Wednesday, October 28, 2015

50 years ago: Pope Paul VI promulgates Second Vatican Council's Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate)

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. Proverbs 14:12 (also Proverbs 16:25)

Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Amos 3:3

On October 28, 1965, the Second Vatican Council's Nostra Aetate--Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions--was promulgated by Pope Paul VI. It urged Roman Catholics to "enter with prudence and charity into discussion and collaboration with members of other religions," expressed a high regard for Muslims, and absolved the Jews of responsibility for the death of Jesus, reversing the decree issued in 1199 by Pope Innocent III. The declaration helped to pave the way for the current drive for a one-world religion being promoted by Pope Francis I and others. Here are some of the more notable passages (bold inserted by blogger):

...2. From ancient times down to the present, there is found among various peoples a certain perception of that hidden power which hovers over the course of things and over the events of human history; at times some indeed have come to the recognition of a Supreme Being, or even of a Father. This perception and recognition penetrates their lives with a profound religious sense.

Religions, however, that are bound up with an advanced culture have struggled to answer the same questions by means of more refined concepts and a more developed language. Thus in Hinduism, men contemplate the divine mystery and express it through an inexhaustible abundance of myths and through searching philosophical inquiry. They seek freedom from the anguish of our human condition either through ascetical practices or profound meditation or a flight to God with love and trust. Again, Buddhism, in its various forms, realizes the radical insufficiency of this changeable world; it teaches a way by which men, in a devout and confident spirit, may be able either to acquire the state of perfect liberation, or attain, by their own efforts or through higher help, supreme illumination. Likewise, other religions found everywhere try to counter the restlessness of the human heart, each in its own manner, by proposing "ways," comprising teachings, rules of life, and sacred rites. The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men. Indeed, she proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.(4)

The Church, therefore, exhorts her sons, that through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life, they recognize, preserve and promote the good things, spiritual and moral, as well as the socio-cultural values found among these men.

3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,(5) who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.

4. As the sacred synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham's stock.

Thus the Church of Christ acknowledges that, according to God's saving design, the beginnings of her faith and her election are found already among the Patriarchs, Moses and the prophets. She professes that all who believe in Christ-Abraham's sons according to faith (6)-are included in the same Patriarch's call, and likewise that the salvation of the Church is mysteriously foreshadowed by the chosen people's exodus from the land of bondage. The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles.(7) Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles. making both one in Himself.(8)

The Church keeps ever in mind the words of the Apostle about his kinsmen: "theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenants and the law and the worship and the promises; theirs are the fathers and from them is the Christ according to the flesh" (Rom. 9:4-5), the Son of the Virgin Mary. She also recalls that the Apostles, the Church's main-stay and pillars, as well as most of the early disciples who proclaimed Christ's Gospel to the world, sprang from the Jewish people.

As Holy Scripture testifies, Jerusalem did not recognize the time of her visitation,(9) nor did the Jews in large number, accept the Gospel; indeed not a few opposed its spreading.(10) Nevertheless, God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues-such is the witness of the Apostle.(11) In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and "serve him shoulder to shoulder" (Soph. 3:9).(12)

Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues.

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ;(13) still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ...

NOTES

...

4. Cf 2 Cor. 5:18-19

5. Cf St. Gregory VII, letter XXI to Anzir (Nacir), King of Mauritania (Pl. 148, col. 450f.)

6. Cf. Gal. 3:7

7. Cf. Rom. 11:17-24

8. Cf. Eph. 2:14-16

9. Cf. Lk. 19:44

10. Cf. Rom. 11:28

11. Cf. Rom. 11:28-29; cf. dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium (Light of nations) AAS, 57 (1965) pag. 20

12. Cf. Is. 66:23; Ps. 65:4; Rom. 11:11-32

13. Cf. John. 19:6

...
Those who think Chrislam is a recent invention might be surprised by the passages highlighted above concerning Islam. The idea that Christians and Muslims worship the same God can be proven false by a comparison of the Bible with the Qur'an; it should be obvious to anyone who's read both books that the God of the Bible and the god of the Qur'an are different gods. It must be emphasized that the views expressed in Nostra Aetate aren't the opinions of a rogue liberal priest, but are in fact the official teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, still in effect today--with the typical deadly mixture of truth and error, which is far more dangerous and deceptive than complete error.

It's now fashionable in Christian circles to play down or virtually deny Jewish culpability in the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. In rebuttal, I offer the following account from the gospel according to Matthew--the gospel account that's most directed toward a Jewish audience--as well as comments by three Jewish leaders of the early Christian church who were either on the scene or in the area at the time:

When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death:
And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor.
Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders,
Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that.
And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself.
And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.
Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value;
And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.
And Jesus stood before the governor: and the governor asked him, saying, Art thou the King of the Jews? And Jesus said unto him, Thou sayest.
And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing.
Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee?
And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.
Now at that feast the governor was wont to release unto the people a prisoner, whom they would.
And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.
Therefore when they were gathered together, Pilate said unto them, Whom will ye that I release unto you? Barabbas, or Jesus which is called Christ?
For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.
When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him.
But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas.
Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified.
And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.
When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it.
Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
Matthew 27:1-25

Peter: But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:...
...Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:...
...Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ...
...But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;
And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses...
...Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole...
...The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree...
...And we are witnesses of all things, whih he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree;
Acts 2:14, 23, 36; 3:14-15; 4:11; 5:30; 10:39

Stephen: Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.
Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers:
Acts 7:51-52

Paul: For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:
Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:
Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.
I Thessalonians 2:14-16

Nostra Aetate was followed by Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration "Nostra Aetate" (n. 4) , given on December 1, 1974.

An interesting postscript to Nostra Aetate is that in 2005, the United States Congress unanimously passed a resolution commending the decree on the 40th anniversary of its promulgation. The text reads as follows (bold in original):

H.Con.Res.260 - Concurrent resolution recognizing the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's promulgation of Noestra Aetate, the declaration on the relation of the Roman Catholic Church to non-Christian religions, and the historic role of Nostra Aetate in fostering mutual interreligious respect and dialogue.

Text: H.Con.Res.260 — 109th Congress (2005-2006)

[Congressional Bills 109th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H. Con. Res. 260 Enrolled Bill (ENR)]

H.Con.Res.260
Agreed to November 10, 2005

One Hundred Ninth Congress of the United States of America

AT THE FIRST SESSION

Begun and held at the City of Washington on Tuesday, the fourth day of January, two thousand and five

Concurrent Resolution

Whereas 2005 marks the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, the declaration on the relation of the Roman Catholic Church to non-Christian religions;

Whereas on October 28, 1965, after the overwhelmingly affirmative vote of the Second Vatican Council of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Paul VI issued Nostra Aetate, which means ``in our time'';

Whereas Nostra Aetate affirmed the respect of the Roman Catholic Church for Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism, and exhorted Catholics to engage in ``dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions'';

Whereas Nostra Aetate made possible a new relationship between Catholics and Jews worldwide and opened a chapter in Jewish-Christian relations that is unprecedented in its closeness and warmth;

Whereas Nostra Aetate states that the Roman Catholic Church ``decries hatred, persecution, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone''; and

Whereas Nostra Aetate clearly states that ``No foundation therefore remains for any theory or practice that leads to discrimination between man and man or people and people, so far as their human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.'': Now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress--
(1) recognizes the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's promulgation of Nostra Aetate, the declaration on the relation of the Roman Catholic Church to non-Christian religions;
(2) appreciates the role of the Holy See in combating religious intolerance and religious discrimination;
(3) encourages the United States to continue to serve in a leading role in combating anti-Semitism and other forms of religious intolerance and religious discrimination worldwide;
(4) acknowledges the role of Nostra Aetate in fostering interreligious dialogue and mutual respect, including, in particular, new relationships of collaboration and dialogue between Jews and Catholics since the issuance of Nostra Aetate; and
(5) requests the President to issue a proclamation recognizing the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate and the historic role of Nostra Aetate in fostering mutual interreligious respect and dialogue.
Attest:

Clerk of the House of Representatives.

Attest:

Secretary of the Senate.
The resolution, introduced on October 6, 2005, was sponsored by Rep. Rush Holt (Democrat--New Jersey), and there were 65 co-sponsors. The actions were:

11/10/2005 Passed/agreed to in Senate: Resolution agreed to in Senate without amendment and with a preamble by Unanimous Consent.(consideration: CR S12710-12711)
11/07/2005 Passed/agreed to in House: On motion to suspend the rules and agree to the resolution, as amended Agreed to by the Yeas and Nays: (2/3 required): 349 - 0 (Roll no. 570).(text: CR H9701-9702)


I don't remember hearing anything about this at the time, and it makes me wonder where all the "separation of church and state" crowd were when the United States Congress was unanimously recognizing a decree from the Roman Catholic Church. Although the resolution emphasizes the importance of Nostra Aetate in fostering improved relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Jews, it should be kept in mind that Nostra Aetate also had many nice (and false) things to say about Islam, but the resolution omits any mention of that aspect of Nostra Aetate.

No comments:

Post a Comment