Catholic apology to Jews would be premature: cardinal

 — Dec. 3, 19853 déc. 1985

by Paul Waters, Montreal Gazette

VATICAN CITY – It would be premature for Catholic bishops to apologize for the persecution of Jews through the centuries, according to Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, president of the Secretariat for Christian Unity.

A petition circulated among Roman parishes in the last few weeks asks the 165 bishops from around the world who are in the Vatican for an extraordinary synod to issue a statement apologizing for injustices committed against Jews.

Willebrands said yesterday that he had received the petition, but he said there was still not enough confidence between Jews and Catholics for the bishops to make such a move.

“This is not the place to make such a declaration,” he said. “For such a statement to mean anything it must come out of a climate of confidence. Otherwise it will mean nothing to anyone. No one will believe it.”

Willebrands is in charge of relations between the Catholic church and other Christian churches.

He said that in the past Christians have persecuted Jews but said that this was not the right time to go beyond the declaration of the Second Vatican Council of 1965 which condemned anti-semitism.

“We deplore any form of anti-semitism wherever, whenever and by whomsoever it is expressed,” he said.

Willebrands, a Dutchman, also said it would have been inappropriate to invite Jewish representatives to sit as observers at the Synod. There are representatives from 10 Protestant and Orthdox churches at the meeting.

“We have invited our Christian brothers to come and participate but I think the Jewish people would have been divided over the question,” he said.

Vatican insiders say that Willebrands’ secretariat has been under fire from other members of the Holy See’s bureaucracy, the curia.

There were rumors that it would be reduced to a department of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith because Pope John Paul II disagreed with the cardinal’s approach.

However, Willebrands said yesterday that ecumenism was alive and well within the Catholic church. He said he was happy the Pope had invited the non-Catholic observers and added:

“I’m happy with the number too. It is about the same proportion as there were at the Second Vatican Council.”

He called for greater co-operation among Christian churches on questions of social justice but ruled out the possibility of immediate moves on two important issues – membership in the World Council of Churches and intercommunion.

Catholics are not allowed to receive the eucharist – the church’s central sacrament – in churches of other denominations and the Catholic church bars Protestants from participating fully in the Catholic eucharist.

Willebrands said that the question of intercommunion had come up only because of progress in other areas of ecumenism. It wasn’t so long ago that Lutherans considered the catholic attitude towards the Eucharist as idolatry, he said.

Despite the ban on intercommunion, it goes on in many churches in the United States and New Zealand without Vatican approval.

The cardinal also said the time was not right for the Catholic church to become a full member of the World Council of Churches. He said neither body was ready for such a move.

The church has observer status in the Geneva-based World Council and it is known that the Pope and Cardinal Ratzinger both oppose closer ties.

Posted: Dec. 3, 1985 • Permanent link:
Categories: NewsIn this article: bishops, Catholic, synods, Vatican
Transmis : 3 déc. 1985 • Lien permanente :
Catégorie : NewsDans cet article : bishops, Catholic, synods, Vatican

  Previous post: Ancien article : Cardinal Urges Christian Unity
  Newer post: Article récent : Pope interrupts synod to conduct ecumenical service for clergy