Catholic Preaching on "the Law"

Letter from Rabbi Rasson Arousi to Cardinal Kurt Koch

[Posted here on September 11, 2021 after receving the permission of the author.]


August 12, 2021 / Elul 4‏‎, 5781


H.E. Cardinal Kurt Koch, President
Pontifical Council for Promoting Church Unity
The Vatican


Your Eminence dear Cardinal Koch,

We were disturbed to learn of the contents of Pope Francis’ remarks at his latest Wednesday audience regrading the Torah, which contradict other positive statements of his about Judaism; and certainly contradict the excellent document your office released under his imprimatur on the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the "Gifts and Calling," (section 3.)

In his homily, the Pope presents the Christian faith as not just superseding the Torah; but asserts that the latter no longer gives life, implying that Jewish religious practice in the present era is rendered obsolete.  This is in effect part and parcel of the “teaching of contempt” towards Jews and Judaism that we had thought had been fully repudiated by the Church.

Please convey our distress to Pope Francis in this regard. We can only hope that with the multitude of responsibilities on his shoulders, others less educated and sensitive prepared these remarks and Pope Francis did not have the opportunity to review them critically and constructively.

We hope that there will be clarification from His Holiness that will enable us to continue our important collaboration in the Bilateral Commission of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jewry; and will also ensure that any derogatory conclusions drawn from this homily are clearly repudiated.


Rabbi Rasson Arousi,
Chair, the Commission of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel for Dialogue with the Holy See