The AHC Proposal to Preserve the Jewish Witness

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David Moss

(Ed. This article appeared in “The Hebrew Catholic”, #77, Fall 2002, pp. 32-37.)
 

Contents

1, Regarding the Catholic Jewish Dialogue
2. Why Do We Respond to Reflection?
3. Our Identity
4. Covenant … Reflections
5. Covenant … Ratzinger • Many Religions – One Covenant • An Interpreted Summary
6. Covenant … Friedman • Proposal of E. Friedman
7. Evangelization •
8. Concluding Thoughts • Israel – Covenant • Israel – Election • Restoration

1. Regarding the Catholic Jewish Dialogue

Although the Catholic Jewish dialogue is itself one of the signs of the times, The Hebrew Catholic has not given much space to its activity and literature. This has been so, primarily, for two reasons:

1. The dialogue is not the reason for the existence and work of the Association of Hebrew Catholics (AHC).

While we can applaud the dialogue and all the good that can come from an increase in understanding, mutual respect, and joint endeavors, the existence and work of the AHC is focused in and to the Church.

Though the work of the dialogue and that of the AHC are not unrelated, the dialogue engages the Church in her relationship with the Jews outside of the Church. The AHC, on the other hand, is attempting to address important issues regarding the Jews who have entered the Church.

2. The dialogue is in its early stages.

In the interests of prudence, peace of mind, and fruitfulness, we are most interested in the teaching and guidance of the Magisterium.

Prior to authoritative teaching, we risk subjecting ourselves to unnecessary contention, divisiveness, doubts, and confusion when we listen in on a conversation, hearing words or a strain of argument that is in process but that may yet be significantly modified or ultimately abandoned.

2. Why Do We Respond to Reflections?

So, why have we dedicated so many pages to this document which, Cardinal Keeler says, represents only the current “state of thought” of the subcommittee participants?

1. We do so, in part, because this subcommittee has placed their thoughts into the public domain, representing their novel ideas as the teaching of the Church, and ignoring the potential negative effects this could have on the faith of Catholics and the understanding of non-Catholics.

We recall here a quote from the Holy Father’s speech of March 6, 1982, which was included in the 1985 Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jewish Faith in Roman Catholic Preaching and Teaching.

“Finally, ‘work that is of poor quality and lacking in precision would be extremely detrimental’ to Judaeo-Christian dialogue. But it would be above all detrimental – since we are talking of teaching and education – to Christian identity.”

One need only read the newspapers and magazines, along with the debates on the internet to see the confusion, frustration and concerns that have been raised. I have also been personally responding to a wealth of communications regarding this document.

To ensure the quality and precision the Holy Father speaks of, the committee should have submitted their Reflections to a wider audience of theologians and bishops for evaluation before putting them into the public domain.

2. We also dedicate these pages, in part, because the subject matter does relate to how we understand our faith and ourselves (Catholics, Jews and Hebrew Catholics) and what the AHC is trying to accomplish.

Reflections states that

“…while the Catholic Church regards the saving act of Christ as central to the process of human salvation for all, it also acknowledges that Jews already dwell in a saving covenant with God.”

Thus, one may conclude, the Church is intended for the Gentiles; that He who was Israel’s Messiah, in truth, came only for the Gentiles because the “Jews already dwell in a saving covenant with God.”

But the 1985 Notes, one of the source documents used by Reflections, takes a different view. Because Jesus intends His covenant to include Israel as well as the nations, it states:

“Jesus affirms that ‘there shall be one flock and one shepherd.’ Church and Judaism cannot then be seen as two parallel ways of salvation, and the Church must witness to Christ as the Redeemer for all …”

If Jesus is not the Messiah of Israel, then He is not the Messiah of the nations. There is no new covenant apart from Israel.

Having devoted a considerable part of this issue to some critiques of Reflections, let me offer some thoughts which I hope will be helpful.

3. Our identity

Not only “closely related” …

Reflections, states:

“Christianity has an utterly unique relationship with Judaism because ‘our two religious communities are connected and closely related at the very level of their respective identities.’

Of course we agree. But we note the following as well.

There are conservative estimates that, since the Second World War, more than a half million Jews have come to faith in Jesus. This reality, hinting at a new initiative of the Holy Spirit, arguably surpasses the number of Jews who followed Jesus and formed the early Church.

The most visible of these new Jewish believers are those who live their faith outside the Catholic Church as Messianic Jews. There are also large numbers, though mostly not visible, who have entered the Catholic Church.

While this committee has focused on the identities of the Jewish and Catholic communities, it needs to also address the reality of those in whom these identities converge, that is, Hebrew Catholics

… but converging as the Father wills.

a. Many of the Jews, from Secular to Orthodox, who have journeyed to faith over the last two millennia have done so at great cost, materially and personally; many have been alienated from their family and their people. Consider, for example, the journey of Israel Zolli, Chief Rabbi of Rome, who entered the Church following the Second World War.

b. Due to the unique issues that attend the journey of Jews to their Messiah and His Church, many have been helped to complete that journey through the direct intervention of God.

c. We know of some who are at various stages of their journey or have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church and live a hidden Catholic life within their own Orthodox Jewish communities.

d. God has also directly intervened in the lives of many Jews who were not inquiring about the Christian faith. For example, Jesus intervened with Rabbi Saul of Tarsus and Mary with the anti-Catholic Alphonse Ratisbonne.

In the Gospel of St. John, Jesus states that “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.”

The committee should explain why the Father would draw any Jews to Jesus if they already dwelt in their own saving covenant.

4. Covenant, Mission, Witness: Reflections

Reflections describes the enduring relationship between God and the Jewish people as a covenant that is eternal and irrevocable.

Further, in a variety of statements, it describes the mission given by God to the Jewish people and states that the Church “no longer includes the wish to absorb the Jewish faith into Christianity and so end the distinctive witness of Jews to God in human history.”

Finally, Reflections concludes “that Jews already dwell in a saving covenant with God” and that their witness “must not be curtailed by seeking the conversion of the Jewish people to Christianity.”

The problem with this conclusion is that it does not conform to the biblical witness or to Church teaching. Moreover, it is not a conclusion that is necessary to satisfy the legitimate development called for by the Magisterial teaching and guidelines since Vatican II.

5. Covenant, Mission, Witness: Cardinal Ratzinger

Let us now look at the thinking of Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Cardinal’s writing assumes the same background information as Reflections but makes a different statement.

God and the World

Cardinal Ratzinger’s new book length interview, God and the World (Ignatius Press, 2002), was published about the same time as Reflections.

When asked if the “Jews will have to recognize the Messiah, or ought to do so?” the Cardinal replied:

“That is what we believe. That does not mean that we have to force Christ upon them but that we should share in the patience of God. We also have to try to live our life together in Christ in such a way that it no longer stands in opposition to them or would be unacceptable to them but so that it facilitates their own approach to it. It is in fact still our belief as Christians that Christ is the Messiah of Israel. It is in God’s hands, of course, just in what way, when, and how the reuniting of Jews and Gentiles, the reunification of God’s people, will be achieved.” (p. 150)

Thus, according to Cardinal Ratzinger, the Jews need to recognize the Messiah and we ought to live so as to facilitate that recognition

Many Religions – One Covenant

Here, I include a few passages from the Cardinal’s Many Religions – One Covenant (Ignatius Press, 1999) which directly relate to the conclusion offered by Reflections. But to fully appreciate what Cardinal Ratzinger is saying, I strongly urge you to read and re-read this book.

Early in the book, the question is posed:

Can Christian faith, retaining its inner power and dignity, not only tolerate Judaism but accept it in its historic mission? Or can it not? Can there be true reconciliation without abandoning the faith, or is reconciliation tied to such abandonment? (p. 24)

The book proceeds to explore the notions of covenant, testament, the Hebrew word b’rith and notes:

“… there is only one will of God for men, only one historical activity of God with and for men, though this activity employs interventions that are diverse and even in part contradictory –yet in truth they belong together.” (p. 57)

Further on, in the light of one will of God for men, the Cardinal writes of the inner continuity of salvation history.

“First of all we must remember that the fundamentally ‘new’ covenant – the covenant with Abraham – has a universalist orientation and looks toward the many sons who will be given to Abraham.”

“… right from the beginning, the promise to Abraham guarantees salvation history’s inner continuity from the Patriarchs of Israel down to Christ and to the Church of Jews and Gentiles.

“With regard to the Sinai Covenant … It is strictly limited to the people of Israel; it gives this nation a legal and cultic order (the two are inseparable) that as such cannot simply be extended to all nations.”

“To that extent it is conditional, that is, temporal; within God’s providential rule it is a stage that has its own allotted period of time. (p. 68)

Now, Israel’s Torah must become universal, so that the one will of God for men can reach beyond Israel.

“The Torah of the Messiah is the Messiah, Jesus himself. … In this way the ‘Law’ becomes universal; it is grace constituting a people which becomes such by hearing the word and undergoing conversion. In this Torah, which is Jesus himself, the abiding essence of what was inscribed on the stone tablets at Sinai is now written in living flesh, namely, the twofold command of love. This is set forth in Philippians 2:5 as ‘the mind of Christ.’ To imitate him, to follow him in discipleship, is therefore to keep the Torah, which has been fulfilled in him once and for all.

“Thus the Sinai covenant is indeed superceded. But once what is provisional in it has been swept away, we see what is truly definitive in it. So the expectation of the New Covenant, which becomes clearer and clearer as the history of Israel unfolds, does not conflict with the Sinai covenant; rather, it fulfills the dynamic expectation found in that very covenant.” (p. 70-71)

Although the Torah has become universal and the Sinai covenant is now superceded in Jesus, God remains faithful to Israel.

“’When Israel was young, I loved him’, God says, in the Prophet Hosea, of his manner of binding himself to his people. It follows that, even when the covenant is continually being broken, God, by his very nature cannot allow it to fall. ‘How could I abandon you, Ephraim; how could I give you up Israel? … My heart turns against me, my compassion flames forth’ (Hos. 11:1,8)” (p.72)

And God’s faithfulness includes the irrevocable gift to Israel of their vocation.

“… even if Christians look for the day when Israel will recognize Christ as the Son of God and the rift that separates them will be healed, they should also acknowledge God’s providence, which has obviously given Israel a particular mission in this ‘time of the Gentiles.’ The Fathers say that the Jews, to whom Holy Scripture was first entrusted must remain alongside us as a witness to the world.” (p. 104)

Does God’s faithfulness and his gifts to Israel therefore imply that the Jewish people do not need Jesus?

“Does this mean that missionary activity should cease and be replaced by dialogue, where it is not a question of truth but of making one another better Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus or Buddhists? My answer is No. For this would be nothing other than total lack of conviction; under the pretext of affirming one another in our best points, we would in fact be failing to take ourselves (or others) seriously; we would be finally renouncing truth. Rather, the answer must be that mission and dialogue should no longer be opposites but should mutually interpenetrate.

“Dialogue is not aimless conversation; it aims at conviction, at finding the truth; otherwise it is worthless. Conversely, missionary activity in the future cannot proceed as if it were simply a case of communicating to someone who has no knowledge at all of God what he has to believe.”

“There can be this kind of communication, of course, and perhaps it will become more widespread in certain places in a world that is becoming increasingly atheistic. But in the world of religions we meet people who have heard of God through their religion and try to live in relationship with him.

“In this way, proclamation of the gospel must be necessarily a dialogical process. We are not telling the other person something that is entirely unknown to him; rather, we are opening up the hidden depth of something with which, in his own religion, he is already in touch.” (pp. 111-112)

An interpreted summary

We can consider the Abrahamic covenant to be the primary and eternal covenant established by God. All the subsequent covenants God made with Israel can then be understood as developments of that primary covenant, culminating with the final covenant in Jesus Christ. And it is through this new and final covenant that the nations, with Israel, find salvation.

The New Covenant in Jesus, therefore, does not revoke the prior covenants but, rather, fulfills and transforms them.

Analogously, the various stages in a caterpillar’s life eventually give way to its transformation into a butterfly. The caterpillar is not revoked – it is the same creature as the butterfly but in a different stage of its development. [Top]

Therefore, it follows that the Jewish people today remain “most dear” to God and retain their gifts and calling. They continue to live, not in their own saving covenant, but alongside Christians in that primary covenant established with Abraham and fulfilled in Jesus – though they remain in an earlier stage of covenant development.

Post-biblical Rabbinic Judaism, an adaptation of the Judaism of the Sinai Covenant, can then be understood as the temporary provision allowed by God to preserve the Jewish people, their faith in God, and their calling.

In the wisdom and timing of God, they will eventually be given the additional gifts of faith that will enable them to recognize their Messiah, Jesus. That recognition, in turn, will advance the Messiah’s return (cf. CCC 674).

6. Covenant, Mission, Witness: Fr. Friedman, OCD

Elias Friedman, OCD, born to a South African Jewish family, encountered Jesus while serving in the South African Medical Corps during World War II. He entered the Church in 1943, was ordained a priest in France in 1953 and took up residence at Stella Maris Monastery, Haifa as a Carmelite friar in 1954. After 45 years in Eretz Israel, Father passed over on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – Friday, June 11, 1999.

With love for his people and his Catholic faith, Fr. Elias studied, consulted, meditated and prayed on most of the same issues that have occupied the Church and the dialogue since Vatican Council II. In 1979, he launched the Association of Hebrew Catholics and in 1987, his book Jewish Identity (The Miriam Press) was published.

Let us now consider some of Fr. Elias’ thoughts as they relate to Reflections. We begin by considering the distinctive witness of the Jewish people, a concern which we share with Reflections.

The witness of the Jewish people …

But what is distinctive about the witness of the Jews?

For the purposes of this discussion, let us say first that it is the witness of a people rather than of individuals. Second, it is the witness of an elect people formed by God and irrevocably given certain gifts and a calling. Finally, within the plan of God, it is the witness of a calling to holiness and of being a blessing to all nations.

In Jewish Identity, Fr. Friedman notes that Israel’s calling or vocation came, in the first instance, from their election by God, an election which the covenants then presuppose.

… disappears within the Church.

“It was an error widely accepted in Christian circles to believe that in preparing to receive its Messiah, Israel exhausted its vocation, the argument being that once Christ came, it was left without any ‘raison d’être at all.” (Jewish Identity, p. 86)

Supersessionism was originally a term correctly signifying that the New Covenant had superceded the Sinai Covenant. Unfortunately, supersessionism soon took on the erroneous idea that Israel had exhausted its vocation once Christ came. This led to the notion that the Church had replaced or superceded Israel according to the flesh.

By the third or fourth centuries, due in part to these erroneous ideas, the Israelite communities within the Church disappeared. Henceforth, Jews who entered the Church would do so as individuals, assimilating to the growing Gentile cultures of the Church, their offspring effectively becoming Gentile. The distinctive Jewish witness within the Church had disappeared.

Fr. Friedman notes that the errors in the supersessionist tradition had prevailed for so long because, until Vatican Council II, there had been no official teaching on the theological status of post-Christic Jewry.

Reflections correctly, I believe, notes some of the factors that led to the Vatican II desire to reappraise this tradition. These factors include: the permanence of the people; their fidelity, spiritual fecundity and witness to the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the history of anti-semitism and anti-Judaism culminating in the holocaust; and there are others.

The Proposal of Elias Friedman, OCD

In Jewish Identity, Fr. Friedman addressed the deficiencies of the supersessionist tradition. He proposed the eschatological apostolate, whose

“approach takes its point of departure from a reading of the signs of the times. It is oriented to the collectivity, not to individuals. It focuses attention on the status of the Jewish convert, who is envisaged as that part of Jewry which has accepted the Law of Christ. It accepts the transitional nature of Jewish identity in modern times. It is conscious of the overpowering influence of divine providence in the process of the admission of Jewry to the faith. It limits the human role to collaborating with the intentions of providence. It is aware that the action of the divine in history is source of an inexhaustible, messianic spirituality, ready to wait patiently on the sidelines, or to act with promptitude, as the occasion may require. It is, finally, sensitive to Jewish objections against the Christian mission, but also to the extent to which the Jew is responding to the pressure of a loving providence.” (p. 169)

The concrete form of the eschatological apostolate is, in its first phase, the work of the Association of Hebrew Catholics. Its purpose is to work towards the establishment of an Israelite community approved by the Church. The community, in turn, would preserve the identity and heritage of the Jewish people and their offspring within the Church. Herein, we believe, lies the key to preserving the distinctive witness of the Jewish people.

Once again, Jews who freely enter the Church would be able to corporately live out their calling, sharing in the destiny of their people. Once again, they would bring into visible focus the concrete witness of Jew and Gentile reconciled in Christ.

Finally:

“The community, when it comes into being one day, will be seen for what it is: an eschatological sign of the times, raised up before a Church in crisis and for the encouragement of a jaded world.” (Jewish Identity, pg 173)

7. Evangelization

It is inconceivable to me that anyone who has encountered our Lord, especially in the Eucharist, could want to refrain from sharing His mercy, His healing love, His joy, His peace and His promise of eternal life with others.

But the question is: How do we go about sharing this good news? Reflections was quite right to quote from Magisterial teaching regarding the self-defeating and harmful methods of evangelization used many times in the past.

Today, Vatican Council II and the Holy Father call for a new attitude and a new appreciation of those whose very failure to believe, St. Paul tells us , brought about the blessing of salvation for the Gentiles (cf. Rom. 11:11).

Regarding methods, I believe that Cardinal Ratzinger offers us a wise guideline in sharing the Gospel with Jewish people. We should consider that we are opening up the hidden depth of something which, in their observance of Judaism, they are already in touch.

Regarding attitudes, the Holy Father, in speaking of the Jewish people as our elder brothers and sisters also provides a key: let us address the Jewish person as we would address a member of our own family – with love, gentleness and patience – for it is our Lord who lifts the veil and grants the gift of faith.

First, however, let us be converted, that we may be that transparent instrument through whom Jesus is revealed as the way, the truth, and the life.

8. Concluding thoughts

Another view

The Reflections committee, on the Jewish side, included a Conservative and a Reform Rabbi as co-moderators. Let us look at the view of an Orthodox Rabbi, Dr. David Berger, abstracted from his response to Dominus Iesus (http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/research/cjl/articles/berger.htm)

“Cardinal Ratzinger, then, who has also declared that despite Israel’s special mission at this stage of history, ‘we wait for the instant in which Israel will say yes to Christ,’ is a supersessionist.

“At this point, we need to confront the real question, to wit, is there anything objectionable about this position? In a dialogical environment in which the term ‘supersessionism’ has been turned into an epithet by both Jews and Christians, this may appear to be a puzzling question. We need to distinguish, however, between two forms of supersessionism, and in my view Jews have absolutely no right to object to the form endorsed by Cardinal Ratzinger. There is nothing in the core beliefs of Christianity that requires the sort of supersessionism that sees Judaism as spiritually arid, as an expression of narrow, petty legalism pursued in the service of a vengeful God and eventually replaced by a vital religion of universal love. Such a depiction is anti-Jewish, even antisemitic. But Cardinal Ratzinger never describes Judaism in such a fashion. On the contrary, he sees believing Jews as witnesses through their observance of Torah to their commitment to God’s will, to the establishment of his kingdom even in the pre-messianic world, and to faith in a wholly just world after the ultimate redemption.”

It is interesting to note that Dr. Berger believes that “Jews have absolutely no right to object to the form [of supersessionism] endorsed by Cardinal Ratzinger.”

Understanding Israel in terms of covenant

To review, the Catholic contributors to Reflections conclude “that Jews already dwell in a saving covenant with God” and that their witness “must not be curtailed by seeking the conversion of the Jewish people to Christianity.”

Then, in the National Catholic Register Symposium, reprinted in this issue, Dr. Eugene Fisher rhetorically asks:

“If the Covenant perdures and has not been replaced or superseded by the Christian Covenant, then what can it be called other than “salvific” for Jews? Is not God true to his word? Cannot the Jews rely on the truth of God’s word to them?”

I believe these questions are answered in the Catechism and in this article. But in considering Reflections’ conclusions and Dr. Fisher’s questions, it appears that they both hinge on an understanding of the covenant made with Israel as being apart from the covenant which includes the Gentiles. Yet a Scriptural- and Magisterial-based rationale for positing two salvific covenants – one Jewish and one Christian – is not provided by Reflections.

Nor is it easy to see how such a rationale would fit with Cardinal Ratzinger’s understanding of the one will of God for men in the inner continuity of salvation history.

Underlying Reflections’ concerns and Dr. Fisher’s questions is, I believe, the enduring relationship that God has with the Jewish people. And we are all in agreement that the essential note of that relationship is God’s fidelity to Israel. The question may then be put: Can we account for and honor that relationship, given the history of the last two millennia, within the context of the covenant established with Abraham and fulfilled in Jesus?

I believe the answer is yes! Both Cardinal Ratzinger and Fr. Friedman respond to the development called for by the Magisterium, and neither of them proposes a two-covenant theory of salvation history.

Understanding Israel in terms of election

Through no merit of their own, the People of Israel were chosen by God in Abraham. This choice or election was a call to collective sanctity and to be a blessing to the nations. Corporately, they were to prepare for and witness to the coming of the Messiah. The manner in which that call would work out was defined by God in the covenants He made with His people.

The election did not end with the institution of the New Covenant. Rather, it was now reflected in two branches of the People Israel. There was the branch that did not believe in Jesus and which we identify as Jewish Israelites. Then there was the branch that did believe and which we identify as Christian Israelites.

The Christian Israelites continued in their calling through the formation of the early Church and in the proclamation of the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean world. Corporately, they witnessed to the fulfillment in Christ of their ancient covenant in Abraham.

However, by the third or fourth centuries, that corporate witness disappeared with the last of the Israelite communities within the Church.

Yet, we know by the witness of both the Jewish people and of the Church that the Jewish people have an important role to play in the end of days.

We are here confronted by two mysteries: one is the failure of the majority of the Jewish people to believe; the second is the disappearance of this people from within the Church.

St. Paul gives a clue to approaching the first mystery. Speaking to the Gentile Christians in Romans, he links the unbelief of the majority of Israel to Providence.

“[7]… Israel failed to obtain what it sought. The elect obtained it, but the rest were hardened, [8] as it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, down to this very day.’” (Rom. 11:7-8)

He then explains this linkage in the unfolding drama of salvation history.

“[25] Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, [26] and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written,

“‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob’; [27] ‘and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins.’

“[28] As regards the gospel they are enemies of God, for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. [29] For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. [30] Just as you were once disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, [31] so they have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may receive mercy. [32] For God has consigned all men to disobedience, that he may have mercy upon all.

“[33] O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom. 11:25-33)

What is important to note here is God’s continuing care of His people, even to the end of days.

With regard to the second mystery, we can now see after two millennia that God’s fidelity to His people has enabled them to survive outside of the Church, though not without suffering their own way of the cross.

Dialogue and Exploration

The Second Vatican Council launched the Church into a dialogue of reconciliation with the Jewish people and, in fact, with all peoples. This dialogue aims, as Cardinal Ratzinger explains, “at conviction, at finding the truth.” But this dialogue employs new understandings and new methods of engaging people. It engenders respect and appreciation, recognizing the God-given dignity of the other. And it is a process from which we can benefit alongside those with whom we share the Gospel.

The dialogue is also accompanied by the Church’s exploration of the mystery of Israel, an exploration which has highlighted the enduring relationship between God and the Jewish people.

Restoration: A new vision

What is now needed is a new vision, a vision that will honor this relationship while preserving the deposit of faith. This vision is needed not only for the Jewish people, but for the Church as well. For the last 1700-1800 years, the Church has become sociologically Gentile. In fact, the terms Christian or Catholic have become synonymous with the term Gentile. This development has obscured the Israelite origins and reality of the Church. The conclusion offered by Reflections would, on the practical level, institutionalize this development.

Consider, instead, this view of Fr. Louis Bouyer: (The Hebrew Catholic, #73, p.13)

“Judeo Christianity cannot be considered a transitory phase of abolished Christianity, forever surpassed by pagano-Christianity, which would have triumphed over it. The Christian synthesis must always be renewed by renewing its contact with the primary and, in a sense, definitive expression of the Gospel, in the categories and forms of Judaism.

“Judeo-Christianity, as Paul and Peter recognized and proclaimed, remains forever the mother form of Christianity, to which all other forms must always have recourse. It is therefore a weakness for the Church that Judeo-Christianity, from which it was born and from which it cannot free itself, no longer subsists in her except in tracings. It can be believed that she will not reach the ultimate stage of her development except by rediscovering it – fully living in her.”

Consider also this view of Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household: (The Hebrew Catholic, #72, p.12)

“What is required is that the Israel according to the flesh enter into and become part of the Israel according to the spirit, without for this having to cease being Israel also according to the flesh which is its only prerogative.”

Towards a new springtime

Awakened by the same Spirit that animated the Second Vatican Council, the AHC seeks the restoration and renewal within the Church of that from which the Church was born – a visible and dynamic Israelite community. In the restored community, the People Israel will once again be able to live out their distinctive witness and their calling – to be a blessing – within the Church. The blessing, in turn, will hasten the day when all Israel shall proclaim

“Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord.”

  • You are my witnesses (Is. 43:10)  •  You shall be my witnesses (Acts 1:8)