Thursday, October 12, 2006

Nostra Aetate 2: De Judaeis

I went to the second of four lectures by Fr. Tom Stransky CSP at Georgetown on Nostra Aetate ... One of the handouts we got was Decretum De Judaeis: First official draft of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, August 1961. These 42 lines were what the SPCU produced just before the first sessions (before things got complicated). By 1964, the "mandate" for the document got enlarged to include other religions ... I'll put the notes up after the weekend (I'm traveling tomorrow), but in the meantime, here's the full text of the Decretum De Judaeis.

The Church, the Bride of Christ, acknowledges with a heart full of gratitude that according to God's mysterious saving decree, the beginnings of her faith and election are already to be found in the Israel of patriarchs and prophets. Thus she acknowledxges that all Christian believers -- Sons of Abraham by faith (cf. Gal 3:7) -- are included in his call and, likewise, that her salvation is prefigured in the deliverance of the chosen people out of Egypt, as in a sacramental sign (Liturgy of the Easter Vigil). And the Church, new creation in Christ as she is (cf. Eph 2:15) can enver forget that she is the spiritual continuation of that people with whom, in his mercy and gracious condescension, God made the Old Covenant.

The Church in fact believes that Christ, who "is our peace," embraces Jews and Gentiles with one and the same love and that he made the two one (cf. Eph 2:14). She rejoinces that the union of these two "in one body" (Eph 2:16) proclaims the whole world's reconciliation in Christ. Even though the great part of the Jewish people remained separated from Christ, it would nevertheless be an injustice to call this people accursed, since they are beloved for the sake of their fathers and the promises made to them (cf. Rom 11:28). The Church loves this people. From them spring Christ the Lord, who reigns in glory in heaven; from them sprang the Virgin Mary, mother of all Christians, from them came the apostles, the pillars and bulwarks of the Church (1 Tim 3:15).

Furthermore, the CHurch in fact believes in the union of the Jewsih people with herself as an integral part of Christian hope. The Church awaits the return of this people with unshaken faith and deep longing. At the time of Christ's coming only "a remnant chosen by grace" (Rom 11:5), first-born of the Church accepted the (eternal) word. The Church believes, however, with the Apostle that at the time chosen by God, the fullness of the sons of Abraham according to the flesh will finally achieve salvation (cf. Rom 11:12, 26). Their reception will be life from the dead (cf. Rom 11:15).

As the Church, like a mother, condemns most severely injustices committed against innocent people everywhere, so she raises her voice in loud protest against everything done to the Jews, whether in the past or in our time. Whoever despies or persecutes this people does injury to the Catholic Church.
[These 42 lines eventually became #4 of the final text of the declaration.]

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