Saturday, February 14, 2009

"The Church is profoundly and irrevocably committed to reject all anti-Semitism"

An excerpt of the speech given by the His Holiness, Benedict XVI, to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Thursday, 12 February 2009:

"The two-thousand-year history of the relationship between Judaism and the Church has passed through many different phases, some of them painful to recall. Now that we are able to meet in a spirit of reconciliation, we must not allow past difficulties to hold us back from extending to one another the hand of friendship. Indeed, what family is there that has not been troubled by tensions of one kind or another? The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration Nostra Aetate marked a milestone in the journey towards reconciliation, and clearly outlined the principles that have governed the Church’s approach to Christian-Jewish relations ever since.

"The Church is profoundly and irrevocably committed to reject all anti-Semitism and to continue to build good and lasting relations between our two communities. If there is one particular image which encapsulates this commitment, it is the moment when my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II stood at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, pleading for God’s forgiveness after all the injustice that the Jewish people have had to suffer. I now make his prayer my own: 'God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your Name to the Nations: we are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant' (26 March 2000).

"The hatred and contempt for men, women and children that was manifested in the Shoah was a crime against God and against humanity. This should be clear to everyone, especially to those standing in the tradition of the Holy Scriptures, according to which every human being is created in the image and likeness of God (Gen 1:26-27). It is beyond question that any denial or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable and altogether unacceptable. Recently, in a public audience, I reaffirmed that the Shoah must be 'a warning for all against forgetfulness, denial or reductionism, because violence committed against one single human being is violence against all' (January 28, 2009).

"This terrible chapter in our history must never be forgotten. Remembrance – it is rightly said – is 'memoria futuri', a warning to us for the future, and a summons to strive for reconciliation. To remember is to do everything in our power to prevent any recurrence of such a catastrophe within the human family by building bridges of lasting friendship. It is my fervent prayer that the memory of this appalling crime will strengthen our determination to heal the wounds that for too long have sullied relations between Christians and Jews. It is my heartfelt desire that the friendship we now enjoy will grow ever stronger, so that the Church’s irrevocable commitment to respectful and harmonious relations with the people of the Covenant will bear fruit in abundance."

I would also like to take this opportunity to draw attention, once again, to a recent homily, the one for Year A 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time. It is also a good time and place to recommend a book I read some years ago, written by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, entitled Many Religions, One Covenant: Israel, the Church, and the World.


  1. Thanks for posting on this. I did the same a short while ago. I am hopeful that 1) the world understand that we the Catholic Church do not condone anti-Semitism, and 2) the Vatican develop a greater ability to expertly communicate with the world when entering into what undoubtedly are areas of misunderstanding and confusion. I was surprised to learn how the Pope's decision to remove the excommunications was made public.

  2. KUER's Doug Fabrizio just had a Radio West program on the subject of Denying the Holocaust.

    I thought that it started well in that the first guest from Regligion News Service seemed accurate in his summary of recent news but that only lasted so long... Fredereick Schweitzer used the hour to repeatedly state that the New Testament, Church and [Truth] are the origin of anti-Semitic thought and Nazism. I like Doug but I was disappointed that he didn't challenge the old professor emeritus on statements that to me seemed just a tad outlandish. Then again not every outlandish claim gets the same scrutiny...

    I guess I should have called in but I just don't quite trust my radio voice. (Is he plugging is nose?)

    The other guest was with the USHMM. Went there a year before my conversion. There were many names listed throughout the museum including perpetrators - one of which happened to have a last name that could have put the two of us very close on the old family tree. That pretty much dashed the false confidence that I had going in about how nobly I would have acted in that time and place. Pride for humility is the right trade just not an easy one.

  3. I heard the lead-in for the program, which was enough to make me not want to listen. I, too, like RadioWest, but I am not always impressed with the guests. I think for a show like that to have any credibility a Catholic historian would've been a good idea.


A political non-rant

In the wake of yesterday's Helsinki press conference, which, like a lot of my fellow U.S. citizens, as well as many people abroad, left ...