The Vatican has issued a document on Catholic-Jewish relations that rejects “institutional mission work” directed at Jews.
The document says the Catholic Church “neither conducts nor supports” any such missionary initiative.
How God will save the Jews if they do not explicitly believe in Christ is “an unfathomable divine mystery”, but one which must be affirmed since Catholics believe that God is faithful to his promises and therefore never revoked his covenant with the Jewish people, it says.
The statement, The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable, issued by the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, gives thanks for 50 years of Catholic-Jewish dialogue.
It explicitly states that it is not a “doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church”, but rather a reflection based on doctrine and flowing from Vatican II’s declaration Nostra Aetate on Catholic relations with non-Christian religions.
Like Nostra Aetate, the new document condemns all forms of anti-Semitism and affirms that Christianity’s relationship with Judaism is unique because of the Jewish roots of the Christian faith. In addition to believing that the Jewish Scriptures are God’s revelation, Jesus and his disciples were practising Jews, and many elements of Catholic liturgy developed out of formal Jewish prayer.
“One cannot understand Jesus’s teaching or that of his disciples without situating it within the Jewish horizon in the context of the living tradition of Israel,” the document says. “One would understand his teachings even less so if they were seen in opposition to this tradition.”
The Jewish roots of Christianity, it says, give the Christian faith its necessary “anchoring in salvation history”, showing how the life, death and resurrection of Jesus are part of the story of God’s saving work since the beginning of time.
The first Jewish Christians continued to go to synagogues and, the document said, historical evidence indicates the break between Christianity and Judaism – may not have been complete until the 3rd century or even the 4th century.
Albanian bishop dies at 76
Archbishop Rrok Mirdita, who for years ministered to Albanians in New York and then helped lead Albania out of its atheist past, has died aged 76.
Born on korkaeptember 28, 1939, in a town in what is now Montenegro, he was ordained a priest in 1965, then became an American citizen and served in the Bronx.
He said he believed he would spend the rest of his life in the United States. But then in 1992 Pope John Paul II asked him to become Archbishop of Durrës-Tiranë, Albania, a see vacant since 1949 when the previous archbishop died in a communist prison after being tortured.
Archbishop Mirdita helped to rebuild Church infrastructure from scratch. About 25 priests were left, ranging in age from the mid-60s to over 90.
“I’m seeing things happen every day now – and remember, the Church in Albania was virtually eradicated. Being part of that rebirth is a reward that really makes me feel very happy,” he had said.
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