Bishop William F. Murphy CNS photo/Bob Roller

'Nostra Aetate' described as living, vibrant process that must endure

By  Beth Griffin, Catholic News Service
  • December 22, 2015

UNITED NATIONS - Fifty years after its promulgation, the Catholic Church retains a solid and irrevocable commitment to the Second Vatican Council's declaration on its relations with non-Christian religions.

"Nostra Aetate" ("In Our Time") is a living, vibrant process that must be continued into the future and could serve as a model for dialogue among men and women of goodwill in other religions, speakers at a U.N. panel said.

The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations and the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations co-sponsored a Dec. 16 discussion at U.N. headquarters on "'Nostra Aetate': Accomplishment and the Next 50 Years: Catholic-Jewish Relations as a Paradigm for Dialogue, Cooperation and the Pursuit of Peace."

The document was a triumph of human endeavor, inspired by the Almighty, and put an end to a tragic history of mutual recrimination and anti-Semitism, according to Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre. He said no Vatican II document elicited more passion, comment or opposition than "Notre Aetate."

Bishop Murphy was a seminarian in Rome during Vatican II. He has filled ecumenical and interreligious posts both for the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Bishop Murphy said the best summary of progress since "Nostra Aetate" is "The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable," a Dec 10 "reflection" released by the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews.

The new statement looks at the history and current status of the unique relationship, and seeks to enrich and intensify the theological dimension of the Jewish-Catholic dialogue. It describes how both groups can work together to promote justice and reconciliation, care for creation and provide humanitarian aid.

Catholics and Jews must walk together, deepen the bonds of mutual respect and offer prayer as an alternative to violence and hatred, Bishop Murphy said. "As men and women of faith, we ultimately believe peace is a gift from God," he said.

Bishop Murphy said it is important to avoid indifference, harness the energy and ideals of young people, and combat syncretism -- the attempted merging of different religious beliefs. "We offer people a sense of the transcendence of the human spirit," he said.

British Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said "Nostra Aetate" is "an overarching symbol of hope in the post-Holocaust world." Rabbi Sacks, the former chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, spoke in a pre-recorded video address.

He said "Nostra Aetate" was a theologically modest document that transformed the relationship between Christians and Jews so that today they meet as cherished and respected friends. "'Nostra Aetate' showed there is nothing inevitable and hatred is not immutable."

Rabbi Sacks said resurgent anti-Semitism has turned the familiar mantra "never again" into "ever again." He said the persecution of Christians in the Middle East is "the religious equivalent of ethnic cleansing." He also said, "Muslims are the main victims of Muslim terrorism."

"Frankly, we need a 'Nostra Aetate' for all the world's faiths," Rabbi Sacks concluded.

Brian Corbin, executive vice president of Catholic Charities USA, described practical ways in which Catholics and Jews work together at the national and local levels to provide social services and advocate for justice.

Rabbi Joshua Stanton, assistant rabbi at Temple B'nai Jeshurun in Short Hills, New Jersey, and co-leader of Tribe, a group for young Jewish professionals in New York, said from his perspective as a 29-year-old, frictions between Catholics and Jews were largely confined to stories told by his grandparents. Good relations between the groups are taken for granted by his generation, he said, offering an anecdote about the generous response of his Christian neighbors to his own bar mitzvah.

Nonetheless, he said few young Jews "have heard of 'Nostra Aetate,' much less use it as a model for collaboration." Rabbi Stanton said young people should study and reflect on the document for the sake of "just action" and because its historic beacon is needed to navigate dark and turbulent times.

French author Bernard-Henri Levy traced the long history of the development of "Nostra Aetate" to brilliant and brave Catholics and Jews. He said "Nostra Aetate" is a continuous, vivid, living, vibrant process that is not finished. He said it still faces resistance from some people who would prefer to see a return to pre-Nostra Aetate days.

Levy said the "revolution of 'Nostra Aetate'" is the acknowledgement that "salvation has two possible processes, equal in dignity, and can only be judged by God."

He said, post-"Nostra Aetate," it is incumbent on Catholics and Jews to join together and express solidarity with Muslims of good will and faith who "are facing the huge tragedy of Jihadism." Levy said if the model of "Nostra Aetate" could be spread inside the Muslim world, "it would change the world and solve the unease in civilization."

Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's nuncio to the U.N., moderated the discussion in the Economic and Social Council chamber. He said "Nostra Aetate" is an ongoing project whose impact is reflected in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and in education programs for seminarians and laypeople.

Comments (3)

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

bishop Murphy ? William F. Murphy ? ? From Boston and now the Lost Shepherd on Long Island?
Murphy said, "As men and women of faith, we ultimately believe peace is a gift from God," 

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Now take a GOOD LOOK at what bishop William F.Murphy has done to conceal the Rape of Innocent children by priests wi

This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

And go see the movie "SPOTLIGHT".
- Murphy was cardinal Law's Righthand man up in Boston and continues his "TRAGIC" tenure in the diocese of Rockville Centre, L.I. NY.

Woe unto you William F. Murphy !
***Still shielding over 60 pedophile...

And go see the movie "SPOTLIGHT".
- Murphy was cardinal Law's Righthand man up in Boston and continues his "TRAGIC" tenure in the diocese of Rockville Centre, L.I. NY.

Woe unto you William F. Murphy !
***Still shielding over 60 pedophile priests within the Diocese of Rockville Centre.***


Read More
There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest. Sign up or login to your account.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible, which has become acutely important amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.