Dialogika

Kurt Cardinal Koch

The Permanent Value of Nostra Aetate

[The following note appeared in Italian in L'Osservatore Romano. Unofficial translation.]

In the various discussions about the possibility of a readmission of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X into the Roman Catholic Church, the question of the importance and validity of the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate (n. 4) has been raised, and not only by Jews. Jews feared that through an eventual act of reinstatement of a number of priests and believers with anti-Jewish tendencies, who basically reject Nostra Aetate, the Catholic Church could redirect the dialogue with Judaism, or, at least, that the importance of this conciliar declaration for the whole Church could be relativized. As regards the Jews, the Holy Father has asked me to present the matter properly: Nostra Aetate is not in the slightest way being questioned by the magisterium of the Church, as the Pope himself has repeatedly demonstrated in his speeches, his writings and his personal gestures toward Judaism; a rapprochement with the Society of Saint Pius X absolutely does not mean that the positions of that Society are accepted or endorsed. As regards the various types of conciliar texts, one can certainly make a distinction on a formal level; however, from the point of view of content, they cannot be separated from each other or placed in opposition to each other. Nostra Aetate does not, therefore, represent an isolated meteorite, fallen from heaven without any connections to the other conciliar documents. From the beginning of his pontificate, therefore, Pope Benedict XVI has left no doubt about the fact that he fully endorses the Second Vatican Council and its documents, necessarily within an overarching vision.

Kurt Koch

November 8, 2012