Church and dialogue with the Jewish people

One of the major revolutions of the 20th century was the revolution in relations between Catholics and Jews. In 1965, as part of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church published a document that defined the attitude of the Church to the members of other religions. Paragraph 4 of this document, titled “Nostra Aetate”, was the longest of the paragraphs and initiated a new period in the relations of the Church with the Jewish people.

Almost 50 years later, the fruits of the Church’s efforts have been an ongoing dialogue with Jews and growing mutual respect and understanding.  Among the most important themes in the dialogue with the Jews are the following:

– the Jewish roots of Christianity and the shared heritage of the Old Testament, the Scriptures of ancient Israel;

– the Jewish identity of Jesus, his disciples and the primitive Church;

– the need for Christian repentance with regard to how many Christians have spoken about Jews and acted towards Jews through the centuries;

– the identification of shared concerns with regard to which Jews and Christians can work together for a better world.

Catholic-Jewish relations have generally developed where Jews constitute a minority. Within the State of Israel today, an unprecedented situation exists: a Jewish empowered majority dominates a small Christian minority.

For the most important documents published by the Church in the development of Catholic Jewish relations see:

Second Vatican Council, “Nostra Aetate – Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christian Religions” (1965)

Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, “Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate” (n, 4) (1974)

Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, “Notes on the Correct Way to Present Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church” (1985)

Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, We Remember: A reflection on the Shoah (1998)

Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible (2001)

In addition, from the perspective of the Church in the Holy Land:

General Pastoral Plan, “Relations with Believers of Other Religions”