J.J. Goldberg

Mysteries of the Church: The Bishops Blink ... Sort of

By J.J. Goldberg

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America’s Catholic bishops, responding to Jewish protests, are backing away from a controversial policy statement they issued last June in which interfaith dialogue was portrayed as a forum for promoting Christianity.

Jewish organizations that partner with the church in ongoing, formal dialogue, here and in Rome, had warned in August that the controversial June statement could threaten the future of the historic, four-decade exchange. As I wrote in a column at the time, the dispute seemed to be the latest in a series of jolts to Catholic-Jewish relations since Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

The bishops’ new statement looks like an attempt to calm the waters. It offers a revised version of the June statement that drops the offending passages. But, as I’ll show, the edited version looks like a clumsy job that leaves part of the offending passage firmly in place. Well, it’s either a mistake or an indication that they’re not really backing down, and that we have indeed entered into the Age of Benedict. And a close read of the bishops’ new “Statement of Principles in Catholic-Jewish Dialogue” suggests pretty strongly that it’s no mistake.

The controversial June statement was itself a reversal of an earlier statement from 2002, “Reflections on Covenant and Mission,” which had affirmed the post-Vatican II Catholic view of Judaism as a living covenant with God.

A deepening Catholic appreciation of the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people, together with a recognition of a divinely-given mission to Jews to witness to God’s faithful love, lead to the conclusion that campaigns that target Jews for conversion to Christianity are no longer theologically acceptable in the Catholic Church.

“Reflections” was the product of an annual dialogue between the National Council of Synagogues, representing the Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist wings of Judaism, and the ecumenical affairs committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Two Orthodox participants, the Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America, broke away from the synagogue council in 1992 and have maintained their own separate dialogue with the bishops ever since.

What the bishops produced this past June, “Notes on ‘Reflections on Covenant and Mission’,” was bluntly critical of “Reflections.” Its central point was an apparent dismissal of the hard-won understanding, key to the post-Vatican II rapprochement, that the church no longer aspires to convert the Jews. “Note” was issued jointly by the bishops’ ecumenical committee and the more hard-line committee on doctrine, which appeared to have stepped in to restrain the ecumenicals’ overenthusiasm. The Jewish groups complained that there was no advance warning, undermining the spirit of partnership that was the dialogue’s supposed foundation. Here’s the “Notes” money quote:

In its effort to present a broader and fuller conception of evangelization, however, the document [“Reflections”] develops a vision of it in which the core elements of proclamation and invitation to life in Christ seem virtually to disappear. For example, Reflections on Covenant and Mission proposes interreligious dialogue as a form of evangelization that is “a mutually enriching sharing of gifts devoid of any intention whatsoever to invite the dialogue partner to baptism.” Though Christian participation in interreligious dialogue would not normally include an explicit invitation to baptism and entrance into the Church, the Christian dialogue partner is always giving witness to the following of Christ, to which all are implicitly invited.

The two Orthodox organizations responded immediately with a sharp letter to the bishops. The letter cites the first two of the three sentences I quoted, calling them

a dagger thrust into the heart of the entire enterprise of Jewish-Catholic dialogue on matters of religion. They undermine everything we were led to believe about that enterprise.

If they can be removed on the grounds that Jews have misunderstood them (whether or not we would accept that assessment), we could continue our relationship without change. As long as they remain, we cannot continue business as usual and maintain our self-respect as Jews.

The National Council of Synagogues and two secular Jewish agencies that participate in the dialogue, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee, joined the protest in an August letter, after trying and failing to negotiate a revision.

The bishops responded October 2 with what appears to be a complete reversal. Five top officials of the bishops’ conference, including the heads of the ecumenical and doctrine committees and the conference president, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, wrote a letter to the Jewish dialogue partners thanking them for their frankness and promising a new version of “Notes” with the offending sentences omitted. The new version was released October 13 as promised, but curiously, it doesn’t excise the two sentences cited as “a dagger” in the Orthodox letter. Instead, it retains the first of the three sentences I quoted and drops the second and third. As a result, the new “Notes” still criticizes “Reflections” for offering a “vision” of evangelization in which “the core elements of proclamation and invitation to life in Christ seem virtually to disappear.”

The problem seems to be indecision—or, more likely, a standoff between the church’s liberal and conservative factions. That becomes clear in a new document, “Statement of Principles for Catholic-Jewish Dialogue,” issued by the bishops on October 2 along with their contrite-sounding letter to the Jewish groups.

The “Statement” presents itself as an attempt to clear up “misunderstanding and feelings of hurt” in the June “Notes.” “Because we are dialogue partners, this hurt is ours as well,” it says. It then outlines six guiding principles. Principle 1 reaffirms Pope John Paul II’s historic declaration of Judaism’s ongoing legitimacy: “God chose Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and made with them a covenant of eternal love, which was never revoked.” It was that principle, the outgrowth of Vatican II and 40 years of subsequent dialogue, that led to the 2002 “Reflections” and its “conclusion that campaigns that target Jews for conversion to Christianity are no longer theologically acceptable.”

But Principle 2 yanks us back to the pre-Vatican II era, when Jews still needed to be enlightened. “At the same time,” it says, “in the faith that comes to us from the Apostles, Jesus Christ is the unique savior of all humankind, who fulfills in himself all of God’s promises and covenants with the people of Israel.” How to square the circle? Quite simply, by declaring that belief in Jesus is “a gift of God” and “can never be coerced.”

Which brings us to Principle 3: “Catholics have a sacred responsibility to bear witness to Christ at every moment of their lives, but lived context shapes the form of that witness.” And in that context, “Jewish Catholic dialogue, one of the blessed fruits of the Second Vatican Council, has never been and will never be used by the Catholic Church as a means of proselytization — nor is it intended as a disguised invitation to baptism.” If it makes you guys more comfortable, we can leave that until after dessert.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic-Jewish dialogue, "Notes on Ambiguities, " Pope Benedict XVI

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Comments
Joe Feld Tue. Oct 20, 2009

Since when did the RCA and OU reject Rav Soloveitchik's view that interfaith dialogue is intrinsically impossible? We can share common civil causes that benefit society [ tikun olam ?] but never realistically expect Christians not to want to share their 'good news' with us Jews

Daid Berger Wed. Oct 21, 2009

Mr. Goldberg’s thoughtful article contains a serious error of fact. He quotes a three-sentence paragraph from the Catholic “Note.” The (linked) RCA-OU letter, he reports, “cites the first two of the three sentences” and calls them “a dagger thrust into heart of the entire enterprise of Jewish-Catholic dialogue on matters of religion.” Goldberg continues by noting that the first of the sentences was retained in the revised document. In fact, anyone who clicks on the link to the letter can confirm that it spoke of sentences two and three of that quotation, not sentence one, and both of those sentences were indeed dropped. How one should react to the retention of the first sentence is a separate question, but the USCCB has—quite remarkably—done exactly what we asked.

dorothy Fri. Oct 23, 2009

One of the core tenets of most Christian faith is a deliberate misinterpretation of the Jewish concept of the messiah. That is only one way that pre-Christian Jewish teachings have been twisted to fit a particular world view. It makes sense to agree to disagree for the sake of harmony and good works on earth, but the disagreement will never just melt away.

We can be diplomatic with each other, and celebrate our shared mission to serve G-d to the best of our ability. Still, I don't see any desire among Catholics, and Christians in general, to rewrite centuries-old dogma to more closely fit the Hebrew Scriptures. There is a basic disrespect involved that is probably better left unexamined.

Miriam Chartier Thu. Dec 3, 2009

dorothy, my friend,

G-D does not want the sinner comfortable! G-D wants all of mankind to turn to him alone in Truth and Wisdom and to have written on them His holy name as to seal us. We are to have the law written on our inward parts, the two sided tablets that were broken in the wilderness, and are still broken down to this generation. For it is written....Jeremiah 32..."I am the LORD, the G-D of all mankind. Is anything too hard fro Me?" My friend, with G-D helping us, how can we fail? The world and all religions walk in error. But we think who we are, as beeing G-D fearing. No, no, no not so! We are full of fear and our religious beliefs are a big part of our fear.

The True Temple, the true place G-D has provided for us. For it is written.... Psalm 118 The Stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

Note the words...in..our...eyes. So, many have entered in and seen. In all the generations that have come upon this earth, their have been ones that have turned and entered in. For it is written...Genesis 16 she gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her; You are the G-D who sees me, for she said ' I have now seen the One who sees me.'

Were did they see, and were is this stone that is marvelous in their eyes?

For this it is written....Psalm 51 Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. The inward parts, the heart and mind, sealed with the two sided law. These are the people that will not turn...and G-D is forced to do it for them. Jeremiah 31...But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those day-sss, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their G-D, and they shall be my people.

Who in the house of Israel? you could be, only G-D knows. For it is written.....Jeremiah 31....Behold, the day---sssss come, saith the LORD, that I will sow the house of israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.

G-D is our creator, our Eh-lo-hay Kawl Bah-sar, G-D of All Mankind. The day---sssss co----me in every generation.

For it is written...."I am the LORD, the G-D of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?"

DNA, G-D is bring the world that is chaos, back to order.

Remember in Amos G-D tells us I will raise up the tabernale of David that is fallen.

The world, we are to be One House, the House of G-D. G-D Lives In Us!

When we turn, we will say....Psalm 89..He will call out to me, 'You are my Father, my G-D, the Rock my SAVIOR.

Savior is our G-D---not man, or mankinds thinkiing of what G-D wants of them, to be saved. G-D tells us-----SIN BRINGS YOU DEATH. I AM ONE G-D AND WILL NOT MIX.

SET ME AS A SEAL UPON YOOUR HEART.... is this not what G-D has asked us over and over?

Think! A seal, were used in the world to identify, authenticate and protedt the contents of documents and vessels.

We are given the name of G-D when we turn, that has sealed us and identify us. The contents---our inward parts, the law, the documents, the two sided tablets that every generation has broken....we become the vessel, that G-D rest upon. G-D With Us.

We put sin out day and night, G-D battles for us. We can do not good unless G-D is working through us. For G-D is good.

Putting our sins out, we become the mirror image of our G-D. Man, a son is born, a child is given (US, in Isaiah 9) G-D is both male and female. It is a declare decree that we are brought forth into the house-hold of G-D.

For it is written...Psalm 2 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I brought you forth. (or birth you, or begotten you) Job 33....The Spirit of G-D made me(below, flesh, death, sin) but the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (above, a child is born, brought forth from out of his native land, into the kingdom of G-D, the hidden part, to have the goverment of G-D rest upon them, above and below.

Isaiah 9...For unto us a child is born, to Us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders......

We are then birth, into the fullness of who we are to me...Man, the mirror image of our G-D. Man was once male and female, united with G-D. We are G-D'S name sake, we are then the true Jew.

A Jew, a holy child of G-D, who walks in unity. Remember Abraham G-D provided the time, the place and the sacrifice.

The time....day--ssss are given us all in every generation to put sin out. The place, here now, the perfect sacrifice, was given us from above----our free-wills. Nothing mankind can do or make would be better than a gift from G-D. We are to make a free-will offering, day and night....we give our wills over to our G-D.

Ps. 51....The altar is lit from the burning desire of G-D'S own heart for us to turn, to be brought forth.

The world is one, has worshiped in vain......they all walk in error.

All these many religions that would nove and change the world, let them first move himself. Think, what you leave behind in death is not engraved in stone, but what you come into is engraved by the love of Truth and Wisdom in the hidden part, the Rock, the mountain of the Lord, Come let us go up together to the mountain of the LORD, our G-D.

If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid! I believe this is very relevant to turning. And sonething that is and has held people back in every generation up to now. They all have the knowledge of this, but turned in to the darkness so they did not see. Like smoking, we know it is a killer, but yet... The fear of social rejection is so strong in many people. Rituals and Customs, they rather keep than turn to the One True G-D. This has become the gods, that they have replaced in their hearts and minds. The many gods, even sin they worship. anything that keep you from turning becomes your god.

Miriam Chartier Wed. Dec 9, 2009

Catholic can not enlightened anyone. There roots reach deep into pagan rituals and customs. G-D does not mix! They took what they could from Jewish customs, and gave it a twist, and took a man, that had good things to say...and made him a god.

G-D their is no sin found in the One True G-D. Their is no blemish or sin found in the temple of G-D.

Ask your self, if you were about to make G-D an apple pie, and you had a eight apples perfect and good on the table and one rolled of into the buket below, would you look down and take that apple that has been in garbage and make G-D an apple pie? Well, that what we do, every day...with our holy days all the nations, all the peoples of the world, yes and Israel. We are no better. Each side thinks they know the truth and truth is far from them, and those of us that have not put sin out.

Look at the history of this church and the many little churches that have come out of it..

All of mankind...the blind are leading the blind....the customs of the people are vain---worthless, empty thy add no power to true worship.

To keep wine, it must be bottled, and sealed to keep it safe. To keep the Torah,it must be put in a vessel, and a seal to keep it safe.

"Set Me As A Seal Upon Your Heart" this is the seal of the vessel of the Torah. Seals have the owner's --name upon them---G-D With Us--to identify, authenticate and protect the contents the Torah, the law written on both sides,( above and below) our inward parts-Ps.51. The documents and the vessels are us.

When we turn, as Jeremiah tells us and so many others came, even Jesus told us ...we are walking in error. I do not believe he was G-D but he might of been a son of G-D, that turned, and truth made him know wisdom in the hidden part. Ps. 51.

Mankind, what ever they get control is turned bad...and I belive that the story of this man,,,,was made to fit...what mankind wanted of him.

Like when Jeremiah came back from exile there were two diffrent people. Ones that cryed over the work of mankind hands and mankind's temple that was defiled with sins that made G-D drive them into exile. These are the ones that did not open the eyes of there hearts and repented and turned. The ones that didnot cry, they knew and stood now on the true foundation of G-D, they repented of there sins and truned now having the mirror image of G-D. They seen the marvelous things pland long ago, that David did and so many others.

For it is written...Psalm 118 The Stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. read Genesis 28:22

The mirror image of G-D is Man being both male and female, so when a child of G-D turns, a child is given up, a son is brought forth, out of his fathers house-hold, out of his native land, and the government will rest upon them. Please read Isaiah 9.

This is the Declared decree found in Psalm 2...were David put sin out and now the breath of the Almighty brought him forth, like G-D to so many others down through out our generations, that turned from sin.

For it is written...Job 33 The Spirit of G-D made me(below, flesh, death) but the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (above, a child is given up, a son is born, or brought forth into the house-hold of G-D.

A son, of the Living G-D offers a free-will offering three times a day for their sins and only through G-D can we put sin out. They walk in holy unity with their G-D, like their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Zechariah 14 In that day it shall be "The LORD is One" and His name one.

Zechariah 14...Then the LORD my G-D will come, and all the holy ones with Him.

This is our purpose, to put sin out read Ps. 101

Psalm 57....I cry out to G-D Most High, to G-D, who fulfills His purpose for me.

We are the priest to the Most High. All of Israel, were to be a nation of holy priest, so that all the nations would come to them, and say let us go up to the mountain of the LORD. The Rock, the mountain, the dwelling place,-----the hidden place in Ps. 51...the road map, that the truth will make you see.

Catholic or Jew any other nation...open your eyes your in a fearfull deep sleep like Abraham or father.

Miriam Chartier Wed. Dec 9, 2009

Catholic can not enlightened anyone. There roots reach deep into pagan rituals and customs. G-D does not mix! They took what they could from Jewish customs, and gave it a twist, and took a man, that had good things to say...and made him a god.

G-D their is no sin found in the One True G-D. Their is no blemish or sin found in the temple of G-D.

Ask your self, if you were about to make G-D an apple pie, and you had a eight apples perfect and good on the table and one rolled of into the buket below, would you look down and take that apple that has been in garbage and make G-D an apple pie? Well, that what we do, every day...with our holy days all the nations, all the peoples of the world, yes and Israel. We are no better. Each side thinks they know the truth and truth is far from them, and those of us that have not put sin out.

Look at the history of this church and the many little churches that have come out of it..

All of mankind...the blind are leading the blind....the customs of the people are vain---worthless, empty thy add no power to true worship.

To keep wine, it must be bottled, and sealed to keep it safe. To keep the Torah,it must be put in a vessel, and a seal to keep it safe.

"Set Me As A Seal Upon Your Heart" this is the seal of the vessel of the Torah. Seals have the owner's --name upon them---G-D With Us--to identify, authenticate and protect the contents the Torah, the law written on both sides,( above and below) our inward parts-Ps.51. The documents and the vessels are us.

When we turn, as Jeremiah tells us and so many others came, even Jesus told us ...we are walking in error. I do not believe he was G-D but he might of been a son of G-D, that turned, and truth made him know wisdom in the hidden part. Ps. 51.

Mankind, what ever they get control is turned bad...and I belive that the story of this man,,,,was made to fit...what mankind wanted of him.

Like when Jeremiah came back from exile there were two diffrent people. Ones that cryed over the work of mankind hands and mankind's temple that was defiled with sins that made G-D drive them into exile. These are the ones that did not open the eyes of there hearts and repented and turned. The ones that didnot cry, they knew and stood now on the true foundation of G-D, they repented of there sins and truned now having the mirror image of G-D. They seen the marvelous things pland long ago, that David did and so many others.

For it is written...Psalm 118 The Stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. read Genesis 28:22

The mirror image of G-D is Man being both male and female, so when a child of G-D turns, a child is given up, a son is brought forth, out of his fathers house-hold, out of his native land, and the government will rest upon them. Please read Isaiah 9.

This is the Declared decree found in Psalm 2...were David put sin out and now the breath of the Almighty brought him forth, like G-D to so many others down through out our generations, that turned from sin.

For it is written...Job 33 The Spirit of G-D made me(below, flesh, death) but the breath of the Almighty gives me life. (above, a child is given up, a son is born, or brought forth into the house-hold of G-D.

A son, of the Living G-D offers a free-will offering three times a day for their sins and only through G-D can we put sin out. They walk in holy unity with their G-D, like their fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Zechariah 14 In that day it shall be "The LORD is One" and His name one.

Zechariah 14...Then the LORD my G-D will come, and all the holy ones with Him.

This is our purpose, to put sin out read Ps. 101

Psalm 57....I cry out to G-D Most High, to G-D, who fulfills His purpose for me.

We are the priest to the Most High. All of Israel, were to be a nation of holy priest, so that all the nations would come to them, and say let us go up to the mountain of the LORD. The Rock, the mountain, the dwelling place,-----the hidden place in Ps. 51...the road map, that the truth will make you see.

Catholic or Jew any other nation...open your eyes your in a fearfull deep sleep like Abraham or father.




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