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Ecumenism is a phase in the battle between the Church and the Synagogue of Satan (Apoc. 2:9). The plan revealed in 1884 by Elijah Benamozegh, the cabalist rabbi from Livorno, Italy, was a new assault on the Church–not to wipe Catholicism off the face of the earth, but to "transform" it and bring it into accordance with the Noaic Law. Was the Second Vatican Council a step to implement this plan? The importance of this article is understood by reading the address of Bishop Joseph Doré to a Jewish lodge of B'nai B'rith, titled "The Church and the Synagogue" (see this issue of The Angelus, pp. 69-73).
I will put enmity between thee and the woman; between thy seed and her seed. (Gen. 3:15)
On October 28, 1998, at the discerning of the prize Nostra Aetate,3granted jointly by Samuel Pisar and the Center for Understanding Between Jews and Christians of Sacred Heart University of Fairfield, Connecticut, at the Sutton Place Synagogue in New York, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris, made a declaration whose title was full of promise Jews and Christians, Tomorrow.4This declaration, whose importance was perfectly evident to contemporaries, still merits our attention today. Before the leaders of the Jewish world, the Cardinal presented an historical tableau of the relations between Christians and Jews and went on to make an in-depth analysis of the work of salvation of mankind. We might have hoped for a reminder of the Catholic teaching on the history of salvation. A few citations from the Cardinal will permit the reader to form an idea of the gravity of the subject matter and will serve as introduction to the present study.
As we are nearing the third millennium of the Christian era, a new age has begun in the history of mankind....A page is being turned in the history of humankind....In Christian-Jewish relationships, Christians have opened their eyes and ears to the Jewish pain and wounds. They accept to be held responsible and agree to bear that burden without rejecting it on others.5
For what fault should Christians be bearing the burden? The Cardinal takes it upon himself to respond in the chapter entitled "Election and Jealousy," a chapter that would deserve to be cited in full, so twisted is its presentation of the history of salvation. The election is that of the unfaithful Jewish nation, an election that has never been revoked, with the "setting aside of the elect" in "reserve." The jealousy is that of Christians:
Christian jealousy of Israel very quickly took the shape of a claim for a legacy: just get rid of the other, who is so close and yet so different!...The pagans who had become Christians gained access to the Holy Scriptures and to the Jewish festivals. But human–only too human–envy prompted them to marginalize or throw out the Jews [meaning their Judaism, their practices, their rites, and their beliefs]6 ....But [the Cardinal adds] the number and might of the pagans who had entered the Church of the Messiah upset the inverted order of the dispensation of salvation. This movement tended to deprive the Jewish existence of its concrete, carnal, historical contents, and to consider the life of the Church until recent history, as the final achievement of Jewish hope and life.7 This was how the theory of substitution was developed.8
Cardinal Lustiger goes on to try to prove that the Jews were thus despoiled by Christians of their role as the chosen people, the priestly people who are to bring salvation to mankind:
...When Constantine granted the Christians a tolerance that was tantamount to a recognition of Christianity in the life of the State and eventually led to make it the religion of the Empire, the Jews were brutally rejected. This was a simplistic and unrefined way of denying redemption the time and childbirth labor that it requires....9
The mythology10 of the substitution of the Christian people for the Jewish people fostered a secret, inextinguishable envy and legitimated the captation [i.e.,usurpation–Ed.] of Israel's legacy, of which countless examples could be offered. (I will mention only one: the French kings' claim to descend from David. This led their advisors to have them crowned according to the ritual designed for the kings of Israel, as reported in the Bible and as had already been done in Byzantium.)11
At the end of his historical tableau and his very particular theology of history, the Cardinal reassures his audience. Times have changed: the time of contempt has passed, giving way to the time of respect.12 The heritage will soon be rendered to its legitimate owner, the Jewish people, the true Israel, once again become the priestly people13 who will bring authentic salvation to the nations, peace to the Gentiles, and the unity of which the world is so much in need. His discourse concludes with this word of hope:
This new awareness was condensed for the Catholic Church in the Second Vatican Council's Nostra Aetate Declaration. In the last 30 years it has given way to many comments, especially on the initiatives of Pope John Paul II. However, this new understanding still has to remodel in depth the ideas of many peoples who belong to the Christian sphere but whose hearts have not yet been purified by the Spirit of the Messiah. Historical experience shows us that lasting "patience" and many educational efforts are required to "appropriate one's soul" (Lk. 21:19).
Notwithstanding, there is no steering away from the direction we are now following.14
In summary: The "appropriation" of the heritage by jealous Christians who supplanted the Jews in their role as the people of God and instrument of the salvation of the world. –The recognition and confession of this fault in the 20th century after a new awareness that came with Vatican II. –The heritage must come back to the dispossessed Jews. –It will be necessary to do reparation for the fault committed and to allow the necessary time for the Christian spirit to change. –The march of history is irreversible.
More recently–in 2002–Cardinal Lustiger spoke before the European Jewish Congress,15 before the World Jewish Congress16 and before the American Jewish Committee17 to expose his "reflection on the election and the vocation of Israel and its relations with the nations." His Judeo-Christian syncretism18seems to please the elites of Judaism without the Catholic world's raising the least objection to the heterodoxy of his thought.
How has a cardinal, at the end of the 20th century, managed to rewrite the history of salvation to the point of denying the entire redemptive work of Jesus Christ, continued by His Church? How was the spiritual subversion of the 20th century carried off?
Was it at the Second Vatican Council, as Cardinal Lustiger would have us believe? If the Church is no longer the verus Israel, what does she become in this new theology of history? It is to these delicate questions that this study will attempt to give a response.
HISTORICAL ATTEMPTS TO "RECOVER THE HERITAGE"
Originally chosen by God for a magnificent mission–to give mankind the Savior–the Jewish people were the hope and honor of humanity during the two millennia before Jesus Christ. They preserved the divine promises, bore witness to the true God in the midst of pagan idolatry, kept intact here below the faith, the truth, and the pure and substantial worship of the Father, as well as the expectation of the Savior of the world. Until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Jews were, in all truth, "the people of God"; in choosing to be born of the race of Abraham, Christ Jesus crowned and consecrated it with His own sanctity.
However, Calvary separated the chosen people in two: on the one hand, the disciples, the Apostles, and the first Christians who recognized in Jesus crucified the Messias come to accomplish the Law and the Prophets, and who adhered fully to His message, His spirit, and His Mystical Body: the Church. On the other hand fall those on whose head, and by whose own desire, fell the blood of the Just,19placing them under a malediction that will endure as long as their rebellion.
"Their act of deicide dug an abyss between ancient and modern times, which the divine mercy will fill up one day when justice will have done its work," writes Monsignor Delassus.20
For two millennia, those who rejected the Law of Moses for the Talmud have undertaken to thwart the work of Redemption. They have participated in all of the rebellions of the human spirit against God and against His Christ, whom they have not wished to recognize, and against His Church, which they consider a "usurper." Even as she protected herself against them, and even as she reminds the world of the horror of deicide, the Church has never ceased to pursue them with her charity, in order to lead them back to the fold, to the source of grace: to Calvary where flowed the redeeming Blood. This charity even pushed the Church to protect them, rejected as they often were by Christian nations. The true converts among them have countless times born witness to the charity of the Church in their regard.21
However, the workers of iniquity were little moved by this mildness on the part of the Roman pontiffs. In each century, the attacks against the Church and against Catholic civilization have redoubled. Joshua Jehouda, author of a work entitled Anti-Semitism: A Mirror of the World22describing those of the modern and contemporary ages: "Three attempts on the part of the Jewish world have aimed to purify the Christian consciousness of its miasmas of hate; three breaches effected in the out-dated fortress of Christian obscurantism; three steps in the effort to destroy the Catholic dogmatic." These three steps were the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Revolution: "The Renaissance, the Reformation and the Revolution constitute three attempts to rectify Christian thought in bringing it into harmony with the progressive development of reason and science." The author specifies: "In spite of these three attempts to purify Christian dogma of its anti-Semitism, Christian theology has not yet cast off its contempt." That is why "[i]n the nineteenth century two new attempts were made to purify the mentality of the Christian world, one by Marx and the other by Nietzsche."23
The Jewish thinker deplores the partial failure of these two new attempts. The fortress of Catholicism continued to hold out strong. Only with the post-World War II era would the most subtle and destructive attack be launched against the Roman Catholic Church: to change Catholic theology through the work of churchmen themselves. It was "a revolution in tiara and cope," initiated in the 19th century by the Carbonari, pursued by the modernists in the 20th century, and finally triumphant at Vatican II.
VATICAN II: THE OPEN DOOR
After World War II, Jewish organizations sought to address the Christian world on the necessity of revising the teaching of the Church on Judaism.
In 1946, the Oxford Conference, under the auspices of British and American Jewish organizations, reunited Catholics and Protestants for a debate concerning problems encountered since the war: a simple first contact. A second international conference was organized at Seelisberg, in Switzerland, primarily concerned with the problem of anti-Semitism. To a large degree, this was a gathering of experts.24 Among the 60 or so participants figured Fr.Journet.25 Jacques Maritain, for his part, was unable to participate at the conference; however, he sent a warm message of encouragement.26 Jules Isaac became the "key player" at this gathering. The conference culminated in a manifesto entitled The Ten Points of Seelisberg.Of these ten points, we can retain the following:
5)Avoid distorting or misrepresenting biblical or post-biblical Judaism with the object of extolling Christianity.
6)Avoid using the word "Jews" in the exclusive sense of the enemies of Jesus, and the words "the enemies of Jesus" to designate the whole Jewish people.
7) Avoid presenting the Passion in such a way as to bring the odium of the killing of Jesus upon all Jews or upon Jews alone...
8) Avoid promoting the superstitious notion that the Jewish people are reprobate, accursed, reserved for a destiny of suffering.27
"The archives of Jules Isaac bear witness to the tireless activity of our author." The words are of Andre Kaspi, who recently published a biography outlining the personality of Jules Isaac.28In it he confirms a number of known facts and reveals a few others. One of the most important contributions of Jules Isaac was his book Jesus and Israel, which sought to prove that the Jewish people were neither deicide nor cursed, but that Christianity was responsible for ambient anti-Semitism by its theological anti-Judaism. This work went on to expose twenty-one points, a veritable "manifesto" for a new theology of the Judeo-Christian relationship.
In 1948, Isaac founded "Judeo-Christian Friendship," whose aim was clearly proclaimed: the "rectification of Christian teaching." Many liberal Catholics participated in these gatherings whose bias was evident. "The ten points of Seelisberg and the twenty-one points of Jesus andIsraelwerepassed out on all sides,"29 writes Kaspi. At the same time, Isaac was persuaded to meet with the head of the Catholic Church. Pius XII received him briefly October 16, 1949, at Castel Gandolfo. Jules Isaac exposed the ten points of Seelisberg to the Sovereign Pontiff; the outcome of the meeting was of little satisfaction to a writer of history manuals.
In October 1959, Cletta Mayer and Daniel Mayer–founders of CEPA (Centre d'Etudes des Problemes Actuels, Center for the Study of Modern Problems), in close collaboration with the Anti-Defamation League (an association created in 1913 by the Masonic Lodge B'nai B'rith)–"metwith Jules Isaac in Paris at the Hotel Terminus and spoke with him of an eventual proposition for John XXIII. Jules Isaac approved."30
The idea of convoking a council had been launched by John XXIII several months earlier.31 A preparatory commission was established, in which participated a number of theologians and eminent personalities. However, in the shadows an anti-council was in preparation that was to supplant the true one when the time came. Ralph Wiltgen has given sufficient proof of the fact in The Rhine Flows into the Tiber: A History of Vatican II.32
In mid-June 1960, on the advice of Monsignor Julien, Isaac addressed himself to Augustine Cardinal Bea, the German Jesuit. "I found in him a powerful supporter." It is true that a certain gossip already suspected Cardinal Bea of having "remained Jewish at heart."33 His support was even more powerful than Isaac could have ever hoped. He obtained an audience with Jean XXIII without difficulty, June 13, 1960. On this occasion, Isaac handed the Pope a thesis entitled: On the Necessity of a Reform of Christian Teaching Regarding Israel. "I asked if I might carry away with me some glimmer of hope," Isaac recounts. John XXIII replied that he was entitled to more than a hope, but "that he was not an absolute monarch." After Isaac had left, John XXIII made it quite clear to the administrators of the Vatican Curia that he expected a firm condemnation of Catholic "anti-Semitism" to come from the council he had just convoked. Henceforth there were a number of exchanges between the council offices at the Vatican and organizations of the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, as well as those of B'nai B'rith. These Jewish associations knew how to make themselves heard at Rome.34
Indeed, if Isaac worked relentlessly, he was not alone. Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel of the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York, who had heard of Bea for the first time 30 years before in Berlin, sought to meet with the cardinal in Rome. On that occasion, the two men discussed two files prepared by the American Jewish Committee, one on "The image of the Jews in Catholic teaching," the other 20 pages concerning "Anti-Jewish elements in the Catholic liturgy."
Heschel declared that he hoped the Council would expurgate from Catholic teaching all suggestion that the Jews were a cursed race. At the same time, Heschel added, the Council would in no way exhort the Jews to become Christians.35
During the same time-frame, Dr. Goldmann, head of the World Conference of Jewish Organizations, also confided his aspirations to John XXIII. In addition, B'nai B'rith put pressure on Catholics to reform their liturgy and suppress in their religious services any word that might seem unfavorable to the Jews and that calls to mind the "deicide." "Wise and long-mitred heads around the Curia warned that the bishops in council should not touch this issue with ten-foot staffs. But still there was John XXIII, who said they must."36
At Rome, therefore, various Fathers busied themselves with the drafting of a text on Judaism, including Fr. Baum and Monsignor John Osterreicher,37 members of Cardinal Bea's general staff. The declaration, containing a clear refutation of the accusation of deicide, was to be presented at the first session of the Council, opening October 11, 1962. The World Jewish Congress was pleased with the drafting of such a text; it made its satisfaction known, and decided to send the Israeli Dr. Chaïm Y. Ward to the Council as an observer.
The Vatican was immediately besieged by protestations from Arab countries, outraged by the preferential treatment accorded to the Jews. As a result, in June 1962, the Secretary of State, in accord with Cardinal Bea, withdrew from the agenda the discussion of the planned declaration De Judaeis, prepared by the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity.38
An agency–close enough to the Curia to have access to the private addresses of 2,200 cardinals and bishops temporarily residing in Rome–sent simultaneously to each of them a 900-page book entitled The Plot Against the Church and signed with a pseudonym, Maurice Pinay. The thesis of the book–based on numerous facts and multiple citations–was that the Jews had constantly sought to infiltrate the Church and subvert her teaching and that they were on the point of succeeding. Such documentary evidence should have warned the Council Fathers of a subversive movement within the Council. The utmost prudence was called for.
The withdrawal of the project for a declaration on the Jews at the first session of the Council was a veritable defeat for Bea, who nonetheless refused to be discouraged. March 31, 1963, at the Hotel Plana in New York, he had a secret meeting with the authorities of the American Jewish Committee,39 who insisted that the united bishops change the theology of the Church concerning the history of salvation. "Globally," he said, "the Jews are accused of being guilty of deicide, and a curse supposedly weighs upon them." He refuted these two accusations and reassured the rabbis. Those present in the room wanted to know if the declaration would admit publicly that deicide, the curse, and the rejection of the Jewish people by God, were errors in Christian teaching. Bea replied evasively and this high-society gathering drew to a close over a glass of sherry!
A short time later Rolf Hochhuth's play The Deputy premiered, calumniating Pius XII on his attitude during the war. This way of putting pressure was not terribly subtle, but it could have an influence on the conciliar assembly...
Over the course of the second session of the Council, in the fall of 1963, the declaration on the Jews was put in the hands of the bishops. From then on it became the fourth chapter of a declaration on ecumenism, which apparently allowed it to pass more discreetly. M. Schuster, the European director of the Jewish-American Committee, considered the distribution of the project to the Council Fathers as "one of the greatest moments in History." The text was discussed at length40 and then strangely withdrawn from the vote at the end of the session. The defenders of Catholic orthodoxy had just distributed a number of works on The Jews in the Light of Scripture and Tradition,41 which should also have alerted the Council Fathers to the enemy's game. Apparently, the warning was again heeded. "Something happened in the wings," commented the National Catholic Welfare Conference.
Without going into the details of a long story, let us just say that two other projects would be proposed and discussed at length during the third and fourth sessions. Over the course of 1964 and 1965, Jewish interventions before Paul VI were to multiply. The personalities with the most influence over the Pope were Joseph Lichten of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith,Zachariah Schuster and Leonard Sperry of the American Jewish Committee, the American Cardinal Spellman, Arthur J. Goldberg, American Supreme Court judge, and Rabbi Heschel.
Roddy makes the following revelation:
In Rome [before the third session], six members of the American Jewish Committee had an audience with the Pope....The Pope told his callers he agreed with all Cardinal Spellman had said about Jewish guilt.
A few lines later, he again underlines:
With the American Jewish Committee's Shuster beside him, Heschel talked hard about deicide42 and guilt, and asked the Pontiff to press for a declaration in which Catholics would be forbidden to proselytize Jews.43
On November 20, 1964, during the third session, bishops and cardinals united voted by a large majority in favor of the provisional schema concerning the Church's attitude toward Judaism.44Leon de Poncins hastened to draft an opuscule entitled The Jewish Problem Before the Council, which was distributed to all the Fathers before the fourth and last session. It was the final warning. In his introduction, the author observes "a profound misconception of the essence of Judaism on the part of the Council Fathers."45 The brochure did a certain amount of good, permitting the "front of refusal"46to sharpen its arguments. This front managed to eliminate certain expressions from the first version such as: "Although a large part of the chosen people remain temporarily far from Christ, it would be an injustice to call them a people under a curse...or deicide." It had them replaced by those that figure in the final version ofNostra Aetate adopted October 28, 1965, by 2221 voices, against only 88, during the fourth session: "The Jews should not be presented as repudiated or cursed by God, as though such a conclusion followed from Scripture."
After these troubled years of an unprecedented doctrinal war; after these struggles for influence among the Curia and the Council Fathers; after the diffusion of numerous texts defending the theology of salvation as taught by the Church for two millennia, a compromise was reached over a new text. On the whole, the Jews were disappointed by the document's content. They had hoped for more. Yet a door had been opened...one it would be difficult to close. Indeed, for the first time with Nostra Aetate, the bishops of the Catholic Church had given a positive and bold presentation of unbelieving Jews. André Chouraqui underlines the fact, together with its ramifications:
All of a sudden, the Church, struck by near-total amnesia for almost two millennia, remembers the spiritual bond uniting it to Israel, the race of Abraham, restored to the privileged situation of elder brother in the family of the people of God. This fundamental theological recognition is heavy with consequences that will be revealed for centuries to come....We had to wait twenty centuries before the Church came to a new awareness of her Jewish roots....What is more, the Church categorically rejects all form of proselytism in their regard. She forbids what she once taught.47
John Halperin, of the Office of the World Jewish Conference in Geneva, confirmed Chouraqui's statements on the occasion of a colloquium at Fribourg:
We need to emphasize the fact that the 1965 declaration Nostra Aetate truly opened the way toward an entirely new dialogue and inaugurated in the Church a new way of looking8at the Jews and Judaism by manifesting the Church's openness to substituting a doctrine of respect for one of contempt.49
Menahem Macina50 corroborates this judgment:
We must not forget the immense progress that the declaration Nostra Aetaterepresents in comparison with the previous situation. A single observation will allow us to appreciate the distance that has been covered. The reader may know that popes and councils, when they promulgate documents destined to all of Christendom, customarily seek out citations in the writings of their predecessors to support the teaching they intend to promote by their new documents, in order to illustrate the continuity of Church doctrine and tradition. However, unlike the Council's text on Islam, there is not a single reference in the declaration on the Jews to any positive precedent, be it in the works of the Fathers, or of ecclesiastical writers, or of the popes.51
Numerous testimonies could be cited to confirm this analysis. We will end with this statement by Paul Giniewski in his fundamental work, Christian Anti-Judaism: The Mutation: "The schema on the Jews, which might have been considered as an end, proved on the contrary and very rapidly to be the inauguration of a new phase in the positive evolution of Judeo-Christian relations."52
The door had been opened....53 The men of the Church admitted that the Jews were no longer "a people under a curse." No longer cursed, nor reprobate. "Henceforth," Chouraqui continues, "the Church recognized the permanence of Judaism in the plan of God, and the irreversible character of the principles defined by Nostra Aetate, thus refusing any restriction or ambiguity in the dialogue with the Jews." The seeds had been sown; they had only to grow... "From then on, it was necessary to keep going forward on the road to mutual recognition between Jews and Christians. But it was impossible to dismiss as profit and loss two thousand years of bloody struggle."54
The purification of the Christian sphere55 could now begin.
FROM PURIFICATION TO THE INTRODUCTION OF THE NOAIC RELIGION
Purifying the Christian Sphere
Christians first said, "We, too, are Israel." Then they said, "We, too, are the true Israel." And finally: "We alone are the true Israel."56
The debates subsequent to Vatican II's "new awareness" have little by little prepared the Christian world for a new theology of the relations between the Church and Judaism.57 To change our mentality by "many educational efforts" aimed at those of the "Christian sphere": such was the object of the directives issued by the Vatican58 and by the various episcopacies for nearly 40 years. This effort tends toward:
1) Emphasizing the permanence of the first Covenant;
2) Teaching respect for the (unbelieving) Jewish people, "a priestly nation";
3) Renouncing all attempt to convert the Jews;
4) Constantly advancing dialogue and cooperation with Judaism;
5) Preparing the way toward a Noaic religion.
Influential members of the Vatican have encouraged the various episcopacies to publish declarations whose theological content is visibly opposed to the Church's magisterium.
The New "Theology of the Covenant" Introduced by the Episcopacy
Two examples will serve to illustrate our thesis: the text of the French Episcopal Committee for Jewish Relations (Easter, 1973) and the American Episcopacy's Reflections on Covenant and Mission (August 12, 2002). According to the Jews, these two declarations go far beyond the affirmations of the Council. The heterodox expressions are obvious:
Christians should regard Judaism not only as a social and historical reality, but as one that is above all religious; not as an outdated relic of a venerable past, but as a living, evolving reality. The principle indicators of this vitality of the Jewish people are: the testimony of its collective fidelity to one God; its fervor in examining the Scriptures to discover the meaning of human life in the light of Revelation; its search for an identity among other men; its constant effort to gather together into a reunited community. These signs pose to us, Christians, a question that touches the heart of our faith: What is the mission proper to the Jewish people in the plan of God?
An election that endures: the first Covenant was not passing. Contrary to an exegesis that is ancient but difficult to defend, it does not follow from the New Testament that the Jewish people were despoiled of their election. On the contrary, the whole of Scripture moves us to recognize the sign of God's fidelity to His people in the Jewish people's constant effort to remain faithful to the Law and the Covenant. Indeed, the New Covenant did not render the first one obsolete. The Jewish people are conscious of having received a universal mission to the Nations, by way of their unique vocation.59
What is this mission? We will examine that in a paragraph below. The second declaration, more recent, is that of the American bishops. It is truly astonishing:
The Roman Catholic reflections describe the growing respect for the Jewish tradition that has unfolded since the Second Vatican Council. 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.60
"Changing the Theology" of the Theologians
The testimonies of theologians on the permanence of the first Covenant are abundant and we could produce a litany of citations. Here are a few of them:
Perhaps we should go to the heart of the issue and consider the dethronement of the mother-religion by the daughter-religion under a new perspective. The idea of the New Covenant taking up where the Old left off is at the origin of the Judeo-Christian split with all of its consequences. In one of his great theological studies, significantly entitled The Covenant Never Abolished, Professor Norbert Lohfink, a Jesuit and professor of Biblical research at the Papal University of Rome, affirms peremptorily: "The popular Christian concept of the New Covenant promotes anti-Judaism."61
We believe that Christ established a New Covenant. Did He render the Old Covenant obsolete in so doing? We long thought so. There are surely Christians who still think so today.62
Alan Marchandour does not hesitate to write, on the occasion of a colloquium entitled "The Trial of Jesus: The Trial of the Jews?":
For a long time, Christians only saw Israel as a sort of remnant of the past, representing a reality that had been essentially swallowed up by Christianity, the new Israel. Such a language is untenable: Israel exists independently, with its own history, its own institutions, and its own texts. Judaism did not disappear with the appearance of Christianity....It remains the people of the Covenant.63
Charles Perrot, of the Catholic Institute of Paris, expresses a similar way of thinking:
If the Church substitutes itself for Israel–if she replaces Israel–is that not to say by the very fact that she eliminates it, by absorption or worse? Yet such language is dangerous. Can it still be admissible in our day?64
Obtaining the "Revision of History" by the Elite
The Church has to "revise" its history as much as its theology. To this end, the Vaticanmultiplies the various gatherings of experts. Thus in Rome or in other European cities there are numerous colloquies on the history of the Church concerning its attitude toward Judaism. One of them was recently held at Rome (October 30–November 1, 1997) on The Roots of Christian Anti-Judaism. Historians from around the world came to listen to experts on Judeo-Christian relations. Claude-Francois Jullian reported the object of these debates in The New Observer.
All of the experts reaffirmed the Jewish origins of Christianity and qualified as aberrant the theology of substitution, namely that the New Covenant in Christ would annul the Old Covenant. In opening the symposium, Cardinal Etchegaray (president of the Jubilee organizational committee)65 explained in his gravelly voice, straight from the gorges of the Pyrenees: "It is question of examining the relations between Christians and Jews, too often reversed." The same discourse was taken up by the animator of the encounter, the Swiss Dominican Georges Cottier, the Pope's private theologian (and the president of the Jubilee's theological-historical committee), who reminded his audience: "Our reflection bears on the divine plan of salvation and on the role of the Jewish people within it–the chosen people; the people of the Covenant and of the promises."
"That the theology of substitution is an aberration remains an essential point, admitted since Vatican II but difficult to spread among the people," remarked a participant.66
And the journalist of the daily poses the question: "Why would Rome call together experts from the five continents in order to verify something that would seem today to be a truth of the faith?"
Another colloquium was held at the University of Fribourg from March 16 to 20, 1998, under the theme of Judaism, Anti-Judaism and Christianity. Editions Saint Augustin published the acts of the colloquium in the year 2000. All the speeches delivered are of the greatest interest.
The European Encounters Between Jews and Catholics were held even more recently, organized by the European Jewish Congress, January 28-29, 2002, in Paris, on the theme: After Vatican II and Nostra Aetate: The Deepening of Relations Between Jews and Catholics in Europe under the Pontificate of John Paul II.67 Several European personalities engaged in the dialogue between Jews and Catholics received honorific awards.
An evening party organized in the conference rooms of the Paris city hall, Monday, January 28, reunited some 700 people, Catholics and Jews. At the speaker's table were seated Master Henri Hajdenberg, president of the gathering; Cardinal Lustiger; the chief rabbi of Moscow, Pinchas Goldschmidt; the chief rabbi Rene Samuel Sirat; Dr. Michel Friedman, vice-president of the European Jewish Congress; and Walter Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism. In their discourses, all of the speakers underlined the importance of the progress made since Nostra Aetate:
Much was said that evening about the present relations between Jews and Catholics: a new spirit passed over us, truly translating into action the gestures and the words of Catholics, above all those of John Paul II. "A new page; a new step;" such is the sentiment, moreover, that would continue to be confirmed during the course of the next day. After the exposes of the different speakers, the projection of the film Pope John Paul II in the Holy Land imposed an impressive silence over the vast conference room. Over the course of the following day, January 29, before a more limited public, in the presence of several cardinals, bishops and Jewish personalities, as well as a few delegations of people from Germany, Austria, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, and Poland, in a frank and positive atmosphere, speakers discussed The Evolution of Judeo-Catholic Relations: From the Theory of Substitution to Mutual Respect, and The Necessary Transmission of the Memory of Shoah, in the context of today.
Over the course of the afternoon, various speakers exposed The Challenges of Assimilation and Secularization, and The Evolution of Judeo-Catholic Relations with the State of Israel and Jerusalem. A common declaration between Jews and Catholics brought the day to a close.68
We could multiply the accounts of the various reunions, congresses, colloquia, days of encounter, etc., that spring up every year.
Changing the Content of Predication and Catechesis
The Roman Notes from June 24, 1985, should be read and meditated in the light of what has just been said: Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church.69
Changing the Popular Mind-Set by Dramatic Gestures
The gesture of John Paul II at the synagogue of Rome, April 13, 1986, is an illustration of this method. His visit was highly symbolic: "The Church of Christ, in the person of John Paul II, comes forward to the synagogue and discovers its link with Judaism by contemplating its own mystery." John Paul II said on this occasion:
The Jewish religion is not "extrinsic" to us, but in a certain way is "intrinsic" to our own religion. With Judaism therefore we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearest brothers and, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.70