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ADL Says Vatican Statement Does Not Allay Jewish Concerns About Conversion Prayer

New York, NY, April 4, 2008 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said today's statement by the Vatican reassuring Jews of the church's commitment to a positive relationship with the Jewish people is "a welcome step," but added that the statement "does not go far enough to allay concerns" about the introduction of a Latin prayer calling for the conversion of Jews.

Issued in advance of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the United States, the Vatican statement reaffirms the fundamental principles of Nostra Aetate, the landmark Second Vatican Council document that repudiates the concept of collective Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus, and says the re-introduction of the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, "... in no way intends to indicate a change in the Catholic Church's regard for the Jews which has evolved from the basis of the Second Vatican Council."

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

On this issue the Vatican has taken two steps forward and three steps backward. It is reassuring that the Catholic Church remains committed to the ideals of Nostra Aetate and to an approach toward relations with the Jewish people based on cordiality and mutual respect.

Yet it is troubling that the statement still does not specifically say that the Catholic Church is opposed to proselytizing Jews. While they say it does not change Nostra Aetate, the statement does not go far enough to allay concerns about how the message of this prayer will be understood by the people in the pews. The Latin prayer is still out there, and stands by itself, and unless this statement will be read along with the prayer, it will not repair or mitigate the impact of the words of the prayer itself, with its call for Jews to recognize Jesus as the savior of all men and its hope that 'all Israel will be saved.'

The impact of those words is undeniable, and we wish the Vatican had explicitly rejected calls to conversion or to proselytizing Jews.