26 November 2015

Nostra aetate

I have just carefully reread, for the umpteenth time, Nostra aetate. Some points, which I make in the Bergoglian spirit of Parrhesia.

(1) I am sorry if the following upsets some 'traditionalist' readers; but: the Conciliar document Nostra aetate seems to me thoroughly well-judged.

(2) Anyone who asserts that: its text in any way implies that the Prayer for the Jews which the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI himself composed as recently as 2008 must be considered either
          (a) erroneous, or
          (b) not fully compliant with the words and spirit of Nostra aetate:
is as guilty of mendacity as he/she is of disrespect to a learned Pontiff.

(3) Accordingly, the views recently expressed in the name of the CBCEW are, so it seems to me, so flawed as to constitute a skandalon. The skandalon is made all the worse because of episcopal involvement in both the original 'Resolution' of the CBCEW; and the 'Note' published on November 24.


mark wauck said...

It's been years since I've reread Ratzinger's various statements on these matters. My recollection is that the thrust of his ideas is that the Church should be regarded as a continuation of Israel rather than a rupture with Israel, but that this perspective needs to be interpreted from the standpoint of the truly new revelation of God in Jesus. Thus, as I recall, Ratzinger interprets the Covenants as "calls" to Israel and he maintains that those calls remain, but now must be seen in the context of this new and ultimate revelation: they are calls to membership in the New Israel of God through faith in Jesus, which is the Church. All that said, there can be no place for the rank anti-Semitism that was popular in the past.

Unknown said...

Nostra aetate, apart from being decidedly facile in its witness to the Faith, having only two magisterial references (one direct, Gregory VII, and one indirect re: Romans 11 : 28-29, Lumen Gentium, 57), was rather too short to be secure as a foundation for any major theological shifts (thereafter placed upon its slender means).

Indeed it was so magisterially laconic as almost to put the Latin reticence of the other conciliar texts into the league of Greek mystical poetry (a touch of hyperbole there, which I trust you'll forgive).

Yet I agree, it was well judged .. quoting Soph 3 : 9 .. hastily (not thoroughly) concocted as it was - to meet the truly urgent needs of that Mad Men lacquered over time: (the Cold War, Suez, Hungarian Revolt, de-colonisation, Berlin Wall, Cuba, Vietnam et al not so long gone by) LBJ's Great Society, the end of an era at Churchill's funeral, rapidly swelling horrors in Vietnam, Selma Alabama, greater horrors seeming to loom between India and Pakistan (with China no disinterested neighbour), the Watts riots, South Africa et al (and even tiny Northern Ireland) seething with racial, social, sectarian and revolutionary discontent, and, of course, Paul VI attends the UN in New York (then hot on their heels Malaysia, Indonesia, Rhodesia, yet more Vietnam, Gromyko at the Holy See, China's Cultural Revolution, even more Vietnam but worse, the Six-Day War, rise and crushing of Dubček, Paris '68, Humane Vitae et al).

Who, back then, one may wisely ask, fully or truly imagined - let alone prepared us for - so prolonged and vicious a renewed outburst of Islamic terror against Christians, and others, and set us clearly in need of a calm, indeed prophetic, call to moral reason and mutual justice.

Only seen in this disturbing light (and the chilling shadows cast around it) - the signs of those now dim and dusty, greyscale Newsreel times - can Nostra aetate begin to show its real meaning (and its only pertinent application).

Awaiting in hope for the divine restoration:

'Because then I will restore to the people a chosen lip, that all may call upon the name of the Lord, and may serve him with one shoulder.' Sophanias (Zephaniah) 3 : 9.

In this expectation, Catholics (if not every form of Christian) must witness to the Faith to all men, without falter or favour, in season and out, that perchance they may be saved:

'Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (Jhn 14 : 6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself. (2 Cor)' Paul VI, Nostra aetate.

Kindly, yes, gently, of course, charitably, without doubt, in peace, justice, and sincerity, as best man may, bearing no malice, having no animosity, allowing no prejudice, but always, absolutely, and to all; a conversion of heart to God in Christ Jesus and away from self-centred-ness, chiefly man's most dangerously wayward idol: himself; and that applies to the Jews as much as to ourselves and every living soul, not least in our prayer for others .. whether or not our current batch of bishops feels comfortable with this call.


John Vasc said...

It's curious how, as a cradle Catholic in a Catholic family, fifty years ago, being taught RI at a Catholic primary and then a Catholic secondary school, attending countless churches and hearing countless sermons, I failed to hear even the tiniest, briefest anti-semitic remark, ever. Not from priests, teachers, schoolmates, nor from any other Catholic.
Perhaps this allegedly 'popular' anti-semitism was not quite as 'popular' as alleged?
But we do our Jewish elder brothers and their immortal souls a grave disfavour if we neglect to hold Our Blessed Saviour's Sacrifice before them and urge them fervently to accept Him. I can find nothing in the Gospels about being tactful, or about *not* going out and preaching to all nations. Our Lord is quite adamant on the subject of conversion, particularly of His own people. And prayer for their spiritual well-being - which He and his Apostles insist *cannot* be achieved through the Old Law - is the very least we can do in charity to them.

Matthew Roth said...

I agree with what you say, though I would add that the charge I have heard about the pre-Pian prayer for the Jews is anti-Semitic is absurd.

Deacon Augustine said...

Satisfying sentiment and emotion has replaced any objective notion of truth and logic. How the living foundation stones of the Church must be weeping in heaven to see their scandalous successors embracing the sin of human respect.

Jacobi said...


In my non-traditionalist, ordinary Catholic op[inion, Nostra Aetate is a dubious document. What it says about the Jews is absolutely correct. Pope Gregory the Great who was quite outspoken in decrying the then anti-Jewishness in the Church would fully approved of what Paul VI says.

But, and this is a very big but, the problem in Nostra Aetate lies elsewhere. It is in Paul's assessment of Islam. In Chapter 3, in particular. This is simply wrong and would have been considered as offensive by many of his papal predecessors. His wording "in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities" is worthy only of an obtuse propaganda document.

Woody said...

Are those documents of that era really theological or just political? I think the later.

Cosmos said...

I'm with Jacobi on both counts.

"Thoroughly well-judged" seems an appropriate description of the document's treatment of the Jews. "The best spin imaginable" would be a more appriate description of its treatment of Islam.

Overall, though, the document seems to be based on the idea that religion is born of an instinct to pursue Truth. Rather than describing religions accurately, it describes what draws men of good will to each religion. In that sense, its more of a subjective than objective account.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Well, of course the Pope had authority to change the prayer but one can, politely, wonder if the change ought to have been made.

In 2007, The Tablet noted;

It is an oddity of modernity that when it comes to those who deny the Messias, one may only speak of the Blessing bestowed upon them by God but not the curses they received from breaking the covenants even though both the Blessing and Curses are clearly recorded in the Bible.

And as for the charges of anti semitism, one does well to note the charge is rarely, if ever, defined which means it is all the more effective - covering everything from criticising Israel to actual hatred of Jews.

Jacobi said...

Ah, Woody,

I see you are one of those who believe that the Church started some time after 33AD. I wonder when?. Perhaps circa 300, or in 732, or 800. I trust not in 1521? Then of course there is 1965, or better still 2014? I'm intrigued.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. The cut and paste from The 2007 Tablet did not show-up in my post so, for those wondering what was quoted, here it is

....An article last Sunday in Il Cor riere della Sera cited other recent historical studies showing that Pope Pius VII blocked efforts to eliminate liturgical references to the “perfidious Jews” in 1808. The article cited an essay by Msgr Giuseppe Croce, an archivist in the Vatican Archives, which chronicled the little-known episode. After conquering Tuscany in the spring of 1808, Napoleon ordered all the churches in the region to make two changes in the Good Friday prayers: to substitute the “prayer for the emperor” with a prayer for Napoleon; and, because he believed it “injurious”, to substitute the prayer for the “perfidious Jews” with one for the “blinded Jews”. Pius VII allowed the first change, but strongly refused the second. “If we were to change [the prayer] it would appear that the Church had erred up to now,” the Pope said.