CCJR Board Sends Letter to The Forward on Its Article on Cardinal Koch's Visit


To the editor:

We write to express our dismay at the partial and misleading report of Cardinal Kurt Koch's remarks at Seton Hall University on Sunday, Oct 30th. The article fails to note that the cardinal first delivered an hour long public address and then chatted informally for about another hour with members and guests of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian relations, which held its annual meeting at Seton Hall in conjunction with the cardinal's visit.

The article gives the misleading impression that the perhaps five minutes devoted to the topic of Pope Pius XII dominated the more than two-hour event. Nor did the cardinal state, as the headline lopsidedly proclaims, that "Jews Want Sainthood for [the] Nazi-Era Pope." To be precise, he stated (after noting that the topic would take about three hours to address adequately) that there were favorable and unfavorable opinions among both Jews and Christians on the subject.

While there was some frustration caused by the difficulties of speaking in a nuanced way in different languages about complex subjects, this did not produce any "anger" as the sub-headline opines.

By limiting the report to certain subjects, the article leaves readers with a distorted image of the cardinal's remarks and indeed of the present state of Catholic-Jewish relations. It is very regrettable, for instance, that the report did not convey Cardinal Koch's acknowledgement of Christian "complicity in the horrific developments [of the Holocaust];" that Jews are "participants in God's salvation" even though they "do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel and Son of God;" and that the Catholic Church, "In contrast to several fundamentalist and evangelical movements, neither has nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards [converting] Jews."

We hope this somewhat fuller presentation of the wide range of topics addressed by Cardinal Koch's visit will correct any misimpressions created by the original article. We invite readers of The Forward to read his entire address, which will shortly be posted on our website.

The Board of Directors, Council of Centers on Christian-Jewish Relations