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Faith/Spirituality Forum: NCCB statement on Jewish relations

by Catherine Frakas 11 Aug 2001

NCCB statement on Jewish relations QUESTION from Campbell on August 15, 2002 I recently read an article from the Boston Globe (a secular newspaper in the worst sense of the word, to be sure) which purported that the Council of United States Bishops had released a document stating that for Jewish people faith in Christ was not necessary, that their Old Testament covenant was sufficient for their salvation, and that, therefore, evangelization of these people was unnecessary. This was, of course, very distressing, and I am afraid that I may have been in the sin of rash judgement, as I immediately wondered what Rome would have to say about this, rather than questioning the accuracy of the report.
NOw, I am aware, of course, that for those in invincible ignorance the Lord may certainly provide the grace of salvation by extraordinary means, but I had always understood that the Church was meant, universally, to be the ordinary means by which God granted the grace of salvation won on the cross. My questions, therefore, are these: are you aware of the actual content of this document? Did it, in fact, say that faith in Christ is unnecessary for the Jewish people? If so, this seems to touch on an issue of dogma regarding salvation; do you have a reaction to this, or perhaps some encouraging words? Finally, although I know that this is a request for conjecture, do you suppose that Rome will give a response to this statement, if it is indeed presuming to make an apparently novel doctrinal statement?
Thank you for your ministry in this crucial time in the Church.
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, OLSM on August 30, 2002 Dear Mr. Campbell:
I have read the actual document. You can to. It is located at: Covenant and Mission
First it must be understood that this document is a working document of a COMMITTEE. It has no binding force and frankly since it is a working document it should have never been made public in my opinion. The nature of working documents are such that the difference between a working document and the final draft can be the difference of night and day. All sorts of things might be put into a working document that do not make the final draft. Indeed, we are fortunate that the working document of the U.S. Constitution was tweaked before voting on the final draft.
Thus, a working document should be ignored, especially one from a committee.
This document IS NOT a statement from the National Council of Catholic Biships.
Secondly, if we do decide to look at the document we need to READ it carefully and not jump to wild conclusions as the Press has done and as many Catholics have done.
The primary distinctions made in the document involve the difference between evanglization and mission. We are not to target Jews as a mission. Mission involves trying to convert those who worship fales gods. Jews worship the TRUE God and this missions to them is improper.
In addition, this very same document also says the following which most people seemt to have missed:

The Catholic Church must always evangelize and will always witness to its faith in the presence of God's kingdom in Jesus Christ to Jews and to all other people. In so doing, the Catholic Church respects fully the principles of religious freedom and freedom of conscience, so that sincere individual converts from any tradition or people, including the Jewish people, will be welcomed and accepted.
BOTTOM LINE: The document is a working document of a committee and is not a statement of the American Biships. Who knows what the final draft will say. And whatever is said will have to be vetted by Rome. Thus we should not worry about it.
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