Catholic reps. reiterate Jews’ ‘chosen people’ status

Senior Vatican delegation reaffirms "chosen" status of the Jews at annual meeting with representatives of the Chief Rabbinate in J'lem.

April 1, 2011 01:47
2 minute read.
Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejìa.

Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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A senior Vatican delegation reaffirmed the “chosen” status of the Jews on Thursday, at the end of an annual meeting with representatives of the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem.

The Bilateral Commission of the delegations of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews concluded the three-day meeting Thursday, the theme of which was the challenges of faith and religious leadership in secular society.

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 The Catholic delegation, led by Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejìa, “took the opportunity to reiterate the historic teaching of the Second Vatican Council’s declaration Nostra Aetate (No. 4) regarding the Divine Covenant with the Jewish People that “the Jews still remain most dear to God because of their Fathers, for He does not repent of the gifts He makes, nor of the calls He issues (cf. Romans 11:28- 29),” the commission’s joint statement said.

At the end of the Vatican Synod on the Middle East in October, Melkite Catholic Archbishop Cyril Salim Bustros, who headed the commission that drafted the synod’s final statement, raised a storm when he said that “we Christians cannot speak about the promised land for the Jewish people. There is no longer a chosen people.”

Jewish groups called on the Vatican to denounce that statement, and Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi played down Bustros’s remarks, which were not the official written message approved by the synod.

“If one wants a summary of the synod’s position, attention must currently be paid to the ‘Message,’ which is the only written text approved by the synod in the last few days,” he said shortly afterward.

Heading the Jewish delegation at Thursday’s meeting – the 10th such meeting between the sides – was Haifa Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, a member of the Chief Rabbinical Council. He was joined by Kiryat Ono Chief Rabbi Rasson Arussi, Savion Chief Rabbi David Brodman, Chief Rabbinate Director-General Oded Wiener and Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s international director of interreligious affairs, who is a member of the commission in his capacity as the rabbinate’s honorary adviser on interfaith relations.

“Many people thought that the words of Bustros [at the] end of the Synod reflected the church’s official voice,” Rosen told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. “The Catholic delegation here made that special statement to reassure the Jewish side and placate any suspicions that may have remained.”

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