Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Recognitio this: CCC 121

So much was going on for me this summer, that I just wasn't in the mood to deal with any United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) or Vatican-generated chazzarai about Catholic-Jewish relations.

More specifically, I'd just calmed down about the SSPX situation when the USCCB issued its June statement, "A Note on Ambiguities Contained in Reflections on Covenant and Mission." I read and printed out a few news reports, then set them aside. Didn't read the original document. Shame on "Jewish in identity, Christian in faith, and Catholic in religious practice" me for not paying attention.

Even more shame on me for only glancing at news reports about the U.S. Catholic Bishops voting to ask the Vatican "to approve a small change" in the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. The small change? Striking this sentence: "Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them." (p. 131).

What they kept in is a pile o' words that includes a quote from Paul's letter to the church in Rome (Romans 9:4-5). Read that scripture snippet in context and you'll find yet another great example of, revealed especially in his use of pronouns, Paul's own identity-faith issues. Have I mentioned lately that I'm glad it's no longer the Year of St. Paul?

And of course every other commentator jumped all over this story. I let it slide when it was reported first on August 12 and two weeks later when the USCCB received Vatican Recognitio for this change. So what finally prompted me to yank my head out of the sand?

I dunno. Maybe it's because I'd just finished explaining -- to a Catholic who had to look up the word -- that supercessionism is, at long last, considered a disreputable theological stance. (Making a comeback?) Or, maybe it's because I read Rocco Palmo recent post about the Vatican announcing that its teachings about the Jewish people are "not negotiable." (Oh really?)

More likely it's because all this interfaith dishabille seems especially distressing as Rosh Hashonah approaches. I really do prefer the new year include stuff worth celebrating. In the domain of Catholic-Jewish relations, this is hardly the case. I'm counting it all oy.


  1. I'm in learning mode, not critiquing mode, about your concerns, Meredith. I just thought I'd add the clarification that the original language in the Catechism isn't being struck whole cloth but is being replaced with this:

    “To the Jewish people, whom God first chose to hear his Word, ‘belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ.’

    Now I have to go back and look at the context so I know what it means. :-)

    Warm regards and prayers.

  2. Hi Roz!
    I'm all for learning. That post was getting so long that I did leave from stuff out. To your point and for others who might be reading:

    1) First, make sure you're looking at the US Catholic Catechism for Adults and not the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2nd ed.) promulated by Pope John Paul II -- who did more than any other pope, dead or living, to reconcile with the Jewish people.

    I mention this because initially I couldn't figure out the big deal because...

    2) That replacement paragraph in the US Catechism comes from CCC 839 on p. 223. But note...

    3) They didn't take the entire passage, they struck out: for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable." This is made all the more confusing because...

    4) That's pulled from Romans 11:29.

    The point is this: language in any Catholic catechism that notes the irrevocable nature of God's relationship to God's people, Israel (aka, the Jewish people)has served to further dialogue and assure Jews that any and all conversations with Christians are not either an overt or cloaked attempt to get them to convert. Removing that sentence, coupled with the June statement, has done great damage to Catholic-Jewish relations and dialogue.

    Make sense? Should I pull this out and make it a separate blog post?

  3. I think that there is material for another post if you have the time Meredith.

    What you have started here is excellent - thank you.

    L'shana tovah to you and to yours. It is a new year for all of us, if we but choose to recognize the depth and breadth of where we come from.

  4. Meredith--blessings to you on Rosh Hashonah. For the first three months here in Iraq I was feeling more Jewish than I have since my Bar Mitzvah. Until three weeks ago, I rode past the Ziggurat of Ur at least twice a day. I still see the big monument 1000 meters past our north fence several times each week. Identity keeps bubbling up in my life.

  5. This is interesting, more on the topic would be good.

    Liturgy of the Hours

  6. supercessionism is, at long last, considered a disreputable theological stance. (Making a comeback?) Or, maybe it's because I read Rocco Palmo recent post about the Vatican announcing that its teachings about the Jewish people are "not negotiable." (Oh really?)

    I dont get what your view is? Are you in favor of supersessionalism?
    Do you did agree with Rocco Palmo? DO you thin Nostra Aetate is negotiable?

    You say that the removal of
    "and the call of God are irrevocable." caused damage. What damage? It does not seem reflected in the Jewish statements that were more concerned with he confusion of witness and conversion. ANd you seen against dialouge - so why does it matter to you?

    USCCB reading Jew

  7. Dear Anonymous,
    I am normally loathe to post "anonymous" comments on this blog, but am letting this one of yours through to note:

    1) I view supersecessionist or replacement theology as suspect and dangerous.

    2) Nostra Aetate is not negotiable and I deplore any actions that erode its intent and impact.

    3) I am not against dialogue. My preference is that it be authentic, transparent, and have more depth than artfully-worded documents that do little to change behavior.

    If you'd like to continue this conversation, please feel free to contact me via email but prepared to ditch your anonymity if you choose to do so.

    Shalom vobiscum...

  8. I will send you an email under my real name but as you write on the bottom
    All correspondence is blogable unless you request otherwise.

    I request that my correspondence not be blogged under my name.

    If so, can you also answer my more specific questions I left on 3 other posts.

  9. Dear Anonymous,

    Agreed, of course. I only ask that you think carefully and prayerfully before you write to me. Please understand and respect the fact that I often get emails from folks who wish to engage in pissing contests rather than anything approximating dialogue and my stomach lining is shot!

    I believe some of the questions you've asked I've already answered. If I haven't answered a question, it's probably because I found the question confusing.


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