Nostra Aetate deliberations

Dialogika Resources

The Council's Deliberations (1)


(The second Declaration On Jews and Non-Christians)

[Tranlastor's note: The first four speakers on September 28 did not address the draft "On Jews and Non-Christians." This account therefore begins with the fifth speaker and is numbered accordingly.]


5. Achilles Cardinal Liénart

6. Ignatius Gabriel Cardinal Tappouni

7. Joseph Cardinal Frings

8. Ernesto Cardinal Ruffini

9. Giacomo Cardinal Lercaro

10. Paul Aemilius Cardinal Léger

11. Richard James Cardinal Cushing

12. Franz Cardinal König

13. Albert Gregory Cardinal Meyer

14. Joseph Cardinal Ritter

15. Archbishop Lorenz Jäger

16. Coadjutor Bishop Philip Pocock

17. Bishop Peter Nierman

18. Bishop Jules Victor Daem

5. His Eminence Achilles Cardinal Liénart

Bishop of Lille (France)

Venerable and very dear Brothers,

The occasion of retaining a complete chapter or at least an appendix about the Jewish religion and other non-Christian religions in the decree On Ecumenism has already been the subject of ardent controversy. I heartily understand the anxieties that several of us, especially our brothers of the Oriental Church, experience concerning this matter, because of the serious tension that exists in these days in the political arena between Israel and the Arab nations in which they live.

However, if it is a question of a religious matter, which is only what the Council intends to discuss, to the exclusion of other issues, I think that for ecumenical as well as pastoral reasons the proposed text should be retained and completed.

As regards to Ecumenism. Although a non-Christian religion is the issue here, nonetheless the Jewish religion is that common stock or root of all the Christian Churches; it is the olive tree into which, according to the words of St. Paul, all of us, who are broken from a natural wild olive-tree, have been grafted by the mercy of God.1 We are the children of Abraham and we are according to faith also heirs of the promise that the Lord made to him and his seed. This people’s prophets are our prophets; their psalms make up our daily prayers; we hold their books to be divinely inspired, and to be intimately connected with our books of the New Testament to set forth completely the history of our salvation. Let it be justly proclaimed, as it is in the proposed draft, that when our holy founder, Jesus the Son of God, was made human, He chose to become a Jew; that Mary His mother and our mother was a Jewess, that the apostles whose successors we are were also Jews themselves; therefore we certainly owe this people a special devotion and reverence. I earnestly request, therefore, that the first four paragraphs of art. 31 of this appendix be kept as a whole in the draft On Ecumenism.

As regards to pastoral concerns. I think that it is necessary to say more than is found in the last two paragraphs of art. 32. It is not only the motive of charity that keeps us, as we impart catechesis and preach God’s word, from considering the Jews a rejected race; but also because of the demands of truth as is shown us in Sacred Scripture.

The holy apostles Peter and Paul did not maintain that the Jewish people were rejected. For, in speaking of the Jews in the Acts of the Apostles,2 St. Peter, after upbraiding them for crucifying Christ explicitly speaks to them in the text not as though they were rejected, but always as called and chosen, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ ... and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and your children and to all that are far off.” Also St. Paul himself in his Epistle to the Ephesians3 writes that through His death “Jesus has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility,” (that previously separated the Jews from the Greeks) “that he might create in himself one new humanity ... and might reconcile us both to God in one body;” and in the Epistle to the Romans4 he declares that God is faithful and that “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” even after sin; there he explains how marvelously and mysteriously in the full working out of providence the salvation of the Jews will again be included in the history of Redemption after the full number of the gentiles have entered, and thus all will be saved. According to the words of the apostle Paul, the Jews remain “as regards election beloved for the sake of their forefathers.” Therefore, the Jewish people are not a rejected people, nor may we in any way consider or treat them as such; rather in order to be faithful to Sacred Scripture, we are obliged to set forth a clearly opposite teaching.

The same should be said about the other charge that causes even greater distress and pain to the Jews, namely that the people are deicides. St. Peter speaks about this issue in a completely other way in the book of Acts.5 He, indeed, finds fault with [his] listeners because “you denied the Holy and the Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Author of life;” but he immediately excuses them with these words: And now, brethren I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.” For, they did not know that this man was the Son of God so that the statement that St. Paul made to the Corinthians6 about the leaders of this world may validly applied to them: “for if they had understood this, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” Their guilt did not consist in deicide, but in the fact that they denied the Christ and refused to believe in Him as being sent from the Father. The teaching of Holy Scripture is that all of us, Jews as well as Gentiles, are under sin, that the Son of God was crucified because of the sin of all.

And so, that our catechesis and preaching may be faithful, it is necessary for our Sacred Synod to explicitly declare that henceforth when speaking about the Jews the words “rejected” and “guilty of deicide” be distant from our lips; and, on the other hand, that the Jews, in accordance with divine Providence’s hidden disposition of mercy, have a place reserved for them in the present economy of salvation.

For justice’s sake, therefore, I earnestly request that the texts of the last two paragraphs of this art. 32 be reviewed and perfected. And I submit in writing to the Secretary of the Council a new text that was composed with this intent.

In the written text submitted:

1. (Rom 11, 17).

2. (2, 38-41).

3. (2. 14-16).

4. (11, 26-29)

5. (13, 17-19)

6. (1 Cor 2, 8)

Text added:

In place of par. 5, “ Moreover the memory” and par. 3, “Therefore, let them take care,” I prefer some expression like this: “Therefore let them all take care to exclude from catechesis and the preaching of God’s word whatever is capable of suggesting disrespect or hatred for the Jews. The Sacred Synod especially orders that words that denounce the Jews as a rejected people, indeed as guilty of deicide, be strictly avoided because they are in no way consonant with the statements of Holy Scripture. Rather let preachers and catechists diligently show that the vocation of the Jewish people still endures and in accordance with the hidden plans of God as recalled by the apostle Paul (Rom 11), they still have a share in the present economy of the history of salvation.”


6. His Eminence Ignatius Gabriel Cardinal Tappouni

Patriarch of Antioch of the Syrians

Venerable Fathers,

I speak both in my own name and in the name of the most blessed patriarch Stephan Sidarouss, patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts; Maximus Saigh, patriarch of Antioch of the Melchites; Paul Cheiko, patriarch of Babylonia of the Chaldees; and Ignatius Peter Batanian, patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenians.

We now* again confirm the declarations which we have made in the course of the second session of the Council on the topic now discussed. This confirmation is in no way in opposition to the Jewish religion, with which we are joined by so many ties, nor is it an act of discrimination against a certain race, namely the Semitic, to which almost all of us also belong.

It is our intent, if we again make these declarations, to obviate serious difficulties for our pastoral activity, and not to have the Ecumenical Council accused, undeservedly of course, of bestowing its fervent support to particular political movements, as some instruments of the press have asserted.

Therefore, with a true and complete understanding of the question, we believe that it is the task of our pastoral duty, venerable fathers, reverently and earnestly to call to mind what we have already stated: the Council’s declaration on the Jews is inopportune and we ask in accordance with our request that this declaration be stricken from the acts of the Council. That is our position! So be it!

[* Translator's note: Although there is indication of a note here, none is provided in the recorded transcript.]


7. His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Frings

Archbishop of Cologne (West Germany)

Venerable Brothers

I approve the fact that two declarations, one on religious liberty and the other on the Jews and certain non-Christians have been made from chapters IV and V of the decree On Ecumenism. I also approve of the fact that there will be an extended and deeper treatment of the proposed subject, especially about the Muslims, just as the Most Blessed Pope Paul in his encyclical letter energetically praised and suggested dialogue with non-Christians.

Let me be permitted to propose a few corrections to the text. It seems regrettable that in the statements concerning the Jews there is not found that very beautiful and admirable theology that is found in the Epistle to the Ephesians, where the Apostle says in ch. 2: Christ is our peace who makes each of us one, by breaking down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing the command of the law. And he continues by stating that Christ by his cross and death has created a new humanity in his mystical Body since He called those who are far away and those who are near. This is a classic citation for the relationship between the Gentiles and the Jews, between the People of the Old and the New Testament.

I also think that it is regrettable that that sentence was omitted which stated that guilt for the death of Jesus Christ could not be attributed to the entire Jewish people, since this opinion [against such an attribution] is clearly based on the statements of the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.

Therefore, I think that it should be restored as in the earlier text.

In the second part, where non-Christian religions are discussed, it is stated that these religions differ from us on many beliefs and teachings, but, nonetheless on many points they reflect the “ray of that truth that enlightens every one coming into this world.” I believe that it would be more correct to state that in other religions there is discussion of religious affairs, imperfectly indeed and with an admixture of many human errors, but still in many of them there shines the ray of that truth which enlightens every one coming into this world.

My third point: finally, the reminder is very properly given that all discrimination because of race or religion is to be avoided. But, one cannot say, as is written there: This Sacred Synod prescribes that we love not only our neighbor and also our enemies, if we think we have any. For, this is a commandment of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and He called it His commandment. Therefore, the Church can insist upon it and call it again to mind, but not in the strict sense can she prescribe it, because our Lord Jesus Christ already did this. It is in this sense that I request that the text be revised.

In the written text submitted:

I approve the fact that two declarations have been made, one one religious liberty, and the other on Jews and non-Christians, from chapters 4 and 5 of the decree On Ecumenism, because Ecumenism in the strict sense does not consider Christians’ relationship to non-Christians, but the mutual relationship of Christians. I also approve that there will be a fuller treatment of our relation to non-Christians, especially the Muslims, as our Most Blesssed Pope Paul VI in his Encyclical Letter Ecclesiam suam expressly praises dialogue with non-Christians

Now I dare to offer some corrections for the text, namely:

1. In the text dealing with the Jews it seems extremely regrettable that the beautiful and lofty theology, found in the epistle to the Ephesians, is almost omitted. According to this theology, from the mystery hidden for ages peace has been made through Christ between those who were far off and those close at hand, that is between the gentiles and the Jewish people, the chosen of God, as Christ, crucified in His body, makes a new humanity by breaking down the dividing wall that stood between the Jews and the gentiles. This is a classical citation in Sacred Scripture for the old and new relationship between the people of the old and new covenant.

It is also regrettable that there is an omission of the sentence that did not assign blame in the death of Christ to the entire Jewish people of Christ’s time. The truth of this statement is utterly clear from the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. In both these points we should return to the earlier text.

2. I do not approve of the passage in the text concerning our relationship to other non-Christians where the statement is made that these religions differ from us in beliefs and teachings, but, nonetheless, in many ways make reference to “the ray of that Truth what enlightens every person coming into the world.” What it should say is that these religions “although imperfectly and not without some human errors, nonetheless, in many ways” make reference to “the ray of that Truth, etc.”

Finally, I do not approve of the statement that this Holy Synod “prescribes” that the faithful “love, not only their neighbors, but also their enemies if they believe they have any.” Rather the Sacred Synod can only call to mind this commandment of Christ the Lord, and insist upon it again.


8. His Eminence Ernesto Cardinal Ruffini

Archbishop of Palermo (Italy)

Venerable Fathers

1. Since the praises that are heaped upon the Jews in the second statement are connected, they constitute a panegyric, if a brief one; but I scarcely dare to deny them because they are true.

I am especially pleased to agree with the most eminent Cardinal Bea, the reporter, as he maintains that one may not assign blame for Christ’s Crucifixion to the Jewish people in general, and especially to today’s Jews. Therefore, we cannot call them deicides, especially since the word deicide expresses a kind of silliness; for, no one would ever be able to kill God. Moreover, just as Christ on the Cross with many tears begged pardon from His Father for His executioners who acted out of ignorance,1 we also should heartily pardon them, whoever they were.

Nonetheless, I think that we should note our just expectation that the Jews – who perhaps now prefer to be called Israelis – finally acknowledge that Christ was unjustly condemned to death.2

2. Or, to use St. Paul’s words in his second epistle to the Corinthians, “their minds were hardened; for to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted.”3

We very fervently pour out prayers to God, who is Yahweh, that this veil may be removed.

We have, however, in several places and on several occasions given the Jews evidence of our sincere and open love. For example, during the during the savage war that was raging almost everywhere a few years ago, how many children of the people of Israel did we protect from the Nazis – as they were called – by preventing their being deported, and, then, their being killed!

For, when the war was over, the Chief Rabbi himself felt obliged to thank the Prelates of this City for their supreme service, because, when they accepted not a few Jews into the buildings of the Holy See, they snatched them from certain death.

Therefore, we do not need much exhortation to love the Jews. From this famous stock both Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin Mary and the apostles sprung. In addition, Christ suffered and died for them. Rather – in my opinion – the Jews should be persuaded to love Christians, especially Catholics, or at least not to harass them.

Everyone knows, indeed, that the Jews up to this time follow the teaching of the Talmud.4 In accordance with this teaching the rest of mankind should be despised as if they were beasts,5 and we know that all of them are frequently hostile to our religion. For, to prove my point with one example, the pernicious sect of the Masons, that is wide-spread, and whose members are punished by an excommunication that is reserved to the Apostolic See6 because it is accustomed to scheme a good deal against the Church, is it not supported and fomented by the Jews? Therefore, I would wish that in the declaration that we are now discussing, the Jews to be efficaciously aroused to respond to the love that we sincerely have for them with their own love.

Finally; as to the good-will that – in treatment of non-Christian religions – is expressed on p. 48, lines 21 ff. for the Muslims – we sincerely love them as well – although it could be fitting because they are in some way neighbors to the Jews, I am afraid that from it may arise disparagement among the followers of the remaining religions, especially among the Buddhists and Hindus, who are no less in number than the Muslims and are not, in my estimation, more distant or remote from the Christian religion than the disciples of Mohammed.

Consequently I ask that those who are concerned with the final composition of the declaration consider whether it is better to reckon all non-Christian religions, especially those that are the most widespread in the world, or would it be enough to mention them together, in general terms.

I have spoken.


In the written text submitted:

1.(Lk 23, 24; cf. Heb. 5, 7).

2. As is certainly clear from the history of His passion.

3. (2.Cor 3, 14, f).

4. (faithfully).

5. (cf. Talmud, Baba Metzia, folio 114, col. 2).

6. (cf. the Code of Canon Law, canon 2335).


9. His Eminence Giacomo Cardinal Lercaro

Archbishop of Bologna (Italy)

Venerable Brothers,

The other speakers have spoken (or will speak) about the latest reasons, the meaning and practical importance of this declaration on the Jews. I would like to stick to one point, that is to shed some light on the final reason and chief cause which, I think, necessarily now leads our Synod to this kind of consideration especially at this moment in Christ’s Church.

For this reason is completely removed from all sorts of civil business and concerns; it no way touches upon the public relations among different nations.

Indeed the historical events of the last great war (which, of course upset all humanity) even in a special way, and particularly arguments from human and honorable sensibilities (as proper as they may be) do not bring the Church to this document.

Rather these pressures, that are most profound for the Church herself – beyond any happening and beyond any goading from outside – certainly come to a head today in the depths and mystery of the supernatural life and the conscience of Christ’s Church.

The Church arrives at this deliberation today because the Church is receiving today a deeper knowledge of some aspects of her own mystery and of her own life in practice. As a result the declaration on the Jews can in some way be said to be the natural fruit of the consideration of the constitution On the Church and especially of the constitution On the Sacred Liturgy. To those who wonder why only today, after so many centuries, the Church gives these teachings about the Jews, one could give a reply with many arguments, even fittingly recalling previous statutes of Canon Law, both old and new, to protect the religious liberty of the children of Israel. But, one ought to state more truly that today, of course, the Church has to renew and complete those statutes because today the Church openly deals with not only some aspect of her divine institution or of her marks and powers, but the broadest fullness of her ontological reality (in the constitution On the Church) and of the most precious goods by which it lives today, i.e. by the Word of God and the Eucharistic banquet (in the constitution On the Sacred Liturgy).

I think that this is the fullest reason for the declaration on the Jews. This reason requires its own principles and particular characteristics that I want to be better asserted in the proposed text. I want a more vigorous fullness in the declaration, equal to the fullness of the mystery of the Church that the dogmatic constitution discloses, and I want a feeling not only of humanity but also of greater religious respect toward the particular vocation of the Jewish people both in the past and in the present and in the future.

Because of time restrictions I will speak especially about the harmony that exists between the declaration On the Jews and the constitution On the Sacred Liturgy.

1. When the declaration speaks “of the Christians’ shared patrimony with the Jews,” it seems to be looking at, as it states itself, “the beginnings of the faith and the election,” that is, somehow or other, those things that the Church received by inheritance from the Jewish people in the past, all the way to the Virgin Mary, Christ Jesus our Lord, and the apostles.

But in the eyes of the Church the Jewish people has not only past supernatural esteem and dignity for the origins of the Church but also in the present time as well for what pertains to the most essential and divine elements in the daily life of the Church, especially if what the constitution On the Sacred Liturgy wanted to make clear and render effective in present-day Church is true; namely, that the apex of all activity and the source of all power in the Church herself1 is that by which the Church nourishes herself and lives the Sacred Scripture, that is in the Liturgy of the Word and the Lamb of God in the Liturgy of Sacrifice. These two goods – the present-day Church’s most precious patrimony – both come to us from the patrimony of Israel: not only Sacred Scripture, as is obvious, but also in some way, the Eucharist, which was already prefigured in the Passover and manna, and was instituted by Christ in accordance with the rite of the haggadah of the Passover of the Jews. Indeed, the Word of God and the Eucharist – “Behold the Lamb of God ...,” “The Lamb” – even now creates a hidden2 fellowship between the liturgical congregation which is the Church in its most perfect action on earth, in the Mass,3 and the sacred Qahal of the children of Israel; even now they nurture more deeply the fellowship of the Word and of Spirit,4 so that we at the highest moment of the divine liturgy are able to call the Patriarch Abraham our own, i.e. the father of our people” “... and the sacrifice of our Father Abraham.”

Even if this fellowship is not fully apparent to Jews of our day, it is, however, always by nature and by a completely special power an effective and present bond. I think that it is necessary to make an explicit mention of biblical conversations with the Jews and some indication of the gift that even now could be suitable to the Jews. Indeed, even in the present dispensation (provided that they sincerely and humbly foster the faith of their fathers, and piously preserve the religious sense of the Scriptures) they can give some biblical and paschal witness. This witness, although still under a veil,5 can, nonetheless be very useful to us Christians to nurture the Church’s piety. This piety ought to be truly more and more biblical and paschal.

Because of time restrictions I am leaving out some things, but I add the following:6

We must always remember that this Church teaching is not newly discovered but was constantly handed on: the Hebrews who out of ignorance7 “killed the author of life, but that the Christians no less crucified the Lord and8 and sinned by knowingly blaspheming the Name of Jesus and scorning His new law of love and holiness. The Catechism of the Council of Trent (Part I, art. IV)9 already taught this point. Enough.


In the written submitted text:

1. Lacking.

2. Some.

3. Lacking.

4. of life.

5. 2 Cor 3, 15.

6. (2) Rightly our declaration states “it deplores and condemns the hatred and ill-treatments (the word ill-treatment seems rather mild in comparison to all the evils that the history of our times reports against the Jews as in the records of all ages) against the Jews … just as the injustices afflicted on people everywhere.” There is no lessening of the esteem and respect that the Church of Christ owes and wishes to express to all people, all nations, and to every sincerely religious faith if our Council affirms a special respect, in comparison with the others, for the Jews, whom we wish to consider in this place solely in regard to religious solidarity. Most especially there is in no way any diminution of the esteem that we must all show to the Arab nations and the followers of the law of Mohammed among whom it helps us to recognize, although in a different way, the offspring of Abraham, and some experience with biblical revelation: as I myself recently joyfully experienced when I was most kindly received in Hebron, in Haram-El-Qalhil, i.e., at the most revered tomb of the Patriarch the Friend of God.
(3) “The uniting of the Jewish people with the Church,” however, that our declaration speaks about, could, perhaps, be interpreted equivocally by some, i.e., according to a confused and extrinsic meaning; we, however, wish simply to profess Paul’s faith and hope: namely, “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew” (Rom 11, 2) and “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11, 29); therefore, they are still very dear to God (Heb [sic]11, 28 [read as Rom 11,. 28]) and το πλήρωμα αυτων (their fullness) is not yet revealed (Rom 11, 12). How will this “fullness” be revealed? Certainly by means of ways whose religious mystery we have to observe. Those ways are hidden in the depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God (Rom 11, 33); therefore, they are not to be confused with human ways, i.e., the ways of vain display and persuasion from the outside: they do not transform by means of worldly changes, but by means of eschatological straining of spirits for the common, everlasting, messianic Passover.
(4) Finally, my final observation. At all times because of a rather profound allegiance to the great mystery of God’s plan and of the fulfillment of Scripture in Christ, the very condemning and crucifixion of Christ by the leaders of the Jews can most certainly not be imputed to the Jews of our time. But, although the leaders of the people who rejected and crucified Jesus committed a great sin, nonetheless, they were in some way actually taking the place of the entire human race, that was subjugated to error and sin. By all means.

7. Act 5, 17.

8. More greatly.

9. 5, 11.


10. His Eminence Paul Aemilius Cardinal Léger

Archbishop of Montreal (Canada)

Venerable Fathers,

No one is unaware of the serious importance of the declaration On the Jews and Non-Christians in the draft that was proposed On Ecumenism.

For this act is necessary for the renewed Church which aims at encountering the non-Christian world and at beginning a fraternal dialogue with it. The two final articles were fittingly added to the previous text so that no one would be left out of that dialogue.

That declaration also seems necessary for the faithful of the Church. For they frequently are unaware that so many non-Christians seek God with a sincere heart, and because of some doctrinal confusion keep within their hearts prejudiced opinions that in no way fit in with the Catholic faith. For these reasons we are invited to an open and full discussion.1

Now I intend to propose some particular observations.

1. Concerning the Jewish origins of the Church. Lines 11-30 make fitting reference to the Jewish origin of Christ, the Virgin Mary, and apostles. Lest, however, this statement appear to be a mere material coincidence, one could state in the text that God Himself wanted all these things. For, according to Jesus’ very words in the Gospels, “salvation is from the Jews,”2 and the Gospel wants “not to abolish but to fulfill” the ancient Law.3

2. Concerning the condemnation of hatred of the Jews.4 When in the draft’s first paragraphs it is justly stated that the Jewish people enjoy a special eminence, one ought to make mention in the text of the special reason why hatred of the Jews is condemned. One should deplore and condemn hatred and ill-treatment of the Jews not only because one should disapprove of every injury inflicted on people, but also because, as the Apostle of the Gentiles wrote, the Jews “as regards election are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.”5

Therefore, it would be proper to state explicitly that the Catholic Church especially condemns inflicting ill-treatment and outrages on Jews that arise from false philosophies or from erroneous interpretations of Christian truths

3. Concerning the union of Jews and Christians.6 Line 23 expresses the Church’s desire and expectation in regard to the Jewish people and at that point the expression, the “coming near” – not however conversion – of the Jewish people to the Christian faith is used. Uniting with the Church of Christ demands no rejection of the ancient faith for the Jews. Therefore, so that the positive elements that unite Jews and Christians might be clear, let the Jews in the text itself be encouraged to become fully acquainted with their own faith, to read their sacred books, to think about the history of salvation and to pray to God with the Psalms. All of these things would certainly lead them to the fullness of grace and of truth. On the other hand, this invitation cannot offend their mind-set.

4. Concerning the relationship of Christians to Jews.7 I think that the exhortation “let them say or do nothing that could alienate their minds from the Jews” is extremely generic and even ambiguous,8 and should, perhaps, be changed to this other one: “let them not encourage either in words or deeds prejudiced opinions against the Jews.” Moreover, as proof of the statement that God did not reject the Jewish people, it should be recalled, with the Apostle of the Gentiles, that “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.”9

5. Concerning the accusation of deicide against the Jews.10 Unfortunately, there is not a clearer statement that the Jewish people should not be cited for the crime of deicide. While the earlier texts had a rejection of such an accusation, a judgment opposed to the Jews can very easily be deduced. Certainly care must be taken, as the text states, “not to charge the Jews of our time with what took place in Christ’s Passion.” However, the Jews of our time are not the issue, but the Jewish people as such. There must be an explicit statement that they cannot be charged because of the fault that has to be charged to our crimes and the sins of all people, as the Christian tradition itself teaches.

Finally, in the second part of the declaration which deals with non-Christians in general, it would be fitting to add some words that would express our respect for the moral values found in the various religions. Likewise, there should be, as there is in the Encyclical Ecclesiam Suam, an expression of our desire along with them to promote and protect “the lofty and outstanding elements that are common in the area of religious liberty, human fraternity, learning and teaching, social beneficence and civil order.” I have spoken.


In the written text presented:

1. I hope that a loud cry throughout the whole world will respond in a brotherly fashion to this declaration of the Council. For I believe that no one can be in doubt about the Council Fathers’ singular intent, namely that the declaration not advance anything but the promotion of peace and love among all people. If, however, it is necessary to do so, let it be expressed in the text itself.

2. Jn 4, 22.

3. Mt. 5, 17.

4. Lines 20-21.

5. Rom 11, 28-29.

6. Lines 23-27.

7. Lines 30-31.

8. It is not necessary to keep people, who have objective reasons for doing so, from showing others what they consider to be the political mistakes of the Jews.

9. Rom 2, 2 [sic; read as 11, 2].

10. Lines 31-32.

Additional observations:

Ephesians 2, 25, that is implicitly cited in line 7 and is employed outside of the complete context, in no way signifies what St. Paul wanted to say. The complete Ephesians 2, 15-18 tends to show that the Church is a new people that joins together in itself the Jews and the Pagans, and does away with the barrier that separates them and makes only one from the two previously separated elements. As used in the declaration, the text of St. Paul only says that the Church is a new creature. It is necessary either to suppress the word “nova in Christo creatura [a new creature in Christ]” or to make them complete with the words, that are inspired by the context, “faciens utraque unum [making both of them one]” or again “reconcilians Paganos et Iudaeos” [reconciling Pagans and Jews] which would be more explicit.

Art. 25. This number does not seem to be useful, for, all the Conciliar declarations are important. Moreover, if it is necessary to speak of the importance of this declaration, other considerations should be added. For religious liberty is important not only for the establishment of ecumenical dialogue, but also in itself and for the establishment of dialogue with other religions and with the whole world.

Art. 26, line 8. Instead of the words “according to the dictates of conscience,” let it read “according to the dictates of personal conscience,” so that it may be more clear that at issue is an individual conscience not some abstract conscience.

Art. 26, line 12. It should read: “This religious liberty demands that in human society conditions should be promoted in which all ... etc.” The word “necessary” in line 13 is not necessary.

Art. 28, line 28. It should read: This Church norm is valid for each and every person ….” The word “traditional” can be left out since it is useless for the point of this sentence. Moreover, in this way one would avoid the need to prove this point historically.

Art. 29. The beginning of this article from line 31 on page 30 to line 20 on page 31 is quite intricate and obscure, and the sentences in this part of the article are not logically and rigorously coherent.

a) The argument that is advanced to prove that religious liberty pertains to all religions does not seem clear and solid. The text states, from line 34, page 30, to line 1, page 31, that religious liberty must be observed by everyone and for everyone because the divine call constitutes the supreme dignity of the human person. I do not follow the logic of this statement.

b) Moreover, the first and second paragraphs (from line 34, page 30, to line 6, page 31), repeats what is found in n. 26 (line 6 to line 15, page 29); on the other hand, lines 6 and [sic; read as "to"] 20, page 31, more or less repeat lines 15-21, page 29.

The best solution for avoiding these repetitions would be to present all these items concerning religious liberty in general and its foundation in one article, namely article 26. Then article 29 would deal with the rights of persons while article 30 would present the rights of groups.


11. His Eminence Richard James Cardinal Cushing

Archbishop of Boston (United States)

Venerable Fathers and Brothers,

I approve of the declaration On the Jews and Non-Christians in general.

Through this Ecumenical Council the Church should manifest to the entire world and to all people her real care, her universal esteem, her sincere charity; in a word she should manifest Christ. And in this draft On Ecumenism along with its declarations On Religious Liberty as well as On the Jews and Non-Christians she does this is a determined way.

I propose, however, three emendations expressly concerning the Jews.

1. We should make our declaration concerning the Jews more positive, less timid, more charitable. The text sheds much light on our precious patrimony that the new Israel received from the law and the prophets. It sheds much light on what Jews and Christians have in common. But it is definitely fitting for us to point out that because of this common patrimony we children of Abraham according to the Spirit ought to show special esteem and unique love for the children of Abraham according to the flesh. These aspects and our outstanding obligation for particular esteem are clear in the fourth paragraph of this declaration, as a logical conclusion that flows from the first part.

2. Concerning the Jews’ guilt for Our Savior’s death. As we read in Holy Scripture, the rejection of the Messiah by His own people is a mystery: a mystery, of course, to instruct us, not to exalt us. The parables and prophecies of Our Lord teach us this lesson. We cannot ourselves sit in judgment on those leaders of ancient Israel. God alone is their judge. And we cannot most certainly dare to attribute to later generations the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus or the death of the Savior of the world, granted that universal guilt which all we human beings share. We know and we believe that Christ freely died for all people and for the sins of all, both Jews and Gentiles.

Therefore, in this declaration we must with clear and plain words deny that the Jews are guilty of our Savior’s death, except inasmuch as humanity sinned and therefore crucified Him, and indeed still crucify Him. We must especially censure those who attempt to justify injustice, hatred or even persecution of the Jews as if they were Christian actions.

We have all seen the evil fruit of this kind of reasoning. In this sacred gathering, in this solemn moment we should cry out: there is no Christian reason – either theological or historical – for injustice, hatred or persecution towards our Jewish brothers. There is great hope both among Catholics and our separated Christian brothers as well as among our Jewish friends in the New World that this Most Holy Synod will make such an appropriate declaration.

3. Finally: I ask you, Venerable Brothers, whether or not we should humbly confess before the world that Christians quite frequently did not reveal themselves as true Christians, faithful followers of Christ, toward our Jewish brothers? In this our age, how many have suffered! How many have died because of the indifference of Christians, because of their silence? There is no need to enumerate those crimes that have been committed in our times. If not many Christian voices cried out in recent years against great injustices, let our voices, nonetheless, humbly cry out now! I have spoken.


12. His Eminence Franz Cardinal König

Archbishop of Vienna (Austria)

Revered Fathers,

I approve in general of the Declaration On the Jews and Non-Christians as proposed in its new form. On the one hand it manifests God’s universal love for all people and at the same time His benevolence for the Jewish people. On the other hand, the Church in this document similarly manifests her benevolence towards all people and above all there is shown the special bond by which she is joined to those people from whom our Lord took His origin.

Permit me briefly to propose a few short suggestions to perfect the draft:

1. On the first page of the declaration, from line 34 to lines 1-16 of the second page, there is an excellent treatment of the divine paternity in relation to all nations. But, as far as the Old Testament is concerned it seems to me noteworthy that God indeed is revealed as Father, Creator, Judge of all humanity, his paternity as far as the Jewish people, however, is shown in a special way. This should have been expressed in the opening words of the prophet Malachi.

2. I am happy that the Muslims received special mention. They adore one personal God who is merciful, i.e., Allah. If, however, brevity and space do not stand in the way, mention could be made of those who are close to monotheism in the religions of venerable antiquity, i.e., in Asia and Africa.

3.1 In lines 20 ff. the Holy Synod deplores the injuries inflicted upon the Jews. In the earlier text it read: “the Synod deplores and condemns the hatred and persecutions of the Jews, carried out either formerly or in our time.” I do not see why in the new revision the words “either formerly or in our time” were deleted.

Were the original text restored, I would prefer: for historical reasons, i.e. taken from history.2

4.3 On the first page, line 29, to express better the intent of the draft I propose that it read “a rejected or accursed nation,” in place of just “a rejected nation.”4

Likewise in accordance with the intent of the earlier text in lines 30-31, let it read: “Let them take care, moreover, not to charge the Jewish people as such with what took place in Christ’s passion. For, Christ’s death cannot be attributed to the people of His time, and much less to the current people.” Moreover, one could add that there is no need for Christian preaching to depict exactly the blame of Caiaphas, the High Priest, or of Pilate or of others, because the sins of all humanity were the cause. Rather, it should be shown that upon the Cross salvation and the source of all graces and at the same time the symbol of love and redemption were displayed.

If, however, some of us object that in Sacred Scripture not only positive but negative statements are made about the Jews, we should reply: in the proposed declaration everything should not be repeated that appears in Sacred Scripture, but rather those things that up to the present have been done against the Jewish people erroneously with evil intent and with an unfounded interpretation of Sacred Scripture that must be corrected.5 I have spoken.


In the written text submitted:

1. In the first paragraph, i.e. under no. 32 there is an excellent description of the Christians’ common patrimony with the Jews, but the new revision, which was made more elegant, does not have the earlier mood.

2. Lacking.

3. The items found in lines 23-26 deal with eschatological hope. This eschatological idea is sometimes understood as if the Church with this hope aims at mere proselytism, and this is not true. There is no question here of human effort, but the grace of God by means of which salvation history will be fulfilled. Lest that eschatological mystery be wrongly understood, it would be better if there were an explanation of how at this time God’s history with humanity is being represented.

4. Lacking.

5. Therefore, there is to be no discussion of human beings here, but the God of mercy must be praised.


13. His Eminence Albert Gregory Cardinal Meyer

Archbishop of Chicago (United States)

Venerable Brothers,

I approve of the draft On the Jews and Non-Christians,1 as understood in the draft dealing with this material. For, the Council when speaking of Ecumenism deals quite reasonably in a special way and by name with the Jews.2 Therefore, the most Eminent reporter [Cardinal Bea] has already explained the importance of this declaration in every respect as have other speakers who spoke this morning.3 There is, therefore,4 no need for me to repeat the very strong arguments that they5 gave, except to wholeheartedly approve them.

I approve of the present6 draft with qualifications in this sense: In my opinion the earlier text, presented to us last year, dealt with the Jewish question in a better and a more ecumenical way. So that this may again happen to our present text, I would like to recommend some improvements.

1. In no. 32, lines 14-16, I think that these lines are better placed7 before lines 11-13. In this way, I think,8 the logical development of the Pauline text is preserved.9 Then with these two paragraphs thus arranged, it could fittingly conclude with a sentence that explicitly states that the Church has taken its faith directly from those Jews who were the first, under the action of God’s grace, to open their minds to the good news of Christ and to share the joyful message with others. Therefore, a new text is proposed on this subject for lines 11-16. For the sake of brevity, I am not reading that text here but submit it in writing.10

2. At lines 20-22 in the same no. 32. I do not think that it is enough to say that the Church deplores and condemns hatred and ill-treatment of the Jews, simply because “it seriously condemns injustices inflicted anywhere.” Justice demands that we clearly turn our attention to the gigantic force of the evils with which people have afflicted the Jews throughout the ages. These particular afflictions, that the Jewish people suffered, demand that we in a particular way also condemn every type of antisemitism, just as our earlier text already did, where it states, “so that with a maternal spirit it more greatly deplores and condemns hatred and persecution of the Jews, that took place in the past and in our own time.”11

3. In the same no. 32, at lines 23-27. The content of this paragraph certainly depends up the clear teaching of St. Paul.12 My only question is whether in a document, that otherwise deals with Ecumenism, this teaching can be in some way a little more fully explained, almost in keeping with the principles enunciated in no. 4 of the first chapter of the entire draft On Ecumenism, as His Eminence Cardinal Léger, if I understood him correctly,13 already intimated this morning.14 Otherwise, one has to fear, I think, that this declaration of ours will present an opportunity for an unfounded interpretation of our true intent regarding this declaration.

4. In the same no. 32, at lines 28-32.15 Our draft seems to say very little16 with these lines.17 I think that the previous text briefly, but in a better way, stated on this subject: “unjustly would they be called a cursed people since they remain very dear to God because of their Fathers and the gifts they have been given,18 or a nation of deicides because the Lord by His passion and death has washed away all people’s sins which were the cause of the passion and death of Christ.”

Isn’t it rather our task in this matter to put forth the full truth concerning the Jews, just as St. Thomas19 has already done (in the Summa Theologiae, part II, q. 47, art. 5 ad corpus)?20 For St. Thomas, on the basis of Sacred Scripture, make these two statements: None of the Jews of Christ’s time was formally and subjectively guilty of deicide, because all of them were not aware of Christ’s divinity. This fact should be explicitly stated in our text. 2. St. Thomas also says that21 a great number of the Jews have to be absolved from every formal fault, because they followed their rulers out of ignorance; and he cites22 St. Peter’s words that we have already heard several times this morning:23 “I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.”24

Regarding the second part of our declaration.25 What is contained in no. 33 and 34 are most certainly of the greatest importance, and it is utterly necessary for the Council to deal with these two points, even if briefly as is done here: namely the divine paternity in relation to all human beings, and the condemnation of every kind of discrimination.

Some Fathers are of the opinion that these teachings should be better treated in schema XIII, where the question of the Church in the modern world is discussed. Where the question is treated, however, seems of little importance to me, and in my opinion its inclusion in our declaration is fine.

Two items, however, in the text, as given to us, seem to deserve some comment:

1. The reasons for special mention in the text of the Muslims apply equally to other non-Christian communities as well. Therefore, they should be explicitly mentioned along with them, or just a general mention of all of those who “are monotheists and are culturally joined with us” would suffice.

2. We should rightly and deservedly raise our voice against every kind of discrimination, either on the grounds of religion, or on the grounds of race or color or human circumstances. Since, however, discrimination because of color or race or human circumstances is truly one of the more pressing problems of the modern world, I would like a more detailed and more positive development of the Church’s teaching in opposition to this discrimination, so that the image of the Church might be more radiant in every way because of her shining example in keeping with the most holy words of Our Lord: “By this will everyone know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” And I have spoken.


In the written text submitted:

1. Lacking.

2. As the most eminent reporter has already admirably shown in his report. For, we know, since we were taught by divine revelation that the Jews had and will still have a distinct part in the economy of salvation. Moreover, it is known from history that many Christians have not always duly acknowledged the Jewish people’s part in the economy of salvation; indeed they have at one time or another attacked them with insults. It is our job to take away the reason for this mistrust and to recall to the memory of the faithful the certain teaching of Sacred Scripture concerning this people. Therefore, the demands of religion and the charity of Christ impel us to discuss the Jews in a special way and by name.

3. And.

4. Lacking.

5. Self.

6. However.

7. Let Lines 14 – 16, of no. 32 be better placed.

8. For.

9. Rom 9, 4-5.

10. “The Church always keeps and will also keep before her eyes the words of the apostle Paul concerning the Jews ‘to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenant, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises, to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ, who is the God over all’ (Rom 9 4-5). And the Church does not forget that the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ, was born from the Jewish people, as were the apostles, the foundation and pillars of the Church, as well as the very many Christians who handed on Christ’s teaching to the world.”

11. As Cardinal König said.

12. Cf. Rom 11, 25.

13. Lacking.

14. Lacking.

15. These lines, as they stand, remind the Christian people not to speak of the Jews as a rejected people, and “not to attribute to the Jews of our time what took place in Christ’s passion.” The most eminent reporter has already pointed out to us in his report the difficulty in finding a fitting expression, but he invited us as well again “to examine and discuss” the draft of the declaration in this part. By all means.

16. Lacking.

17. In this place.

18. Cf. Rom 11, 28.

19. Almost according to the mind of St. Thomas.

20. As the previous text already did.

21. It is not there.

22. To prove this St. Thomas suggests.

23. Lacking.

24. Act 3, 17. There will, at long last, have to be a proclamation of where the real blame for the torturing of Christ should be sought: “He died for us and for the sake of our salvation!”

25. Nos. 33-34.


14. His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Ritter

Archbishop of St. Louis (United States)

Venerable Fathers,

My topic is the draft inasmuch as it deals with the Jews, and therefore paragraph 32. I very readily accept this declaration that so directly and fittingly responds to a present-day need. I am speaking not of a need to avoid political or racial pressure or to conciliate, nor of a need pursue human approval, but simply of a need to make reparation for the injustice of centuries.

Even we Christians, for many centuries already, have been guilty of a mistake and injustice towards the Jews. We, as in rather many instances, used to take it for granted that God had abandoned this people. Christians, even ecclesiastical documents, used to accuse the Jewish people of the passion and death of Christ. In prayers, the people used to be called “the perfidious nation," the “nation of deicides that at one time called down the blood of the Savior upon itself.”

We have the opportunity today, as we gather in Ecumenical Council, to get rid of, and to make amends for such mistakes and injustices.

The draft presents a declaration that furnishes a good beginning for this purpose. But the declaration can be better still, and, I think, needs some improvements. I suggest some as follows.

1. Let the declaration more fully and more explicitly speak of the religious patrimony that so closely, even today, unites the Jewish and Christian peoples. The promises that God, who neither deceives nor can deceive, made to Abraham still belong to the Jews. The same divine love is extended to Jews and Christians in a special way; because of it a very close unity of love and esteem should thrive between us and them. Therefore, that spirit of love that was found in the original draft should shine out even more in this declaration. Let our debt and relationships to the Jews, which are hesitantly and, as it were, unwillingly acknowledged in this draft, be proclaimed with great joy.

2. In lines 23-27, the way of treating “the uniting of the Jewish people with the Church” smacks of the conversion of the Jews and, therefore, presents their mistakes. This is especially true because there is no such treatment of the Muslims, and pagans and of humanity in general. Nonetheless, the Church’s mission, just like the Mystery of Christ as well, embraces all people with Christian hope. It would be better, indeed, it is almost necessary, as being more conformed to the nature of the Church and less offensive to all, to move these lines to the end of the entire declaration “On Non-Christians” in, however, a universal form, as taking in all people.

3. I am not in the least satisfied with the final article in paragraph 32. It contributes nothing to the correction of errors, to the reparation of injustices. On the contrary, because of the final sentence, in which only the Jews of our day are exonerated, it compounds both the mistake and the injustice.

Venerable Fathers! Let us root out that error which makes a people guilty of a crime committed by individuals, an error which infected even the hearts of infants with a spirit of hatred against a people so loved by God. Let this final article be removed, and let the paragraph or a similar one be put in it place:

“Therefore, let everyone see to it that they do not present the Jewish people in any way as a rejected, accursed nation and as a nation of deicides; do not let what happened in the passion of Christ be attributed either to the entire Jewish people then alive, and even less to the Jews of our time. All these events should truly be attributed to all human sinners and especially to Christians who fall into sin. For, as the Catechism of the Council of Trent quite clearly recalls: “One must conclude that all people who rather frequently fall into sin are to blame. For, since our sins impelled Christ our Lord to undergo the punishment of the cross, of course those who wallow in shameful deeds and crimes again, to that extent, crucified in themselves the Son of God.” I have spoken.


15. His Excellency Lorenz Jäger

Archbishop of Paderborn (West Germany)

Venerable Fathers of the Council,

In general I approve of the declaration. But our people after the crimes committed against that people earnestly desire that the Ecumenical Council in no. 32 bring to light still more clearly our common patrimony with the Jews so that in the future1 all discrimination against this people may be rooted out.2 Moreover3 let the title of the Declaration be changed to: “On the Jews and Other Non-Christians.” Since the Jews4 also are non-Christians, it seems that the word (others) has to be added.

On page 47, line 24, in place of the words “is part of the Christian hope,” it will better read: “pertains to Christian hope, or simply, for the sake of better Latin, “belongs to Christian hope.”

On page 48, line 17, after the word “observance” let there be added:5 “and due consideration,” because the Supreme Pontiff Paul VI, in his inaugural allocution on 29 September 1963 spoke in this way about this due consideration.

I will hand over in writing some observations that pertain to proofs taken from Sacred Scripture, which, if I am not mistaken, do not pertain to the subject properly speaking.6 Thank you.


In the written text submitted:

1. future.

2. No. 33 (All people have God as their Father) offers proofs from Sacred Scripture that do not pertain to the subject properly speaking.

1. In general, all the texts that are brought up from the Old Testament take for granted God’s covenant with his chosen people: therefore, they do not concern the paternal relationship with all people, but only with the Jews themselves. This point is true both about the passage from Malachi 2, 19 as well as the passage from 2 Chronicles 19, 7 where there is question of the judges among the people of Israel among whom God is no accepter of persons.

2. The Lord Jesus said God was “the Father” of those who by the grace of Christ participate in the divine filiation of Christ Himself. In the New Testament the Father is rather the name of the Father of Jesus Christ and of His faithful. The passage, Eph 6, 9 speaks of the relationship of Christian masters with their slaves; Col 3, 24 advises only Christians, and 1 Pet 1, 17 likewise addresses Christians. The text 1 Jn 4, 20-21 is to be understood about the Christian community, for John says in another place (2 Jn. 1, 10): “If any one comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into the house or give him any greeting ….” Therefore even the text on page (8) 48, line 3 concerning fraternal relationship to all men should be more carefully drafted.

3. There are, however, proofs from scripture that could be correctly used in the context (v.g., Wis 11, 25-27; Rom 10, 12-13).

3. Lacking.

4. themselves.

5. “and reverence” or.

6. Page 48, lines 21 ff.: Let them be changed in this manner: “In this way let us embrace especially the Muslims who willingly acknowledge their relationship to the family of Abraham and, while in their own way adoring one personal and rewarding God and striving to submit themselves completely to his hidden judgments as well, they draw near to them with a religious sense and with very many sharings of human culture.”

The Reason: Something seems to have to be said about the religious genius of the Muslims. Therefore, three things are set forth here:

1. The Muslims declare even from the beginning of their religion that they belong to the family of Abraham.

2. As is already stated in the draft: They adore and worship a God who is one, personal and rewarding.

3. “Islam” signifies total surrender, and a person’s submission to the inscrutable will of the omnipotent God.

However, a word of caution is in order, lest our words seem to manifest a certain syncretism. Therefore, it should be said that they may willingly relate themselves to the family of Abraham while the relationship of the Christians and Jews and Muslims to Abraham the father of faith is not the same. Therefore it must also be said that they adore in their way God. For they utterly deny that God is triune, and the Father of Jesus Christ Our Lord.

Moderator: The His Excellency Francis Seper will speak tomorrow. Meanwhile let His Excellency Philip Pocock, coadjutor Archbishop of Toronto in Canada approach the microphone and speak.


16. His Excellency Philip Pocock

Titular Archbishop of Isauropolitanus, coadjutor with right of succession of Toronto (Canada)

Venerable Fathers,

In this brief intervention I add my praise to that already given to the present declaration. I also join those who have requested: 1. That the phrase “and let them not be accused of deicide,” that was in the earlier text, be restored in the present text; and 2. That the declaration condemn and deplore the religious and racial persecutions and discriminations that the Jews once suffered and are suffering even in our age.

Now1 permit me to add a few words in defense of the declaration and against the objection that the Jews are more favorably portrayed in this declaration than is verified in Sacred Scripture itself.2

It is, indeed, true that the prophets of Israel quite frequently accused Israel of being stiff-necked and hard-hearted. Accusations of this type re-echo up to the New Testament. Christ Himself in harsh language upbraided the high priests and Pharisees, and sometimes the crowd of people. The same way of speaking is found in the remarks of St. Stephen, as the Acts of the Apostles report (ch. 7), and in the words of St. Paul in the epistle to the Thessalonians (ch. 7).3 In these passages the Jewish people are accused of repeated infidelity. It must not, however, be forgotten that these accusations against the Jews come from those who were also themselves Jews. For Christ, Stephen, and Paul were sons of the Jewish people. Their harsh language was nothing else but an exhortation to reform to a people whom they loved, to whom they belonged, and with whom they somehow identified. Expressions of this sort cannot be taken as a literal description of the people; they were words of exhortation to stir up the spirits of their listeners.

We should also bear in mind that in the Gospel of John the word “Jews” is quite frequently employed not indeed for the entire Jewish people, but only for Christ’s enemies, i.e. for that group of Pharisees and priests that was hostile to Christ. The words that our Lord utters against them in the fourth Gospel cannot be applied to the people as a whole, but only to some of them.

And we conclude. A proper expression of the relationship between the Jewish people and Christ’s Church should not pay attention to the hortatory condemnations of the people of Israel, but above all to citing those passages of Scripture that claim that the Old Testament is fulfilled and completed in the New, and that proclaim the mystery of divine mercy in the chosen people. In this way, and only in this way can one understand the true meaning of Sacred Scripture in regards to God’s chosen people. I have spoken.


In the written text submitted:

1. Lacking.

2. Lacking.

3. 15 ff.


17. His Excellency Peter Nierman

Bishop of Gröningen (The Netherlands)

In the name of the Netherland Conference of Bishops I would like to offer the following observations concerning the declaration On the Jews and Non-Christians.1

In the first place the declaration should be praised very much because it clearly expresses that the Church day by day and more and more understands and has great esteem for the religious values that are found especially among the Jewish people, and among other non-Christians, in particular the Muslims, and that have their beginning from the Father of light who wishes all people to be saved.

This esteem affords not only a foundation of charity for non-Christians, but also attracts and invites to a conversation by means of which we Christians ourselves can also be helped to an ever more deeper penetration into the mystery of salvation. This is true especially in respect to the Jews because they are joined with us in a special way.

In order that the power and harmony of the declaration may be still further perfected and strengthened,

In order that the meaning of the text, that is drawn from Sacred Scripture, may have still fuller light shone upon it,

In order to avoid certainly every pretext, as if the Church while speaking in this way is only seeking the conversion of the Jews, Muslims, and the other non-Christians, which would destroy the above-mentioned respect, I would like to offer the following improvements:

1. Page 47, line 6. I propose the text: “Therefore, the Church, the new creature in Christ,2 put together from Jews and gentiles into one new humanity,3 cannot forget that she is a continuation of that people . . . .” Thus we have a clearer statement that the peace of Christ embraces both Jews and gentiles because Christ put them together in one new humanity, as He established peace, reconciled both in one body to God by the cross, and destroyed enmity in Himself.4

2. Page 47, line 20.5 I propose the text: “And, furthermore, she condemns the hatred and ill-treatment of the Jews, as she deplores the injustices perpetrated against this people who were a long time ago chosen by God and praised as “a holy root.”6 In this way the difference between the injustices inflicted anywhere on human beings, and those inflicted on the Jewish people from a spirit of antisemitism becomes clearer, one expresses better the special character of the Jewish people.

3. Page 47, line 23.7 I propose the text: “It is worth remembering that the salvation of the entire Jewish people is part of Christian hope . . . .” The words “the uniting of the Jewish people with the Church” seem to suggest the Church’s eagerness to strive only for the conversion of the Jews, something that would make conversation with the Jews exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.8

4. Page 47, Line 30.9 I propose the text: “Moreover, let them take care not to attribute what took place in Christ’s passion simply to the Jews.” For, this attribution is not only unjust to present-day Jews, but also the Jews of past ages. I have spoken.


In the written text submitted:

1. In the council hall.

2. Gal 6, 15.

3. Eph 2, 15.

4. The words “new creature in Christ” are found not in Eph 2, 15, but in Gal 6, 15.

5. Page 47 (7) n. 32, line 20 ff.

6. Rom 11, 16.

7. Page 47 (7) no. 32, line 23.

8. 4, page 47 (7) no. 32, line 28: let the word “Therefore” be stricken. Because the word “therefore” is placed immediately after the lines that deal with Church’s hope, there could be the hint that the Church aims only at the conversion of the Jews.

9. 5. page 47 (7) no. 32, line 30.


18. His Excellency Jules Victor Daem

Bishop of Antwerp (Belgium)

Venerable Brothers,

The Declaration On the Jews very appropriately insists upon the hope of Christians who are awaiting the Israelites’ approach to the fullness of the people of God that was established by Christ. Rightfully does the Ecumenical Council invite Christians to fraternal dialogue with the Israelites that their mutual knowledge and esteem of their spiritual patrimony may daily increase. We have frequently experienced that Israelites, as they rely on God and His plan, make much of the fact that we Christians have their salvation at heart and especially that we have no doubt of their true striving after God. “God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.”1 These words of the Apostle resound agreeably in the ears of Israelites who put their religion into practice.

We condemn the injustices, the hatred, the ill-treatment, the homicides, and “pogroms” that were inflicted upon the Israelites. We hope that there will be an end of every kind of ill-treatment, imposed upon them or others because of race or religion. We honor the Christians who, full of charity, strive to establish and foster excellent relations between Catholics and Israelites.

The Fathers of the Council have already observed that the declaration concerning the Jews establishes the desired dialogue on a position that Israel in the past obtained in the divine plan and also on the religious values that Israel and the Church have in common today

In our opinion the declaration concerning the Jews can have greater pastoral value, if besides the historical and theological considerations, there is a description of the concrete relationship of Christians to the Israelites of our countries.

The declaration puts great emphasis on charity. This charity,2 however, would be more easily expressed if we constantly bore in mind the positive value that is present in the Hebrew soul of our day. Is not this value apparent from the fact that believing Israelites even now are mindful of the covenant of their people and Yahweh? It is quite important that believing Israelites wish to remain faithful to God’s commandments, even at the price of some hard demands.3 They gather together in their assemblies to read the sacred books, that are also ours. They chant the same psalms that we ourselves chant. Many of them very clearly perceived the dangers of flourishing materialism and deplore it, and to the best of their ability, fight against it. They beg for God’s mercy and seek forgiveness for their sins especially in their celebration of the day of atonement.4 They understand that God will punish the wicked and will reward the good. They love to give an example of their fidelity to their traditions and to rely upon great hope for the future.5

These different human and religious values that are so esteemed in our day have great importance in setting the dialogue’s conditions which, however, we establish on the sacred books.

The Christian has a certain apparent conflict to explain in his sacred texts. The New Testament teaches us this prophecy of Jesus: “I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness."6

Christians cannot, however, hold this warning as the final word of revelation concerning the lot of Israel. For, St. Paul has these words: “As regards the gospel they are enemies of God, for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gift and the call of God are irrevocable.7

The words of Jesus and of Paul should be related to the historical realization of the divine plan. It is obvious from the context of Jesus’ words that Jesus is speaking of the immediate consequences that arise from the fact that the Israelites did not recognize Christ as the Messiah. But St. Paul is contemplating the final lot of the Israelites, i.e. the perfecting in Christ, which by the grace of God all men, even Israelites can come to. Therefore, it is clear that there is no true contradiction in the words reported. Christ did not cast the Israelites off from eternal salvation. They are called,8 with the rest of humanity, to be united in one body by Christ and to enter the house of God. Although the Apostle grieves over that fact that the Israelites “have stumbled over the stumbling stone”9 he, nonetheless, rejoices over God’s mercy that will save all of Israel. “For God has consigned all people to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all."10

It will be very useful, venerable Brothers,11 for the dialogue of Christians with Israelites to follow the norms that the Apostle himself12 points out on the level of relationship of Christians:

1. A Christian should avoid all pride. Having sprung from paganism he should acknowledge that he is to be “a wild olive shoot” and he does not bear a root but is borne by a root.13

2. A Christian should bear in mind the divine plan that the Apostle revealed. Although to the present moment Israel has not understood, the day, however, is coming in which the full mercy of God will be at work.14

Let the Christian remember that the Israelites and we Christians are, in the divine plan, being driven to the same final perfecting, i.e. to the revelation of God’s mercy in a common covenant. We should follow this divine plan, not with some unseemly proselytism but with perfect sincerity and humility. We are of necessity to be moved by the same sadness and sorrow that moved the Apostle when he said that he wished “to be accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brethren.15

Venerable Brothers, we wish that in light of the teaching of St. Paul this twofold condition of humility and community in one common hope will be even better proclaimed in the declaration. I have spoken.


In the written text submitted:

1. Rom 11, 2.

2. Lacking.

3. E.g. in the observance of the Sabbath.

4. Yom Kippur.

5. Driven on by their vocation the work for a better world.

6. Mt 8, 11-12.

7. Rom 11, 28-29.

8. For.

9. Rom 9, 32.

10. Rom 11, 32.

11. Lacking.

12. Lacking.

13. “But you stand fast only through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches neither will he spare you (Rom 11, 21-22).

14. “For if you [Christian] have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree” (Rom 11, 24).

15. Rom 9, 3, related according to the flesh “They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ . . . ( Rom 9, 4-5).”