The Road Behind and the Road Ahead

Philip A. Cunningham

in Catholicism and Interreligious Dialogue

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199827879
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919451 | DOI:
The Road Behind and the Road Ahead

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This chapter discusses the road behind and the road ahead for Catholic-Jewish relations. It begins by telling the story of an encyclical, drafted in 1938 but never published, that Pius XI (r. 1922–39), near the end of his life, wanted to publish to condemn the Nazi racist rhetoric and policies. The pope died before it was ready for publication. In fact, the encyclical was never published. While the condemnations of the Nazis would have been welcomed, what had been written about the Jews reflected the very prejudices that the church needed to correct. The bases for those corrections were spelled out twenty-five years later in the Vatican II’s Nostra Aetate. Since the close of the council, immense progress has been made by the Catholic Church in ridding itself, beginning with its catechisms and ordinary teachings, of its long history of anti-Semitism. The chapter describes these efforts as a “dramatic transformation,” and offers comparisons that make that change strikingly clear. The first of these is a strong statement against “supersessionism,” that is, the assumption that the coming of Christ rendered Judaism obsolete. After enumerating seven positive steps taken by Nostra Aetate, it reviews the fruits of the church’s dialogue with the Jews over the next forty years. It concludes by drawing attention to several areas that require more work.

Keywords: Catholicism; Judaism; Vatican II; anti-Semitism; supersessionism; Nostra Aetate; Catholic-Jewish relations; encyclical

Chapter.  8405 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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