1 November 2014

How many Covenants?

In January of this year, I published a series of six posts, titled Nostra aetate 1-6, about the current fashion for saying that there are still Two Covenants; the Jewish and the Christian; and that each conveys Salvation ... which leads to the conclusions that there is no need for Jews to become Christians, and that it is offensive for Christians to include Jews in their Mission. Jewry, it follows, is the only race in the whole world to which the Gospel should not be preached. Hottentots need it; and Americans; and even the Welsh ... and they can't do without it in Fiji or the Isle of Wight. But the Jews are, so we are informed, a unique and distinct case.

The teaching of the New Testament, and of the Christian Tradition, that the Jewish covenant has been superseded, is sometimes called Supersessionism. I'm not now going to repeat all that, or to enable critical comments which indicate that someone has not bothered to look at the January stuff. If you're too busy to look at it, fair enough, be too busy to comment!

So much for the briefest and crudest summary of the status quaestionis. Now to my point.

The 'Eponymous Flower' blog recently published a very interesting item about one particular after-shock of the Synod of which you may not have been aware. The Chief Rabbi of Rome has said "With a certain hardness in form and substance, the bishops come, therefore, to us today (we follow the Torah of Moses) to say that we were in sin and that our era is over. How difficult is this dialogue!"

He is referring to the Final Relatio Synodi, para 15, which talks about the institution of Marriage in Genesis, and goes on to say that "damaged by Sin it became the historical form of Marriage among the People of God, for which Moses conceded the possibility of granting a bill of divorce. This form was predominant at the time of Jesus. With His coming and upon the reconciliation of the fallen world, thanks to the redemption worked by Him, the era begun with Moses ended (termino l'era inaugurata con Mose)." This paragraph received 167 votes, with 13 against it.

This, of course, merely repeats the teaching of the Lord at Mark 10:1-12 (parallel at Matthew 19:1-9). Permission for Divorce represents a fall from the primeval purpose of Marriage, and Christ is now restoring it to its primal (and pre-Torah) institution. Christ clearly teaches the supersession of the Mosaic provisions.

Some Jewish interests regard the adherence of Christians to their own religion and to the teachings of its Founder as an 'unecumenical' offence against Judaism. Frankly, I do not blame them; I blame the ecumenical industry which has contrived to give them the impression that Christians no longer believe in supersessionism. It naturally now comes as a shock to Jews to read something like this. They have even, mendaciously, been informed that Nostra aetate of Vatican II taught the Two Covenant doctrine. This sort of misrepresentation has been going on for nearly half a century.

If the Synodal document had been produced by professional ecumenists at the Vatican's Desk for Jewish-Christian Dialogue, this statement would pretty certainly have been edited out. But the Synod consisted, not of the staff at the Jewish Desk, but of Christian Bishops who were struggling to come to one mind with each other as to how to relate our Christian foundational teaching about Marriage to certain problems of our own culture. Unsurprisingly, they had in their minds the teaching of Christ in the Christian Scriptures. Just for once, in the hurry to get a document out fast, it emerged before the censoring ecumenists in the Vatican machinery had the opportunity to get their itching pencils to it.

The supersession of the Old Covenant by the New is hardwired into the whole New Testament and the Church's entire teaching. You pray it every time you go to Mass (novi et aeterni Testamenti) or Benediction (Et antiquum documentum/ novo cedat ritui). Even the post-Conciliar liturgical innovators accepted it and were prepared to incorporate Patristic Readings based upon supersession. Just one example: look at the Patristic Reading for September 8, from S Andrew of Crete. This reading was not something thoughtlessly carried over from the old Breviary, which had different readings, but was actually introduced in the course of the post-Conciliar reforms. So what I am saying is this: when the Liturgy of the Hours was issued in 1971, its compilers still, at that time, had no idea that, within a few years, it would be deemed wicked even to think passages like that.

I am genuinely sorry, as any decent person should be, that Chief Rabbi di Segni has been hurt. I feel nothing but respect for him. Indeed, he has done us all a service by raising an extremely important matter which the politically correct have very carefully kept off-limits for too long. If inter-faith dialogue is kept muzzled, it is of no use. Indeed, it is harmful.


Patrick Sheridan said...

Nothing can be both new and true.

GOR said...

Good point Father and well made!

Much of the post-Vat II ‘ecumenism’ did not sit well with me. For generations we had been taught that the fullness of revealed Truth and Doctrine resided in the Catholic Church and in Her alone. Other faith communities had some of this in varying degrees - but none had it completely.

Judaism had been the Chosen People of the OT, awaiting the promised Messiah. But when He finally came, many did not recognize Him - not only in Our Lord’s time but down to the present day. We know Faith is a gift, not something we can earn, but something all should pray to receive.

We are also assured that God does not fault those who through invincible ignorance fail to acknowledge His Son. But as St. Paul reminds the Romans ‘faith comes by hearing’ and the hearers need a preacher. So if we do not preach the fullness of the Gospel to all – Jews and others alike – we are not fulfilling Christ commandment to “teach all nations”.

If ecumenism is no more than feel-good ‘dialogue’ glossing over ignorance and error, we have failed to teach and share the Faith.

Deacon Augustine said...

But who was it who told them that we no longer believed in supersessionism and that the Church now believed in the "two covenant" theory?

Oh yes, it was our old friend Walter "never-tell-a-lie" Kasper when he headed the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity! In his May 2001 speech to the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee he said:

"Therefore the Church believes that Judaism, i.e. the faithful response of the Jewish people to God's irrevocable covenant is salvific for them because God is faithful to his promises."

No wonder they are confused. But interesting how Kasper keeps cropping up in all kinds of attempts to mislead people about the Catholic Faith.

Aneas said...

Unfortunately, Cardinal Ratzinger peddled a "soft supersessiomism" that I believe damaged the Church. I'll have to check out your posts on Nostra Aetate. I think this is the most problematic document of the Council by a good distance.

Romulus said...

I was in the room when a former student of Ratzinger's, a European Cardinal, assured a certain interfaith gathering that the Jewish covenant is indeed salvific for them and there's no need for Jews to be baptized. I'm conviced that is accepted without question in bien-pensant Catholic circles.

The hundredth anniversary of Quas primas will be in 11 years. It is pleasant to imagine a future pope noting the occasion.