November 28, 2010

BECAUSE TWO OF US ARE GOING TO HAVE TO CONVERT AT THE END:

New book shows Pope’s commitment to Jews and Israel (LISA PALMIERI-BILLIG, 28/11/2010, Jerusalem Post)

Interspersed throughout the book – amidst talk about his world vision, self-doubts about his public role, ecology, God, good and evil, original sin, the contradictions of modernity and contemporary atheism, sex, bioethics, AIDS, condoms, abuse scandals, mission, ecumenism and interreligious relations – Benedict XVI speaks extensively on issues related to Israel and the Jewish world, confirming his unwavering personal commitment to both. He also explains the reasons for his conviction that Pius XII was “one of the great righteous men,” but without advocating further moves toward proclaiming him a saint.

Ratzinger holds true to his belief in the “intrinsic unity of the Old and the New Covenant, the two parts of the Holy Scripture,” an awareness he says he acquired “since the very first day” of his early theological studies. He first made his theological views on Judaism public in 1990, when as the cardinal in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he was interviewed in “Jews and Judaism in the Universal Catechism,” a piece published simultaneously in Studi Cattolici (in Italian) and Midstream (in English).

He says, “We can read the New Testament only together with what preceded it, otherwise, we would completely fail to understand it.”

These affirmations implicitly contradict and override the statements made by individual Middle East Bishops at the recent Vatican Synod regarding Christ’s having “annulled” the Abrahamic covenant.

Turning to a personal and historic perspective, he says, “As Germans, we were of course shaken by what had happened in the Third Reich, which gave us a special reason to look with humility and shame and with love, upon the People of Israel.”

He explains why he no longer calls Jews “our elder brothers” but rather “fathers in the faith,” stating that “the phrase ‘elder brothers,’ which had already been used by John XXIII, is not so welcome to Jews. The reason is that, in the Jewish tradition, the ‘elder brother’ – Esau – is also the brother who gets rejected.”

Regarding the controversy over Benedict XVI’s decision to facilitate diffusion of the pre- Vatican II Latin mass and his rewrite of its prayer for the conversion of the Jews, Ratzinger says the mass represented “internal reconciliation with our own past.” But the original Good Friday prayer, he explains, “really was offensive to Jews” while “the new formulation… shifts the focus from a direct petition for the conversion of the Jews in a missionary sense to a plea that the Lord might bring about the hour of history when we may all be united.”

“So the polemical arguments with which a whole series of theologians assailed me,” he concludes, “are ill-considered, they do not accurately reflect the reality of the situation.”


Posted by Orrin Judd at November 28, 2010 8:06 AM
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