14 March 2014

Has Francis changed the Church's teaching on Judaism?

In an earlier combox discussion, an HA reader objects to the idea that Francis has made no changes to Church doctrine/dogma. Citing the three paragraphs below from Evangelii gaudium, he/she claims that the Holy Father has altered the traditional Catholic understanding of Judaism.

I read nothing in these paragraphs that suggests that the Holy Father is teaching something other than the apostolic faith.

Does anyone see the problem?
 
247. We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). The Church, which shares with Jews an important part of the sacred Scriptures, looks upon the people of the covenant and their faith as one of the sacred roots of her own Christian identity (cf. Rom 11:16-18). As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God (cf. 1 Thes 1:9). With them, we believe in the one God who acts in history, and with them we accept his revealed word.

248. Dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples. The friendship which has grown between us makes us bitterly and sincerely regret the terrible persecutions which they have endured, and continue to endure, especially those that have involved Christians. 

249. God continues to work among the people of the Old Covenant and to bring forth treasures of wisdom which flow from their encounter with his word. For this reason, the Church also is enriched when she receives the values of Judaism. While it is true that certain Christian beliefs are unacceptable to Judaism, and that the Church cannot refrain from proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Messiah, there exists as well a rich complementarity which allows us to read the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures together and to help one another to mine the riches of God’s word. We can also share many ethical convictions and a common concern for justice and the development of peoples. 

We need to be very careful about the difficulties surrounding the doctrine of supersessionism (cf "replacement theology"). Christ fulfilled the Law; he did not destroy it. We have to distinguish between the moral law (which is not superseded) and the ritual law (which is superseded) (cf. ST I-II.103.3.3). We also have to be careful about how we understand the concept of "replacement."

This is not an area I've spent much time studying, so I am more than willing to be corrected, if correction is required. 

As I understand Catholic teaching, anyone who finds himself in heaven is there b/c of Christ.
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19 comments:

  1. Anonymous8:19 PM

    All question are objective. Those "invisibly ignorant" are not part of this argument.

    Father Powell, is Christ God (2nd Person of the Trinity)? Y/N

    Is Christ the Word made flesh, the Word of God? Y/N

    Is the Catholic Bible error free, infallible? Y/N

    Have Rabbinical Jews failed to accept the teachings of the OT/NT prophets of God? Y/N

    Have Rabbinical Jews denied Christ as their savior (generally speaking)? Y/N

    Can anyone who does not accept Christ as their savior count themselves among the children of Abraham? Y/N

    Is there any other covenant in which one can be saved? Y/N

    If one is not a child of Abraham in faith, are they saved in the New and Everlasting Covenant? Y/N

    Is there a doctrinally binding teaching that states that the "all Israel" in the Book of Revelation is all Jewish people not already Christian?

    If there is no such binding and infallible teaching, why should be assume or take for granted that there will be a great conversion at the end of time? I don't remember the Church ever taking this position until the Modernists took over at Vatican II and changed the Church's understanding on ecumenism and the Church's relationship with the world.

    If a modern day Jewish person (or anyone for that matter) is not sacramentally baptized, why would one say...

    "As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God. With them, we believe in the one God who acts in history, and with them we accept his revealed word."

    ...if they did not think they were already saved.

    Christ redeemed all of mankind, but He did not save all. Salvation depends on our conformity with His will.

    Rabbinical Judaism is a direct response to Christianity and is not the Church's friend.

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    1. I answered all of your questions when I wrote, "As I understand Catholic teaching, anyone who finds himself in heaven is there b/c of Christ."

      You are shifting terms. The Holy Father refers to "Jewish people" and "Judaism." You are referring to "Rabbinical Judaism." This makes me wonder if you aren't equivocating on what we mean by "Jew." You might be right about "Rabbinical Judaism," but that's not what the Holy Father is writing about. Deal with him on his terms. Is he changing Church teaching on Judaism and the Jewish people?

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  2. Anonymous9:43 PM

    Father, Ancient Judaism was fulfilled by Christ and is now the Catholic faith. The Catholic Church is the New Jerusalem. There is no other Jewish faith that finds itself in a covenant with God. The only aspect of "Jewish" that exists possibly apart from Christ is of a genetic nature, not one of faith. Are you suggesting that the Holy Father is using "Jewish people" and "Judaism" in a way in which he means to speak of Catholicism?

    There is no way Pope Francis can be speaking of any other faith other than the one he has been familiar with, modern day Judaism which is not the faith of our Fathers.

    Why not proselytize if the souls of our brethren are in mortal danger? And please don't give me any grief about the word "proselytize". The Church never supported forced conversions and never understood proselytizing to be bad or unnecessary until, once again, Vatican II. The modern M.O. is to keep the word itself, gut the original meaning, and then redefine it. And that is how doctrine is changed while keeping the appearance of orthodoxy.

    The Pope said that "with us, they (those that practice Judaism) accept God's revealed word. Is this a true statement or not?

    Are you comfortable in presuming that Jewish people need not convert to Catholicism? Are you willing to bet your staff on a host of lost sheep not needing to be brought back into the flock on your watch? I think the parable of the shepherd verses the hireling is a great warning to those that apply and get accepted for the job.

    I really like your blog but it seems that you may be taking this too lightly. You can look at the Pope's history regarding his position on Judaism and conversions in general. He sees no purpose in conversions, but sees them only as a horizontal move within the same body that we are ALL part of already. Think here of the erroneous teaching of the "anonymous Christian". With this theory, the Church of Christ is not the Catholic Church. They are separate and distinct, though the former "subsists" in the latter. Whatever that means. Before Vatican II, the Church of Christ WAS the Catholic Church, one and the same. Now, not so.

    God bless.

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    1. I've made my view on the necessity of Christ for salvation very plain. You're shifting the question. My views are irrelevant to the question.

      The question is: do the paragraphs from EG cited above indicate a change in Church teaching on the validity of the Old Covenant for Jews? Is the Holy Father contradicting or clarifying or muddling what we have always believed about the necessity of Christ for salvation?

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    3. Anonymous12:19 PM

      They despised the oracles of Heaven, and rejected the Messiah who had been especially promised to their fore-fathers; they were unwilling he should reign over them, and blindly preferred the tyrannical dominion of Herod to the sweet yoke of his Gospel. It is no wonder, then, that they ceased to be the chosen people of God; no wonder that, after thus frustrating the designs of his mercy, they felt the severe effects of his justice, and in their turn were rejected and cast off like abortives, in punishment of their obstinacy and perverseness, and on account of their infidelity in not corresponding with the graces which were offered to them.

      (Gahan, Sermons and Moral Discourses: for all the Sundays and Principal Festivals of the Year, Vol. 2, 3rd ed. [Dublin: Richard Coyne, 1846], p. 55

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    4. Anonymous12:47 PM

      I want to also point out that Church documents are supposed to clarify the faith, not muddle it. Even if blatant contradiction is not present (Holy Spirit working in a negative way), it should not cloud a doctrine. EG does not clarify at all in this area and neither does NA or GS. The fog is where Modernism thrives and the period of time from VII till now is all the proof one needs. It is time for a syllabus of errors from the Church.

      "The question is: do the paragraphs from EG cited above indicate a change in Church teaching on the validity of the Old Covenant for Jews? Is the Holy Father contradicting or clarifying or muddling what we have always believed about the necessity of Christ for salvation?"

      The Church cannot change doctrine and Popes and bishops teach and preserve these truths. They do not make them up. It is clear that the OT covenant as it was back then is not valid for anyone's salvation. I think the Pope is at best causing much confusion.

      The Pope said that "with us, they (those that practice Judaism) accept God's revealed word. Is this a true statement or not?

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    5. "The Church cannot change doctrine and Popes and bishops teach and preserve these truths. They do not make them up." I agree. Then why are you arguing so forcefully that the Vicar of Christ is doing what you say cannot be done?

      The charitable thing to do when an apparent contradiction shows itself is to make the proper distinctions and hold on to the essential truth. I do not believe that the Holy Father is teaching us that anyone can be saved outside the grace of Christ. You seem too willing -- even eager -- to accuse him of bad will. Why not assume that he believes and teaches what the Church believes and teaches and then read his writings in light of that charitable lens?

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    6. IOW, unless and until Francis declares unequivocally and magisterially (not in an off-the-cuff interview or an article published before he was elected), "The Jews are saved by the Old Covenant. They don't need Christ," I'm presuming grace and bowing my head to the Vicar of Christ!

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  3. Anonymous8:27 AM

    If only someone had told Edith Stein and Elias Friedman they were automatically saved as part of the 'magic jew' category. They could have saved themselves the bother of converting to Catholicism and living heroic lives of celibacy and in Stein's case, martyrdom.

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    1. I don't know what "magic Jew" means.

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  4. What Pope Francis wrote in his exhortation, without checking the sources, seems to follow the teaching of VII. However, it seems to be in stark contrast with the Council of Florence. If the latter addressed Christians borrowing from Judaism, perhaps conversos, or Jews, it's not clear. But, in this case, this teaching would not apply to Israelites then and now, as the teaching by Vatican II does. In conclusion the contradiction between Florence and Vatican II would be merely apparent, since the objecst of the teachings would be different. So, my question is, since we know that Nostra Aetate addressed the Israelites, who did Florence address?

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    1. My impeccably orthodox source tells me that the Church teaches that God's covenant with the Jews has not been revoked, but the Law has been. IOW, God bound Himself to the Covenant with Israel but released us all from the obligations of the Law through Christ, i.e. "I've come not to abolish the Law but fulfill it."

      The distinction btw the Covenant and the Law is essential. The Law enacts the Covenant from the human side of things. We've been freed from the Law by God's grace. So, that God will save the Jews is still valid; however, they will not be freed through the Law.

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    2. Got it! Francis spoke about the Covenant with Israel, affirming it, while Florence, about the Mosaic Law, deprecating it.

      Thanks!

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    1. Yes, yes, yes. I know that Christ alone saves. I've written that very thing in this thread several times. . .

      Show me where Francis explicitly teaches that Jews do not need Christ to be saved. Not from an off-the-cuff interview; not from an article or blog post before he was elected. . .show me where Pope Francis has explicitly denied that necessity of Christ for Jewish salvation.

      You can stop quoting documents. I know what they teach. I believe and preach what they preach. The issue is not what the Church teaches or what I believe. . .the issue is (one again): in what text does Pope Francis teach contrary to these documents?

      Please make the distinction btw the Covenant and the Law. Jesus said, "I came not to abolish the Law but fulfill it." The Law is OUR part of the Covenant not God's.

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    1. QVP, so, in other words, you believe that the Vicar of Christ is lying not only to us about his beliefs but himself as well.

      If you think that modernists believe in the existence of and talk about the Devil (the way that Francis does), then you need to brush up a bit on what the heresy of modernism really is.

      May I suggest you look up the term "calumny" and reflect on whether or not you've disparaged the Holy Father unjustly.

      Now, having said all that, let me thank you for answering this post and giving me the chance to research a topic I'm woefully under-educated in. . .and I agree, this discussion is at an end.

      Blessed Lent to you! Fr. Philip

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