The Zionist Conspiracy
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Conversion of Jews After Nostra Aetate
In a post on Cross-Currents, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein writes about the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the Vatican II document that declared radical changes to the relationship between Catholicism and other religions, particularly Judaism.
Rabbi Adlerstein's post is generally on point, but I must take issue with his statement that, "Conversion of Jews is no longer the priority it once was. If the covenant with the Jews has never been broken, then somehow they do not need the embrace of the mother Church quite as other people do. To be sure, this notion is upsetting to many Catholics. Long educated to believe that there was no other portal to Heaven, it is upsetting to learn that there may be a Jewish back door."
To be sure, the attitude of the Vatican toward conversion of Jews has changed, but I am quite certain that Catholicism does not accept the notion that the Jews can "be saved" without acceptance of Jesus.
As Pope Benedict wrote in 2000 when was still known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, "let us pray that he may grant also to the children of Israel a deeper knowledge of Jesus of Nazareth, who is their son, and the gift they have made to us. Since we are both awaiting the final redemption, let us pray that the paths we follow may converge."
Similarly, in his book, God and the World, Ratzinger wrote, "We wait for the instant in which Israel will say yes to Christ." He continued, "That does not mean that we should force Christ upon them. The fact remains, however, that our Christian conviction is that Christ is also the messiah of Israel. Certainly it is in the hands of God how and when the unification of Jews and Christians into the people of God will take place."
Essentially, the theological shift is that instead of targeting Jews for conversion (and forcing Jews to convert when it had the power to do so), Catholicism now leaves the question of Jewish conversion "in the hands of God."
This is certainly significant on a day-to-day "real life" level, but it is a lot different than Rabbi Adlerstein's statement that Catholicism now recognizes "that there may be a Jewish back door" to heaven. The statements by Pope Benedict quoted above clearly indicate that it is a stretch to say that the Vatican has accepted a "dual covenant theory."