Text of Communiqué On Anti-Semitism Statement

Following is the text of the communiqué issued on the statement on anti-Semitism distributed to the ecumenical council Fathers Nov. 8.


This morning there was distributed to the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council a draft on “The Attitude of Catholics Toward Non-Christians, Particularly Toward the Jews” (De Catholicorum Habitudine ad Nonchristianos et Maxime ad Udaeos).

This draft was prepared over a period of two years by the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, of which Augustin Cardinal Bea is president. It is to form the fourth chapter of the schema on ecumenism, the first three chapters of which had already been submitted to the bishops.

The document is entirely religious in its contents and spiritual in its purpose. It is out of an ever-growing appreciation of the Church’s sacred heritage that the council pays attention to the Jews, not as a race or a nation but as the chosen people of the Old Testament. The clear and unequivocal language of the text gives the secretariat confidence that no other motive will be read into it than that of the all-embracing love of the late Pope John, who himself had wished that the theme be prepared for the council Fathers.

The draft deals first with the deep bond that ties the Church to the chosen people of the Old Testament. According to God’s merciful design, the Church has its roots in the covenant made by God with Abraham and his descendants. This plan of salvation for all mankind finds its culmination in the coming of Jesus Christ, son of David and descendant of Abraham according to the flesh. Through Him the divine call first given to the chosen people of old is extended through His Church to the entire world.

A second point the draft makes is that the responsibility for Christ’s death falls upon sinful mankind. It was to atone for the sins of every man that the Son of God willingly offered Himself on the Cross. The part the Jewish leaders of Christ’s day played in bringing about the Crucifixion does not exclude the guilt of all mankind. But the personal guilt of these leaders cannot be charged to the whole Jewish people either of His time or today.

It is therefore unjust to call this people “deicide” or to consider it “cursed” by God. St. Paul, in his letter to the Romans, assures us that God has not rejected the people whom He has chosen.

The document presented goes on to affirm that the Church can never forget that it was from Abraham’s stock that Christ, His Blessed Mother and the Apostles were born.

In keeping with its objectives, the council document does not propose to deal with the various causes of anti­Semitism. However, it does indicate that the sacred events of the Bible and, in particular, its account of the Crucifixion, cannot give rise to disdain or hatred or persecution of the Jews. Preachers and catechists, the text states, are admonished never to present a contrary position: furthermore, they are urged to promote mutual understanding and esteem.

It is clear, therefore, that both the contents and purposes of the document are purely religious. It cannot be called pro-Zionist or anti-Zionist since it considers these as political questions and entirely outside of its religious scope. In fact, any use of the text to support partisan discussions or particular political claims or to attack the political claims of others would be completely unjustified and contrary to every intention of those who have composed it and presented it to the council.

Some recent newspaper accounts have mentioned the immediate possibility of an officer observer to the Second Vatican Council delegated by the World Jewish Congress. The incident referred to is not a recent one but took place in the summer of 1962. The Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity did not consider the proposal seriously at that time and is not doing so now.

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