Forums Hebrew Christians, Messianic Jews Mark Kinzer, the AHC and Hebrew Catholicism

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    • Brother Gilbert Joseph
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        Messianic Jewish Rabbi and theologian Mark Kinzer of the UMJC writes in his recent book “Post Missionary Messianic Judaism” about the Association of Hebrew Catholics and Father Elias Friedman its founder in a section about Hebrew Catholicism. In this he mentions that Father Elias rejects Jewish observances whether biblical or Rabbinic. This may have been the personal opinion of Father Elias and many of those of his generation but it was never the official position of the AHC. In fact Father Elias never intended his magnus opus “Jewish Identity” to be the last word but as a beginning to the discussion.

        Father Elias was convinced that Jewish Identity must be preserved in the Church but how that was to happen he didn’t know. He left these questions to the future Hebrew Catholic community to discuss and work out over time. Even though Father Elias himself seemed personally negative towards Torah observances, the co-founder of the AHC holocaust survivor Andrew Sholl was not. In the first ever and longest running AHC discussion group in Melbourne Australia, Andrew and some others would wear the traditional kippa and tallis and open the meeting with the traditional Jewish kiddush. The present President of the AHC David Moss has also hosted Passover Seders at the Hebrew Catholic centre in St Louis. David would see that while the AHC doesn’t hold to any official opinion on Torah observance by Hebrew Catholics, it certainly does not reject such observances practiced by some members of the AHC. The position of the AHC today is that one is free to practice such observances as long as one does not make them a requirement of salvation and that they are practiced in the light of the Messiah Yeshua.

        That the newer generations of Hebrew Catholics are open to increased Torah observance by Catholic Jews is demonstrated in the questions that David Moss put to Archbishop Burke in the recent interview. Some have not seen the signifcance of the interview as it is not a defined statement by the Magisterium on the purpose of Hebrew Catholics practicing Jewish observances. However it is a watershed moment that the highest judicial authority in the Church (under the Pope)sees no obstacles in Catholic teaching to Hebrew Catholics practicing such observances done in the light of their Messianic faith in Yeshua. He also saw no obstacles to the collective vocation of Hebrew Catholics and in fact seemed to see such developments in a very positive light. The development of Hebrew Catholic spiritualities and theologies is only in its early days and it will take time to see where the Holy Spirit will lead this movement in the coming years. That an important if not central place must be given to Torah observance in order to perserve Jewish Identity in the Church is gathering support.

        Father Aidan Nichols a leading orthodox Catholic theologian from England writes in ‘Epiphany: A Theological Introduction to Catholicism’: “Since Judaism is not in the fullest sense a different religion from Christianity, there can be and are such a thing as Hebrew Catholics, Jews who have entered the Church but with every intention of maintaining their Jewish heritage intact…Hebrew Catholics…have a special place in the Church; their association enables them to experience a common identity as the prototype of the Israel of the end, and not merely a random collection of assimilated Jews…”. Father Aidan sees that “Judaism’s distinctive continuing light can add to the Church an orthopractic concern with mitzvoth, the divine precepts, whose actualization is a sign that makes present the Creator’s reign and a celebration of a total liturgy,referring the Creation to the Creator and so consecrating it to God through human agency.”

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