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December 10, 2015 1:43 pm

Unprecedented Vatican Declaration: Jewish People Part of God’s Salvation

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The Vatican issued a statement that the Jewish people are part of God’s salvation without explicitly confessing Christ as their savior. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Vatican. Thursday it issued a statement that the Jewish people are part of God’s salvation without explicitly confessing Christ as their savior. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – The Vatican issued an unprecedented declaration that the Jewish people are part of God’s salvation without explicitly confessing Christ as their savior, in a document that includes other changes in Catholic Church teachings related to Christian-Jewish relations.

On Thursday, the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews presented the “A Reflection on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic-Jewish Relations” document during a press conference at the Vatican to mark the 50th anniversary of the “Nostra Aetate” declaration, which was another watershed moment in Jewish-Christian ties.

Even though Catholics believe that there is only one path to salvation, the new document states that “it does not in any way follow that the Jews are excluded from God’s salvation because they do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God.”

“That the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly is, and remains, an unfathomable divine mystery,” the document says.

According to the document, Jews are Catholics’ “elder brothers” and “fathers in faith.” Catholics, it states, can “in a humble and sensitive manner” bear witness “to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews.”

Rabbi David Rosen — the American Jewish Committee’s international director of interreligious affairs — said that while Nostra Aetate “revolutionized Catholic teachings about Jews and Judaism,” the new “Reflection on Theological Questions” document “clearly repudiates replacement or supersessionist theology, and expresses an increasing appreciation and respect for Jewish self-understanding, reflected in recognizing the place of Torah in the life of the Jewish people.”

Rosen, however, expressed disappointment that the new document fails to address “the centrality that the Land of Israel plays in the historic and contemporary religious life of the Jewish people.”

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  • moishe

    what the Pope orders and what Catholics do is the real issue. too many ‘good’ Catholics have taken upon themselves to harass Jews. some others have been moral. as long as Jews exist as a people and a religion, they will be urged, coerced to convert or be harmed if they do not comply. why? because as long as a Jew exists it implies that Catholicism and other Christian sects are not the one true universal religion ordained by god. we are the genuine product. accept no substitutes. omeyn.

  • Bernadette

    This new document is NOT an announcement of a change in Catholic teachings. It is NOT official. It is a “study document” only. It does NOT reflect a change in official Catholic doctrine. This was a report by a committee of Jews and Catholics, NOT the Pope. This document changes nothing. The teaching of the Catholic Church remains that the only way to salvation is through Christ. I think this document is heresy and will NEVER become the doctrine of the Catholic Church. It means very little.

    • Joshua

      Great point. Thank you for underlining this fact, it brings more clarity to the “news.” There certainly would have been more attention paid worldwide had it been a Papal announcement with impact on doctrine. As it stands, it’s meaningless.

  • Jennifer

    “From the standpoint of the gospel they [the Jews] are enemies for your sake [you Gentiles], but from the standpoint of [election, or] God’s choice, they are beloved for the sake of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” – Romans 11:28-29

  • a yid

    Hey Liberals, before you pee on yourself, did you read this? ” Catholics, it states, can “in a humble and sensitive manner” bear witness “to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews.”

  • steven L

    It is still politics as usual, David!

  • I am convinced this is part of Vatican and Pope strategic plan to bring in Judaism under the one world religion tent. This is logical step after Pope made plea recently that a global governance embracing climate change is mankind’s last hope before we destroy our selves…the islamic refugee horde invading Europe also part of setting up an evil world government; marrrying the worst of communism and Hitler’s Nazi programs. Ultimately all part of Satan’s plan to destroy Israel and control Temple Mount. Prophecy fullfillment moving at lightening speed -hmmmmm- Hanukah period still going on. Perhaps God will slap mankind on side of head with a baseball bat on last day of Chanukah!

  • A significant first step in the right direction. Hopefully we can expect constructive continuation not just from the Vatican but from other sources around the world. ! ! !

  • Lana Fayman

    I’m very encouraged by this declaration from the Vatican, it’s a step forward. I understand that the Pope has also stated in private, but not publicly, “To attack Jews is anti-Semitism, but an outright attack on the State of Israel is also anti-Semitism.

  • A. Nonymous

    I’m unhappy with Rabbi Rosen. Having gotten 110+ percent of anything the Jewish people could want from Pope Francis, he’s ‘disappointed’ (his word) that he didn’t get 200%. Cut the Pope some slack, please!

  • Gary Dalin

    Wow! This is huge. They left the contradiction alone as an unsolvable mystery. Great solution. The Talmud has cases where the solution will only be resolved by the Messiah. Now,after 2000 years of murdering Jews because they believed they were cursed, the Catholics come and say, that their thinking was not true all along. I find this astonishing! What a confession! They have, it appears adopted the Evangelical approach to Jews. Now it could take decades until this filters down to the pews, but it’s a new fountainhead of rapprochement devoutly to be wished.

  • Now , if the Vatican would return all of the books and religious items stolen from the Jews over the centuries we should be able to move forward.

    • Flying piano

      Yep, excellent point! And the ancient Temple menorah would be a good place to start this Hanukkah!