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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

The Church Must Proclaim Christ
by Mark Drogin,
Executive Director, Remnant of Israel
Editor, Hear O Israel!

Catholic-Jewish dialogue is a worthwhile effort, even though it is gravely obstructed by ignorance and confusion on both sides. The Holy Father and Vatican officials leading this dialogue have asked for an honest theological dialogue. The recent Reflections from the committee of Catholics and Jews has shed very little light on the theological discussion while greatly increasing the ignorance and confusion on both sides. It would help to keep in mind a few facts.

1. Nostra Aetate is a Vatican II document and must be interpreted and implemented in accord with all the other documents of Vatican II. Any interpretation or claim based on Nostra Aetate is in error if it contradicts other Vatican II documents.

2. Pope Paul VI established a Vatican Commission to implement Nostra Aetate and placed this Commission under the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity—which is significant in itself. This Commission has issued three official documents providing the authentic Magisterial norms for implementing Nostra Aetate. These official documents have repeated emphatically that the Church, BY HER NATURE, must proclaim Christ. This is integral to the Church’s nature and cannot change.

3. All people are called by God to sincere conversion of heart: this was the theme of the Great Jubilee. No individual Catholic or group should be concerned with targeting anyone for conversion. Pope John Paul II made this very clear in the Great Jubilee: God’s call to personal conversion is universal. God converts people; the Church’s mission — and the mission of every individual Catholic — is to proclaim Christ.

4. Honest theological dialogue must be based on the true identity of those involved. The Church’s true identity is stated in #2 above.

5. Pope John Paul II issued an Encyclical, Redemptoris Missio—25 years after Nostra Aetate—to clarify the Church’s mission to evangelize and the role of dialogue in this mission. Less than one year after the Encyclical was issued, a clarification was published jointly by the Pontifical Council for Evangelization and for Non-Christian Religions. Both the encyclical and the official clarification stated that dialogue is a form of evangelization and is included in the Church’s mission. In other words, the papal Encyclical and the clarifying document both affirmed that the Church’s mission is to proclaim Christ. Dialogue with Jews is an acceptable means of this mission when the Church’s true identity is evident. Any attempt to silence proclamation of the Gospel —whether in honest dialogue or otherwise —is contrary to all contemporary Magisterial Teaching.

6. Jews do not agree with each other on what it means to be Jewish. The Catholic Church is not clear about what it means by the term “Jew.” Neither Catholics nor Jews are clear about the meaning of the terms: “Jew,” “Jewish,” and “Judaism.” However, it is universally agreed that Jesus of Nazareth is Jewish. The Holy Family is Jewish. The Twelve Apostles were all Jewish. Jesus and His disciples practiced Judaism and their followers practiced Judaism for many years after Jesus was crucified.

7. Catholics AND Jews must enter again into the Jewish dialogue of the first century between the Jewish followers of Jesus and the Jews who did not believe Jesus was the Messiah of Israel. We must enter into this dialogue with wisdom and compassion born from 2000 years of hatred and violence (from the crucifixion of Jesus to the slaughter of millions by anti-Jewish Europeans). We must enter into an honest theological dialogue knowing that God calls every person to conversion.

8. We must ask: who is Jesus of Nazareth? Is He the Promised Messiah of Israel, the King of the Jews, or should we look for another? Israel Zolli was the Chief Rabbi of Rome during WWII and he asked these questions. We must follow Zolli in openly seeking answers to the question: Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Zolli remained Jewish when he professed that Jesus of Nazareth is the Suffering Servant spoken of by Isaiah, the Jewish Lamb of God who takes away everyone’s sins.

9. When Jesus was asked what is the greatest commandment, He quoted the Shema (from Deuteronomy): “Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and might.” All are called to love God. Jesus proclaimed the Good News of Salvation; the Church, by Her nature, must proclaim the Good News of God’s boundless and eternal merciful love for all people.