Emphatically refuting the recent Scriptural interpretations of an Italian bishop who maintained the collective guilt of the Jewish people for Christ’s death, Augustin Cardinal Bea, president of the Vatican Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, told a group of bishops and theologians here that the charge of “deicide” still leveled at the Jews can be proven from Scripture to be totally unfounded.
Cardinal Bea’s talk was particularly significant in view of the impending distribution in the ecumenical council of the revised text of the declaration on non-Christians. The unity secretariat was in charge of the revision.
Unconfirmed reports persistently circulated here to the effect that the term “deicide” had been replaced in the document by other terms which, however, have exactly the same meaning.
Cardinal Bea pointed out that the people of Israel are a “type” of the People of God and as such their destiny is closely linked to the destiny of all Christianity, the Church itself being “the new Israel” in a spiritual sense. Not even the Jewish leaders of Christ’s time can be held responsible for His death, Cardinal Bea said, because it is doubtful that they were aware of the divine as well as the human in His person.
The punishments Jesus said were going to be inflicted on the Jewish people, Cardinal Bea continued, do not imply they were forsaken and damned by God. The destruction of Jerusalem, in the cardinal’s view, also is a “type” of the universal judgment of all mankind. The Jewish people, Cardinal Bea concluded, still must be considered the chosen people who along with the Gentiles will be redeemed at the end of time.
The cardinal, a renowned Scripture scholar, built his thesis on extensive exegetical material in his more than hour-long Italian lecture.
Father Placid Jordan, O.S.B.
NCWC News Rome correspondent