14 December 2015

Nostra aetate (5): the recent Papal Magisterium

The sort of people who would violently reject the points I am making are the sort of people who would not be impressed by the the Council of Florence. So I am going to confine myself to the Magisterium from the time of Pius XII ... since it is increasingly coming to be realised that the continuum of processes which we associate with the Conciliar and post-Conciliar period was already in operation during the Pontificate of Pius XII ... to the present day.

In 1943 Pius XII published his encyclical Mystici corporis. He did not discuss Judaism as a topic; the fabric of Christian discourse had not yet so disintegrated as to render necessary the sort of polemic in which I am presently engaged. But, in laying the foundations of an exposition of the Ecclesia, he wrote as follows. "With the death of the Redeemer the Old Law was abolished (abolitae) and the New Covenant (Testamentum)  took its place (successit); it was then that the Law of Christ, with its mysteries, its laws, institutions, and sacred rites, was ratified (sancita) for the whole world by the blood of Jesus Christ. ... by his death on the Cross he made void (evacuavit) the Law with its decrees and fastened the handwriting (chirographum) of the Old Covenant to the Cross, establishing the New Covenant in His Blood which he shed for the whole human race. 'At that moment', says S Leo the Great, 'there came about so evident a transition (translatio) from the Law to the Gospel, from the Synagogue to the Church, from the multitude of sacrifices to the one Victim (a multis sacrificiis ad unam hostim) , that when the Lord gave up the ghost the mystic veil, interposed to hide the inner parts of the Temple and the secret sanctuary, was rent with sudden violence from top to bottom'. On the Cross, then, the Old Law died (mortua est) - soon to be buried (sepelienda) and to become lethal (mortifera futura) - and was succeeded by the New Covenant (Novo Testamento cederet) ..." As was the custom, this passage in the Magisterial opus of a very recent pope (well, I was a sixth former when he died) was very adequately propped up with Biblical, Patristic, and Conciliar references. I am confident that these words are a very fair summary of the assumptions of two Christian millennia; and in both East and West.

But was this consensus set aside in the Conciliar or in the  post-Conciliar period? We turn to one of the great exegetes of the post-Conciliar 'look' - Cardinal Jan Willebrands. Willebrands was no Ottaviani. He had a finger in every exercise of aggiornamento and every 'ecumenical' 'outreach' of the Vatican. In 1985 he signed Commission for religious relations with Jews; notes on the correct way to present the Jews and Judaism in preaching and catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church. Here are two paragraphs of that document. "In virtue of her divine mission, the Church which is to be 'the all-embracing means of salvation in which alone the fulness of the means of salvation can be obtained'* must of her nature proclaim Jesus Christ to the world. Indeed we believe that it is through him that we go to the Father 'and this is eternal life, that they know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent'. Jesus affirms that 'there shall be one flock and one one shepherd'. Church and Judaism cannot then be seen as two parallel ways of salvation and the Church must witness to Christ as the Redeemer of all 'while maintaining the strictest respect for religious liberty in line with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council'*". The inner citations I have *asterisked are from Unitatis redintegratio and Dignitatis humanae of Vatican II. This is not surprising since, at the Council, Willebrands was responsible for drafting some of its most sensitive documents (Ecumenism; non-Christian religions; Religious Liberty). Despite this experience, despite his high-profile stance in the establishment of new relationships with non-Catholics, he was evidently completely unaware that Vatican II, in whose processes he played such a significant role, had in some way mandated or even encouraged belief in 'two parallel ways of salvation'.

Equally unaware of this alleged revolution was, it appears, another of the bright young things of the sixties, a peritus at the Council, another of its drafters. In 2002 Joseph Ratzinger was to enunciate (in an interview) the teaching of S Paul that "in the end all of Israel will be brought home. It is another question, how far, with the rise of the Church - the people of God from all nations - and with the coming of the new covenant, life under the old covenant, a life that remains closed to the new covenant that comes from Christ, is still a valid way of life ...We are in fact waiting for the moment when Israel too will say Yes to Christ ... " Does that mean that Jews will have to recognise the Messiah, or ought to do so? "That is what we believe ...".

So has anything happened to contradict the Magisterium of all the ages? The next post will finish off this series; and my apologies to those who didn't need to have any of this explained to them because they knew it already, and have accordingly been rather bored. My thanks for some very helpful contributions on the thread.

5 comments:

Alan Matthews said...

Father, may I say that I find some of your posts quite opaque when I first read them? It is only when I read them again (and, sometimes, again and again) that I see the clarity of your argument. That, I hasten to add, is a result of the poverty of my education rather than your enunciation.

So, I wish you well on your mission not to resort to five-word soundbites or to the kind of "You're doing grand, son" exhortation I received last week in my confession. Your challenge to our intellects makes us sharpen our response to the challenges of the world. Plus, your insight is always without malice and reminds me of the insight into the methods of S. Fran├žois de Sales:

You will catch more flies, Saint Francis used to say, with a spoonful of honey than with a hundred barrels of vinegar. If there were anything better or more beautiful on earth than gentleness, Jesus Christ would have taught it to us; and yet He has given us only two lessons to learn of Him — meekness and humility of heart.

Rusty Angler said...

This was fun. Following along was like going on a moderately challenging hike; trusting the trail would lead where we expect, requiring a certain amount of exertion to get to the end, and yet secretly thrilling to the perception of danger along the way.

One mis-step, of course, and it's straight to the pit.

Marco da Vinha said...

Perhaps much of the confusion for Moderns is due to the conflation between Synagoga (those called by the Lord) and Synagogue (as in synagogue Judaism)? One tends to hear repeated ad nauseam that early Christianity developed from the synagogue, a view which, in my opinion, completely ignores the fact that we are the inheritors of Temple worship.

Highland Cathedral said...

According to the latest document, the Church should not, institutionally, evangelise Jews. However, individually, we are not banned from doing so. Nor is there a ban on Jews becoming Catholics. Readers might like to hear a Jewish convert explaining why she became a Catholic. Just go to 'The Journey Home' programme and watch Marcus Grodi's interview with Jessica Stuart.

Young Priest said...

George Weigel has just informed us that supersessionism is heresy:

http://eppc.org/publications/jews-and-catholics-a-common-witness/

I'm growing quite tired of him.