Should Catholic Evangelization Target Jews?, Ed. John Zmirak

The Bishops’ View, Dr. Eugene Fisher
A Man from Mars, Fr. James V. Schall, S.J.
Their Joy is Boundless, Dr. Ronda Chervin
All Israel Will Be Saved, Fr. Francis Martin
The Church Must Proclaim Christ, Mark Drogin
Intended Only for Gentiles?, David Moss

Intended Only for Gentiles?
by David Moss
President, Association of Hebrew Catholics.

In general, I would characterize my response to the document Reflections on Covenant and Mission as being embarrassed and irritated. I am embarrassed that Catholic leaders, who have been meeting for more than two decades, could produce a document that appears inconsistent with our Catholic faith and, it seems to me, to invite disrespect and division.

I am irritated that a document that should have been submitted to the Bishops, who have the authority to judge its contents, was instead released to the public, ignoring the negative effects on the faith of Catholics and the understanding of non-Catholics.

As a Hebrew Catholic, I am quite aware of the tragic history of Catholic Jewish relations and of the history of past abuses with regard to evangelizing the Jewish people. I am grateful beyond all telling that, since Vatican II, the Magisterium has been addressing the entire People of God to engender a new positive attitude and appreciation of the Jewish people.

I am also aware of the heroic struggles of many Jews who have journeyed to their Messiah and His Church, suffering the alienation of their people, their friends and their family; their entrance into the Church at times enabled only through the direct intervention of the Almighty.

Now, 2,000 years after the death and resurrection of our Lord, in the name of friendship, respect, solidarity on various social causes, and witness to the one God, this document suggests that the Jewish people do not need Yeshua for they have their own salvific covenant. Have we already “progressed” beyond the 1985 document which 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.”

Is the fact that Yeshua was born a Jew and restricted His mission to His own people no longer relevant? Are we to believe that the New Covenant made with the Jewish people is now intended only for Gentiles? Are we now to heed the high priest in Acts and not teach about Jesus? How can we square this document with the New Testament and the teaching of the Church for two millennia? If Yeshua is not the Messiah of the Jewish people, then upon what basis can we believe that He is the Messiah of anyone?

So, is there any redeeming value of this document? I would say there is. The document states that the Church’s mission of evangelization no longer wishes to end the distinctive witness of the Jewish people to God in human history.

Based upon the eternal election or calling of the Jewish people, the Association of Hebrew Catholics also wishes to see the identity and heritage, that is, the distinctive witness of the Jewish people, preserved within the Church. For approximately the last 1700-1800 years, Jewish entry into the Church has resulted in their and their offspring’s assimilation into what had become a sociologically Gentile community. A Hebrew Catholic community within the Church would enable them to preserve their historic and God-given identity and witness. But note, the AHC proposal, unlike that of the document, does not deny them Jesus and all that Jesus offers through His Church.

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