourg where I was engaged in the pastoral ministry, a large Synagogue was built and called “The Synagogue of Peace.” I had frequent occasions to enter into conversation with Jews. Therefore, I dare modestly to offer testimony now, and indeed about these two questions:
1. What do today’s Jews mean for Christians of our time?
2. What does our declaration mean for the Jews of our time? Evidently, our concern is not the citizens of the Republic (of Israel) but the Jews who are dispersed throughout the world, insofar as the biblical patrimony is preserved in them.
Part I. What do today’s Jews mean for Christians of our time?
The Jews, not only of the Old Testament but also today’s Jews, deserved particular consideration, today as much as ever, they are living witnesses of the biblical tradition. Such are:
1. Through the knowledge and understanding of the sacred books of the First Testament. For example, in many places Jewish children are daily occupied with the study of the divine text for at least an hour; a very beautiful example for Christians as well! For these Jews the Sacred Bible is not a dead document, not a past but a present history. I confess that I have quite frequently been encouraged by some such Jews to a better knowledge and more animated love of the fathers of the First Testament.
Quite certainly, a common investigation of the Law and the Prophets – or even the so-called hagiographers – the study of this among Jews and Christians who are sufficiently expert would be a great spiritual profit.
2. Among today’s Jews, many are also witnesses of the biblical tradition by living some religious virtues that were enjoined by the Law and the Prophets. For example, the have an excellent sense of the divine transcendence, so much so that they are quite frequently called in French “les pélerins de l’Absolut (the pilgrims of the Absolute).” They are obedient to the precepts of divine Law and particularly the Law of the Decalogue – with an obedience that is not only moral but properly religious. They believe in the People of God’s freedom from slavery. Their worship and prayers, which take place not only weekly in the synagogues but also in their families, religiously strengthen and consecrate the relationships of the families.
3. We hold with sure faith that God would not reject his eternal plans. When he established the First Testament, he already in his love foresaw the Second Testament. Therefore, the Second Testament does not destroy the first.2 It is certainly not permissible for us Christians to consider the Jews rejected members of the People of God. On the contrary, we ought to explore and promote our common riches with them, as frequently as possible, for the sake of present-day production of fruit.
Who fails to see how efficacious this would be at present when atheism is spreading and prospering in all places! Christian and Jews, because they are witnesses of the Divine Word and of Salvation History – because they are witnesses of the same Monotheism – can no longer bear to the defending of disbelief a very dejected testimony of serious deficiency in mutual knowledge and charity.
Part II. What does our declaration mean to the Jews of our time?
Our late Pontiff, of holy memory, whom the Jews now call “John the Good,” in his truly evangelical way stirred up huge hope among the Jews. Similarly we should today in our declaration use that evangelical way that takes for granted prudent humility and fitting reverence for the Jews. Doubtless, this declaration is of supreme importance for the dialogue that is so necessary between the Jews and the Catholic Church. Our text, not without anxious investigation, is now awaited by the Jews of the entire world, and will be the source and cause of either peace and joy or, on the contrary, of profound bitterness and serious damage. Therefore, what is to be earnestly looked for?
1. The Jews are awaiting from our Ecumenical Council some solemn word of justice.
We cannot deny that, not only in this century but also in past centuries, crimes have been committed against the Jews by the children of the Church and not rarely, although falsely, in the name of the same Church. We cannot be unaware of the fact that in history there were against the Jews inquisitions, outrages, violations of conscience, indeed forced conversions. Finally, we should not deny that up to the present time, very frequently either in preaching or in some catechetical books errors have crept in that offended the spirit of the New Testament.
Why can we not draw upon that magnanimity from the spirit of the Gospel, so that in the name of so many Christians we may beg forgiveness for so many and such great injustices? Without doubt, even the Jews have their defects, even on their side they have committed mistakes and faults. No one denies this. But, nonetheless, Christ’s Gospel requires us to confess our guilt without waiting for the Jews to do the same in regard to us. Moreover, it is the duty and function of justice for our Ecumenical Council to eliminate false teaching concerning the Jews from our catechetical Instruction, as is excellently stated in our declaration.3
Our declaration should avoid – as it has in some way already done – every type of any present calling to conversion of the entire Jewish people. For, in the present situation, the Jews are not commonly capable of understanding that the transition to Christ’s Gospel is not for them an apostasy but true fullness. We do not yet know, nor can we know that hour of God, that Paul speaks of in the Epistle to the Romans4 concerning the definitive union of all the chosen people.
I conclude. 1. The declaration “On the Jews” should be separated for those that speak of other non-Christian religions and should constitute its own declaration. The relationship between the Church and the Synagogue is utterly special: it takes place in a dialogue between Christians and Jews on the communication (so to speak) between the tree of the Church and her own roots.5
In this case, it is strongly hoped that some short and distinct declaration be reserved for the Muslims, in which their specific religious character would be clearly appraised by the Sacred Synod and the present relation of the Church to them would be made clear.
As far as the non-biblical religions are concerned, they are today so numerous, and are so burdened with cultural matters, even through a diverse and sincere investigation of the mystery of God is frequently moving the heart of believer. The Sacred Synod can consider them more fully in a third, separate declaration and also invite them to dialogue.
I am placing concrete suggestions with the secretariat on all these subjects.6
Finally,7 assuredly we are not unaware of the concerns of the Council Fathers for the consequences that may arise – perhaps unfortunately for them - from the declaration concerning the Jews. Nonetheless, not even in the most difficult circumstances, can truth and justice be abandoned in the Church. We cannot be quiet.
But will not this very beloved brother of that consolation and the strength ... 8
Moderator: Your Excellency, your time has run out.
In the written text submitted:
1. Our Vatican Council aims at a sincere dialogue with the people of this time. It is necessary, and at the present moment, very opportune that it especially support a dialogue with the Jews. I would like to speak briefly about importance and conditions of this dialogue.
2. Actually the Lord himself said “I have not come to abolish but to fulfill (Mt 5, 17).” Therefore.
3. Particularly, it is necessary to reject completely that expression that the Jews are a “deicide people.”
4. Rom 11.
5. According to St. Paul the Christians are like a wild olive branch, grafted to the branches of Israel, and a partaker of the root (cf. Rom 11, 17).
6. In that declaration it is to be hoped that the diverse elements from the previous text will be incorporated that on this subject are more in keeping with the truth. I am placing some concrete suggestions with the secretariat of the Council.
8. It can be drawn from the words of Paul VI, happily reigning, who caused the words of Christ himself to reecho: “Bienheureux serons-nous, si nous aimons mieux être opprimés qu’ oppresseurs, et si nous avons toujours faim d’une justice en progress”! We shall be happy if we love to be oppressed rather than be oppressors, and if we more and more thirst after ever greater justice for all people!
To no. 32.
Line 2 in place of “willingly,” “with a grateful spirit” would be better.
Line 11: let there be immediately inserted: “Moreover, the Church believes that Christ, our Peace, willingly underwent his passion and death because of the sins of all people.”
Lines 11-16: after the above words, these should be written in lines 11-16: “The Church always has and will have before her eyes the words, also, of the apostle Paul: “to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises,” to them belong the patriarchs, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh (Rom 9, 4) and also the Mother of Christ, and the Apostles, the foundation and pillars of the Church.
Line 17: in line 16, i.e. after the above words, there should opportunely be inserted:
“The Jews moreover, as the same Apostle testifies, are, for the sake of the Fathers, most dear to God, whose gifts and calling are irrevocable, and whose ways are unsearchable. They are sealed in the love of the Deity, hidden in the depth of His wisdom of knowledge" (c.f. Rom. 11, 33).
Line 18: after the word “they received” (line 17) it should be stated (in place of line 18-22) “and since the Church knows that the Jews, from what they preserve from the Biblical Tradition, even today, in a world that is constantly more infected with materialism and atheism, remain witnesses of the spirit and virtues that are imprinted in that tradition, this Sacred Synod utterly wishes to foster and commend the mutual knowledge and esteem of both that comes from biblical and theological studies and from fraternal discussions. Moreover, just as it seriously condemns injustices perpetrated against people in every place, so it deplores and condemns even more the hatred, ill-treatment, and persecutions of the Jews that they call antisemitism, whether inflicted at one time or in our time.”
Line 23-37: this paragraph should be removed or changed so that it could not be interpreted as some sort of summoning of the entire Jewish people to immediate conversion. It would be interpreted as an exhortation to apostasy.
N.B.: Would it not be possible to replace this paragraph by something like this: “While deploring that the Jewish people are depriving themselves of the fulfillment in Jesus Christ of the graces promised to the Patriarchs, and renewed by the Prophets, the actual Jewish people cannot be considered as wholly responsible for the condemnation of Christ, that was done by the High Priests and their associates (Jn 11, 50) who were disturbed by the political situation.”
Line 30: after “rejected” “accursed or deicide” should be added.
Line 31: better: “in the mind he can give birth to contempt for the Jews. All these things would contradict the will of Jesus Christ who embraces in one love the Jews and the nations."
Line 31-32: It would be better to say: “Let them be careful moreover not to blame the entire Jewish people then alive and a fortiori the Jews of our time for what was done in the passion of Christ. Actually, all these things are to be blamed on all human beings, as sinners, and especially on Christians who fall into sins, as the Catechism of the Council of Trent has already stated.
N. B. The text of the Tridentine catechism: "It has to be judged that all are held by this crime who quite frequently fall into sins. For, since our sins forced Christ to undergo the punishment of the cross, certainly those who wallow in shameful crimes and evil deeds (Heb 6, 6) again, as they can, crucify within themselves the Son of God, and testify that the evil deed can seem more serious in us than it was in the Jews, inasmuch as they, as the same Apostle testifies (Cor 2, 8) if they had known would never have crucified the Lord of glory. We, however, confess that we both (Tit. 1, 16) knew him and still, having been made deniers, somehow lay violent hands on him.”
P.S. Line “continuation” more exactly since it would be said with greater precision, by using the words of the apostle Paul (cf. Rom 11, 17) “Christians are a wild olive shoot grafted into the branches of Israel and sharers of the root.”
Outline of the principle elements of a “Declaration” on behalf of the people of Islam
The Sacred Synod, aiming at fraternal dialogue with all people, cannot especially today fail to propose such a dialogue to the people of Islam, certainly a properly religious one.
They worship and adore, as we do, that true one God who is on high, who created all things, and who in the passing of time revealed himself in human history. Their faith in that great God during our times of atheism is a very important testimony for this generation. It is to be hoped that the people of Islam and Christians will have conversations among themselves in due fashion.
Moreover, in times past, already from the beginnings of the religion of Islam, there were many relations between Christians and the people of Islam, not only, unfortunately warlike ones, but even, and more profoundly, ones connected with civilization and culture, whether concerning philosophy or the arts. At the present unification of the world it is highly hoped that finally such mutual relations may be multiplied and mutual respect for the fostering of the common cultural good of the entire human family.
Titular Bishop of Buritanus, Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio (United States)
Most Eminent Fathers, venerable Brothers, in purple and not in purple, and beloved Sisters as well,
In general I am greatly pleased with the declaration; I would, however, wish to propose three improvements in the text.
As for the first and second proposal, I will say them in the name of almost all of the bishops of the United States of America; the third, however, I make in my own name.
First an improvement is proposed in par. 32 line 20: let these words be inserted: “Never let it be said that the Jews are a deicide nation.”
This admonition was clearly enunciated in the first version of this document.1 Now, however, this statement is not found in our present text.
There are those who claim that the sentence was suppressed because the word “Deicide” is philosophically and theologically absurd, per se contradictory, and therefore, unworthy of a conciliar document.
Nevertheless, Council Fathers, we are here concerned not with a philosophical entity, but with a word of infamy and detestation that the Christian invented to reproach and persecute the Jews. Through many centuries and also in our century, Christians have cast this word against the Jews and because of it have justified every excess, even their slaughter. It is not our job to make a statement about a philosophical issue, but it is our job to condemn and disapprove of such a phrase which has afforded so many occasions and opportunities for persecutions through the ages. We should remove this word from the midst of Christians, so that it may never again be used against the Jews.
The Council of Trent has already taught that all people and their sins were the cause of Christ’s death. We are, therefore, all guilty and all2 demanded the death of Christ. The death of Christ, then, in no way is to be attributed to one people.
There is another reason why this sentence seems to have to be restored. The whole world knows well the history of antisemitism among Christians. So many things have been perpetrated against the Jews. Now, however, the world is seeking and awaiting an absolute and irrefutable sign of the Church’s good faith in this matter of justice. We should reject the Machiavellian approach by which we seek justice for ourselves alone. We, as Fathers of the Council, should seek justice for everyone in the world in accordance with the needs of the time and of the situation. Our time and our situation now demand this rejection of the accusation of deicide. Especially because this rejection was in the first document, its omission in the present text now would appear to the world as a kind of refusal of that justice that we ought to give to our Jewish brothers.
The second improvement seems to have to be inserted in the text in par. 32, line 32. Let these words be added: “And not all of the Jews at the time of Christ are to be accused of his death.”
So many Jews at the time of Christ, especially in the Diaspora, heard absolutely nothing about Christ, and obviously could have in no way consented to His death. It is just as absurd to accuse all the Jews at the time of Christ of His death as it is to accuse all the Romans of that time or of our3 time of the same death because the Roman Pilate handed Jesus over and the Roman soldiers crucified him.
I propose the third and final improvement in my own name.
On page 33, line 20, let there be added an expression of our eschatological hope by means of which all people of every nation, whether Jews or Gentiles, are to be united in the presence of the Father. St. Paul wrote in his first Epistle to Timothy 2, 4 [sic; read as vv. 3-4]: “This is good and it is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” This is also the application given to that very beautiful statement in the constitution de Ecclesia, par 2, lines 10 ff. “Then, however, as we read in the holy Fathers, all the just from Adam ‘from Abel, the just, to the last of the elect’ will be gathered together in the presence of the Father in the universal Church.”
In the written text submitted:
1. or in ch. IV of the draft on Ecumenism, handed over to us last year. There it is said that the Jews are not guilty of deicide.
2. we should confess that we have sinned, and all of us.
Titular Bishop of Dagnensis, Auxiliary Bishop of Triers (West Germany)
Venerable Fathers and Sister in Christ,
It it evident to the reader that the second declaration On the Jews and Non-Christians is well thought out and composed with prudent moderation. Therefore, I earnestly hope that the Fathers approve it.
I have found only one place, where I thought some admonition should be given, just as His Eminence König already hinted yesterday,1 namely in art. 33 (p. 447, line 33 up to p. 48, line 5).
Indeed, today a certain Father said that other texts should be put in place of the texts from Sacred Scripture cited in this article. I readily agree with this assertion if more appropriate texts could be found in Sacred Scripture. But, unfortunately, in my opinion such texts do not really exist. For2 neither in the books of the New Testament nor in the writings of the Old Testament is such an assertion, namely of the divine paternity for all people, proven. Let us see!3
I. a) According to the Synoptics, Jesus, as he preached of the heavenly Father, did not want to announce that a paternal relationship was in force between the One God and people, but to testify: that God, in whom his hearers believed, in a wholly singular sense that excluded all others, was the Father of the only-begotten son, namely of Jesus Christ himself. The same fact is shown even more clearly in the Gospel according to John. The following passages do not oppose the view:
1. The Lord’s words4 “Love your enemies . . ., so that you may be sons of your Father . . .”, for in this passage God’s paternity towards all people is not being taught, but the faithful are being admonished that by showing charity towards everyone they appear as children of God the Father;5
2. Nor is Lk 36 opposed where in the genealogy of Jesus Adam is said to have been of God; it is not being taught in this way that God is the Father of all people;
3. Acts 177 is not opposed, the apostle’s words “For we are indeed his offspring” do not represent divine revelation, but are a quote from the gentile poet Aratus.
St. Paul’s constant way of speaking removes all doubt. The words in 1 Cor, 88 clearly juxtapose the divine creation of the world and the singular relationship of the Father to the Son. It is expressly said in the epistle to the Eph, 4,9 “one God and Father of us all:” the context, however, clearly shows that this passage is dealing only with the Christian faithful. Furthermore the epistle to the Romans everywhere teaches that people are not made sons of God except by believing through Christ in the Holy Spirit.10
The rest of the writings of the New Testament declare that regeneration does not happen and divine filiation is not acquired except because of Christ and though Christ.11
II.12 The books of the Old Testament clearly affirm concerning the connection and interchange between God and humanity that humans beings are in the image of God. Without doubt God does not beget but creates His image, but in such a way that humanity, which was divinely created, is joined with God by an intimate necessity, except that God may not be said to be the Father of humanity. Thus the list of the generations of humanity (in Gen 513) begins from God, but from God as Creator. Adam, however, is not called the son of God. The words read in Deut 3214 create no objection “You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.” For, God is explicitly said to be the creator; to have begotten, is said not from the fact that he is creator, but from the fact that, as is clear from the context, he chose Israel with loving generosity and, once the covenant was struck, made the people his very own.
Hence it is already clear in what sense God was called and thought to be Father in the books of the Old Testament: the divine salvific Will by completely freely choosing the people of Israel, the very people “son”.15 Therefore the teaching concerning the divine paternity in the books of the Old Testament appears to be clearly inserted and subordinated to the fundamental teaching concerning the divinely formed covenant.16 Sirach 3617 creates no objection when it says of the people of God that they are the first born of God because this expression in no way intimates or affirms that God is the Father of all people.
In conclusion, therefore it should have been established that the books of the Old Testament call God Father because He kindly formed and faithfully preserved the covenant with Abraham and his seed.
III. With these observations it seems certain that in the Sacred Scripture of the Old and New Testament God is never called Father with respect to all people. I do not wish, however, to deny that God could rightly be call such in some sense. For, theological reasoning is accustomed to consider the divine paternity in a three-fold and different way:
1. In the proper and strictest sense the divine paternity is spoke of in respect to the only-begotten Son, who is himself a divine person;
2. In the proper and analogous sense it is spoken of in regard to the adoptive children who18 are elevated by grace and taken up to participate in the filiation of the Son, so that, having been made sharers of the divine nature19 the by right and by dessert can say: “Our Father who art in heaven;”
3. Finally, in an improper and metaphorical sense it can be said with respect to all people, because God, the Creator and Lord of all, in his goodness pays attention to all creatures and especially human beings in the way of a human father.
Everyone sees that God is called Father in this way, though correctly, nonetheless in a sense that is far removed from that by which those who believe in the Son pray to their heavenly Father.20
Conclusion: I, therefore, propose and ask that the text of art. 33 be changed in approximately this way: “The Lord Jesus splendidly confirmed what the Writings of the Old Testament show and reason itself intimates that God the Creator, the kind Lord of all, with Fatherly care looks after all. We, however, the Christian faithful are not able to call God the Lord our heavenly Father, if in respect to some people, etc."21
In the written text submitted:
2. A rather serious difficulty arises concerning this article because it expressly states that God is the Father of all people. Indeed this same teaching is affirmed also in the earlier draft of this declaration (art. 31, p. 33, line 26) and in the draft On Divine Revelation (art. 3, p. 6, lines 26-27). But while in these passages the divine paternity is simply spoken of with respect to human beings, in art. 33 it is explicitly claimed that this is the teaching of Christ the Lord himself of the Old Testament. Actually, however ...
4. Mt 5, [44-]45
5. cf. also Lk 6, 35.
6. Lk 3, 38.
7. Acts 17, 24-28.
8. 1 Cor 8, 6 (“yet for us there is one God, the Father (hò patèr), from whom are all things and for whom we exist”).
9. 4, 6.
10. Cf. especially Rom 8, 14-16.
11. Cf. 1 Pet 1, 3; Jas 1, 18; 1 Jn 3, 1-10; etc. No opposition comes from Jas 1, 17, where God is called “the Father of lights” and Heb 12, 9 where he is called “the Father of spirits.”
12. Where in the books of the Old Testament God is called or thought of as “Father” – it does not rarely happen – in no place is “Father” an attribute of the divine name or a meaning equivalent to the divine name itself. In particular God, as the Creator of the world and of humanity, is not considered to have begotten as a father begets.
13. Gen 5, 15.
14. Deut. 32 18, according to the Vulgate ["You have forsaken the God who begot you, and you forgot the Lord, your creator"].
15. Cf. Deut 32, 5-6, the theocratic king (cf. Ps 89 (88)MT 27 29, Messiah (cf. Ps 2, 7) and the individual pious persons from the people of Israel (cf. Wis 2, 16-18). Thus it is solemnly proclaimed: “You are the sons of the Lord your God” (Deut 14, 1). Similarly the Prophet Hosea when appealing to the sons of Israel to look forward to the latest salvation says: “in the place where it was said to them ‘You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Sons of the living God (Hos 2, 1 or in Vulg. 1, 10).
17. 36, 17.
18. Believing and hoping in Jesus Christ the only-begotten Son, with infused charity.
19. 2 Pet 1, 4.
20. The question is whether the Council, without making a distinction, ought to use this metaphorical expression, especially since the Sacred Synod is accustomed to serious study in order to make use in all its documents the way of speaking that Sacred Scripture uses.
21. ["]We refuse to behave fraternally, although created in the image of God. For a person’s relationship to God and the same person's relationship to other people are so closely connected that every denial of human fraternity carries with it a denial of God himself.”
Bishop of Cádiz (Spain)
Venerable Fathers and most patient dearly beloved,
I humbly dare to ask the newspapers, and in general all media of communication, especially Catholic ones, to act with greatest prudence and charity, in cooperation, when they perceive problems that pertain to the religious understanding and cultural expressions of the Muslim nations, as the Bishop of Ðà Lat in Vietnam has said.
I can bear witness that at one time I avoided being ejected with some photographers and journalists who gave offense to some Muslims when trying to get some news of their customs and rites.
When I asked them why they were behaving in this way, they replied: These photographers and news reporters tend to make a mockery of our people, both in the newspapers, as well as in the cinemas of Christian lands.
To be sure, the Muslim people love God, they adhere closely to their religion, and greatly accept manifestations of fraternal charity, although other things are said.
For, while connections are made with other Christian groups that are truly filled with the spirit of charity, dialogue easily takes place, and the prejudices of religious and social opposition disappear.
Moreover, they respect these external manifestations of the worship of Catholics with tolerant respect and urbanity.
Therefore, let one have a respectful esteem for their spiritual and moral riches; and let us be persuaded that charity and goodness should be a precept for these souls and people "who are worthy of admiration, because in their divine worship exists the true and the good” (Paul VI).
The Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, happily reigning, pointed this out well in his Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam. Then he clearly affirmed: “It is fitting for us reveal what we believe, namely, that the one true religion is Christian,” he adds immediately: “We do not wish, however, not to respect reverently the spiritual and moral goods that are present in various religions that are not adorned with the Christian name; it helps along with them to promote and protect the lofty and outstanding things that are common in the field of religious liberty, human fraternity, knowledge and doctrine, social welfare and civil order. As far as these great things are concerned, that we and they share, we will have to be able to engage in conversation."
Permit me to recall an instance in which charity and goodness shines forth, in a region in which Muslims are not few, in the city of Septensi (Ceuta) [Editor's note: A Spanish-governed city in north Africa near Gibraltar]. In this instance I think we find an addition to friendship and dialogue.
There is in that place a Catholic parish, endowed and gifted with simple and effective institutions of charity, whose pastor shows himself a father to all. He visits all the homes and brings constant aid to Christian and Muslims. A bishop came. And as many Muslims as possible, women as well with the faces veiled, received him with the greatest signs of respect. They entered the parish church, and indeed, as a token of honor bent their knees, with their heads uncovered!
A little later, one of them, a chief, said to the bishop, as he pointed out the pastor: “This man is a true brother. He loves us, and we love him. He reverences and understands us.
They were experiencing goodness and love! They were living as friends. In this village, where a small group of Christians live in the midst of very many Muslims, there is a true state of healthy ecumenism, in the broad sense.
There was a marvelous expression of this ecumenical spirit of the Muslims when they received our blessed Pope Paul, when he was travelling in Palestine, with vigorous ardor, even with emotion and veneration.
Proposal of a recommendation. Let these words be inserted into the declaration On the Jews and Non-Christians, when the commission thinks it opportune: Let the newspapers and instruments of social communication, especially the Catholic ones, be exhorted to proceed with the maximum of prudence and charity when it is a question of problems and questions that could be common in religious affairs, and affairs of human fraternity, good public service, social work, and civil order, that pertain to different non-Christian religious confessions. I have spoken.
** continued **