Church Has No Plans to Stop Missionizing Jews
New Vatican document precludes “institutional mission work” but says believers are “called upon to bear witness” to Jews.
Though it has been widely reported that the Vatican now guides Catholics not to try to convert Jews, theologist Yoram Hazony proves from the statement itself that this is not at all the case.
Hazony, President of the Herzl Institute, is a prolific writer in the fields of philosophy, theology, political theory and intellectual history. In an essay last week on TorahMusings.com, Hazony noted that many prominent news sites misreported the new Vatican document in question as having stated that “Catholics Should Not Try to Convert Jews” (both BBC and The New York Times), and “Catholics Shouldn’t Convert Jews” (Ha’aretz).
However, as Hazony quoted a “Catholic scholar with many years of experience in these matters” as saying, it was simply “just the media making things up again.”
At first, based on the reports, Hazony opined that the new document, authored by the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, was a dramatic change of Catholic theology of historic proportions. He therefore carefully perused the document – entitled “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable: A Reflection on the Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic-Jewish Relations” – and concluded the following:
“The words ‘Catholics should not try to convert Jews’ do not appear anywhere. Nor is it possible to find anything remotely resembling this proposition in the 25 pages of the document in question.”
On what is the mistake based? Probably on this passage from Section 20, which states that “the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews.” In the next sentence, however, the document makes it clear that “Christians are nonetheless called to bear witness to their faith in Jesus… also to Jews.”
Interestingly, the Vatican adds here that this evangelization must be done “in a humble and sensitive manner.” Why? To acknowledge “that
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