Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations [1st ed.] 9783030540074, 9783030540081

This book explores how Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the

256 26 3MB

English Pages XXI, 332 [337] Year 2021

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD FILE

Polecaj historie

Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations [1st ed.]
 9783030540074, 9783030540081

Table of contents :
Front Matter ....Pages i-xxi
Introduction: Nostra Aetate and Its Relevance for Today (Kail C. Ellis)....Pages 1-5
Front Matter ....Pages 7-7
Correcting the Nostra Aetate Legend: The Contested, Minimal, and Almost Failed Effort to Embrace a Tragedy and Amend Christian Attitudes Toward Jews, Muslims, and the Followers of Other Religions (John Borelli)....Pages 9-34
The Ecclesial and Theological Origins of Nostra Aetate and Its Significance for Present and Future Interfaith Engagement (Rocco Viviano)....Pages 35-64
Front Matter ....Pages 65-65
Harvest and Horizons: An Appraisal of Nostra Aetate Para. 4 (David Mark Neuhaus)....Pages 67-87
Naming the Fellowship Between the Church and the Jewish People at the Second Vatican Council and in Our Time (Elizabeth T. Groppe)....Pages 89-112
Front Matter ....Pages 113-113
Catholic Saints and Scholars: Nostra Aetate and Islam (Christian S. Krokus)....Pages 115-137
From the Margins to the Center: Exploring Nostra Aetate in the Lives of Charles de Foucauld, Louis Massignon, and Pierre Claverie (Isabel Olizar)....Pages 139-161
The Christian West and the Eastern Patriarchates: Reflections on Nostra Aetate and the World of Islam (Sidney H. Griffith)....Pages 163-186
The Holy See, Islam, and the Role of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs in Developing Nostra Aetate (Kail C. Ellis)....Pages 187-209
Eastern Orthodox Perspectives on Nostra Aetate and Muslim–Christian Relations (Archimandrite Nikodemos Anagnostopoulos)....Pages 211-222
Front Matter ....Pages 223-223
The Church of England’s and the Responses of the Broader European Protestant Traditions to Nostra Aetate (Richard Sudworth)....Pages 225-243
Nostra Aetate and the Christians of the Middle East (George Sabra)....Pages 245-264
A Missionary Minefield or Millennial Partnership? American Presbyterians, Catholics, and Jews Before and After Nostra Aetate (Kaley M. Carpenter)....Pages 265-287
Front Matter ....Pages 289-289
Catholic Teaching on Hinduism in Nostra Aetate: Phenomenology of Religion and Its Theological Implications in the Case of Hindu Theism (Martin Ganeri)....Pages 291-305
Catholic–Buddhist Relations Since the Close of the Second Vatican Council (James L. Fredericks)....Pages 307-328
Back Matter ....Pages 329-332

Citation preview

Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations Edited by

Kail C. Ellis

Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations “Nostra Aetate was widely recognized as transformative by people of diverse faith but was also received, in some circles, with indifference. This volume rediscovers its relevance in the light of the changes in attitudes and practices in interreligious relations augured, or confirmed, by the Council of Vatican II. Written by scholars for the benefit of debating with other scholars, they also stimulate reflection among practitioners.” —Tarek Mitri, President, St. George University, Beirut, and former Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lebanon “This significant new collection provides fresh insight into the many ways the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, has transformed the relationship between Catholic Christians and the Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist communities around the world. Highly informative reading for anyone seeking to understand the world of interfaith relations today.” —Catherine E. Clifford, Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Saint Paul University, Ottawa, ON, Canada

Kail C. Ellis Editor

Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations

Editor Kail C. Ellis Saint Augustine Center Villanova University Villanova, PA, USA

ISBN 978-3-030-54007-4 ISBN 978-3-030-54008-1 (eBook) https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1 © The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 This work is subject to copyright. All rights are solely and exclusively licensed by the Publisher, whether the whole or part of the material is concerned, specifically the rights of translation, reprinting, reuse of illustrations, recitation, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilms or in any other physical way, and transmission or information storage and retrieval, electronic adaptation, computer software, or by similar or dissimilar methodology now known or hereafter developed. The use of general descriptive names, registered names, trademarks, service marks, etc. in this publication does not imply, even in the absence of a specific statement, that such names are exempt from the relevant protective laws and regulations and therefore free for general use. The publisher, the authors and the editors are safe to assume that the advice and information in this book are believed to be true and accurate at the date of publication. Neither the publisher nor the authors or the editors give a warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the material contained herein or for any errors or omissions that may have been made. The publisher remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. This Palgrave Macmillan imprint is published by the registered company Springer Nature Switzerland AG The registered company address is: Gewerbestrasse 11, 6330 Cham, Switzerland

Dedication Dr. Hafeez Malik (1930–2020) Friend, Scholar, Teacher, Mentor and Visionary Rest in Peace

Preface

Villanova University and the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies hosted a conference on the Second Vatican Council declaration, Nostra Aetate, on 7–9 November 2019. The declaration, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 25 October, 1965, was widely celebrated throughout the world on its fiftieth anniversary in 2015 with conferences, special events, and publications. Given that it was only four years since these commemorations occurred, one speaker at the conference asked, “Why Another Conference on Nostra Aetate?” Although rhetorical, the challenge was nevertheless a little unnerving, given the extensive preparations that went into organizing the Villanova conference. It soon became evident, however, that the speaker’s motive for asking the question was to have his audience consider not only the importance of understanding the declaration’s development from its original intention of addressing only relations with Jews, and its expansion into a comprehensive text of interreligious relations, but also its contemporary relevance. While he noted that the declaration was controversial at the time it was promulgated and that it remains controversial in our own time, crucially, Nostra Aetate’s story is still being written. The speaker’s comments echoed those of Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, who kindly sent greetings to “the distinguished guests and dear participants” at the opening of the conference. Cardinal Sandri wrote: “Today more than ever this Declaration of the Second Vatican Council requires reflection

vii

viii

PREFACE

and application in order to assure peaceful co-existence of religions and cultures.” Although promulgated in 1965, Nostra Aetate remains full of meaning and relevance as “In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger the Church examines more closely her relationship to non-Christian religions.” (Nostra Aetate 1). Cardinal Sandri’s comments that Nostra Aetate remains full of meaning and relevant and the speaker’s statement that the documents “still being written” are a reminder that the document cannot be regarded solely as a statement on interreligious relations written in the particular cultural context of the 1960s. Rather, its continuing relevance lies in applying the document and its principles, particularly those of dialogue and understanding, to our own time. If done appropriately, the process will not only be an educational but also a provocative exercise. The English translation of Nostra Aetate, “In Our Time,” should cause us to reflect on its current relevance and how its story is being continually written. Most people would agree that the time in which we live is a most difficult and troubled one. It is marked by rising religious intolerance, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment in the United States and elsewhere. Tragically, intolerance has become a worldwide phenomenon with the rise of ethno-nationalism in European countries and religious persecution in other areas such as south Asia where Muslims and other minorities live. Its manifestations are often violent as evidenced by the 2017 demonstrations on the campus of the University of Virginia when several hundred torch-wielding white supremacists shouted anti-Semitic slogans of “Jews will not replace us!” and “White lives matter!” More recently, attacks on synagogues and kosher grocery stores followed in 2019 in which a number of people were killed. Unfortunately, crimes against ethnic minorities are not a recent phenomenon and continue seemingly unabated. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has marked a new level in the alarming increase in hate crimes, particularly against people of Chinese descent. Against this background of violence and hate, we have noted with great appreciation the extraordinary sacrifices of doctors, nurses, orderlies, hospital workers, fire department brigades, the police and clerks in grocery stores and pharmacies, and many others, who have risked their lives and even lost their lives by exposing themselves to the coronavirus in order to keep our communities functioning. While their dedication and efforts have been highly praised, it is essential to recall that even in the

PREFACE

ix

best of times we have failed to accord such workers the compensation and recognition that reflects the true value of their contributions. At the same time, while our hearts go out to the millions of people who have lost their jobs, salaries, and medical benefits, particularly small business owners, it is crucial that we leave politics aside and be supportive of legislation and efforts by local, state, and federal governments to help alleviate their suffering and address their needs. Another tragedy in our country, one that is noted for its wealth and extraordinary capacity at food production, is the scandal of tens of thousands of people who have to wait in line for hours at food distribution centers. Added to this suffering is the estimated half million or more forgotten homeless people who each day have no choice but to risk their lives living in the streets. These catastrophes, too, are our times and call out to us for attention. To be clear, Nostra Aetate does not deal specifically with these social justice issues; however, the declaration does make clear the Church’s task to promote unity and love among all peoples, indeed among nations. Nostra Aetate exhorts everyone, through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, to work with prudence to preserve and promote the spiritual, moral, and sociocultural values that are found among all people. It is in acting on these principles that we follow Nostra Aetate’s call to counteract the hatred and injustices that exist in our own time. Nostra Aetate took almost four years to complete. Its approval process involved intensive discussions, diplomacy, and sheer determination for it to succeed. The essays in this volume are written by a group of internationally known scholars who provide the reader with an understanding of the document’s historical context and its ongoing reception within a variety of cultural and confessional contexts. The essays also offer students and other scholars an excellent resource on Nostra Aetate’s history, as well as the need to promote social justice and moral welfare in the context of interreligious relations. Although our time is an especially difficult one, it is not without hope. With education, mercy, compassion, and dialogue we, the people in our time, can heed the call that Nostra Aetate issued over fifty-five years ago, namely “to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all humankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.” Villanova, USA

Kail C. Ellis

Acknowledgments

I am indebted to many people who have helped to make this volume possible. First is Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches who sent his support and a gracious letter of greeting to the conference participants. I am also grateful to Father Peter M. Donohue, OSA, president of Villanova University who gave encouragement and support; without him this conference could not have taken place. I would also like to thank two longtime supporters of our endeavors to promote interreligious dialogue and religious freedom, Mr. Antoine Frem, Chairman of INDEVO Management Resources, Inc., and Mr. Masoud Altirs, Chief Executive Officer for Capelli Sales, Inc., both of whom gave generous financial support to the conference. I have also had the benefit of advice from several individuals while planning the conference. In particular, Anthony O’Mahony, Fellow at Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford, has been an excellent collaborator who has provided expert advice and counsel in recommending speakers and topics for this and our previous conference on Christians in the Middle East. Also very helpful was Dr. John Borelli, Special Assistant for Catholic Identity and Dialogue to the President of Georgetown University. Dr. Borelli gave the Keynote Address for the conference and throughout the process, never hesitated to respond when asked for his advice. I very much appreciate John Borelli and Anthony O’Mahony’s wisdom and assistance in making the conference a success.

xi

xii

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I am especially grateful to Dr. Barbara Wall, Vice President for Mission and Ministry at Villanova University, who gave unstinting support and excellent advice. Barbara organized the six-breakout sessions that focused on issues of religious diversity, pursuing interreligious relations, missionary activity and dialogue, and the specifics of Christian Jewish and Christian Muslim relations. Her work added greatly to the conference’s academic component. Ms. Lorraine McCorkle, Graphic Designer for University Communications, created the attractive conference brochure and website that added to the aesthetic appeal of the conference presentation. Ms. Nadia Barsoum, assistant editor of the Journal for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, provided exceptional administrative clerical support and proofreading of the manuscript. Ms. Angéle Ellis also took on the final responsibility for proofing the manuscript, for which I am most grateful. My longstanding colleague, Dr. Helen Lafferty, gave unwavering support throughout the process, and Mr. Anthony Alfano and his assistant, Ms. Kathy Welsch, provided unfailing support for the guest accommodations at the Inn at Villanova and ensured that the excellent conference venue in the Connelly Center was available. Finally, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all those too numerous to mention who helped to make the Nostra Aetate conference a success.

Contents

1

Introduction: Nostra Aetate and Its Relevance for Today Kail C. Ellis

1

Part I Nostra Aetate: Historical and Social Context 2

3

Correcting the Nostra Aetate Legend: The Contested, Minimal, and Almost Failed Effort to Embrace a Tragedy and Amend Christian Attitudes Toward Jews, Muslims, and the Followers of Other Religions John Borelli The Ecclesial and Theological Origins of Nostra Aetate and Its Significance for Present and Future Interfaith Engagement Rocco Viviano

9

35

xiii

xiv

CONTENTS

Part II Nostra Aetate: Relationship with the Jewish People 4

5

Harvest and Horizons: An Appraisal of Nostra Aetate Para. 4 David Mark Neuhaus Naming the Fellowship Between the Church and the Jewish People at the Second Vatican Council and in Our Time Elizabeth T. Groppe

Part III

Catholic Saints and Scholars: Nostra Aetate and Islam Christian S. Krokus

7

From the Margins to the Center: Exploring Nostra Aetate in the Lives of Charles de Foucauld, Louis Massignon, and Pierre Claverie Isabel Olizar

9

10

89

Nostra Aetate: Relationship with Islam and Eastern Christians

6

8

67

115

139

The Christian West and the Eastern Patriarchates: Reflections on Nostra Aetate and the World of Islam Sidney H. Griffith

163

The Holy See, Islam, and the Role of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs in Developing Nostra Aetate Kail C. Ellis

187

Eastern Orthodox Perspectives on Nostra Aetate and Muslim–Christian Relations Archimandrite Nikodemos Anagnostopoulos

211

CONTENTS

Part IV 11

Nostra Aetate and Other Christian Churches

The Church of England’s and the Responses of the Broader European Protestant Traditions to Nostra Aetate Richard Sudworth

12

Nostra Aetate and the Christians of the Middle East George Sabra

13

A Missionary Minefield or Millennial Partnership? American Presbyterians, Catholics, and Jews Before and After Nostra Aetate Kaley M. Carpenter

Part V

14

15

225

245

265

Nostra Aetate and Eastern Religions: Hinduism and Buddhism

Catholic Teaching on Hinduism in Nostra Aetate: Phenomenology of Religion and Its Theological Implications in the Case of Hindu Theism Martin Ganeri Catholic–Buddhist Relations Since the Close of the Second Vatican Council James L. Fredericks

Index

xv

291

307

329

Notes on Contributors

Archimandrite Nikodemos Anagnostopoulos is an Orthodox priest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, serving as a parish priest at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Divine Wisdom in London. He completed his Doctoral Research at Heythrop College, University of London specializing on Muslim–Christian Relations in SouthEastern Europe. His main research areas are Muslim–Christian relations and Eastern and Orthodox Christianity and Liturgy. He studied Social Theology at Kapodistrian University of Athens. John Borelli is Special Assistant for Catholic Identity and Dialogue to John DeGioia the President of Georgetown University. He received his doctorate from Fordham University and served on the US Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and as a consultor to the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. His most recent book, which he co-edited with Ronald J. Sider, is Catholics and Evangelicals for the Common Good (Cascade Books, 2018). He has co-authored or edited five other books and has published over 200 scholarly articles. From 2006, he worked with Thomas F. Stransky, CSP, a founding staff member of the Secretariat for Christian Unity on the genesis and development of Nostra Aetate until Fr. Stransky’s death in 2019. Dr. Borelli is finishing the manuscript on that story. Kaley M. Carpenter is an Associate Professor in the Lawrence C. Gallen Teaching Faculty of the Augustine & Culture Seminar Program at

xvii

xviii

NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS

Villanova University. She earned her Ph.D. in History and Ecumenics from Princeton Seminary and specializes in the study of Christian world missions and American religious history. For her pedagogy in interdisciplinary courses—which encompass history, literature, religion, philosophy, and media ecology—Dr. Carpenter was awarded the 2015 Faculty Congress Award for Innovative Teaching and the 2016 Veritas Grant for research. Kail C. Ellis, OSA is a member of the Augustinian province of St. Thomas of Villanova. He is currently Assistant to the President, dean emeritus of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, former vice president for Academic Affairs and associate professor of political science at Villanova University. His Ph.D. in international relations is from the Catholic University of America. The founder-director of Villanova’s Canter for Arab and Islamic Studies; he is editor of The Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. He has published articles and chapters related to the Middle East and edited Secular Nationalism and Citizenship in Muslim Countries: Arab Christians in the Levant, 2018); Lebanon’s Second Republic. Prospects for the Twenty-first Century, (2002), The Vatican, Islam, and the Middle East, (1987). James L. Fredericks is an Emeritus Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University and a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. He holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of Chicago and is a specialist in inter-religious dialogue, especially the dialogue between Buddhism and Christianity. He has lectured internationally in Japan, China, India, Iran, and Europe. Fredericks was a Senior Fulbright Research Scholar in Kyoto, Japan, and has held the Numata Chair in Buddhist Studies and Culture at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, Japan. He has worked with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue for many years. In addition to many articles, he is the author of Faith Among Faiths: Christian Theology and the Non-Christian Religions (Paulist Press) and Buddhists and Christians: Through Comparative Theology to a New Solidarity (Orbis Books). He is the co-editor of Interreligious Friendships After Nostra Aetate (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). Martin Ganeri, OP is a Prior Provincial of the Dominicans in England. He teaches theology at Blackfriars Hall and the Blackfriars Pontifical Studium. He earned a M.A. in Classics and Oriental Studies and M.Phil.

NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS

xix

in Ancient Indian Archaeology at Cambridge. After joining the Dominicans, he gained a D.Phil. in Theology at Oxford. His research interests focus on theological engagement with other religions, especially with Hinduism. He also teaches courses in Sacred Scripture, Phenomenology and Theology of Religions, and Archaeology. His publications include, Hindu Thought and Western Theism: The Vedanta Ramanuja (Routledge, 2015). Sidney H. Griffith is an Ordinary Professor Emeritus in the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at The Catholic University of America, where he earned Ph.D. in 1977. His areas of interest are Syriac Patristics, Christian Arabic Literature, and the history of Christian/Muslim relations. His publications include The Bible in Arabic: The Scriptures of the ‘People of the Book’ in the Language of Islam (2013), The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam (2008), and The Beginnings of Christian Theology in Arabic: Muslim-Christian Encounters in the Early Islamic Period (2002). Elizabeth T. Groppe is a Professor in the Religious Studies Department at the University of Dayton. A Roman Catholic systematic theologian with a doctoral degree from the University of Notre Dame, her areas of work include trinitarian theology, ecclesiology, liturgical and sacramental theology, theological anthropology, and interreligious dialogue. Her publications include Yves Congar’s Theology of the Holy Spirit (Oxford, 2004) and articles and book chapters on a range of topics that bring the Christian tradition to bear on twenty-first-century challenges including ecological degradation, violence, racism, and the Catholic–Jewish dialogue. Christian S. Krokus is an Associate professor and chair of the department of theology/religious studies at the University of Scranton. His M.A. and Ph.D. are from Boston College. His teaching and research focus on Christian–Muslim comparative theology. His publications include The Theology of Louis Massignon: Islam, Christ, and the Church (CUA, 2017), “The Darkness Is Not Death: Toward a Christian-Muslim Comparative Theological Study of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus” (Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality, 2017),“Louis Massignon: Vatican II and Beyond” (Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies, 2014); and “Louis Massignon’s influence on the teaching of Vatican II on Muslims and Islam” (Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, 2012).

xx

NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS

David Mark Neuhaus, SJ teaches Scripture at the Seminary of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem in Beit Jala, the Religious Studies Department at Bethlehem University, and the Salesian Theological Institute and at Yad Ben Zvi in Jerusalem. He holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University and pontifical degrees in theology and scripture from (Centre Sèvres) and Rome (Pontifical Biblical Institute). He co-edited Justice and the Intifada: Palestinians and Israelis Speak Out, and The Land That I Will Show You … Land, Bible and History. From 2009 to 2017 he was Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew Speaking Catholics in Israel. Isabel Olizar holds master’s degrees in Divinity, from the University of Edinburgh, and in Human Rights and Democratization, from the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratization. She joined the British Civil Service but continued to be intrigued by the role of religion in national and international affairs. Heythrop College, University of London, provided an opportunity to pursue these interests, first through a master’s degree in Christianity and Interreligious Relations, focusing on Christian–Muslim dialogue, and then through doctoral research at the Centre for Eastern Christianity. In 2019 she successfully defended her thesis, Witnessing to the Dignity of the Person: Pope John Paul II’s Political and Religious Thought on Religious Freedom in the Context of the Catholic Church’s Global Dialogue with Muslims in Conversation with French Catholic Thinkers Charles de Foucauld, Louis Massignon and Pierre Claverie, O.P. George Sabra received the Doctor of Theology from the [Catholic] Faculty of Theology in the University of Tübingen in 1986. He is currently Professor of Systematic Theology and the President of the Near East School of Theology in Beirut. His other positions include Lecturer at the American University of Beirut and representative of the Reformed Churches of the Middle East in the World Alliance of Reformed Churches—Oriental Orthodox Churches Dialogue Commission, the International Theological Dialogue Committee between the World Communion of Reformed Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU) of the Catholic Church. He is the editor of the Theological Review, a semi-annual journal of theology. The Revd Doctor Richard Sudworth was appointed as Secretary for Inter-Religious Affairs to the Archbishop of Canterbury and National Inter-Religious Affairs Adviser for the Church of England in 2018. Prior

NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS

xxi

to his appointment, he was involved in parish ministry in inner-city Birmingham in predominantly Muslim areas. He completed his Ph.D. at Heythrop College, University of London. His publications include Encountering Islam: Christian-Muslim Relations in the Public Square’ (SCM, 2017) and an essay entitled “Anglican Interreligious Relations in Generous Love: Indebted to and Moving from Vatican II” in The Character of Christian-Muslim Encounter, (Brill, 2015). Fr Rocco Viviano, SX is a member of the Japanese Province of the Xaverian Missionaries. He is an Associate Researcher at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, Nanzan University (Nagoya, Japan). He holds a Ph.D. in theology from Heythrop College, University of London, and is the Interreligious Dialogue Coordinator for the Kansai District of the Japanese Province. He serves the Catholic Archdiocese of Osaka as director of the Commission for Interreligious Dialogue, as well as director of the Commission for Ecumenism. He is also a member of the Interreligious Dialogue Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Japan. He lectured on missiology and theology in Manila. His research interests are the Catholic teaching on Jewish–Christian relations, Christian–Muslim dialogs, and the Christian–Buddhist encounters, particularly in Japan, and the Christian encounter with Shinto.

CHAPTER 1

Introduction: Nostra Aetate and Its Relevance for Today Kail C. Ellis

Of the sixteen documents produced by the Second Vatican Council, the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions is the briefest. Yet, it generated passionate discussions, both of a theological and political nature, and caused intense world-wide newspaper and media coverage. The document included statements on CatholicJewish relations, the condemnation of anti-Semitism, and endeavored to address anti-Jewish ideas in Christian history and the Church’s liturgy that helped give rise to Nazism. As the document developed, it was expanded to clarify ideas on the Church’s respect for the spiritual, moral, and cultural values of other religions—Hinduism, Buddhism and, by extension, other religious beliefs. Islam, however, came to dominate the discussions due to concerns that a statement on the Jews would be interpreted politically not religiously in the Middle East where there is no distinction between a person’s politics and religion.

K. C. Ellis (B) Villanova University, Villanova, PA, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_1

1

2

K. C. ELLIS

Since its promulgation on 25 October 1965, Nostra Aetate continues to evolve as a result of geopolitical conflicts and current events that make it even more relevant today. The emergence of ethno-nationalist leaders and anti-immigrant sentiment in Europe mirrors the resurgence of white supremacists in the United States. Anti-Semitism is augmented by the rise of Islamophobia and the actions of government officials who have sought to ban Muslims from entering the United States.1 These trends serve to highlight the need to reiterate the goals stated in Nostra Aetate, namely, “In her task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, [the Catholic Church] considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.” Today, interreligious relations with Islam are even more crucial and complicated. Islam spans a vast geographical area extending from Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. Islam has grown closer to Christianity not only because of theological dialogue and shared social and economic concerns, but also geographically. Conflicts and struggles remain. The distrust and misunderstanding among religions first referred to in Nostra Aetate have not been dispelled. Fears of “radical Islam” that melds suspicions about government infiltration with fears of “Sharia Law,” the legal code of Islam, are taking hold in the United States. In the Middle East, where religion also identifies a person’s community, the estimated ten to eleven million Arab Christians suffer various forms of marginalization. The threat to equality of citizenship for Christians remains, causing some Arab Christians to regard sectarianism and the continued rule of authoritarian regimes as protections against militant Islamists. The development of Nostra Aetate however, points to a more positive path as a foundation for Muslims and Christians, namely, to “prudently and lovingly, through dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, and in witness of Christian faith and life, acknowledge, preserve and promote the spiritual growth with joy the religious values we have in common.” Nostra Aetate’s exhortation to dialogue and collaboration is reflected in a statement the Jesuits of Syria released on 3 June 2011 as the Syrian Civil War started to unfold. As this tragic conflict persists, the statement’s relevance continues today.

1

INTRODUCTION: NOSTRA AETATE AND ITS RELEVANCE FOR TODAY

3

It is not possible for us to mention all the causes of the present crisis, but we ask ourselves how to go beyond this dolorous situation and arrive at a sincere tentative dialogue between all the parties. This dialogue is not an easy matter for it presupposes trust on one side towards the other and listening to what the other has to say. We should also seriously consider the ideas of the other side even if these ideas differ from ours. There is no true dialogue without previously acknowledging that ‘no one has the full truth’. This means that the essential aim of a dialogue is the common search for what comes closest to the truth; the common search supposes that all parties, with no one excluded, are invited to participate. Such a dialogue makes it necessary for everyone to be sufficiently self-conscious so as not to be driven astray by different channels of tendentious information. The Christian adult frees herself or himself from negative preconceived ideas; she or he tries by the dialogue, by the humility of dialoguing and listening, to acknowledge the objective data in order to build a bridge between the antagonistic currents existing within the society. The Christian adult is an efficient actor in the construction of modern public opinion, an essential condition for a successful reform.2

This volume explores how Nostra Aetate can influence interreligious dialogue and understanding in the modern world. Although influential in religious, scholarly, and academic circles, Nostra Aetate is relatively unknown outside these disciplines. The essays in the volume seek to remedy that deficit by stressing the declaration’s difficult historical and social context and the evolution of the Church’s relationship with nonChristian peoples. Contentious issues are discussed such as the insistence by some of the link between the Jewish people to the land and state of Israel, an issue that confronts a Catholic understanding of the relativity of national borders and identity. Other chapters confront the challenges associated with the Church’s relationship with Islam. Nostra Aetate is silent about the Prophet Muhammad and the Qur’an and is cautious regarding Islam’s Abrahamic credentials, which Muslims would like to see addressed. Another is proselytizing missionary activity that concerns both Jews and Muslims. For some Jews, “The most blatant, and hence most offensive, expression of Christian religious exclusivity is Christian mission. (…) Suspicion of a hidden missionary agenda is probably still the greatest impediment to advancement in Jewish-Christian dialogue.”3 For some Muslims the concern is that Nostra Aetate pointed to the continuation of aggressive Catholic missionary activity in several Islamic countries.

4

K. C. ELLIS

According the Islamic scholar Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “In discussing the difficulties in dialogue, it is not possible not to mention missionary activity as it is intertwined with medicine, technology and education.”4 Nevertheless, without dismissing these concerns, Nostra Aetate’s silence on these issues can be interpreted optimistically. Giving the document’s ongoing influence and development these issues are left open for later discussion. Significantly, Nostra Aetate’s stress on the need for the Catholic Church to be aware of other religions in order to understand itself more deeply, has enabled the Church’s present and future engagement with the followers of other faiths. Relations with the Eastern Orthodox Church, for example, has been enriched by the Nostra Aetate declaration, as well as by the Council’s Decree on Ecumenism and the Declaration on Religious Freedom. The declaration also had a formative influence on the theologies of various Protestant groups toward non-Christian religions, while the process of its development during the Council’s discussions brought to life the role of Arabic speaking Christian theologians from early Islamic times onward who responded to the religious challenges of Islam in Islam’s own Arabic idiom. The Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Ahmad el-Tayeb, in Abu Dhabi on 4 February 2019, reflects the continuing promise and progress of interreligious dialogue.5 The declaration called on the leaders of the world “to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.” The joint declaration is a striking example of the progress that has been achieved since Nostra Aetate first articulated the Church’s relationship to other religions and called for all “to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.”

Notes 1. Scott Shane, Matthew Rosenberg, Eric Lipton, “Trump Pushes Dark View of Islam to Center of U.S. Policy-Making,” The New York Times, 2 February 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/01/us/politics/

1

2. 3.

4.

5.

INTRODUCTION: NOSTRA AETATE AND ITS RELEVANCE FOR TODAY

5

donald-trump-islam.html; and Jason Horowitz, “Steve Bannon Carries Battles to Another Influential Hub: The Vatican,” The New York Times, 7 February 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/world/europe/ vatican-steve-bannon-pope-francis.html. Zenit, “Statement of the Jesuits in Syria,” 7 June 2011. https://zenit.org/ articles/statement-of-jesuits-in-syria/. A Goshen-Gottstein, “Jewish-Christian Relations: From Historical Past to Theological Future,” reprinted on website Jewish-Christian Relations. http://www.jcrelations.net/en/?item=1754. Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. “Muslim Dialogue with the Church After Nostra Aetate.” Nostra Aetate, edited by Pim Valkenberg and Anthony Cirelli, The Catholic University of America Press, Washington, DC, 2016, pp. 103– 115. JSTOR. www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1g69zbs.15. Accessed 15 April 2020. “Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together: Joint Statement Signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed elTayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, on 4 February 2019.” http://www.vat ican.va/content/francesco/en/travels/2019/outside/documents/papafrancesco_20190204_documento-fratellanza-umana.html.

PART I

Nostra Aetate: Historical and Social Context

CHAPTER 2

Correcting the Nostra Aetate Legend: The Contested, Minimal, and Almost Failed Effort to Embrace a Tragedy and Amend Christian Attitudes Toward Jews, Muslims, and the Followers of Other Religions John Borelli

Introduction Nostra Aetate, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to NonChristian Religions of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, was the shortest of its designated “sixteen documents,” though in some ways its most controversial. The Declaration consists of 1141 words in forty-one sentences, and arranged in five numbered paragraphs that amount to .011 percent of the more than one hundred thousand words in all four constitutions, nine decrees, and three declarations of Vatican II. This briefest of documents may have had the fewest hours under formal debate in aula,

J. Borelli (B) Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_2

9

10

J. BORELLI

in the hall of St. Peter’s Basilica‚ where the general (working) congregations took place daily. In contrast, from the moment word got out that Cardinal Augustin Bea and his Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity were looking into questions regarding Jews, speculations of both hopeful changes and of tragic consequences, friendly and heated debates, and diverse theological views churned in the press and other media, in public programs, and in countless conversations among those who were in any way involved with Vatican II. Nostra Aetate was likely the most debated of these documents outside the hall. Each of its eleven hundred and forty-one Latin words was carefully measured in the give and take of a complicated conciliar process that stretched over six full years. The American Paulist Father Thomas F. Stransky, about whom I will explain further, commented at a news conference on 15 October 1965, after the first round of final voting on Nostra Aetate: “What is said in the declaration may seem naïve in centuries to come, but at the present it would be difficult for the council to come up with any more than it has.”1 That this short text ended up on the agenda was a surprise in itself, even for Pope John XXIII, who summoned Vatican II and who knew better than most in attendance about the dimensions and scope of Jewish suffering in the Shoah. Pope John spent the years immediately before and during World War II as Apostolic Delegate to Turkey and Greece, where he provided transit visas for Jews fleeing Europe and continued to help Jews in Bulgaria, where he had served as Apostolic Visitor from 1925 until 1934. In late 1944, he arrived in Paris as Papal Nuncio to France with the task of addressing the ugly aftermath of Nazi occupation. However, fourteen years after the war’s end, his initial plans for a council did not include correcting church teachings about Jews.2 According to his private secretary, Monsignor (later Cardinal) Loris Capovilla: … until that day [13 June 1960, when Pope John received the Holocaust survivor and scholar, Jules Isaac, in private audience] it had not occurred to John XXIII that the Council had to deal also with the Jewish question and antisemitism. But from that day on he was completely taken by it.”3

How did the Declaration come about from that meeting? We have already begun the story with Pope John XXIII, although the roots of Nostra Aetate stretch as far back as one might wish to carry one’s scholarship. The roots of anti-Jewish attitudes in Christian preaching stretch back

2

CORRECTING THE NOSTRA AETATE LEGEND …

11

to the earliest times for the church. The roots of a modern interreligious movement stretch back into the late nineteenth century.4 The primary cause was the bold act of Pope John XXIII summoning a universal council of the Catholic Church and the general purposes for it when he announced his plans on 25 January 1959. His original goals were vague, but implicit in his phrasing, a council for the edification and joy of the entire Christian people and a renewed invitation to Christian unity, was enough for the emergence of Nostra Aetate.5 When Pope John suggested these goals for a universal, that is ecumenical, council of the church, Fr. Augustin Bea, S.J., decided to make that last hope a reality so that the council would truly be “ecumenical,” that is, an authentic outreach to other Christians. Bea marshaled his contacts among those few Catholic leaders and scholars formally pursuing ecumenical interests, even under current restrictive church policies, and convinced Pope John to consider establishing a commission on ecumenism among the preparatory commissions. In December 1959, Pope John created Bea a cardinal, which made it easier for him to communicate with the pope. That story is well-documented.6 On Pentecost Sunday, 5 June 1960, Pope John announced a Secretariat for Promoting Christian and other preparatory commissions for Vatican II and that Cardinal Bea would be its President. Bishops and scholarly experts would serve as its members and consultors, but four individuals formed the Secretariat’s foundational base: Cardinal Bea, Msgr. Johannes Willebrands (its secretary), and two assistants, Msgr. JeanFrançois Arrighi and Fr. Thomas F. Stransky, C.S.P. Fr. Stransky was turning thirty years old when his appointment was finalized. He and I met in 1981, and remained in sporadic contact until 2006, when we renewed our friendship. On my recommendation, Dr. John DeGioia, President of Georgetown University, invited Fr. Stransky to inaugurate a Presidential Nostra Aetate Lecture Series. Fr. Stransky served only ten years on the Secretariat’s staff, returning to the United States in 1970 because his fellow Paulists had elected him as their President. For the next forty years, he remained a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, heir of the conciliar Secretariat. Starting in 1986, he served two terms as rector of Tantur Ecumenical Institute, situated on the border between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, separating Israel and the Palestinian Territories. In my tribute/sermon at his funeral Liturgy of the Resurrection on 10 September 2019, I explained how Fr. Stransky grew to understand how he was “obliged to live on the fault line of Nostra Aetate.”7

12

J. BORELLI

Correcting the Legend: A Simple Mandate and No More After working closely for a dozen years with Fr. Stransky, I have come to understand that Nostra Aetate grew out of three major efforts that converged around the original initiative carried forward by Cardinal Bea and his Secretariat. Pope John had called the council, placed considerable trust in Cardinal Bea to make it ecumenically representative, and wisely directed to him the suggestion of considering Jewish relations during the preparatory phase. I have already cited the 22 March 1966 memo of Msgr. Loris Capovilla to Fr. Stjepan Schmidt, S.J., secretary to Cardinal Augustin Bea and his biographer, giving Capovilla’s recollection of the decisive meeting between Pope John and Jules Isaac on 13 June 1960.8 The pope received Dr. Isaac for a thirty-minute private audience. Isaac was one of a small group of Jews and Christians dedicated, even more so since the end of World War II, to correct Church teachings about Jews. The most comprehensive survey of these efforts is in John Connelly’s book, From Enemy to Brother.9 Dr. Isaac testified that Pope John told him during the interview that from the moment he began the conversation with Isaac, he realized that he ought to have Cardinal Bea and his new Secretariat look into questions about the Jews.10 Pope John directed Dr. Isaac to meet with Cardinal Bea, which occurred two days later. Three months later, on 18 September 1960, when Bea met in audience with Pope John for the first time since the cardinal had become President of the Secretariat, Bea suggested to the pope that his Secretariat could, and I choose these words carefully, “facilitate relations with Jews in the preparations for the council.” That brief suggestion was all that the initial mandate was that eventually led to Nostra Aetate.11 In “Correcting the Nostra Aetate Legend,” I wish to make clear that, despite how meaningful it would be to the contrary, Pope John XXIII did not mandate Cardinal Bea to prepare a document on Jewish relations in September 1960, three months after they both had met with Jules Isaac. At that point, early in the preparations, no one, including this pope and this cardinal, knew if the Secretariat would have the authority to prepare its own drafts for the council. The Secretariat existed primarily to facilitate relations with other Christian communities in the preparations for the council. Initially, Bea and Secretariat members, consultors

2

CORRECTING THE NOSTRA AETATE LEGEND …

13

and staff believed that they would forward recommendations (vota) to the preparatory commissions and principally to the Theological Commission. Not until February 1962, when Cardinal Bea complained to Pope John in private audience that the Theological Commission was ignoring the Secretariat’s vota, especially on relations with Jews and on religious liberty, did Pope John give Bea permission for the Secretariat to prepare drafts for the council agenda on those two topics.12 Nostra Aetate originated in an effort to address anew relations with Jews to the Church. Two other efforts, independent of this initiative, came to light as preparations for the council unfolded. While a growing cadre of scholars, theologians, and church and Jewish leaders was at work for decades prior to Vatican II attempting to reverse centuries of negative anti-Jewish attitudes among Christians, a smaller cadre of scholars, missionaries, and church leaders was at work encouraging a constructive understanding of Muslims and their Islamic faith. They were members of religious orders active in the Middle East, like the Society of the Missionaries of Africa, the Dominicans, and the Jesuits, and also included Louis Massignon, a well-known French Catholic scholar of Islam, and the scholars and church leaders whom he influenced. One critically important bishop at the council whom Massignon had influenced was the Archbishop of Milan, Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI.13 There was a third effort, which became more pronounced after the council was underway—that of European missionary bishops and indigenous bishops from Africa and Asia, where Christians lived as minority communities among large populations of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and those who could be described as practitioners of animist and tribal traditions. Once they were gathered in Rome, these bishops began to raise their voices for the council to address with creativity and vision their multireligious situations.14

Correcting the Legend: For a Constructive View of Muslims Cardinal Bea convened the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity for its first plenary meeting on 14–15 November 1960. The tenth item on the ten-item agenda was “Questions concerning Jews.”15 According to Fr. Stransky, Fr. Gregory Baum, O.S.A., present as a consultor principally because he had written his doctoral thesis on the modest ecumenical

14

J. BORELLI

aspects of recent papal encyclicals, approached Cardinal Bea during a coffee break, and indicated that he was beginning to do some research on Jewish–Christians relations and that he could prepare an initial report on “Questions concerning the Jews.”16 Fr. Baum was also one of twelve signatories to a report prepared and coordinated by Msgr. John M. Oesterreicher earlier in 1960 at Seton Hall University.17 Fr. Stransky believed that Msgr. Oesterreicher worked harder than anyone else on Nostra Aetate, drawing from his years before the war in Vienna in a ministry of outreach to Jews, and certainly on his experience of exile because of his Jewish heritage, first in Paris, then in Lisbon, and then in the United States, where he eventually settled at Seton Hall University. Oesterreicher, without foreknowledge of Isaac’s visit or any concrete evidence to hope that the council would address Jewish relations, met Cardinal Bea at Fordham University while the cardinal was there for commencement in June 1960. Pope John made his announcements on Pentecost Sunday (5 June) about the conciliar commissions, the Secretariat, and Bea’s role. Msgr. Oesterreicher handed the report to the cardinal three days later, on 8 June, reworked as a petition for improving how Catholics might understand better the relationship of the Jewish people to the Church, and for correcting church teaching and liturgical practices that were negative toward Jews. The report made three major points: 1. The Church is prefigured in the Salvation History of the Jews; 2. There should be a Feast of the Just of the Old Testament; 3. Hatred of Jews is unbiblical and should be corrected.18 After the November plenary, Fr. Baum approached Msgr. Oesterreicher, who had not yet been named a consultor, and together they worked on the Baum report to the Secretariat for its next plenary.19 Their new report pointed out that the relationship of the church to Jews is theological, and that certain ancient and medieval Christian views of Jews no longer apply. He then made three points for articulating Christian teaching on Jews based on St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: 1. In speaking of the genesis and nature of the Church of Christ, the intimate connection between the Church and the Israel of old should clearly be spelled out, showing how the New Covenant ratifies, renews, and transcends the Old Covenant, but does not invalidate the Old Testament.

2

CORRECTING THE NOSTRA AETATE LEGEND …

15

2. It should be stated that Jesus Christ, the Savior of all humanity, was welcomed and received by a holy remnant of the Jewish people, so that it is untrue and unscriptural to regard Jews as an accursed race or as a rejected people. 3. It should be proclaimed that the Church cherishes the never-waning hope for Israel’s ultimate reconciliation and that, until then, the Christian’s attitude toward his Jewish neighbor must be one of love, respect, and final expectation. Antisemitism must be condemned.20 Though the topic, “Questions concerning Jews,” was sub secreto, word leaked out that Bea’s Secretariat was addressing church relations with Jews.21 It seems more than coincidence that two months after the Secretariat’s first plenary meeting, on 25 January 1961, the accessor (chief staff officer) of the Congregation for the Oriental Church opened discussions with the Missionaries of Africa for a specialist on Islam to fill a position assisting bishops of Eastern Catholic Churches and those of the Latin rite serving in areas overseen by the Congregation in understanding Muslims and their Islamic faith. On 5 September 1961, one year before the council began, Cardinal Amleto Cicognani, Prefect of the Congregation, appointed Fr. Josef Cuoq, a Missionary of Africa and specialist on Islam, to that post.22 You will not find Fr. Cuoq listed in the editions of the Annuario Pontificio until 1965, where officials of the Roman Curia are usually listed. There is ample evidence in his archives that Fr. Cuoq began almost immediately networking with other missionaries and scholars interested in improving interreligious relations and reexamining missionary activities.23 Cardinal Cicognani’s predecessor at the Congregation for the Oriental Church for over two decades leading up to 1960 was Cardinal Eugène Tisserant, an Orientalist in the best sense of the word. In that position, Tisserant had directed money to the Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies in Cairo, to the training and research institutes of Missionaries of Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East to promote language, cultural, and religious studies. One Dominican in Cairo, Fr. Georges Anawati, was a leading Catholic scholar of Islam. In 1963, Cardinal Bea had nominated Fr. Anawati to be a consultor to the Secretariat for assisting with relations with eastern Christians, and he began serving as the second session began in autumn 1963. According to Fr. Stransky, Fr. Anawati was not seen at Secretariat meetings, but on 29 November 1963, while an initial public draft of the Secretariat’s document with the cumbersome title,

16

J. BORELLI

“On the Relations of Catholics to Non-Christians, above all, to the Jews,” was under discussion in the hall of the council, Fr. Anawati appeared on stage at the Angelicum, the Dominican college in Rome, to deliver a lecture on “Islam at this Time in the Council.” Cardinal Tisserant presided at that lecture.24 The timing and substance of this lecture were no coincidence. My second installment of “Correcting the Nostra Aetate Legend” is this: there were organized efforts during the council’s preparatory phase to place on the council’s agenda relations with Jews, as the Secretariat was doing, as well as relations with Muslims, as those associated with the Congregation for the Oriental Church seem to have been doing. Nostra Aetate eventually included relations with Muslims, because some at the council wanted to improve Christian appreciation of Muslims and their Islamic faith. That Nostra Aetate expressed appreciation of Muslims and their Islamic faith specifically was not simply because Cardinal Bea and the Secretariat needed to respond to the public outcries, principally from Arab and Muslim political and religious leaders. Many early critics of a draft that mostly addressed relations with Jews argued that it was an act of favoritism toward Jews, and thereby implicitly promoted recognition of the State of Israel and diplomatic relations between it and the Holy See.

Correcting the Legend: Pope Paul VI Made Nostra Aetate Possible There is one more important factor to take into consideration in regard to the existence of Nostra Aetate, which itself involves another correction of its legend. Pope John XXIII passed away on 3 June 1963, and Cardinal Montini was elected on 21 June, choosing the name of Paul VI. Before and during the conclave that elected him, bishops from Africa and Asia discussed their desire for a second secretariat, one that would address relations with the followers of all religions. From that group, Cardinal Thomas Tien Ken-hsin, Archbishop of Beijing and living in Taipei, sent an official proposal in July 1963 to the newly elected pope. On 12 September 1963, Pope Paul sent a letter (Quod Apostolici muneris ) to Cardinal Tisserant, the ranking member of the Praesidium of the Council, outlining the changes that he was instituting for the Council. In one sentence, he declared that, in due time, he would establish another secretariat, like the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, to carry on

2

CORRECTING THE NOSTRA AETATE LEGEND …

17

the work of religious relations other than inter-Christian relations.25 The acceptance of the proposal from Cardinal Tien signaled how the new pope brought a fresh start to the council. On 29 September 1963, Pope Paul VI opened the second period of the council with a lengthy address outlining its new thematic focus on the Church ad intra and ad extra. Toward the end of the address, he invited the council fathers to look “beyond the confines of the Christian horizon” and observe those other religions that uphold the meaning and the concept of God as one, Creator, provident, most high and transcendent, that worship God with acts of sincere piety, and upon whose beliefs and practices the principles of moral and social life are founded.”26 Including interreligious relations within a vision of the Church was a new idea, and Pope Paul would not leave it at that. In the final public congregation of that 1963 period, Pope Paul made the surprise announcement that he was undertaking a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In addition to the significant ecumenical character of that history-making journey, on the Feast of Epiphany (6 January 1964) in Bethlehem, Pope Paul offered public greetings specifically to “those who profess monotheism and with us direct their religious worship to the one true God, most high and living.” He continued that this is “the God of Abraham, the supreme God whom Melchizedek, a mysterious person about whose genealogy and end Scripture tells us nothing, and by whose regal priesthood Christ himself wishes to be characterized, one day, distinct in the past but recalled in the Bible and in the missal, celebrated as ‘God Most High, maker of heaven and earth’ (cf. Gn 14:19; Heb 7; Ps 76:3; 110:4).”27 This lengthy sentence, probably the first public greetings from a pope for friendship with Muslims, as well as with Jews, reveals how much Pope Paul truly appreciated the work of Louis Massignon, who had passed away on 31 October 1962, as Vatican II was underway. Therefore, my third installment of “Correcting the Nostra Aetate Legend” is this: Without the initiative of Pope John XXIII, Nostra Aetate may never have been on the council’s agenda, but without the vision of Pope Paul VI, Nostra Aetate‚ as we know it today‚ may never have succeeded. On Pentecost Sunday in 1964 (17 May), Paul VI fulfilled his earlier promise and announced the establishment of a Secretariat for NonChristians. It would begin working after the council, but its establishment was an endorsement for interreligious dialogue, which eventually Nostra Aetate would include. The only relevant draft at that point in the council was under Bea’s control at the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity.

18

J. BORELLI

Then, in August 1964, Paul VI issued his first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam, which explored the notion of a church in dialogue. Pope Paul used the term “dialogue” over seventy times, including references to dialogue with Muslims and with those who follow the “great Afro-Asiatic religions.”28 In December 1964, Paul VI offered one more endorsement for interreligious dialogue when he undertook a second international pilgrimage to attend the Eucharistic Conference in Bombay, India. On that journey, Paul VI met with religious leaders and quoted a passage from the Hindu Upanishads while offering a formal greeting.29

Correcting the Legend: Christian Delegated Observers and Other Guests After Gregory Baum gave his report at the second plenary of the Secretariat (February 1961), Cardinal Bea appointed a team of four, headed by Abbot Leo von Rudloff, O.S.B, who as an abbot was a council father. The team included Msgr. John Oesterreicher, Fr. Gregory Baum, and Fr. George Tavard, an Assumptionist‚ who‚ like Baum, was already a consultor on ecumenical relations. The sub-commission offered an outline for a position on relations with Jews at the third plenary in April 1961 and delivered lengthy reports at the fourth plenary in August. According to Fr. Stransky, the team was asked to compose a sample draft, and they returned to the fifth plenary in November 1961 with a text entitled “On the Jews.” After Cardinal Bea received Pope John’s permission for the Secretariat to submit drafts in February 1962, he forwarded “On the Jews,” as emended by the Secretariat, to the Central Preparatory Commission. That draft did not become a public document. Cardinal Cicognani, by then chair of the Central Preparatory Commission and Secretary of State, set it aside at the Commission’s June 1962 meeting for reasons beyond everyone’s control. Ten days earlier, the World Jewish Congress had announced that an Israeli official, Chaim Wardi, the Minister for Christian Affairs, would serve at its observer at Vatican II. The announcement caused a crisis for the Holy See in diplomatic relations with Arab and Muslim governments and organizations. Putting Jewish relations on the council’s agenda would be imprudent and only draw further criticism. This episode, characterized as a diplomatic crisis, and the first of at least four crises for Nostra Aetate, demonstrates how controversial

2

CORRECTING THE NOSTRA AETATE LEGEND …

19

Nostra Aetate would be throughout the conciliar process that eventually succeeded in its promulgation. In removing “On the Jews” from the agenda, Cardinal Cicognani criticized Bea for producing a draft on relations with Jews without mentioning Muslims, given Arab-Israeli tensions and current Middle East affairs.30 This incident allows me to add another installment of “Correcting the Nostra Aetate Legend.” The only credentialed observers to Vatican II were Christians, despite the fact that several important Jewish figures and others identified themselves as “observers” at Vatican II. The credentialed observers were delegated by their Christian communions or church bodies. The Secretariat coordinated those delegated observers and also requisitioned passes to the hall of the council for prominent Christian and other religious leaders as invited guests. Any person self-identifying as an “official observer at Vatican II” did not receive that designation from the Secretariat or any other official body of the council.

Correcting the Legend: The Insignificance of Two Different Words for Dialogue The first session of Vatican II unfolded in autumn 1962 without a statement on relations with Jews or on interreligious relations on the agenda. After the council fathers went home in December, Cardinal Bea sent a private memo to Pope John XXIII requesting that a purely theological statement on the relation of the church to Jews be restored to the agenda to offset the monstrous crimes of antisemitism and the continuing false charges of deicide against Jews. The pope approved the request.31 The first public draft did not appear until after Pope Paul was elected. It was entitled “On the Relation of Catholics to Non-Christians, above all, to the Jews” and was chapter four in the Secretariat’s draft “On Ecumenism,” presented for discussion in aula in November 1963. That draft differed essentially from the one set aside by this introductory sentence and single reference to the followers of religions other than Jews: “After we have treated the principles of Catholic Ecumenism, we do not wish to pass over in silence the fact that, taking account of diverse conditions, these same principles ought to be applied to the way of conversing and collaborating with those who are not Christians, who nevertheless worship God, or at least spirited with good will, strive to follow their conscience in carrying out the moral law inserted in human nature.”32 This was at same time, November 1963, when Fr. Georges Anawati gave

20

J. BORELLI

his public lecture on Islam, but in the general congregations in the hall, very little time was spent on chapter four. Nearly all the discussion was directed toward the first three chapters, which eventually formed the Decree on Ecumenism (Redintegratio Unitatis ), promulgated a year later in November 1964. The November 1963 draft of “On Ecumenism,” with three chapters on ecumenical relations, a fourth on relations with Jews, and a fifth on religious liberty was the first instance of a magisterial document of the Catholic Church employing the term “dialogue.” The draft submitted to the council fathers preceded the encyclical of Paul VI on the church in dialogue by nine months. The drafters for the Secretariat employed variations of the word dialogus in three instances in the first three chapters, while the drafters of the fourth chapter relied on the classical noun colloquium and verb colloquor in two instances.33 Thus, we read in chapter four, “this Holy Synod intends in every way to foster and commend mutual understanding and esteem, which is the fruit of theological studies and fraternal conversations (colloquiis fraternis ),” while in chapter one we find, “Nothing is able to bring this [restoration of unity] about better than dialogue (dialogus ) with our separated brethren.” Paul VI would employ the classical term (colloquium) throughout his encyclical Ecclesiam Suam because the Latinist Fr. Emilio Springhetti, S.J., insisted on it, and his view prevailed for the drafting team for the Secretariat’s chapter on relation with Jews. Cardinal Bea had invited the Swiss diocesan priest‚ Fr. Erich Salzmann‚ to serve as a secretary and a Latinist for the Secretariat. He worked with the drafters of the chapters on ecumenism. Except for the group working on relations with Jews, the working language of the Secretariat was French, and Salzmann simply put the French dialogue into the Latin dialogus. The reason was simple. Dialogue in French and in English was the word currently used in ecumenical circles. This was how Fr. Stransky explained the difference to me. My fifth installment of “Correcting the Nostra Aetate Legend” is this: the choice of different Latin terms for dialogue, dialogus in the Redintegratio Unitatis and colloquium in Nostra Aetate, was due more to the insistence of Latinists than to theological opinion. The use of different terms was not intended to signal theological differences between ecumenical dialogue and interreligious dialogue.

2

CORRECTING THE NOSTRA AETATE LEGEND …

21

When the Secretariat met in March 1964 to revise the five chapters of “On Ecumenism,” the largest drafting group improved the first three chapters from submitted recommendations and expanded the use of “dialogue” from three to twelve instances. They shaped those chapters into the Decree on Ecumenism. Several scholars also offered to write a paragraph on relations with Muslims, including Fr. Pierre Duprey, a Missionary of Africa who had joined the Secretariat staff in 1963, his fellow Missionary of Africa Fr. Cuoq from the Congregation for the Oriental Church,34 the Secretariat’s consultor, Fr. Anawati, and possibly another Missionary of Africa in Rome, Robert Caspar. The paragraph was intended to expand the draft on relations with Jews to mention specifically relations with Muslims. The suggestion failed to obtain the needed two-thirds approval of Secretariat members, as the minutes show and as Fr. Stransky explained to me. He also commented that Cardinal Bea was not sure if the Secretariat’s mandate included relations with Muslims. The members left Rome feeling confident about their draft on ecumenical relations, now with two appendices, the first on religious liberty and the second with its original title, “On the Jews,” which its drafting group had changed only slightly.

Correcting the Legend: Becoming a Declaration Is Not Downgrading the Status Through that spring and into the summer, Bea received comments and suggestions from the Central Coordinating Commission and its chairman Cardinal Cicognani, especially insisting that the text should be expanded and mention Muslims. Paul VI also favored these suggestions, as the records show. In fact, with so many drafts floating back and forth, the General Secretary of the Ecumenical Council, Archbishop Pericle Felici, needed to prepare an inventory. Bea and his staff, along with members and consultors living close in Rome, revised the text as best they could, and the result was a new draft, “On Jews and on Non-Christians.”35 In addition, the Central Coordinating Commission decided that the two appendices, the first on religious liberty and the second, now “On Jews and on Non-Christians,” should become separate declarations. This was mainly because these two drafts would require more time for approval than the three chapters on ecumenism. The appendix on religious liberty became the first declaration (declaratio prior) and the other one that would eventually be shaped into Nostra Aetate became “the

22

J. BORELLI

other declaration” (declaratio altera). When they made this change, the Coordinating Commission was not judging the contents of declarations to be less important than the contents of the decree for which they had been appendices. My sixth installment of “Correcting the Nostra Aetate Legend” is about its status as an ecumenical council document: because Nostra Aetate is a declaration does not make it less authoritative than the four constitutions or nine decrees of Vatican II. It is the language within each text that gives clues to the importance of what is being said, expressions such as, “the Church therefore exhorts…‚” “this Sacred Synod pleads…‚” “the Catholic Church rejects nothing that…‚” “this Sacred Synod “remembers…‚” “the Church of Christ acknowledges…‚” “the Church reproves…” etc.36 Since the text of the declaration had changed so much, Cardinal Bea felt obliged to explain to the members of the Secretariat, as they were receiving the materials in the mail, why their text on the agenda for September differed so much from the draft that they had approved in March. The text was significantly rearranged and the draft “On the Jews” was renamed and now included a reference to Muslims: In obedience to the love for our brother and sister, we ought to pay great attention to the opinions and teachings, which although they differ from our own in many ways, contain nevertheless many rays of that Truth which enlightens everyone in this world. This applies above all to Muslims who adore the one God, personal and judge, and they stand close to us in a religious sense and they draw near to us with many expressions of human culture set before us.

Bea delicately explained in his letter of 17 July 1964 that changes were due to interventions from above—the Central Coordinating Commission’s and that of a higher authority, which unmistakably meant Pope Paul himself.37 Unfortunately, that draft, “On Jews and On Non-Christians,” was leaked to the press. A cumbersome translation in English that appeared in the New York Herald Tribune on 3 September 1964, and the following day in The New York Times, made matters even more difficult. With the text now in the open, awkwardly arranged and hastily composed adjustments due to so many workers on the draft created yet another crisis. For example, one sentence expressing Christian hope for “the union of the

2

CORRECTING THE NOSTRA AETATE LEGEND …

23

Jewish people with the Church” and citing St. Paul’s expectation that all Israel would be saved (cf. Romans 11:25) was followed immediately by admonitions that catechetical instruction, preaching and daily conversation should be free of anti-Jewish expressions and that responsibility for the death of Jesus should not be attributed to the Jews of our own time. The juxtaposition could suggest that an eventual union of Jews with the Church was a motive for improving the behavior of Christians toward them.38 Jews would read these lines as a Christian expectation of their conversion through dialogue. In addition, the text no longer condemned the charge of “deicide,” specifically as a false accusation against Jews, as had the first public draft. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who had met with Cardinal Bea and the Secretariat staff on a few occasions and had earlier offered scholarly expertise through the American Jewish Committee, was particularly disturbed by the translation. Time Magazine quoted him saying that he was “ready to go to Auschwitz any time if faced with the alternative of conversion or death.” He and Zachariah Shuster, the European director of the AJC, secured an extraordinary private and secret meeting with Paul VI on 14 September 1964, the day that he opened the third session with an unprecedented and elaborately celebrated concelebrated liturgy.39 That meeting was considerably problematic, as were other angry reactions by Jews and Christians alike; nevertheless, when Cardinal Bea rose to the podium in aula later that month on 25 September to present the separate declaration, he received a standing ovation from the assembly, which was an overt breach of council rules. Despite problems with the text and the need to clarify intentions for dialogue, the council fathers wanted to keep it on the agenda, strengthen it, including putting the term “deicide” back in the text, improve upon its contents, and expand it. The council fathers had come to appreciate the small, upstart Secretariat for its professionalism and courage.40 The second major crisis for Nostra Aetate was over, but a third was soon to begin. Cardinal Bea scheduled a working meeting for the Secretariat for 9 October 1964; however, on the day before, he received two letters from Archbishop Felici, General Secretary of the Council, representing an attempt to take sole responsibility for both declarations away from the Secretariat. Bea’s response—to wrestle back control of the draft on religious liberty—is a story in itself. That part of the story dominates accounts of Nostra Aetate’s third major crisis, “The October Crisis.”41

24

J. BORELLI

In one letter, Archbishop Felici suggested that “On Jews and on NonChristians” could be broken into pieces and placed in other conciliar texts. The part on the Jews would be appended to the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Any parts on other religions would in some way be incorporated into a draft on missionary activity that was yet to be written. The part condemning antisemitism and all forms of discrimination would go into the draft on the church in the modern world. The Secretariat had caved into the directives of the Central Coordinating Commission during the previous summer with disastrous results, and was not going to do so again. By the end of October, Cardinal Bea was back in control of both declarations. So confident was Bea that a meeting scheduled for 9 October went ahead despite the letter from Felici. Fr. John Long, S.J., an American on the Secretariat staff, convened a working group on relations with Muslims that included those who had already assisted the Secretariat, Fr. Anawati, Fr. Cuoq, and Fr. Caspar, and a fourth, Fr. Jean Corbon, a diocesan priest from Lebanon. They met and prepared the third part of the next draft, devoted entirely to relations with Muslims. On 21 October 1964, Fr. Stransky convened a meeting that included Fr. Josef Neuner, S.J. and Fr. Paul Pfister, S.J., both consultors to the council, the former living in India and the latter in Japan. Also attending were consultors from the Commission on Doctrine of the Faith and Morals, the diocesan priest Fr. Charles Moeller, and the widely respected consultor Fr. Yves Congar, O.P. Stransky presented an outline that more or less matches that of the final version of Nostra Aetate. The archives show that Neuner and Pfister prepared sections that are unmistakably parts of paragraphs 1 and 2. Moeller, who taught religion and culture and religion and literature at Leuven, gave the substance of the passages on the unity of humanity and the profound enigmas that all humans face.42 The text expanded into five parts: an introduction on the unity of humanity and major questions arising from the human condition, a summary of the role of religions in response to these questions with appreciation of the views of other religions, naming Hinduism and Buddhism specifically; a lengthy statement of appreciation of Muslims and of the opportunities for cooperation; a summary of the essential significance of relations with Jews for Christians and condemnation of anti-Jewish teachings and persecution of Jews, and a rejection of all forms of discrimination.

2

CORRECTING THE NOSTRA AETATE LEGEND …

25

Correcting the Legend: Missionaries Expanded Nostra Aetate Those who helped expand Nostra Aetate, especially in creating the first three parts, had anticipated promoting an improved policy toward interreligious relations in a document that the Commission for Missions was expected to produce; however, that task was badly stalled. To urge the task forward, Paul VI made his one, and somewhat awkward, visit to a working morning congregation on 6 November 1964. To say this was highly unusual is understatement. Giuseppe Alberigo, a leading expert on Vatican II, commented that this was “the first time that a pope had attended such a session of an ecumenical or general council since the Middle Ages.”43 Before discussion of fourteen propositions pertaining to the Church’s missionary activity, the pope repeated an announcement that he had made on Mission Sunday, the previous 18 October, that he was becoming a missionary, “a word which means an apostle, a witness, a pastor on the road,” because he was going to India in December.44 This turned out to be the cheeriest part of the session. The pent-up anger of missionary bishops came out in strong criticisms of the propositions as unhelpful. Preparations for a draft on missionary activity were in shambles. Fr. Stransky was convinced that the weak propositions and sluggishness in the development of a draft on missions contributed more to the success of the expanded text of Nostra Aetate than any other factor. My seventh installment of “Correcting the Nostra Aetate Legend” is about this expansion of the text due primarily to the conciliar process itself: those who contributed to Nostra Aetate 1–3 and many others at the council who welcomed its expansion had arrived in Rome fully expecting to have an impact primarily on the draft on missionary activity, but they welcomed and supported the professional work of Bea’s Secretariat outpacing the Commission for Missions. The five-part draft held together nicely. On 20 November, Cardinal Bea presented the new and expanded draft, beginning for the first time with the two Latin words, Nostra aetate, “in our time.” He compared it to the biblical grain of mustard seed, in which all the birds of the air, all religions, are nesting, and observed that “no council in the history of the church, unless I am mistaken, has ever set out so solemnly the principles concerning them.”45 The new draft declared that “the Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these

26

J. BORELLI

religions” and exhorted Catholics through conversations and collaboration with the followers of other religions to “preserve and promote those spiritual and moral goods as well as those socio-cultural values found among those followers.” The term “deicide” was restored and the section on relations with Jews was stronger. Discussion was minimal, with only a few speeches, and a series of three votes were outlined. Somewhat fewer than 2000 council fathers were voting. On the first two votes, on the preface and numbers 1–3, only 136 voted “no” and on numbers 4 and 5, only 185 voted “no.” On the whole declaration, out of a total of 1996 votes, 1651 were “yes,” 99 were “no,” and 242 were “yes, with reservations.” My seventh and final installment for “Correcting the Nostra Aetate Legend” is a reminder of what is in plain sight: Nostra Aetate was the product of three drafting committees. You miss the significance of this if you think it is really about Jewish relations and the rest. That is decidedly contrary to the record. Nostra Aetate is about relations with Jews, relations with Muslims, and interreligious relations, bound together by the firm belief that so much can be accomplished through dialogue.

Bringing Nostra Aetate to a Successful Conclusion: One Final Crisis Cardinal Cicognani, worried for good reasons about political implications of the approved text, asked Cardinal Bea to prepare an article for L’Osservatore Romano clarifying what the text said and what it did not say. Bea noted its “overwhelming majority vote of approval” and described its “exclusively religious character.” He firmly denied criticism on political grounds: “Just as the sections of the Declaration concerning the Hinduists, Buddhists, and Muslims have nothing to do with politics— that is evident, so also does the passage of the Jews exclude any political interpretation.” The document, he wrote, “clearly in complete accord with the Gospel, is inspired by truth, justice and Christian charity.” “Furthermore,” he argued, “the pastoral aspects of these treated facts touch only the religious field.”46 Though strongly worded, these and other disclaimers proved insufficient, and the text still faced a final, major crisis that threatened its existence—the opposition of Middle East religious and political leaders, especially Catholic leaders.

2

CORRECTING THE NOSTRA AETATE LEGEND …

27

According to Fr. Stransky, Pope Paul VI did not want more than 400 negative votes in the final voting on the text, now set for the fourth and final session of the council in autumn 1965.47 Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV had even threatened to walk out of the hall of the council in protest if the text came to the floor for a final vote. He exercised considerable influence, and other Melkite bishops and other Eastern Catholic bishops would have joined the walkout. A small but active group, resistant to nearly all the major changes of Vatican II and known as the Group of International Fathers (Coetus Internationalis Patrum), would surely take advantage of such a protest.48 Given that the overall theme of the council was about a Church in dialogue, such a boycott would have compromised the success of the council itself. Cardinal Bea dispatched Msgr. Willebrands and Fr. Duprey—who had spent most of his career in the Middle East—first to Syria and Lebanon (18–23 April), and then to Jerusalem and Cairo (24–30 April). They reported strong opposition to the text.49 The Secretariat members and consultors gathered a month later at the end of May 1965 for what was probably their most difficult and stormy meeting on Nostra Aetate. They discussed softening the section on the Jews. Bishop Josef Stangl (Würzburg) pleaded for a strong text; otherwise, he made clear, the German church would feel that its selfexamination of its role during the period of National Socialism would be impeded. Rather than weakening the text or removing it from the agenda, they proposed sending another mission to the Middle East and to include one of the members of the Secretariat to accompany the delegation this time; Bishop Émile-Jozef De Smedt (Bruges), who was a much-appreciated orator at the council. Bishop De Smedt, Msgr. Willebrands, and Fr. Duprey traveled to Beirut, Jerusalem, and Cairo with copies of letters sent by Pope Paul to each of the bishops in advance. The trip took place at the end of July. It produced better results than the previous trips, with a number of recommendations for the Secretariat to consider. Patriarch Maximos IV made three recommendations, and two were accepted.50 Pope Paul had also intervened again. He wanted the term “deicide” dropped and he ask that one of the verbs regarding antisemitism and forms of discrimination‚ damnat (condemns), dropped from the text‚ although that language had already been approved by an overwhelming majority. The Secretariat met in September and accepted the pope’s changes. They removed damnat and left deplorat (deplores or decries)‚ a stronger word‚ in some ways‚ by itself. They reluctantly agreed to drop

28

J. BORELLI

the word “deicide,” but they left that portion of the text on relations with Jews more or less the same. These changes from the interventions of the pope made the final draft of Nostra Aetate easier for Eastern Catholic bishops to approve, though some still could not vote for it, given the circumstances in which they lived in the Middle East, where religion and politics are not easily separated.51 The final draft of Nostra Aetate was presented to the council fathers on 14 October 1965, and they voted the next day without any further discussion. A series of nine votes followed, with more or less the same pattern of negative votes as in the previous November. The most negative votes were on correcting the views of the early Fathers of the church toward Jews and rejecting the charge of the Jews as a cursed people with 1,821 yes and 245 negative votes. A final vote on the whole text produced only 250 negative votes, with 1763 in favor, out of 2023 voting with 10 invalid votes. This represented an 88 percent approval, significantly better than what would have been unacceptable. At 250, the negative votes were significantly below 400 or even 300. When the text was solemnly promulgated thirteen days later on 28 October, the negative votes had dwindled to 88, with 2221 council fathers affirming the declaration. We can presume that those who were angry with removal of the term “deicide” did not cast negative votes at the promulgation. The 88 negative votes probably reflect a mixture of hardline conservative bishops who were opposed to many of the changes of Vatican II and a few Eastern Catholic bishops. Those participating in the five-volume A History of Vatican II believed that the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity was the most successful conciliar commission, and that Cardinal Bea’s leadership was essential to the success of Nostra Aetate.52 In my view, Nostra Aetate succeeded because of the combination of Pope John’s initial wish that the council be ecumenical, his desire to restore a draft on the Jews to the agenda after it was removed, the professionalism displayed by the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, the ecclesial vision of Pope Paul VI for a church engaged with all other religions, and Cardinal Bea’s wise management of the conciliar process—over which no one had absolute control, not even Pope Paul VI. In the end, Nostra Aetate received overwhelming support from the council fathers and became one of the greatest achievements of Vatican II. In 2012, at Georgetown University, for a conference marking the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, Fr. Stransky observed:

2

CORRECTING THE NOSTRA AETATE LEGEND …

29

This declaration, I now maintain more than even then, was a 180-degree turnabout, a “radical discontinuity.” Whatever their label, all 16 promulgated documents are acts of the church through the Act of the Council, so that they now are of the living teaching tradition of the church.53

Certainly, considering eighteen hundred years of church teaching on the Jews, I agree that Nostra Aetate was a radical change from what had preceded it. In some ways, by citing the Letter to the Romans, the church was recovering what had been lost from the earliest centuries of its existence. With regard to relations with Muslims, we can find instances of mutual understanding, as with the eleventh-century letter of Pope Gregory VII cited in Nostra Aetate 3, or of mutual respect, in the example St. Francis of Assisi and the Sultan in the thirteenth century. Nostra Aetate grasped these thin threads of a tradition, and brought them up to date while drawing them into the conciliar teaching of the Catholic Church.54 Regarding relations with Hindus, Buddhists, and all others, the same can be said about drawing a similarly positive tradition of mutual respect and understanding, scattered among missionaries and their relationships into conciliar teaching. Nostra Aetate probably said as much as could be said in 1965 because it promoted a bold set of steps toward dialogue, but significantly with the official encouragement of an ecumenical council.

Notes 1. Council Daybook: Vatican II, Session 4, Sept. 14, 1965 to Dec. 8, 1965, edited by Floyd Anderson (Washington, DC: National Catholic Welfare Conference, 1966), 140. 2. It is amazing that correcting teachings on Jews was not on Pope John’s mind for the council because on Good Friday 1959 he had corrected the prayer for the Jews so that it no longer contained “perfidious” and “perfidy” with regard to Jews. Regarding public awareness of the Shoah, not until the trial of Adolph Eichmann (11 April 1961), during the preparatory phase for Vatican II, was there much public discussion and all that many publications on the Shoah: John Borelli, “Vatican II: Preparing the Catholic Church for Dialogue,” Origins, CNS Documentary Service 42, 11 (August 2, 2012), 168. 3. Archivio Segreto Vaticano [hereafter ASV ], Conc. Vat. II , Secretariatus ad Christianorum Unitatem Fovendam, Box 1452. 4. John Borelli, “Vatican II: Preparing the Catholic Church for Dialogue,” 164–165. 5. Acta Apostolicis Sedis [hereafter cited as AAS] 51 (1969) 66–69.

30

J. BORELLI

6. Thomas F. Stransky, “The Foundation of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity,” Vatican II Revisited: By Those Who Were There, edited by Alberic Stacpoole (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1986), 62–87. Regarding restrictions on Catholics for engaging in ecumenical activities at the time, the most recent instruction from the Holy See had been issued on 20 December 1949 by the Congregation for the Holy Office under the title Ecclesia Catholica. See: AAS 42 (1950) 142–147; an English translation appeared as Instruction on the Ecumenical Movement, Unity Studies 1, Commentary by Rev. William Conway (Garrison, NY: Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, 1954). 7. John Borelli, “Thomas F. Stransky, C.S.P.: A Scriptural Reflection In Memoriam,” Ecumenical Trends 48, 10 (November 2019), 14. 8. Stjepan Schmidt’s account the meetings with Jules Isaac were included in his biography of Cardinal Bea: Agostino Bea—il cardinale dell’unità (Roma: Città Nuova Editrice, 1987); in German, Augustin Bea: der Kardinal der Enheit (Cologne: Verlag Styria, 1989; in English with a reduced bibliography, Augustin Bea: The Cardinal of Unity, translated by Leslie Wearne (New Rochelle, NY: New City Press, 1992), 332–336. 9. John Connelly, From Enemy to Brother (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012). 10. Isaac’s account is all that we have. It first appeared in Le Service international de documentation judéo-chrétienne (SIDIC) 3 (1968): 10– 11; republished as “La Réception de Jules Isaac par Jean XXIII,” La Documentation Catholique 65: 1528 (17 November, 1968): 2015–16. 11. This was Fr. Stransky’s final way of describing how Pope John and Bea understood one another in September 1960 with regard to Jules Isaac’s request to Pope John that he have a commission look into the church’s teaching of contempt with regard to Jews; for Fr. Stransky’s last published accounts, see: “The Genesis of Nostra Aetate: An Insider’s Story,” Nostra Aetate: Origins, Promulgation, Impact on JewishCatholic Relations, Proceedings of the International Conference, Jerusalem, 30 October—1 November 2005, edited by Neville Lamdan and Alberto Melloni (Münster: Lit Verlag, 2007), 29–53; “Vatican II: Reflections of an Insider,” Origins, CNS Documentary Service 42, 24 (November 15, 2012), 382–387. 12. Mauro Velati, Dialogo e Rinnovamento: Verbali e Testi del Secretatiato per L’Unità dei Cristiani nella Preparazione del Concilio Vaticano II (1960– 1962) (Bologna: Società Editrice il Mulino, 2011), 818–819. 13. Christian S. Krokus, The Theology of Louis Massignon: Islam, Christ, and the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University Press of America, 2017), 200.

2

CORRECTING THE NOSTRA AETATE LEGEND …

31

14. Ralph M. Wiltgen gives the details of these developments in The Rhine Flows into the Tiber: The Unknown Council (New York: Hawthorne Books, 1967), 73–78. 15. Velati, Dialogo e Rinnovamento, 173–174. 16. Baum might have been referring to a book he would publish in 1961, The Jews and the Gospel (London: Newman Press, 1961). 17. John M. Oesterreicher, The New Encounter Between Christians and Jews (New York: Philosophical Library, 1986), 116–119. 18. For Oesterreicher’s account of the story of Nostra Aetate see: “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions,” Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II , vol. 3, edited by Herbert Vorgrimler (New York: Herder and Herder, 1969), 1–136; first published in German by Herder; republished with few changes in The New Encounter between Christians and Jews (New York: Philosophical Library, 1986). 19. Msgr. John Oesterreicher’s archives at Seton Hall University contain correspondence between Oesterreicher and Baum between December 1960 and January 1961 on the two of them meeting at Seton Hall. 20. ASV ‚ Conc. Vat. II , Box 1452. See also Velati, Dialogo e Rinnovamento, 490–491. Velati places Fr. Baum’s report at the third plenary of the Secretariat in April 1961; however, Fr. Stransky remembered differently. There was a written report sent to Cardinal Bea in January 1961, which Velati notes (p. 490, n. 335); however, Stransky recalled that Baum gave an informal presentation at the second plenary (February 1961) after discussion of all agenda items were concluded. 21. Cardinal Bea himself naïvely mentioned the topic in an interview with journalist Tullia Zevi, who published the news in The Jewish Chronicle on November 11, 1960, prior to the first plenary. 22. John Borelli, “The Origins and Development of Interreligious Relations during the Century of the Church (1910–2010),” U. S. Catholic Historian 28, 2 (Spring 2010), 34. 23. Cuoq’s archives, held at the Generalate on Via Aurelia in Rome, are a virtual treasure of information on Cuoq’s activities behind the scenes while working at the Congregation for the Oriental Church and during his tenure with the Secretariat for Non-Christians. 24. The lecture was published the following year: “L’Islam à l’heure du Concile: prolégomènes à un dialogue islamo-chrétien,” Angelicum 41 (1964), 145–168. 25. Acta Synodalia Sacrosancti Oecumenici Concilii Vaticani II [hereafter cited as AS] (Vatican City: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1970–1999), II/1, 12; AAS 55 (1963) 743.

32

J. BORELLI

26. The Latin text is available in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis 55 (1963) 857– 858 and on the Vatican website in Italian, French, and Portuguese translations, http://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/la/speeches/1963/doc uments/hf_p-vi_spe_19630929_concilio-vaticano-ii.html. For an English translation of this passage see: Interreligious Dialogue: The Official Teaching of the Catholic Church from the Second Vatican Council to John Paul II (1963–2005), edited by Francesco Gioia (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2006), 186, p. 157; for the entire speech in English, see: Xavier Rynne, The Second Session: The Debates and Decrees of Vatican Council II, September 29 to December 4, 1963 (New York: Farrar, Straus & Company, 1964), 362ff. 27. Pope Paul’s original text was in French: http://w2.vatican.va/content/ paul-vi/fr/speeches/1964/documents/hf_p-vi_spe_19640106_epipha nie.html. An English translation can be found in Gioia, ed., Interreligious Dialogue, 157–159. 28. See paragraphs 107–108, http://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/ encyclicals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_06081964_ecclesiam.html. 29. http://www.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/speeches/1964/docume nts/hf_p-vi_spe_19641203_other-religions.html. 30. Acta et Documenta Concilio Oecumenico Vaticano II apparando: Series secunda (Praeparatoria) (Vatican: Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis, 1964– 1969), II/4, 22–23. 31. ASV ‚ Conc. Vat. II , Box 1452. 32. All English translations of the various drafts and final text of Nostra Aetate are by Fr. Thomas F. Stransky, prepared in partnership with John Borelli for eventual publication. 33. AS II/5, 431–432. 34. In 1965, Fr. Cuoq would begin serving as Under-Secretary for the Secretariat for Non-Christians. See: Giuseppe Alberigo and Joseph Komonchak, eds., History of Vatican II , vol. 5 (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2005), 15, 227. 35. The narrative is based on Thomas F. Stransky’s remarks to the author. Together they consulted drafts and minutes in Stransky’s papers and those of John F. Long, S.J., another former member of the SPCU during the Council. At this point, Long’s archives are being cataloged for the Woodstock Theological Library, Georgetown University. Stransky’s archives have now moved to the Vatican II archives of the Catholic University of America.The extended proceedings behind the scenes are evident in the notes of Archbishop Pericle Felici, General Secretary of the Council, AS V/2, 570–579. 36. For the minutes on the decision to make these appendices into separate declarations see: AS V/2, 289–293. For explanations as to why the overall

2

37. 38. 39.

40.

41.

42. 43. 44. 45.

46. 47.

CORRECTING THE NOSTRA AETATE LEGEND …

33

language of Vatican II is more important than the designation of its documents see: Francis A. Sullivan, S.J., “Evaluation and Interpretation of the documents of Vatican II,” Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting Documents of the Magisterium (New York: Paulist Press, 1996); “Vatican II and the Postconciliar Magisterium on the Salvation of the Adherents of Other Religions,” After Vatican II : Trajectories and Hermeneutics, edited by James L. Heft, S.M., with John O’Malley, S.J. (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2012), 68–95, especially 77– 78; Salvation Outside the Church? Tracing the History of the Catholic Response (New York: Paulist Press, 1992), 114–161. See also, John W. O’Malley, What Happened at Vatican II (Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2008), 43–52. ASV ‚ Conc. Vat. II , Box 1454, Busta #8. This draft is found in AS III/2, 327–329; English translation is by Stransky. Edward K. Kaplan, Spiritual Radical: Abraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940–1972 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007), 259– 268. See also, John Borelli, “Nostra Aetate: Origin, History, and Vatican II Context,” The Future of Interreligious Dialogue, edited by Charles L. Cohen, Paul F. Knitter, and Ulrich Rosenhagen (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2017), 36–37. Fr. Stransky would say that the standing ovation for Cardinal Bea, which was against council rules that forbad applause, was a sign that the Secretariat had become the darlings among the commissions for the council. Giovanni Miccoli, “Two Sensitive Issues: Religious Freedom and the Jews,” History of Vatican II , vol. 4, edited by Giuseppe Alberigo and Joseph Komonchak (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2003), 166–193. ASV ‚ Box 1455. Giuseppe Alberigo and Joseph Komonchak, eds., History of Vatican II , vol. 4 (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2003), 333. Giuseppe Alberigo and Joseph Komonchak, eds., History of Vatican II , vol. 4, 334. AS III/8, 649–650. English translation in Augustin Bea, The Church and the Jewish People: A Commentary on the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, translated by Philip Loretz, S.J. (London: Geoffrey Chapman Ltd., 1966; New York: Harper & Row, 1966), 165–166. “A proposito della Dichiarazione conciliare circa i non cristiani,” L’Osservatore Romano (November 30, 1964), 1. Stransky consistently spoke of no more than 400 negative votes, which represents a high number of negative votes out of more than 2000 possible votes. Maruo Velati reported a different figure: “Paul VI had set

34

J. BORELLI

48. 49.

50.

51.

52.

53. 54.

as a condition for the promulgation of this document that it could not have more than 300 votes cast against it!” in “Completing the Conciliar Agenda,” Giuseppe Alberigo and Joseph Komonchak, eds., History of Vatican II , vol. 5, 221. See Velati, “Completing the Conciliar Agenda,” 211–221. Willebrands’ report on the second journey appears in AS V/3, 313–320. Stransky commented to this author that Bea insisted Willebrands put his name on it as his private report and not that of the Secretariat. The minutes of the May 1965 were carefully recorded by John F. Long, S.J., and a copy is in his archives. His account in those minutes follows closely Fr. Stransky’s recollection. ASV ‚ Conc. Vat. II , Box 1459. See: Giovanni Turbanti, “Toward the Fourth Period,” Giuseppe Alberigo and Joseph Komonchak, eds., History of Vatican II , vol. 5, 44–46. Taking note of the Decree on Ecumenism, the Declaration on Religious Liberty, and Nostra Aetate, as well as the Secretariat’s contribution to the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Giuseppe Alberigo observed, “This body had come into existence as a simple bureau supplying nonCatholics with information about the Council, but by putting on the agenda subjects most central to the aggiornamento [updating and reconciling the church with the times] desired by John XXIII, it had acquired a decisive influence on the Council’s work.” Alberigo and Komonchak, eds., History of Vatican II , vol. 5 (2005), 231. Giovanni Miccoli suggested that “it took the will of John XXIII and the perseverance of Cardinal Bea to impose the declaration [Nostra Aetate on the Council].” Alberigo and Komonchak, eds., History of Vatican II , vol. 4 (2004), 137. “Vatican II: Recollections of an Insider,” Origins, Catholic News Service Documentary Service (November 15, 2012), 385–386. For a translation of the letter of Gregory VII see: J. M. Gaudeul, Encounters & Clashes: Islam and Christianity in History, vol. II Texts (Rome: Pontificio Istituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica, 2000), 52–53; for contemporary studies of the meeting of Francis of Assisi and Sultan Malek al-Kamil see: John Tolan, St. Francis and the Sultan: The Curious History of a Christian-Muslim Encounter (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009) and George Dardess, In the Spirit of St. Francis and the Sultan: Catholics and Muslims Working Together for the Common Good (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2011).

CHAPTER 3

The Ecclesial and Theological Origins of Nostra Aetate and Its Significance for Present and Future Interfaith Engagement Rocco Viviano

The Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions was undeniably one of the greatest achievements of the Second Vatican Council. It was an invaluable gift of the Council to the Church for at least two reasons. First, the promulgation of Nostra Aetate signified that the Church had gained a new awareness of the fact that taking other religions into account was necessary in order to understand herself more fully. Second, the Declaration constituted the starting point of an irreversible process, albeit lengthy and difficult, of becoming more open to the faithful of other religions. Such a process has resulted in the Church’s clearer understanding of her role in the world. These two points provide the focus of this paper. First, it will briefly consider the historical and ecclesiological context from which Nostra

R. Viviano (B) Research Associate, Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_3

35

36

R. VIVIANO

Aetate emerged, and the process by which it came into existence, in order to identify the challenges that the Church had to overcome to produce the document itself, and the resulting learning outcomes. Subsequently, it will examine how, after the Council, the popes, especially Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, have related to the Declaration in their teaching on interreligious dialogue. The overall intent is to appreciate the ongoing significance of Nostra Aetate for the Church’s present and future relationships with followers of other faiths.

The Emergence of Nostra Aetate Immediate Historical and Ecclesial Context: The Shoah The drafting of Nostra Aetate began a mere fifteen years after the Second World War, when both the world and the Church were still struggling to come to terms with a human tragedy of great magnitude, and still in shock at the realization that, following Hitler’s systematic plan to exterminate the Jewish people, millions of them had been murdered, alongside others considered as non-persons. In the 1950s and early 1960s, the memory of those events was still raw, and challenged the Church to examine the role she had played in the Shoah. The views in this regard are diverse, placing on the Church various degrees of responsibility for the suffering of the Jews. To this day, the controversy is still unsettled, but historians have helped achieve some balance, and it can be agreed that while the Shoah was not a Christian project, and a great number of Christians tried to help the Jews, many more had remained indifferent to their predicament. In the wake of those events, many within the Church felt with increasing urgency the need for the Church to address its relationship with the Jews. In this sense, the Shoah may be considered the immediate historical context from which Nostra Aetate emerged. Broader Historical and Ecclesial Context: The First Signs of a New Form of Papacy Such self-examination, however, would not have happened had not the Church developed a certain sensitivity toward the outside world, a certain ability to acknowledge its importance and see herself in relation to it. The transformation was facilitated by the emergence in the twentieth century of a new form of papacy that gradually came to understand itself

3

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

37

as bearing responsibility not only for the Catholic Church but also for all humanity. This trend can already be observed in Benedict XV’s pontificate, and was increasingly operative during the pontificates of Pius XI, Pius XII and John XXIII, until the Second Vatican Council. It paved the way for the post-Vatican II notion of the modern papacy. The pontificate of Benedict XV (Giacomo Della Chiesa, from 3 September 1914 to 22 January 1922) was marked by the First World War. For him the Church, and the papacy in her name, bore a fundamental responsibility of mediation and reconciliation among peoples and nations. In his first encyclical letter, Ad beatissimi, he described the Church as a guide for humanity, charged with assisting its development by nourishing the faith, which alone can guarantee a moral and fraternal world.1 Benedict XV sought “just and lasting peace” based on the fundamental brotherhood of humanity.2 He understood his role in terms of fatherhood, and felt responsible for the salvation of all.3 Consequently, in response to the war, he committed himself to assist the victims in various ways and also to seek a solution of the conflict through diplomatic relations. The Apostolic Exhortation “to the Rulers of the Belligerent Peoples” (28 July 1915) started an active period of peacebuilding diplomacy, which culminated in the so-called “Peace Note” (1 August 1917) containing Benedict XV’s proposals to end the war and secure a just and enduring peace.4 Since the creation of the Italian State in 1861 and the demise of the Pontifical State (1870), the Pope was seen as the remnant of a Catholic institution nearing its end. However, with Benedict XV, the relationship between the Church and the world changed, as the great powers began to consider the Pope as a significant interlocutor.5 Pius XI (Achille Ratti, pope from 6 February 1922 to 10 February 1939) projected the image of a pontiff who wished to speak directly to the members of the Church and to the contemporary world. The defense of the human person, key to understanding the pontificate of Pius XI, motivated his commitment to peacebuilding and reconciliation among the nations, through diplomacy, his condemnation of totalitarianism and communism, and the promotion of Catholic action and missionary activity. Pius XI believed that lasting peace could be established only by extending the Reign of Christ in the contemporary world.6 This depended on a solid Church able to promote meaningful Catholic action in contemporary society and culture. He sought to guide public opinion through the media, by promoting the contribution of the Church

38

R. VIVIANO

to world culture, and by addressing social questions.7 He changed the general perception of the papacy, so that the pope was now expected to speak out on important events and questions. During Pius XI’s time, papal diplomatic activity increased significantly. Through bilateral agreements with states, he sought the recognition of the Church and her role in the global context.8 Incidentally, with the signing of the 1929 Lateran Pacts with the Italian state, the Vatican state was established and the pope was recognized as the head of an independent sovereign state. Pius XI openly rejected fascism and explicitly condemned Nazism.9 He condemned racism and antisemitism as opposed to the Christian faith and also to the unity of the human family.10 His stance in favor of the Jews was an important antecedent to conciliar developments. Pius XI understood that the pope’s responsibility embraced all humanity, and as a result of his efforts, the Church effectively emerged as a significant actor on the stage of world affairs. Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli, pope from 2 March 1939 to 9 October 1958) faced the Second World War and the ensuing radical transformation of the world order.11 In an extremely volatile political situation, Pius XII adopted an attitude of neutrality, which became controversial. However, it was not motivated by indifference. On the contrary, during the war, the Pope’s priority was to protect Catholics and others as best he could against the violence of totalitarian regimes. The decision not to protest openly against Hitler’s actions was deemed necessary to prevent further persecutions of Catholics and Christians in the occupied territories and ensure that the Church could continue to work silently to save many lives. Pius XII saw the Church as an “educator of nations,” and as such she had a fundamental role to play, especially in the establishment of a new world order after the war. Among other aspects of his pontificate, the use of diplomatic negotiations and modern means of communication to speak to the Church and to the world should be understood in the light of his ecclesiology. Pius XII’s broad understanding of the Church’s mission and of the Pope’s universal responsibility contributed significantly to preparing the Church for the open spirit later embraced by Vatican II, making possible the modern Popes’ confident engagement in dialogue with religions. John XXIII (Angelo Roncalli, pope from 28 October 1958 to 3 June 1963) had spent most of his life as a diplomat. His previous experiences contributed to broadening his ecclesial horizon and strengthening

3

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

39

his notion of the Church as a universal reality.12 During the war, as apostolic delegate to Turkey and Greece, he worked actively to protect prisoners of war and save Jewish refugees from deportation. By enlarging the college of cardinals and appointing cardinals from the Philippines, Mexico, and Tanganyika, he projected the image of a bigger Church. Finally, the convocation of an ecumenical council revealed his program of updating the Church so that she might open herself up to the World. For him, the Church had to become closer to all people, nations, and the world. John XXIII desired a profound transformation of the Church, but wanted it to be a smooth transition, rather than a break with its past. He was truly concerned with the salvation of all, stressed the equality of rights of every person based on the fundamental unity of humanity, and saw the Church as mother and teacher of all nations. His pontificate displayed the important prophetic beginnings of a new style of papacy in a global context. He foresaw the emergence of a new world order and wanted the Church to be prepared to engage with it constructively. It was the prelude to profound changes. In their respective historical contexts, these pre-Vatican II pontiffs gradually came to see their responsibility as extending to all men and women, beyond Church boundaries. Through them, the theological principle of unity of the human family has gradually come into clearer focus, and vis-à-vis the universal brotherhood of humankind, the pope understands his ministry more and more as universal fatherhood. As a result, he is recognized by the contemporary world as a moral leader for humanity. Vatican II was a consequence of this transformation, which eventually drove the entire Church to reimagine its nature and its mission. In this sense, the Church’s journey from Benedict XV to John XXIII constitutes the broad historical-ecclesial background of the emergence of Nostra Aetate. The Drafting of the Declaration: Resistance and Growth Nostra Aetate’s conciseness stands in stark contrast with the remarkable amount of time and energy spent on its preparation. From the beginning (June 1960) until its promulgation on 28 October 1965, its existence was constantly threatened. According to Oesterreicher’s account, on 18 June 1960, John XXIII personally requested that Cardinal Bea, President of the new Secretariat

40

R. VIVIANO

for Christian Unity—established just two weeks earlier—prepare a text on the Church’s relationship with the Jewish people, to be submitted to the ecumenical council.13 The initiative stemmed, on the one hand, from John XXIII’s personal concern for the Jews and his desire to rectify unjust and unjustified ideas about them. In addition, many inside and outside the Church were voicing the need to correct contempt against the Jews that had become firmly embedded in the minds of most Christians, and the Pope listened.14 The Secretariat set to work, with the assistance of experts. By 2 December 1961, a draft prepared by the subcommission for the Jews, composed of Fr Gregory Baum, Abbott Leo Rudloff, and Mgr. John Oesterreicher, was discussed, approved, and submitted to the Council preparatory commission, to be included in the Council agenda. When news reached the leaders of the Arab countries, the theological and pastoral intention behind the statement was misunderstood and the project was interpreted politically, as a statement in favor of the state of Israel and therefore against the Arabs. Before and during the Council, they tried in every way to suppress any such Council declaration through diplomatic pressure on the Holy See, through the media and by threatening the Christian minorities under Arab governments.15 The Secretariat approached the question of the Jews from the ecclesiological perspective, whereby “the proposed Declaration was … necessary for the inner life of the Church,” and the Church “could not renounce it.”16 According to Oesterreicher, the competent Church organs failed to make this point clear in response to the Arab pressure, probably because they themselves did not understand it in the terms the Secretariat intended. The journey ahead was not going to be easy, and the change of the Church’s mentality and attitude concerning Jewish–Christian relations would require years, perhaps decades. In June 1962, the Preparatory Commission decided to exclude the draft from the Council’s agenda, because of “unfavorable political circumstances.” This incident highlighted a new challenge for the Church. At that time, Vatican officials expected to achieve much through diplomacy, which in previous decades had been an important means to make the Church’s voice heard on the world stage. The declaration on the Jews revealed and exacerbated a tension between the diplomatic aspect and the prophetic nature of the Church, which explains much of the internal resistance toward the document. Eventually, by refusing to capitulate to the pressure of politics and to public opinion steered by the media, and by

3

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

41

pressing on with Nostra Aetate, first the Secretariat, and then the Council fathers, chose prophecy over diplomacy. This was a great success for the Church. The rejection of the first draft had a positive effect in that, as the Secretariat sought a new way to bring the issue back to the Council agenda, more solid motivations justifying the necessity and urgency of the declaration were needed. This stimulated reflection, and important advances were made from the theological point of view. Most notably, it was decided that the declaration be resubmitted as a chapter of the schema on ecumenism being prepared by the same Secretariat. The decision was not simply practical, but was based on the theological argument that, since the relationship between Christians and Jews is exceptional in virtue of their unique and special bond of faith, the same principles of ecumenical dialogue must also apply to dialogue with the Jews.17 This second draft reached the Council and was discussed at the second session. Regrettably, however, time for discussion was limited (18 November–4 December 1963), because the Coordinating Commission withheld the text for months and only distributed it toward the end of the session. Oesterreicher attributes this to the prevalent attitude in leading Council circles.18 At that stage, fearing possible repercussions on Christians, the leaders of the Eastern Churches manifested their open opposition to the declaration.19 The procedural vote to approve the draft was not taken, and the existence of the text was again jeopardized. Bea and his people persevered. In the following months, Paul VI’s pilgrimage to Jerusalem (4–6 January 1963), the establishment of a special Secretariat for non-Christians dedicated to the relationship with people of different religions (19 May 1964), and his first encyclical Ecclesiam Suam on the Church in dialogue (6 August 1964), constituted powerful statements by the highest authority of the Catholic Church concerning the importance of interreligious dialogue, and worked in favor of the declaration. The document was modified by omitting or softening certain phrases in order to make it more acceptable to its opponents and was resubmitted (March 1964) as an appendix to the schema on ecumenism. In an unprecedented move, the Coordinating Commission arbitrarily, albeit providentially, recast it into a new statement entitled “On the Jews and non–Christians,” by adding two new parts to the original core. The first stated that attention should be given to the teachings of non-Christians

42

R. VIVIANO

which, despite differing from our own in many ways, contain a ray of that truth that enlightens every person, applying above all to Muslims. The second was a general rejection of discrimination against other people.20 The new proposal was discussed during the third session of the Council, and on 28–29 September several bishops spoke in favor of the declaration, calling for the recovery of the previously more categorical text, making suggestions, insisting on a clearer acknowledgment of the unique and unbreakable bond between Christians and the Jews of the present, and on a more generous openness toward all those of other faiths. These ideas flowed from the very identity of the Church, and it was therefore suggested that the text be incorporated in the document on the Church. This was the moment when, witnessing a new awakening to the mystery of the Jewish people in the hearts of many bishops, the fathers formally accepted the document, so that it no longer represented merely the work of a few, but was now the expression of the whole Council. Desperate attempts to thwart the declaration continued, as political pressure and internal resistance persisted. The text was amended again, following suggestions that had emerged during the September debate, and enlarged with the help of experts on the various religions. The new draft was submitted on 30 October 1964 to the Coordinating Commission but was once again withheld, for three weeks, before being circulated to the fathers on 18 November, when it was finally approved in principle. This triggered violent reactions, especially from the Arab governments, and also from the Eastern Patriarchs. A vitriolic anti-Semitic campaign was felt within the Council. Compromises had to be made for the safety of Christians in the Middle East. However, a momentous shift had occurred, the threshold had been crossed and there was no turning back. The Council had decided that asserting the truth of the faith was more important than appeasing governments, and the prophetic character of the Church prevailed. On 28 October 1965, the Declaration was approved, with 2312 votes in favor and 88 against. This troubled history, and the remarkable transformations the document underwent, further highlight the value of Nostra Aetate. Oesterreicher notes that it was “a triumph of truth and justice,” and “whoever had witnessed all the crises and vicissitudes of the Declaration on the Jews from close-by could only regard the triumph of that day as a miracle.”21 The Church had officially assumed a positive stance vis-à-vis other religions, and, in the process, had chosen to speak the truth of the faith, despite political pressure and the noise of the media, relying more on

3

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

43

God than on human ways. At the deepest level, Nostra Aetate symbolizes a radical conversion of the Church. Each affirmation contained in the declaration was the fruit of much study and discernment based on scripture, tradition, and knowledge of other religions. As a result, the fundamental principles it offers as foundations for the Church’s interreligious engagement give Nostra Aetate permanent theological validity.

The Post-Vatican II Popes and Nostra Aetate Nostra Aetate was intended as a springboard to launch the Church into interreligious engagement and toward future theological developments. One way to evaluate whether this has been the case is to examine its impact on the post-Vatican II popes, whether they used it in their teaching and whether they have taken its teaching forward in any way. This discussion focuses on Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI, while omitting John Paul I, whose pontificate was too short to produce enough material, and Francis, as it is early for a conclusive assessment. Paul VI and Nostra Aetate There are unmistakable points of convergence between Paul VI’s ecclesiology and that of Nostra Aetate, itself based on Lumen Gentium. Ecclesiam Suam affirms the intrinsically dialogical nature of the Church, as manifested at various levels: within the Catholic Church, in relation to other Christians, to followers of other faiths and to the entire world. Dialogue is therefore an inherent necessity for the Church. The same notion underlies Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate. Paul VI wished the Church to acquire a truly universal posture toward the world, not to condemn it, but to understand it. He felt that the Church must make every possible effort in this direction, to identify what is good in the modern world and also what needs correcting in the light of God’s will. This is reflected in his attitude toward those of other religions, to whom Paul VI accorded, for the first time, a specific place within an ecclesiological vision, as specific and privileged dialogue partners. Paul VI made use of the Declaration, as it were, even before its promulgation. For example, at the opening of the Council’s second session (29 September 1963) he stated that as a consequence of her love, which is universal because it reflects God’s love for all humanity, the Catholic

44

R. VIVIANO

Church ventures to look beyond her own boundaries, and in particular to those religions that conceive of God as one, creator, provident, most high and transcendent, and worship God through acts of sincere piety.22 The Pope’s words resonated with several ideas that would later appear in Nostra Aetate. At that time, the draft of the Declaration had been resubmitted as the fourth chapter of the schema on ecumenism, but it still dealt exclusively with the Jewish people. Paul VI was aware of its content and of the work of the Secretariat. However, the idea of the Church “looking outside” and finding Islam, did not originate in that draft on the Jews. In fact, the two vantage points were altogether different, as it was when “looking inside” herself that the Church found the Jews. The Pope’s outlook would reappear in Ecclesiam Suam, less than a year later. It is therefore plausible that with regard to the non-Jewish religions in general and Islam in particular, it was Paul VI who influenced Nostra Aetate’s vision to a significant extent. Addressing a group of members of other religions in Bombay on 3 December 1964, during his journey to India, Paul VI observed that “the human race is undergoing profound changes and is groping for the guiding principles and the new forces which will lead it into the new world of the future.”23 In this context, it is the shared responsibility of all religions “to make available to all people those goods which are needed to fulfil their human destiny and to live lives worthy of the children of God.”24 He added that Catholics and members of different religions “must come together … with our hearts, in mutual understanding, esteem and love,” as “pilgrims who set out to find God,” in a “sacred communion,” and also must “work together to build the common future of the human race.”25 These words contain a comprehensive program for interreligious dialogue based on three fundamental ideas: first, its purpose is the common search for God; second, such a quest creates a sacred bond of unity among followers of different religions; third, it enables them to cooperate for the good of all men and women. It is worth pointing out that while Nostra Aetate would eventually speak of mutual understanding and esteem, it would not describe the Church’s relationship with other believers in terms of mutual love. Once promulgated, Nostra Aetate became Paul VI’s point of reference for interreligious dialogue. For example, section 53 of Evangelii Nuntiandi is a development of Nostra Aetate 2, as it clarifies the tension between the duty to recognize and respect what is good in other religions,

3

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

45

and the duty to proclaim the Christian message on account of all people’s right to know Jesus Christ.26 However, his thought on interreligious matter was not limited to the conciliar teaching. Paul VI on Judaism vis-à-vis Nostra Aetate In a speech delivered in Jerusalem on 5 January 1964, during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Paul VI, exercising his customary prudence, refrained from using the word “Jews,” describing them instead as “children of the people of the Covenant” and stated that “their role in the religious history of humanity must not be forgotten.”27 These words were in line with the teaching and echo the vocabulary of the forthcoming Nostra Aetate, where the Jews are described as “descendants of Abraham,” “children of Abraham according to faith,” and the “people with whom God out of his ineffable mercy deigned to enter into an ancient covenant” (NAe 4). Moreover, by acknowledging the role of the people of Israel in the religious history of humanity, Paul VI went beyond the teaching of the Declaration long before its promulgation. On 10 January 1975, addressing participants in the Liaison Committee between the Catholic Church and World Judaism, Paul VI made several important statements on Judaism that illustrated his creative impact on Nostra Aetate.28 First, he pointed out that in the history of Jewish–Christian relations there is not just enmity and conflict, as highlighted in Nostra Aetate 4 and the 1974 Guidelines.29 In fact, the solidarity shown by many Catholics during World War II to save Jewish lives, and the connection between Jewish thought and Christian thought in the Middle Ages, especially the influence of Mamonides on Aquinas and vice versa, prove that positive relationships between Christianity and Judaism, based on “a real and profound mutual esteem and a conviction that we had something to learn from one another,” have existed throughout history.30 Another point is that, while Nostra Aetate 4 encouraged Christians and Jews to deepen their mutual understanding through study and the practice of dialogue and specified the object of such study as biblical and theological, it said nothing about the “conversations.” Paul VI elaborated on this, adding that, in order to be “true dialogues,” these conversations must reach “beyond mere speculative and rational exchanges,” indicating that the intellectual aspect must be completed through the dialogue of life and the exchange of spiritual experience.31 This idea would emerge

46

R. VIVIANO

much later in Dialogue and Proclamation 42 (1991).32 Finally, Paul VI stated that dialogue will also ‘lead us all to know better the Almighty, the Eternal One, to follow more faithfully the ways that have been traced out for us by him.33 This idea is absent from Nostra Aetate, and would appear in Dialogue and Proclamation 41. Paul VI also emphasized more clearly than did Nostra Aetate the need for reciprocity in Jewish–Christian engagement. Further, while Nostra Aetate did not touch on the question of Jerusalem and the Land, in addressing the College of Cardinals on 23 December 1974, Paul VI acknowledged the importance of Jerusalem for Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and as a symbol of peace for all people in the Holy Land and the Middle East. This was a further original contribution to Jewish–Christian relations. Paul VI on Islam vis-à-vis Nostra Aetate Paul VI had a profound interest in Muslims and Christian–Muslim relations, which can be understood in the light of aspects of his personal life, such as his friendship with the well-known scholar of Islam Louis Massignon.34 According to Robert Caspar, peritus at the Council, Paul VI personally instructed that Islam be included in the Council documents.35 In his teaching on Islam, Paul VI made constant reference to Lumen Gentium 16 and Nostra Aetate 3, often quoting verbatim.36 However, he also used Nostra Aetate creatively by placing greater emphasis on aspects mentioned cursorily or merely alluded to in the Declaration. He mentioned Islam explicitly for the first time in Ecclesiam Suam 107, stating that it deserves especially, our admiration, on account of “what is true and good in their worship of God,” words that would later appear in Nostra Aetate 2. Paul VI spoke of the relationship between Christians and Muslims as brotherhood and affirmed that God calls both to strive for unity.37 Nostra Aetate did not venture this far. In fact, the Council applied the concept of brotherhood to humanity (Gaudium et Spes ), ecumenical relationships (Unitatis Redintegratio), and the members of the Catholic Church.38 Unity was a key ecclesiological concept for Paul VI and a major priority of his pontificate. Therefore, the term must have held a theological and spiritual connotation when he used it in the context of Christian–Muslim relations. As a member of the Badaliya, the prayer movement founded

3

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

47

by Massignon, comprising Catholics who vowed to pray on behalf of Muslims, Paul VI believed in the spiritual dimension of Christian–Muslim relationships. In June 1967, during the Six-Day War, Paul VI asked that Jerusalem be declared an open city for the sake of “all the descendants of the spiritual lineage of Abraham, Jews, Muslims and Christians.”39 Thus, he positively affirmed a spiritual connection between Muslims and Abraham that was only implied in Nostra Aetate 3. On 25 October 1974, welcoming a delegation from Saudi Arabia, Paul VI affirmed that their encounter proved that “Christians and Muslims can come to understand each other better and love each other better.”40 Nostra Aetate 3 spoke of mutual understanding but did not mention mutual love as a goal of Christian–Muslim dialogue. This was a further addition by Paul VI, who also affirmed that the Church’s esteem and respect for Muslim people extends to their religion as well, indicating that Islam as such may have some value in itself.41 All the examples here presented illustrate Paul VI’s creative use of Nostra Aetate and that, according to the Council’s intention, the Declaration was for him an important foundation for further developments. John Paul II and Nostra Aetate In line with the notion in Lumen Gentium 16 that all people are to some degree connected to the Catholic Church, John Paul II’s ecclesiology of communion extended beyond Catholicism to include other Christians, adherents to other religions and entire humanity. Consequently, ecumenical and interreligious dialogue became the very trademarks of his pontificate. John Paul II’s thought on interreligious dialogue was firmly grounded on Nostra Aetate, but he also developed its teaching. His most original contribution to interreligious dialogue was to illustrate the role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the followers of other religions, an aspect not contemplated in Nostra Aetate. His first encyclical letter, Redemptor Hominis, in no. 6 states that often followers of other faiths manifest “firm belief,” which is an effect of the “Spirit of Truth” at work outside the visible boundaries of the Church.42 During his 1981 visit to the Philippines, he affirmed that “wherever the human spirit opens itself in prayer to this Unknown God, an echo will be heard of the Spirit who … prays in us and on our behalf.”43 In Dominum et Vivificantem 53, he pointed

48

R. VIVIANO

out that, as the Holy Spirit that is at work in the Church was also active in the world before the coming of Christ, so has it continued to operate outside the Church since that time.44 On 22 December 1986, John Paul II explained to the College of Cardinals that the interreligious day of prayer for peace held in Assisi earlier that year, on 27 October, was a direct application of the teaching of Vatican II because it was theologically founded on the unity of origin and destiny of humanity (NAe 1). He added that prayer reveals “the active presence of the Holy Spirit” in the religious life of members of other religions, and that “all authentic prayer is prompted by the Holy Spirit.”45 In so doing, he gave the fundamental principle of Nostra Aetate a pneumatological interpretation. Finally, in Redemptoris Missio (1990), John Paul II stated that the Holy Spirit operates not only in individual non-Christian believers, but also in their traditions. This affirmation has important soteriological implications, as later explained by the International Theological Commission.46 John Paul II on Judaism vis-à-vis Nostra Aetate John Paul II’s teaching on Judaism deepened and expanded the scope of Nostra Aetate 4 in various directions. First, while Nostra Aetate 4 states that Jews and Christians are spiritually united, John Paul II construed that bond in terms of brotherhood, a concept traditionally reserved for Catholics, and only since Vatican II applied to non-Catholic Christians. Jews and Christians, he stated, are “closely related at the very level of their respective religious identities.”47 Theirs is a spiritual bond, “a sacred one stemming as it does from the mysterious will of God.”48 Their relationship is unique to the extent that Jewish–Christian dialogue is comparable to a dialogue “within our Church.”49 Second, John Paul II explicitly affirmed the permanent validity of the Jewish covenant and stressed the ongoing value of contemporary Judaism. According to Nostra Aetate 4, “the Jews still remain very dear to God, whose gift and call are without regret.” The “gift” and the “call” signify Israel’s mission to live by the Torah and be a light for the nations on their way to God. Affirming that these are permanent, implies that contemporary Judaism holds a continuing vocation.50 John Paul II stressed that Jews are still God’s chosen people, which does not compromise the Church’s identity as People of God. For him Judaism was a “living heritage,” and this was important for Christians because “due awareness

3

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

49

of the faith and religious life of the Jewish people as they are professed and practiced today” can help Catholics to “understand better certain aspects of the life of the Church.”51 One further example is John Paul II’s explicit condemnation of Nazism and the Shoah. He called all Catholics to remember it and to acknowledge that through their terrible suffering, the Jewish people became a loud “saving warning” for entire humanity, showing that they are still the “heirs of that election to which God is faithful.”52 Finally, while Nostra Aetate avoided any reference to the Land and the state of Israel, John Paul II acknowledged them de facto, long before the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1993, when, in the Apostolic Letter Redemptionis Anno, he affirmed the right of the Jewish people, “who preserve in that land such precious testimonies of their history and faith,” to enjoy the “desired security and due tranquility that is the prerogative of every nation.”53 John Paul II on Islam vis-à-vis Nostra Aetate John Paul II’s teaching on Islam features certain recurrent themes in line with the Council, alongside emphases that are typically his. One example is that he frequently spoke of Abraham’s role for Islam and Muslims and described Christians and Muslims as children of Abraham in faith. In fact, Nostra Aetate 3 did mention Abraham but avoided affirming an actual link between him and Muslims.54 Acknowledging such a link would have important consequences that the Council was not at the time equipped to understand. Already in 1979, John Paul II described Christians, Muslims, and Jews as “the spiritual descendants of Abraham” who profess one faith in God.55 He also explained that Islam “deserves special attention” not only on account of its monotheism but also because of “its link to the faith of Abraham, whom St. Paul described as the “father … of our [Christian] faith” (cf. Rm 4:16).”56 Addressing the Grand Mufti in Jerusalem in 2000, John Paul II called Christianity, Islam, and Judaism “Abrahamic religions,” a phrase that has become standard vocabulary for Christian–Muslim relations. This notion is somewhat controversial because of its soteriological implications. However, by employing it, John Paul II stepped beyond the scope of Nostra Aetate. Another example is that John Paul II construed Christian–Muslim relations in terms of fellowship and family ties, based on their sharing the faith of Abraham, often addressing Muslims as brothers and sisters.57

50

R. VIVIANO

Finally, he explicitly insisted on the priority of human rights and religious freedom, openly denounced the lack of respect of religious freedom for Christians and minorities in certain Muslim regimes, and insisted on reciprocity as a duty for both Christians and Muslims.58 These examples show that, as he drew on Nostra Aetate and further developed its framework, John Paul II’s teaching on Islam reached a new level of openness. Benedict XVI and Nostra Aetate If John Paul II developed the pneumatological dimension of interreligious dialogue, Benedict XVI’s original contribution was a notion of interreligious dialogue based on the notion of Truth. Truth features twice in Nostra Aetate 2: in the affirmation that religions often reflect a “ray of the Truth that enlightens all people” and in the statement that the Church is “bound to preach” the Truth, which is Christ. Vatican II acknowledged the presence of elements of truth in religions, and instructed that, when relating to their followers, it is the duty of Catholics to “recognize, preserve and promote” these elements (Nae 2). Benedict XVI pointed out that longing for the truth is common to Christianity and every religion. For him, the ultimate theological foundation of interreligious dialogue is the truth of God, which Christians know to be fully revealed in Christ. In his view, the essence of interreligious dialogue is the common quest for the truth.59 Interreligious dialogue, therefore, should not merely seek to identify shared values, but should move beyond and explore their ultimate foundation. Thus, it becomes a process of learning together in obedience to the truth. This also implies that interreligious cooperation for peace, promotion of human life, integral human development and religious freedom, is not the primary aim of dialogue, but a consequence of the joint quest for the truth, which remains its ultimate purpose.60 For Benedict XVI, another theological foundation to interreligious dialogue concerns the nature of the human person. This idea is closely related to the very starting point of Nostra Aetate, that is all men and women’s common origin and destiny in God and their desire to understand the meaning of existence. For Benedict XVI, it is precisely this universal human trait that enables those of different religions to engage in dialogue. Consequently, because religion’s raison d’être is to help understand the meaning of human existence, followers of all religions are, in different ways, to some extent, on a journey toward that meaning.61

3

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

51

The relationship between interreligious dialogue and gospel proclamation is a further example of Benedict XVI’s deepening the teaching of Nostra Aetate. Nostra Aetate 2 pointed out the tension between dialogue and proclamation but did not elaborate on their relationship. They are often seen as mutually opposed. This occurs if both concepts are construed in relation to the question of whether non-Christian religions have salvific value. Such a theological approach leads to an impasse. Benedict XVI offered a different perspective, whereby proclamation and dialogue are understood in relation to the Truth. If proclamation is communication of the Truth that the Christian has discovered, which gives meaning to human existence, then proclamation is the sharing of a gift, in obedience to Christ’s command and out of love for humanity. Likewise, if interreligious dialogue is a common quest for the truth, it does not contradict proclamation.62 Benedict XVI argues that through their dialogue, followers of different religions serve humanity when they offer a common witness to society and “enrich public life with the spiritual values that motivate their action in the World,” in answer to a World that “begs for a common witness to these values.”63 Concretely, by engaging in “mutual dialogue and cooperation” (NAe 2), they can jointly inspire “all people to ponder the deeper questions of their origin and destiny.”64 This is the best service religions can offer to humanity. Benedict XVI on Judaism vis-à-vis Nostra Aetate Benedict XVI strengthened the theological foundations of the Jewish– Christian relationship and dialogue mostly by developing aspects of (or implicit in) Nostra Aetate 4.65 For example, NAe 4 speaks of “the spiritual heritage common to Christians and Jews (which) is so great” and of “common inheritance.” This notion is central to Benedict XVI’s understanding of Judaism and its connection to Christianity. In virtue of this “rich common patrimony,” their relationship is “unique among the religions of the world,” and “the Church can never forget that chosen people with whom God entered in a holy Covenant.”66 Benedict XVI explained that Nostra Aetate “called for greater mutual understanding and esteem between Christians and Jews” on “the basis of this spiritual patrimony.”67 However, he expanded the scope of the Declaration by elucidating the content of this common heritage in four major points. First, Jews and Christians are bound to one single divine covenant. The Incarnation is the

52

R. VIVIANO

culmination of a long history through which God has prepared humanity to receive his Son, which begins with Abraham and the Jewish People and continues through the Patriarchs and the Prophets. Christians are “inheritors of their faith.”68 Therefore, God’s Covenant with the Jews is part of the shared patrimony of Christians and Jews.69 Through Christ, the Covenant with the Jews becomes once again God’s Covenant with humanity, which continues to be mediated by the Church, and retains its validity.70 Second, Christian faith is based on Jewish faith. Jews and Christians “together try to believe the faith of Abraham.”71 Not just the faith of the past is important for Christians, but also the “daily profession of faith of the People of Israel.”72 Third, Israel’s Scripture is constitutive of the Christian faith. The fact that they received a large part of their Scripture from the Jewish people must inform the way Christians relate to Scripture and to the Jews.73 The continuity of Scripture must be reflected in the continuity of faith and in the unity between Christians and Jews. Finally, Christians and Jews share a common understanding of the human person and of history. Both hold that, created in God’s image, every person receives from God “a transcendent dignity,” independent of “their nation, culture or religion,”74 which is permanently above human interpretation and control. Likewise, for both Judaism and Christianity, history is “salvation history.” God “inhabits” history because he “wants all men to be part of his life,”75 and throughout history, guides humanity to its fulfilment. A further aspect emphasized by Benedict XVI is the close relationship between Christ and the Jewish people. Regarding the Jews, Nostra Aetate 4 states that “of their race, according to the flesh, is Christ (Rm 9:4– 5), son of the virgin Mary.” Expanding on this concept, Benedict XVI affirmed that “Jesus was a Jew… on this point we Christians and Jews are bound to one another.”76 Jesus is not the dividing wall but the fundamental link between Jews and Christians. As a matter of fact, Christianity results from the process whereby “through Jesus of Nazareth, the God of Israel becomes the God of the Gentiles.”77 Because Christ is permanently bound to Judaism, ‘who meets Christ meets Judaism.’78 Christ’s uniqueness and the uniqueness of Israel are not incompatible; rather, Christ’s mission can be fully understood only in the light of Israel’s vocation. Ultimately, Jesus’ task was to effect a radical reorientation of the Torah according to its original purpose,79 which was to remind Judaism of its true identity and universal mission. To this day “Israel still has a mission to accomplish” because the Jews “still stand within the faithful covenant of God.”80

3

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

53

Benedict XVI also deepened the idea of the unity between the Church and the Jewish people. While Nostra Aetate 4 affirmed “the link whereby the people of the new covenant are spiritually united with Abraham’s stock,” Benedict XVI stressed that by “Abraham’s stock,” the document means the Jews of today as well as those of the past. The Church considers the Jews “as her beloved brothers and sisters in the faith.”81 She and Israel are inseparable because of their common experience of God’s love.82 He spoke of the “bond that unites us,” “closeness and spiritual fraternity,” “solidarity … at the level of spiritual identity.”83 Christianity has “inner affinity with Judaism.”84 As a consequence of their bond, Jews and Christians are entrusted by God with the same mission, which is twofold: to love God and love humanity. One further point concerns the Shoah and anti-Semitism. While Nostra Aetate 4 denounced anti-Semitism but did not explicitly mention the Shoah, Benedict XVI issued such a condemnation, and also acknowledged that Christians contributed to some extent “to the scourge of antiSemitism and anti-Judaism.”85 “Inherited anti-Judaism” was the reason why Christians did not resist with sufficient force the persecution of the Jews that culminated in the Shoah. For Christians, the Shoah stands as a constant admonition to reject all forms of anti-Semitism.86 At the deepest level, the Shoah has theological significance deriving from the theological significance of the Jewish People. The real obstacle to the realization of Nazi ideology was God. “God had to die and power had to belong to man alone.”87 Because the Jewish people make God present in the world and in history by their very existence, Evil wants them to be “wiped out” so that God may be banished from human history.88 Finally, Benedict XVI elaborated on the theological significance of the Land and of the State of Israel. On the sixtieth anniversary of the State of Israel, while also wishing for peace in the Middle East, Benedict XVI said to the Israeli ambassador: “The Holy See joins you in giving thanks to the Lord that the aspirations of the Jewish people for a home in the land of their fathers have been fulfilled.”89 This was an acknowledgment that when the Church’s relations with the Jewish people are concerned, the political and the religious dimensions cannot be completely separated, therefore relations between Holy See and the State of Israel are not merely juridical. Elsewhere Benedict formulated a theology of the Land based on the relationship between the universality of salvation and the particularity of the mediations chosen by God: Israel, Jesus, and the Church. The Land symbolizes the transcendent reality of God’s

54

R. VIVIANO

kingdom; nevertheless, its physical aspect is crucial, because God wishes to build his kingdom with people, within the coordinates of space and time in which they are, and the Middle East is part of those coordinates as “the cradle of a universal design of salvation in love.”90 Benedict XVI on Islam vis-à-vis Nostra Aetate Just days after his election, Benedict XVI signaled that Islam would be a major focus of his interreligious engagement.91 Considering his thought on Islam in relation to Nostra Aetate, five major points stand out.92 First, Christian–Muslim dialogue is founded on two theological principles mentioned in Nostra Aetate 1 and 3, respectively. The first is that God the Creator is the common origin and destiny of humanity. The second is the affirmation, carefully worded, that Muslims consider themselves linked to the faith of Abraham. Benedict XVI’s statement that “according to their respective traditions,” Christians and Muslims “both trace their ancestry to Abraham,” can be seen as a development of this idea. Respecting the self-understanding of both faiths, he transformed what in Nostra Aetate was a descriptive statement about Islam into an affirmation about something that Christians and Muslims have in common, strengthening the theological foundations of their engagement.93 The faiths of Christians and Muslims are both responses to God’s revelation and irruption into history, whereby, “attuned to the voice of God, like Abraham, we respond to his call and set out, seeking the fulfilment of his promises, striving to obey his will, forging a path in our particular culture.”94 This shared faith dynamic establishes a certain essential unity between Christians and Muslims, which is to become visible in their “mutual respect and solidarity,” and is fully realized when authentic mutual dialogue and engagement take place.95 Benedict XVI also explained that the theological basis for the Christian–Muslim cooperation wished for in Nostra Aetate 3 is the shared belief that human life is sacred, and that the human person is endowed with a dignity that derives from being created by God. The Declaration simply exhorted Christian and Muslims to work together to “maintain social justice and moral values as well as peace and freedom for all people.” Benedict recast this invitation coming from the Church as a divine mission that derives from their respective faiths. First of all, Christians and Muslims together are called to help society to open to the transcendent and acknowledge God’s rightful place in the life of

3

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

55

humanity,96 by manifesting “the value of the religious dimension of life,”97 and by offering a ‘credible response to … the question of the meaning and purpose of life.’98 They are called to promote human dignity, and to strive to bring about peace, reconciliation, and solidarity based on the recognition that all men and women are “fundamentally interrelated” on account of their common origin and destiny.99 While Nostra Aetate 3 recalled that “considerable dissension and enmities” between Christians and Muslims occurred in the past, it avoided mentioning the difficulties of the present. Conversely, Benedict XVI was able to address the complexity of contemporary Christian–Muslim relations and even denounce those forms of terrorism which, albeit born of ideological manipulation of religion, often claim to be Islamic. In virtue of their common belief in the sacredness of human life, Christians and Muslims cannot justify the use of violence in God’s name.100 Following John Paul II, Benedict XVI repeatedly insisted that respect for religious freedom is imperative for both Christians and Muslims, an aspect absent from Nostra Aetate. Freedom of religion, “institutionally guaranteed and effectively respected in practice,” is the “necessary condition” that enables Christians and Muslims to be true believers, to contribute to the building of society, and therefore a precondition for their authentic mutual dialogue.101 Finally, while Nostra Aetate 3 did not actually mention dialogue between Christians and Muslims as such, but simply invited Christians and Muslims to “train themselves towards sincere mutual understanding,” Benedict XVI developed this point by suggesting a possible agenda for constructive Christian–Muslim dialogue. To deepen mutual understanding, Christian–Muslim dialogue should focus on two tasks: theological exchange on their spiritual bonds, and joint search for the truth, entailing discussion of their respective truth claims, and requiring authentic growth in one’s personal faith.102 These examples show that Benedict XVI’s understanding of interreligious dialogue is based on the teaching of Nostra Aetate, which he developed according to his personal theological and pastoral concerns within a new historical context. He fully embraced the Conciliar interpretation of Islam of Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate but strengthened the theological foundations of Christian–Muslim dialogue.

56

R. VIVIANO

Nostra Aetate and the Future of Dialogue In conclusion, I return to Fr. Oesterreicher’s personal witness of the birth of Nostra Aetate. He recalls that at the end of the long and tiresome—but also exciting—process that gave birth to the Declaration on the Church’s Relationship with the Followers of Non-Christian Religions, Paul VI accompanied the promulgation of the document with words of exultation: The Church is alive. Well then, here is the proof, here the breath, the voice, the song… The Church lives. The Church thinks. The Church speaks. The Church grows. We must take account of this astonishing phenomenon. We must realize its messianic significance.

Paul VI saw in Nostra Aetate more than the shortest document of the Council that had taken years to complete, going through many transformations and facing much opposition and resistance. Fifty-five years later, we are in a position to appreciate even more deeply the value of the Declaration, not just in its content, but also in what it symbolizes: a long journey whereby the Church, through several decades, has come to a radically new and deeper understanding of herself and her mission in the world, and especially of her relations with those of other religions. This chapter has considered the broad and immediate context of the emergence of Nostra Aetate and the fruits it has borne through postVatican papal teaching. In so doing, it has sought to show that the process by which the Church produced Nostra Aetate, and the manner in which modern popes have relied on it to develop their teaching and practice of interreligious dialogue, prove that Nostra Aetate is a lasting legacy of invaluable significance. As such, Nostra Aetate may continue to guide the Church’s interreligious engagement for decades to come.

Notes 1. Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum. Encyclical Letter Appealing for Peace, 1 November 1914, Acta Apostolicae Sedis (AAS) 6 (1914), 566– 81; Italian version, 584–99. 2. Benedict XV, Allorché fummo chiamati, Apostolic Exhortation to the Belligerent Peoples and their Rulers, 28 July 1915, AAS 7 (1915): 375. According to Jankowiak, Benedict XV’s clear vision of peace stemmed from a theological understanding of the world and of history, and from

3

3. 4. 5. 6.

7.

8. 9. 10.

11.

12.

13.

14. 15.

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

57

the conviction that the Church was supposed to bring people back to God and to strive so that God’s rightful place in the life of humanity be recognized. François Jankowiak, “Benedict XV,” in The Papacy: An Encyclopaedia, ed. Philippe Levillain (New York; London: Routledge, 2002), 172–77. Benedict XV, Allorché fummo chiamati, 375. Benedict XV, Dès le Début. Aux Chefs des Peuples Belligérantes, 1 August 1917, AAS 9 (1917): 417–20. This vision of Church and papacy as actors on the stage of humanity was also reflected in Benedict XV’s attention to the Eastern Churches. Pius XI’s program is outlined in the encyclicals Ubi Arcano Dei (23 December 1922) and Quas Primas (11 December 1925). His goal was to build “Christ’s peace in Christ’s kingdom.” Pius XI made frequent use of L’Osservatore Romano newspaper and the Vatican Radio. He founded the Pontifical Academy of Science. The Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo Anno was the highlight of his social teaching (Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno, 25 May 1931, AAS 23 (1931): 177–228. Frank J. Coppa, The Modern Papacy, Since 1789 (London: Longman, 1998), 172–74. Pius XI, Mit Brennender Sorge, 14 March 1937, AAS 29 (1937): 145– 68. Pius XI, “Alle suore di Nostra Signora del Cenacolo, 15 July 1938,” in Discorsi di Pio XI , vol. 3, Atti e documenti dei sommi pontefici, ed. D. Bertetto (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1985), 766–72; Pius XI, “Agli alunni del collegio di Propaganda Fide, 28 July 1938,” in ibid., 780. In a completely unprecedented situation, Pius XII had no model to follow and could only in part rely on Benedict XV, who had faced a relatively similar challenge. From him, Pius XII inherited a style of involvement in world affairs based on strict neutrality and impartiality. Roncalli had travelled to France, Palestine, Austria, Poland and Budapest (1905–1912) in various capacities and presided over the Italian section of Propaganda Fide (1920–1925) before being appointed, first as apostolic visitor, and then apostolic delegate, to Bulgaria. After Turkey, he was later apostolic nuncio in Paris, Vatican Observer at UNESCO, and Patriarch of Venice. John M. Oesterreicher, “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions: Introduction and Commentary,” in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II , ed. Herbert Vorgrimler, vol. 3 (London; New York: Burns & Oates; Herder, 1968), 1–154. Ibid., 1–16. Ibid., 19.

58

R. VIVIANO

16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28.

29.

30. 31. 32.

33. 34.

35. 36.

37.

Ibid. Ibid., 46. Ibid., 47. Ibid., 48–49. Ibid., 60–62. Oesterreicher, “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to NonChristian Religions,” 125, 129. Paul VI, Allocutio, 29 September 1963, AAS 55 (1963): 842–59. Paul VI, Address to the Representatives of the Non-Christian Religions, Bombay, 3 December 1964, AAS 57 (1965): 132–33. Ibid. Ibid. Paul VI, Evangelii Nuntiandi, 8 December 1975, AAS 68 (1976): 5–76. Paul VI, Discours au ‘Peuple de l’Alliance, 5 January 1964, AAS 56 (1964): 165–66. Paul VI, Discours au Comité International de Liaison Entre l’Église Catholique et le Judaïsme Mondial, 10 January 1975, AAS 67 (1975): 95–97. Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration ‘Nostra Aetate’ No. 4, 1 December 1974, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pon tifical_councils/chrstuni/relations–jews–docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_197 41201_nostra–aetate_en.html. Paul VI, Discours au Comité International de Liaison Entre l’Église Catholique et le Judaïsme Mondial, 96. Ibid. Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, Dialogue and Proclamation, 19 May 1991, AAS 84 (1992): 414–46. Paul VI, Discours au Comité International de Liaison Entre l’Église Catholique et le Judaïsme Mondial, 96. Cf. Anthony O’Mahony, “The Influence of the Life and Thought of Louis Massignon on the Catholic Church’s Relations with Islam,” Downside Review 126, no. 444 (2008): 169–92. Robert Caspar, “Islam According to Vatican II,” Encounter 21 (January 1976): 1–7. See for example: Paul VI, Discours au Chef des Musulmans, Istanbul, 25 July 1967, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/paul_vi/speeches/ 1967/july/documents/hf_p-vi_spe_19670725_comunita-musulmana_ fr.html. Paul VI, Discourse to the Dignitaries and Representatives of Islam, Uganda, 1 August 1969, in Francesco Gioia ed., Interreligious Dialogue: The Official Teaching of the Catholic Church from the Second Vatican

3

38.

39.

40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46.

47. 48.

49. 50.

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

59

Council to John Paul II (1963–1995) (Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media, 1997), 164–65. Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 7 December 1965, AAS 58 (1966): 1025–115. Second Vatican Council, Unitatis Redintegratio, 21 November 1964, AAS 57 (1965): 90–112. Paul VI, Udienza Generale, 7 June 1967, http://w2.vatican.va/con tent/paulvi/it/audiences/1967/documents/hf_pvi_aud_19670607. html. Paul VI, Discours aux Dignitaires de l’Arabie Saoudite, 25 October 1974, AAS 66 (1974): 629–30. Paul VI, Discourse to the Dignitaries and Representatives of Islam, Uganda, 1 August 1969. John Paul II, Redemptor Hominis, 4 March 1979, AAS 71 (1979): 257– 324. John Paul II, Message to the People of Asia, 21 February 1981, AAS 73 (1981): 391–98. John Paul II, Dominum et Vivificantem, 18 May 1986, AAS 78 (1986): 809–900. John Paul II, Discorso alla Curia Romana per gli auguri di Natale, 22 December 1986, AAS 79 (1987): 1082–90. If the action of the Spirit is recognizable in other religions, “one cannot exclude the possibility that they exercise as such a certain salvific function; that is, despite their ambiguity, they help men achieve their ultimate end…. It would be difficult to think that what the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of men taken as individuals would have salvific value and not think that what the Holy Spirit works in the religions and cultures would not have such value. The recent magisterium does not seem to authorize such a drastic distinction.” Christianity and the World Religions, no. 84, in Michael Sharkey and Thomas Weinandy, eds., International Theological Commission: Texts and Documents, 1986–2007 , vol. 2 (Ignatius Press, 2009). John Paul II, Address to the Presidents and Representatives of the Jewish World Organizations, 12 March 1979, AAS 71 (1979): 436. John Paul II, Address to the Representatives of the International Liaison Committee between the Catholic Church and the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, 28 October 1985, AAS 78 (1986): 410. John Paul II, Address to the Representatives of the Jewish Community in Mainz, 17 November 1980, AAS 73 (1981): 78–82. Nostra Aetate 4 quotes from Romans 9:4 where Paul affirms that the Jewish people continue to enjoy the status of adopted children and the Covenant, and Christ comes from this people. John Paul II pointed out

60

R. VIVIANO

51.

52.

53.

54.

55. 56. 57.

58.

59. 60.

Paul’s use of the present tense, which applies to contemporary Jews as well (Cf. Ibid.). John Paul II, Discorso ai delegati delle Conferenze Episcopali per i rapporti con l’ebraismo, 6 March 1982. An English translation is available in John Paul II, Spiritual Pilgrimage: Texts on Jews and Judaism, 1979–1995, ed. Eugene J. Fisher and Leon Klenicki (New York: Crossroad, 1995), 17–20. John Paul II, Homily at the Brzezinka Concentration Camp, Auschwitz, 7 June 1979, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/hom ilies/1979/documents/hf_jp-ii_hom_19790607_polonia-brzezinka_en. html. John Paul II, Redemptionis Anno, 20 April 1984, AAS 76 (1984): 625–28; John Paul II, Spiritual Pilgrimage, 33–37, This aspect was further developed in Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church, 1985, http://www.vat ican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/relations-jews-docs/ rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_19820306_jews-judaism_en.html. According to Nostra Aetate, Abraham is the one “to whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself” and Muslims imitate him in obedience to God. John Paul II, Address to the Catholic Community of Ankara, 29 November 1979, AAS 71 (1979): 1585–89. John Paul II, General Audience, Rome 5 June 1985, in Gioia ed., Interreligious Dialogue, 287. John Paul II, Address to the Leaders of the Muslim Community in Kenya, 7 May 1980, in Gioia ed., Interreligious Dialogue, 226–227. John Paul II, Address to the Representatives of the Muslim Community, Davao, Philippines, 20 February 1981, in ibid., 235–37. Pope John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1994), 94; John Paul II, General Audience, 21 June 1995, http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/it/audiences/ 1995/documents/hf_jp-ii_aud_19950621.html. Benedict XVI, Address to the Representatives of Other Religions in Washington, 17 April 2008, AAS 100 (2008): 329. Benedict XVI, Address to the Representatives of Other Religions in Sydney, 18 July 2008, http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/ en/speeches/2008/july/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20080718_interel. html. Cf. Benedict XVI, In Truth Peace: Message for the World Day for Peace, 1 January 2006, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_ xvi/messages/peace/documents/hf_ben-xvi_mes_20051213_xxxixworld-day-peace_en.html.

3

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

61

61. Benedict XVI, Address to the Representatives of Other Religions in London, 17 September 2010, http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedi ctxvi/en/speeches/2010/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_201 00917_altre-religioni.html. 62. Benedict XVI, Address to the Parish Priests of Rome, 7 February 2008, AAS 100 (2008): 139–162. 63. Benedict XVI, Address to the Representatives of Other Religions, Washington, 17 April 2008, 328. 64. Ibid. 65. Benedict XVI recently recalled the major themes of his thought on Jewish–Christian relations in Benedict XVI, “Grace and Vocation Without Remorse: Comments on the Treatise De Iudaeis,” Communio: International Catholic Review 45, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 163–84. 66. Benedict XVI, Address to the Members of the American Jewish Committee, 16 March 2006, http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/spe eches/2006/march/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060316_jewish-com mittee_en.html. 67. Benedict XVI, Address to a Delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCRC), 9 June 2005, AAS 97 (2005): 817–18; Benedict XVI, Address at the Synagogue of Cologne, 19 August 2005, AAS 97 (2005): 905–9; Benedict XVI, Address at the Synagogue of Rome, 17 January 2010, http://www.vatican.va/holy_f ather/benedict_xvi/speeches/2010/january/documents/hf_ben-xvi_ spe_20100117_sinagoga_en.html. 68. Joseph A. Ratzinger, “The Heritage of Abraham: The Gift of Christmas,” Osservatore Romano, 29 December 2000. 69. Benedict XV, Address at the Synagogue of Rome, 17 January 2010; Benedict XVI, Address to the Representatives of the Jewish Community in Paris, 12 September 2008, http://www.vatican.va/content/ben edict-xvi/en/speeches/2008/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_ 20080912_parigi-juive.html; Benedict XVI, Address to the Delegation of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jewish People, 12 March 2009, https://w2.vatican. va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2009/march/documents/hf_ ben-xvi_spe_20090312_rabbinate-israel.html; Benedict XVI, Address during the Courtesy Visit to the Two Chief Rabbis of Jerusalem, 12 May 2009, AAS 101 (2009): 522–23; Benedict XVI, Address to a Delegation of the IJCRC, 9 June 2005; Benedict XVI, Address to the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCRC), 30 October 2008, AAS 100 (2008): 794–95. 70. Benedict XVI, Homily at the Opening of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, 10 October 2010, AAS 102 (2010): 803–07.

62

R. VIVIANO

71. Joseph A. Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, ed. Peter Seewald (Ignatius Press, 1997), 248. 72. Benedict XVI, Address to the Members of the International Pontifical Theological Commission, 2 December 2011, http://www.vatican.va/con tent/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2011/december/documents/hf_benxvi_spe_20111202_comm-teologica.html. 73. Benedict XVI, Message to the Jewish Community on the Feast of Pesach, 14 April 2008, AAS 100 (2008): 353. 74. Benedict XVI, Address at the Synagogue of Cologne, 19 August 2005, AAS 97 (2005): 907. 75. Benedict XVI, Homily at the Opening of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, 10 October 2010, 804. 76. Ratzinger, Salt of the Earth, 249. 77. Joseph A. Ratzinger, “Interreligious Dialogue and Jewish–Christian Relations,” Communio 25, no. 1 (1998): 38. 78. Benedict XVI, Address at the Synagogue of Cologne, 19 August 2005, 907. 79. Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, from the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, vol. 1 (London: Bloomsbury, 2007), 99–106. 80. Joseph A. Ratzinger, God and the World, Believing and Living in Our Time: A Conversation with Peter Seewald, ed. Peter Seewald (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2002), 150. 81. Benedict XVI, Address to the Representatives of the Jewish Community in Paris, 12 September 2008. 82. Ratzinger, “The Heritage of Abraham.” 83. Benedict XVI, Address at the Synagogue of Rome, 17 January 2010. 84. Benedict XVI, Address to Representatives of the Jewish Community in Berlin, 22 September 2011, https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedi ctxvi/en/speeches/2011/september/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_201 10922_jewish-berlin.html. 85. Benedict XVI, Letter to the President of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, 26 October 2005, 986. 86. Benedict XVI, Angelus, Vatican, 9 November 2008. 87. Benedict XVI, Address during the Visit to the Auschwitz Camp, 28 May 2006, AAS (2006): 483. 88. The Third Reich’s plan “to crush the entire the Jewish people” was to “kill the God who called Abraham, who spoke on Sinai and laid down principles to serve as a guide for mankind.” Ibid., 482. 89. Benedict XVI, Address to His Excellency Mr. Mordechay Lewy Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See, 12 May 2008, http://www.vatican.va/content/ benedictxvi/en/speeches/2008/may/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_200 80512_ambassador-israel.html.

3

THE ECCLESIAL AND THEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF NOSTRA AETATE …

63

90. Benedict XVI, Homily at the Opening of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, 10 October 2010, 803. 91. Benedict XVI, Address to the Delegates of Other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of Other Religious Traditions, 25 April 2005, AAS 97 (2005): 742. 92. Rocco Viviano, “Benedict XVI, Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations,” The Downside Review 135, no. 1 (7 November 2016): 55–75. 93. Benedict XVI, Address at the Meeting with the President of the Religious Affairs Directorate, 28 November 2006, AAS 98 (2006): 902–5. 94. Benedict XVI, Address at the Meeting with Organizations for Interreligious Dialogue, Jerusalem, 11 May 2009, http://www.vatican.va/ content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2009/may/documents/hf_benxvi_spe_20090511_dialogo-interreligioso.html. See also Joseph A. Ratzinger, “The Unity and Diversity of Religions: The Place of Christianity in the History of Religions,” in Truth and Tolerance: Christian Belief and World Religions (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2004), 15–44. 95. Benedict XVI, Address to the Participants in the Seminar Organized by the Catholic–Muslim Forum, Vatican, 6 November 2008, AAS 100 (2008): 799–801. 96. Benedict XVI, Address at the Meeting with the President of the Religious Affairs Directorate, Ankara, 28 November 2006, 904. 97. Benedict XVI, Address to the Ambassadors of Countries with a Muslim Majority, 25 September 2006, AAS 98 (2006): 705. 98. Benedict XVI, Address at the Meeting with the President of the Religious Affairs Directorate, Ankara, 28 November 2006, 904. 99. Benedict XVI, Address to the Muslim Community during the Courtesy Visit to the Grand Mufti, Jerusalem, 12 May 2009, AAS 101 (2009): 521. 100. This was the main point Benedict XVI’s lecture at the Regensburg University Benedict XVI, Glaube, Vernunft Und Universität. Erinnerungen Und Reflexionen (Faith, Reason and the University. Memories and Reflections), 12 September 2006, Regensburg, AAS 98 (2006): 728–39. See Benedict XVI, Address at the Apostolic Meeting with Representatives of some Muslim Communities, Cologne, 20 August 2005. Four days later he expressed his “hope that fanaticism and violence will be uprooted” and that Christians and Muslims “will always be able to work together to defend human dignity and protect the fundamental rights of men and women.” Benedict XVI, General Audience, 24 August 2004, http://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/audien ces/2005/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20050824.html.

64

R. VIVIANO

101. Benedict XVI, Address at the Meeting with the President of the Religious Affairs Directorate, Ankara, 28 November 2006. 102. Ibid. Also, Benedict XVI, Address at the Meeting with Organizations for Interreligious Dialogue, Jerusalem, 11 May 2009, 904.

PART II

Nostra Aetate: Relationship with the Jewish People

CHAPTER 4

Harvest and Horizons: An Appraisal of Nostra Aetate Para. 4 David Mark Neuhaus

On October 28, 1965, Pope Paul VI signed the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christian Religions. Paragraph 4 of Nostra Aetate (In our time), as the document came to be known, served as the catalyst for a rethinking of the Church’s relationship with the Jews, which inspires a reimagining of Jewish–Catholic relations. What is the rich harvest gleaned in the field of Catholic–Jewish relations and what are some of the challenges on the horizon opened up by this remarkable rethinking? Three distinct axes of this rethinking redefine relations between Catholics and Jews, impacting also on how Catholics understand themselves. These axes I would define as the transformation of discourse, the programming of action, and the promotion of cooperation.

Transforming Discourse I believe, had I gone about the Catholic world in the pre-Conciliar era, posing the question to Catholics: “What is the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the word “Jew,” many would have answered:

D. M. Neuhaus (B) Pontifical Biblical Institute, Jerusalem, Israel © The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_4

67

68

D. M. NEUHAUS

“They killed Jesus” or, more bluntly, “They killed God.” Others might draw on an abundant vocabulary rooted in what Jules Isaac, the renowned Jewish French historian, referred to as the “a teaching of contempt.”1 This characterized the Jews as a selfish, arrogant, greedy people, rejected by God and replaced by the Church. Today, when asked the same question, many Catholics, inspired by the Council, might respond; “They are the people of Jesus, chosen by God, with whom we have much in common.” These responses underline the rethinking rooted in paragraph 4 of Nostra aetate, transforming a “teaching of contempt” into a “teaching of respect.”2 Over centuries, Christians had too often linked the words “Jews” and “Judaism” to categories of sin, rebellion, darkness, and evil. The discourse was rooted in a particular reading of certain New Testament texts3 and writings of the Church Fathers.4 The Jews were those who had not only killed Jesus, but also had continued to refuse stubbornly to recognize him after his resurrection from the dead. Furthermore, this stubbornness was read back into the Old Testament, where the Jews had already rejected the prophets sent by God. In this perspective, Judaism, already a degenerate “legalistic” religion before the time of Jesus, had become superfluous superstition that prevented Jews from becoming Christians. In liturgy and homilies, this discourse reached a crescendo on Good Friday, the day commemorating Jesus’s crucifixion when the Passion narratives resounded in the churches. It was not surprising that one might conclude: God has rejected the people that had been chosen, unrepentant in their blindness, stubbornness, and arrogance, and replaced it with the Church. After the Shoah, many Catholics began to realize that traditional discourse about Jews could bear horrific fruit, manifest in the ravages of modern anti-Semitism and coming to a peak in the Nazi period. Even if traditional Christian anti-Judaism and modern anti-Semitism are two distinct discourses, modern anti-Semitism undoubtedly has fed on traditional anti-Judaism. A 1998 Church document formulated a pointed question: “did anti-Jewish sentiment among Christians make them less sensitive, or even indifferent, to the persecutions launched against the Jews by National Socialism when it reached power?”5 At the heart of the transformation of contempt into respect is a profound theological conviction: a theology of the rejection of the Jews by God, who had supposedly replaced them with the Church, betrays the experience of God’s eternal fidelity, repeatedly testified to in Scripture.

4

HARVEST AND HORIZONS: AN APPRAISAL OF NOSTRA AETATE PARA. 4

69

Nostra Aetate teaches: “God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues—such is the witness of the Apostle.” The reference is to Paul’s Letter to the Romans, 11:29.6 This verse, continually cited since 1965 in relation to the Jews, insists on God’s fidelity to the Jews despite their rejection of Jesus. The 2015 document of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews explained: “The Church does not replace the people of God of Israel, since as the community founded on Christ it represents in him the fulfilment of the promises made to Israel. This does not mean that Israel, not having achieved such a fulfilment, can no longer be considered to be the people of God.”7 The deliberate transformation of discourse about Jews and Judaism has marked the post-conciliar Church. The documents published in the decades after the Council on the subject of Jews and Judaism, the addresses of Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict, and Francis and the statements of many national bishops’ conferences, especially in countries where Jews reside, bear witness to the remarkable change in discourse that has taken place. Catholics are now encouraged to see Jesus as Jewish and Jews as brothers and sisters, even older siblings, the people of Jesus, honoring a common heritage in a shared world.

Taking Action The teaching of contempt generated actions that led to the increasing marginalization of the Jews. After Christianity became the official religion of the Empire at the end of the fourth century, the isolation of Jews proceeded using state legislation. The legal codes set up the mechanisms that separated Jews and Christians, consigning Jews to the margins and instituting a system of state-approved discrimination. Church legislation in the medieval period provided the social and political practices that put Christians on guard in interactions with Jews, imposing on the latter distinctive clothing and restricting their public display of religious sentiment.8 The burning of the Talmud, accusations of using the blood of Christians and desecrating consecrated hosts, were all manifestations of the power of this discourse. The founding of the ghetto concretely marked not only the separation of Jews from Christians but also the increasing need of Jews for protection from mobs that sought vengeance for the suffering of Christ and a myriad of woes blamed on

70

D. M. NEUHAUS

Jewish treachery. Although attitudes began to change during the Renaissance, the French Revolution finally unseated the Church from the center stage of state power and hastened the slow but progressive emancipation of the Jews. Sadly, traditional anti-Judaism was replaced by modern antiSemitism, basing its hostility to the Jews on racial and ethnic ideologies rather than on religious and theological categories. The transformation of the Church’s discourse about the Jews stimulated action, rooted in the ongoing rethinking. One of the moving images of the rapprochement between Catholics and Jews was that of Pope John Paul II standing in reverent silence before the Western Wall in Jerusalem in 2000. Benedict XVI in 2009 and Francis in 2014 followed his example. All three also visited synagogues, taking their place alongside rabbis, and greeting the assemblies of Jews in fraternity. Jews have become a part of the family photo album as they regularly visit the Popes, local bishops, and parish communities, making their voices heard. Among the dramatic acts of Pope John Paul II was his expression of Christian remorse in order to purify memory, prior to the beginning of the third millennium. Pope John Paul II placed his request for forgiveness in the Western Wall in 2000. “…we are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant.” The public, ceremonial and explicit avowal of wrongdoing by Christians has undoubtedly cemented Jewish–Catholic reconciliation and dialogue. Actual preaching and teaching on the Jews reveal the change in discourse. This is primarily apparent in the teaching of respect regarding the Jews in the official Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism underlines the shared eschatological expectation of Catholics and Jews. “God’s People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.”9 Local churches have rewritten catechism books with the understanding that Jesus needs to be understood as a Jew who lived his life in communion with his people. The traditions of Judaism are essential background to understanding the life and practice of the Church, the liturgical year, and the celebration of the sacraments.

4

HARVEST AND HORIZONS: AN APPRAISAL OF NOSTRA AETATE PARA. 4

71

The momentous shift in understanding the Bible in general, as well as texts that provided a venomous vocabulary for the teaching of contempt in particular, is also central to this new relationship. The acceptance of historical-critical exegesis, which insists that the texts be understood within the world that had produced them, has been an enormous help in neutralizing those that were mobilized against the Jews. This is particularly true of texts written by New Testament authors, themselves Jews, who were not so much describing actual events but rather expressing disappointment and even anger at the rejection by most Jews of Jesus as Messiah. As the 1985 document of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews pointed out: “it cannot be ruled out that some references hostile or less than favorable to the Jews have their historical context in conflicts between the nascent Church and the Jewish community.”10 In his seminal work Jesus of Nazareth, Pope Benedict XVI commented bluntly on the scene in which the crowd cries out for Jesus’s death in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, “Matthew is certainly not recounting historical fact here.”11 However, the practice of Biblical interpretation insists on taking into account not only the historical context of the text, but also the hermeneutical framework of the reader. The Christian reader might perceive Christ in the Old Testament, but not because he is objectively there. Rather, he becomes perceptible in reading the Old in the light of the New. “Although the Christian reader is aware that the internal dynamism of the Old Testament finds its goal in Jesus, this is a retrospective perception whose point of departure is not in the text as such, but in the events of the New Testament proclaimed by the apostolic preaching. It cannot be said, therefore, that Jews do not see what has been proclaimed in the text, but that the Christian, in the light of Christ and in the Spirit, discovers in the text an additional meaning that was hidden there.”12 Therefore, the Jewish reading can no longer be characterized as an expression of blindness.13 “Christians can and ought to admit that the Jewish reading of the Bible is a possible one, in continuity with the Jewish Sacred Scriptures from the Second Temple period, a reading analogous to the Christian reading which developed in parallel fashion. Both readings are bound up with the vision of their respective faiths, of which the readings are the result and expression. Consequently, both are irreducible.”14 Another sphere of action has been the liturgy, through the removal of anti-Jewish intimations in liturgical texts. Most singular was the rewriting of the prayer used in the Good Friday liturgy for the Jewish people.

72

D. M. NEUHAUS

The prayer in the pre-Conciliar missal asked: “that our God and Lord will remove the veils from their hearts, so that they too may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ” not withholding “mercy even from Jewish unbelief,” heeding “the prayers that we offer for the blindness of that people.” Today, the prayer asks, “that they may continue to grow in the love of His name and in faithfulness to His covenant” so that “the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption.” Between these two prayers, the rethinking is vividly present.

Working Together At the Council, Catholics spoke about Jews, but in the period that followed, Catholics began to speak to Jews and listen to them, striving “to learn by what essential traits the Jews define themselves in the light of their own religious experience.”15 A palpable consequence has been that Catholics have come to see Jews more and more as partners in the world, sharing common values and struggling side by side to bring about a repairing of our broken world. Pope Francis has focused with greater urgency on joint action to defend the environment, to promote justice, peace, and human rights, and to protect the poor, the oppressed and the marginalized. In a meeting with representatives of the American Jewish Committee on 8 March 2019, Francis said, “Jews and Christians, moreover, share a rich spiritual heritage, which allows us to do much good together. At a time when the West is exposed to a depersonalizing secularism, it falls to believers to seek out each other and to cooperate in making divine love more visible for humanity; and to carry out concrete gestures of closeness to counter the growth of indifference.”16 Working side by side, facing the challenges of a world threatened by ecological disaster, violence and greed, Catholics and Jews will undoubtedly deepen relationships and rethink even further ways to journey forward together. The harvest has indeed been rich, but there is much work still to do. As Jews and Catholics meet and deepen their relationships, understanding each other as they understand themselves, the rethinking reveals the challenges on the horizon. Among these challenges, most prominent are the Christian conviction that Jesus Christ is the way of salvation for all, and the Jewish insistence on the theological significance of the land and the state of Israel.

4

HARVEST AND HORIZONS: AN APPRAISAL OF NOSTRA AETATE PARA. 4

73

Salvation in Christ Nostra Aetate affirmed that the Church must proclaim Jesus as Savior in its first paragraph: “Indeed, (the Church) proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The document for the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate reaffirmed this principle but recognized the complexity of the task. “Another focus for Catholics must continue to be the highly complex theological question of how Christian belief in the universal salvific significance of Jesus Christ can be combined coherently with the equally clear statement of faith in the never-revoked covenant of God with Israel. It is the belief of the Church that Christ is the Savior for all. There cannot be two ways of salvation.”17 The affirmation that Christ is the unique Savior makes many Jews uncomfortable.18 Christians as disciples of Christ, who, according to their belief, was sent “to the Jew first and to the Greek also” (Romans 1:16), are called therefore to reflect on the apparent tension between a Christian commitment to preaching Christ as Savior of all and the engagement in dialogue with the Jews. The Council took the history of the Church and of humanity seriously, and this was nowhere more evident than in the Church’s evolving relationship with the Jews. After two thousand years, the Catholic reflection on history challenges the strategies used in the past in the mission to the Jews. Indeed, some might even question whether the traumatic history of the past renders Christian mission to Jews futile, because of the coercive methods sometimes used in the past. Nostra Aetate represents a major turning point in the Church’s reflection on her origins and her responsibility in history. Born out of the womb of Israel, the Church too often has been dismissive of her Jewish roots and her debt to the Jewish people. Although the 1974 guidelines for the implementation of Nostra Aetate continued to insist on the universal preaching of Christ, the document, sensitive to the historical context in which the Church encounters Jews, continued: “Lest the witness of Catholics to Jesus Christ should give offence to Jews, they must take care to live and spread their Christian faith while maintaining the strictest respect for religious liberty (…) They will likewise strive to understand the difficulties which arise for the Jewish soul—rightly imbued with an extremely high, pure notion of the divine transcendence when faced with the mystery of the incarnate Word.”19 Many Jews reject anything that smacks of mission, as Alon GoshenGottstein has pointed out. “The most blatant, and hence most offensive,

74

D. M. NEUHAUS

expression of Christian religious exclusivity is Christian mission. (…) While the motivation of the missionary may be noble, missionary work is received as an assault on the identity of the other. Past history has made the Jewish psyche particularly suspicious of missionary activity. Suspicion of a hidden missionary agenda is probably still the greatest impediment to advancement in Jewish-Christian dialogue. While, theoretically, one might have to consider the missionary drive a legitimate, perhaps even necessary, expression of religious authenticity, past history makes it extremely hard for Jews to recognize missionary work as a healthy form of religious activity. For Jews it is the great obstacle in Jewish-Christian relations.”20 In response to this Jewish concern, some have introduced distinctions, differentiating “mission” (often conceived as active proselytization) and “bearing witness.” Indeed, Walther Kasper, an eminent Catholic theologian once responsible for dialogue with the Jews, has explained: “Because as Christians we know that God’s covenant with Israel by God’s faithfulness is not broken, mission—understood as call to conversion from idolatry to the living and true God—does not apply and cannot be applied to Jews. They confess the living true God, who gave and gives them support, hope, confidence and strength in many difficult situations of their history. There cannot be the same kind of behavior towards Jews as there exists towards Gentiles. This is not a merely abstract theological affirmation, but an affirmation that has concrete and tangible consequences; namely, that there is no organized Catholic missionary activity towards Jews as there is for all other non–Christian religions.”21 The dialogue encouraged by the Church today leads Catholics to discover the Jewish reality, one that reveals that Jews already see themselves within a dynamic relationship with God, clearly the same God that Christians identify as Father of Jesus Christ. Most Jews reject the messianic claims of Jesus; however, they share with Catholics an understanding of an ordered creation and an eschatological restoration. As Jews, they might even be able to agree on what the Kingdom of Heaven looks like, without necessarily recognizing formally and explicitly the figure of Jesus as Christ. At best, Jews as Jews might see in Jesus a Torah faithful Jew, as great as any other in the Jewish tradition.22 Cardinal Kasper went as far as to say, “this does not mean that Jews in order to be saved have to become Christians; if they follow their own conscience and believe in God’s promises as they understand them in their religious tradition they are in line with God’s plan, which for us comes to its historical completion in Jesus Christ.”23

4

HARVEST AND HORIZONS: AN APPRAISAL OF NOSTRA AETATE PARA. 4

75

Nonetheless, the issue remains; does the Church continue to teach that Jews should ultimately know Christ? If the answer is affirmative, does that imply that the best Jew is a Jew converted to faith in Christ? Jewish partners in dialogue might well insist that if God has indeed not revoked the covenant with Israel, as Catholics seem to affirm today, then surely Jews only need to be more faithful to the Torah. Some Jews have suggested that consistent with this affirmation of the fidelity of God, the Church should understand Jesus as unique savior for the Gentiles (the nations) whereas, in a parallel fashion, God calls the Jews to live Torah. Jesus and Torah are then two parallel ways of salvation.24 Some Christian theologians, in response, have been proposing a “twocovenant theology,” Judaism for the Jews, Christianity for the nations.25 The Catholic Church has not and cannot affirm such a position, continuing to maintain, in unison with Holy Scripture, that ultimately Christ is the way, the truth, and the light for all. Whereas the Church, having rediscovered the Jewishness of Jesus and the heritage she shares with the Jewish people, does proclaim with conviction today that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22), the Church continues to insist that both Jews and Gentiles depend on the same savior for salvation. However, this reflection must now not only be consistent with Christology and ecclesiology but also must consider the millennial relationship with Jews and Judaism. Jesus and his Jewish disciples understood the Jewish tradition as finding its fulfillment in the sequela Christi. This was at the heart of the dynamic of an Old Testament fulfilled in a New Testament. However, the fundamental transformation of the Jewish tradition after the destruction of the Second Temple, leading to the production of the Talmud and its extensive commentaries, renders the interpretation of the ancient scriptures of Israel more complicated. The rabbinic writings propose a fundamentally different reading of these scriptures, one that binds a written Torah (parallel to the Christian Old Testament) to an oral one (the Talmud). In history, the coupling of new and old was only one possibility of fulfillment, a Christian one, whereas rabbinic Jews proposed a very different coupling, written and oral. Christian traditional thinking has often posited that the rabbinic development in the Talmud constituted a grievous obstacle to Jews coming to see Jesus as the promised Christ. Traditional Church teaching saw ancient Israel as preparation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, rather than as a permanent fixture in the history of salvation. Christians traditionally look forward to a time when “there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer

76

D. M. NEUHAUS

male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Nostra Aetate does explicitly speak of a future eschatological time when Jews and Christians will be one: “In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and “serve him shoulder to shoulder” (Zeph 3:9). However, there is no explicit description of the Jews embracing belief in Christ.26 Furthermore, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) teaches, “the Jewish faith, unlike other nonChristian religions is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant.”27 An eventual convergence of unrealized Jewish Messianic expectations with the Christian expectancy of the return of Jesus Christ in the end times is emphasized in the 2015 Gifts and calling of God are irrevocable, citing Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who referred to “a determined point in time has been fixed which cannot be anticipated.”28 The reflection on the salvation of the Jews as an eschatological reality is rooted in Chapters 9–11 of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, the same chapters that provided the Council with the source for its reflection on the fidelity of God. Paul had to confront the arrogance of Gentiles who were looking down on Jews because they did not believe in Jesus. Using the evocative imagery of two olive trees, Paul writes, “They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you” (11:20–21). In rejecting the arrogance of the Gentile Christians, Paul posits the disbelief of Israel as a “mystery” (11:25) of God’s design, whereby Israel’s refusal of the Gospel enables the preaching of the Gospel to the Gentiles. Moreover, expressing his conviction that God’s faithfulness would ultimately bring all of Israel into the new covenant, he points to the ultimate working out of God’s fidelity in the regrafting of the Jews onto the olive tree. “For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree” (11:24). A recent article published by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI has provoked perplexity among some Jews and strong criticism from some Catholics29 and renewed the debate about Christian mission and the fidelity of God to the Jews. Benedict insists that God’s covenant with the Jews is indeed unrevoked; however, from a human point of view, the covenant is “codetermined by the whole drama of human error.”30 According to Benedict, one cannot ignore this drama, and thus he insists

4

HARVEST AND HORIZONS: AN APPRAISAL OF NOSTRA AETATE PARA. 4

77

that the task of the Church remains the call to greater fidelity, a fidelity that finds its perfection in Jesus Christ. Indeed, Jews and Christians together share in this “drama of human error” in their sinful humanity, and yet together they are called to walk the way toward the Kingdom. Eschewing all arrogance, today’s Church teaches with insistence that Christians have too often failed in their witness because they themselves have not yet been conformed to the image of Christ, a reality that is also manifest in the traditional teaching of contempt for Jews and Judaism and in their forgetfulness of God’s faithfulness. Christians proclaim not only the Torah fidelity of Jesus the Jew but also the newness of the restored filial relationship with God in Jesus the Christ, fulfillment of God’s Word in the history of the world. Whereas Christians witness to a Jesus Christ who brings the fullness of salvation, they are called to recognize too how dismally they have failed to live up to his call for discipleship. Thus, their witness can only be coherent in recognizing that Jews who seek to live Torah are “not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34). It was these words that Jesus himself addressed to a scribe who professed his Torah fidelity. Christians who seek to take up their Cross and follow Jesus daily can only hope that they too are not far from the Kingdom. God’s fidelity to a Jewish people that has not always lived in fidelity to the Torah is a promise of God’s fidelity to Christians who have not always lived in fidelity to the Torah Incarnate in Jesus. As Jews and Christians consider the future, “one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time.”31 This conviction that Jews and Christians will converge in recognizing that Torah is incarnate in the One who is to come, is fundamental to Christian hope.

The Theological Significance of the Land and State of Israel The rethinking of the relationship with the Jews has opened the eyes of many Catholics to the living reality of the Jewish people, their identity and aspirations. A 1974 document insisted, “The history of Judaism did not end with the destruction of Jerusalem, but rather went on to develop a religious tradition (…) rich in religious values.” Furthermore, “Christians must therefore strive to acquire a better knowledge of the basic components of the religious tradition of Judaism; they must strive to learn by

78

D. M. NEUHAUS

what essential traits the Jews define themselves in the light of their own religious experience.”32 In listening to Jews, Catholics become aware that many Jews today define themselves more as a people than as a religion and as such lay claim to a land they call “the land of Israel” and identify with the state that exists there. Jews from various denominations published an eight-point document in 2000, promoting dialogue with Christians, entitled Dabru Emet (Speak the Truth). The third point of the document stated, “The most important event for Jews since the Holocaust has been the reestablishment of a Jewish state in the Promised Land. As members of a biblically based religion, Christians appreciate that Israel was promised—and given—to Jews as the physical center of the covenant between them and God. Many Christians support the state of Israel for reasons far more profound than mere politics.”33 The Catholic Church has proceeded slowly and cautiously in interacting with the political reality of the state of Israel. After decades, the Holy See inaugurated full diplomatic relations with Israel in 1994, a time when peace finally seemed imminent. Today, diplomatic relations exist between the Holy See and the state of Israel. Despite the diplomatic recognition of Israel, Jewish spokespeople have continued to lament the Church’s continued reluctance to affirm the theological significance of the Jewish claim to the land and the state of Israel. Invited to speak alongside Cardinal Kurt Koch, at the presentation of the 2015 CRRJ document celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, Rabbi David Rosen commented, “to fully respect Jewish selfunderstanding, it is also necessary to appreciate the centrality that the land of Israel plays in the historic and contemporary religious life of the Jewish people and that appears to be missing.”34 Today, some Western Catholic theologians are lobbying to promote a Catholic affirmation of the theological significance of the land and the state of Israel.35 At the outset of a discussion on Catholic attitudes to the land and state of Israel, it is noteworthy that this subject does not evoke unanimity among Jews themselves. The history of Zionism has met with suspicion and even hostility from some Jews, and many other Jews have been critical of the options that the Zionist leadership has adopted, especially with regard to the rights of the Palestinian people.36 Here I seek to examine the reasons why the Catholic Church, which now maintains diplomatic relations with the state of Israel, does not attribute theological significance to the Jewish claims to the land and to the state of Israel.

4

HARVEST AND HORIZONS: AN APPRAISAL OF NOSTRA AETATE PARA. 4

79

According to Dabru Emet, because Jews and Christians share a language, based on the scriptures of Israel, they can also share an understanding of the land of Israel as promise and gift to the Jews in the twentieth century. From a theological point of view, God’s election of Israel and the gift of the land are central themes in the Old Testament. However, many Christians would be hesitant to use ancient Old Testament texts to justify twentieth century ideologies and politics. Although biblical argumentation to justify social and political realities is not foreign to Christian tradition, Catholics, as opposed to some Evangelical Christians, find the imposition of biblical language on present political realities to be contrived. Furthermore, although Jews and Catholics indeed share a common language derived from scripture, they do not always share a common theological understanding of that language and its implications for life today. Christians understand the Old Testament in reference to the New Testament, and this is particularly true of themes like the gift of a land and the election of a people.37 Faith in Jesus distinguishes the Christian reading of the Bible from that of the Jews, and it is important to enunciate how this affects the Christian understanding of land and boundaries. In the Old Testament narrative, God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants. Eventually, God led Joshua to conquer the land as the place where Israel would live out the covenantal relationship with God in observing the Torah. At the center of the land was Jerusalem and at its center the Temple, place of the enduring divine presence. It should not be forgotten, however, that the land, although given to Israel, always belonged ultimately to God (cf. Leviticus 25:23), a land given as the place where Israel would be the “light to the Gentiles” (cf. Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), attracting all nations to come and learn the Torah (cf. Isaiah 2:3). According to the language of Scripture, the land was lost because the sins of Israel brought darkness rather than light. However, God brought the people back to Zion at the time of Cyrus, King of Persia, because of the outpouring of God’s grace in faithfulness to the promises made. Exile gave way to return, death to resurrection. It is undoubtedly significant that the Jewish canon of the ancient scriptures of Israel, the TaNaKh, ends with the words of the epistle of Cyrus, addressed to the Babylonian exiles, “Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him! Let him go up (to Zion)” (2 Chronicles 36:23). However, the Church has organized these same scriptures differently, placing 2 Chronicles in the midst of Israel’s saga in the Old Testament. Cyrus’s epistle

80

D. M. NEUHAUS

is one more event that moves the narrative toward the promise at the end of the Old Testament, the coming of the Day of the Lord. In the New Testament, John heralds that day, which led to the appearance of Jesus from Nazareth, who will transfigure the borders between peoples and lands, ultimately leading to the disappearance of these borders and to the unity of lands and peoples. The Christian understanding of the land changes in the passage from the Old Testament to the New Testament. At first glance, the land seems to have disappeared in the writings of the New Testament, as Christians see their homeland as Heaven (cf. Hebrews 11:13–16). However, the land is not absent, but rather transfigured as the borders that separate one land from another, one people from another, progressively dissolve in the preaching of the Gospel. The continuing expansion of the concept of land is evident as the gospel spreads from place to place, documented in the Acts of the Apostles, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Land is no longer exclusively the land of Israel but expands to include every place where the Gospel is preached and lived. Bringing down borders is a central aspect of Christ’s mission, “For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace” (Ephesians 2:14–16). The imperial ideology that developed once Christians had earthly power contradicted this New Testament understanding of land. Christian empire promoted an enthusiasm for borders that needed defending and territories that awaited conquest in the constant attempt to expand those borders. In the Middle Ages, a militarized Christendom went to war to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims, and the teaching of contempt for Muslims parallels that of contempt for Jews. The Crusaders, inspired by the Bible, saw themselves as divinely willed conquerors, and echoes of a Crusader mentality resound throughout the long history of European colonialism. Explorers and conquerors paved the way for missionaries and preachers. If Jews were defeated and subjugated (as opposed to victorious Christians, confirmed by God in their victories), and had lost the land of their forefathers, Jesus had prophesied this38 and Jews were seen as condemned to be a wandering people without a land.39 The post-Vatican II rethinking of Jewish-Christian relations awakens the realization that Jews have suffered because of Christian empowerment. The mechanisms that link Christian empowerment with Jewish

4

HARVEST AND HORIZONS: AN APPRAISAL OF NOSTRA AETATE PARA. 4

81

marginalization must be uncovered and transformed, and the supposed theological principles at the basis of these mechanisms must be overturned. Catholics have begun the important task of reformulating attitudes to the Jews; however, an equally important challenge is to ensure that the reformulation of a theology, purified of anti-Judaism, and imbued with the new language of Jewish–Christian dialogue, does not legitimate a new mechanism of empowerment and exclusion in its turn. With regard to a purported theology of land and state, any Catholic reflection on the land and the state of Israel must consider the real political, social, economic, and cultural situation in Israel/Palestine. This includes a careful examination of how Jewish claims and Israeli policies relate to the protection of the holy places of Christianity and Islam, the well-being of the indigenous Christian and Muslim communities and the aspirations of the Palestinian people. Many uncritical forms of Christian support for Jewish claims to the land of Israel/Palestine are troubling in the light of the dispossession and marginalization of the Palestinians.40 The Church’s concern for justice and peace is not simply a political or diplomatic issue, but rather an integral part of how the Church sees herself, especially after the Second Vatican Council. In his first encyclical, Pope Benedict XVI, wrote, “(The Church) cannot and must not remain on the sidelines in the fight for justice. She has to play her part through rational argument, and she has to reawaken the spiritual energy without which justice, which always demands sacrifice, cannot prevail and prosper. A just society must be the achievement of politics, not of the Church. Yet the promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply.”41 The Church is obligated to analyze the actual context in Israel/Palestine, and not restrict its discourse to biblical formulae or theological speculation. Over the past decades, stretching back to the beginning of the present conflict, the Church has crafted a sophisticated language about the land, its peoples and the structures of government. This language brings together scripture, tradition, concern for the Christian communities, a commitment to dialogue with Jews and Muslims, and a particular insistence on promoting justice and peace for Israelis and Palestinians. This multi-layered discourse is not an exercise in diplomacy, but a genuine and dynamic project to speak the truth in a situation of division, conflict and violence.42 Furthermore, the universal Church cannot develop an abstract theological discourse about a land in which the members of the local Church

82

D. M. NEUHAUS

confront the daily realities of discrimination and occupation, which affect Christians as they affect all Palestinians living in Israel/Palestine today. The local Church’s attempts to deal with these realities impact on thinking about the questions of land and state in the universal Church.43 Legitimization of Jewish claims to the land by appeal to biblical authority and Jewish suffering in history is challenged in the light of the exile of the Palestinian people from their homeland, and their experiences of discrimination and occupation in the lands Israel rules today. Patriarch Michel Sabbah, head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land for more than twenty years, posed a burning question in his 1993 pastoral letter: “Could we be victims of our own salvation history, which seems to favor the Jewish people and condemn us? Is that truly the Will of God to which we must inexorably bow down, demanding that we deprive ourselves in favor of another people, with no possibility of appeal or discussion?”44 The Jewish people, like all peoples, has a right to express itself in its own terms. After Jews had been marginalized for centuries, Zionism rejected that marginalization and demanded empowerment. The Church today understands the Jewish historical, religious, and emotional link to the land, rejecting the centuries of traditional teaching that condemned the Jews to a perpetual state of exile as punishment for their refusal to accept Christ. However, Church recognition of the ongoing specificity of the Jewish people and its attachment to the land of Israel cannot be read as legitimization and support for the political and ideological determination to rule the land exclusively. The Church is suspicious of a language of exclusive rights that supplants the rights of others in Israel/Palestine today. Instead, the Church recognizes the authority of “international law” that establishes criteria for promoting justice, equality, and peace.45 As the Church has been teaching since 1985: “Christians are invited to understand this (Jewish) religious attachment which finds its roots in Biblical tradition, without however making their own any particular religious interpretation of this relationship (…). The existence of the state of Israel and its political options should be envisaged not in a perspective which is in itself religious, but in their reference to the common principles of international law.”46 The teaching about the exile of the Jews as divine punishment must indeed be rejected as it is a betrayal of God’s fidelity, however the alternative is not the theological affirmation of Jewish nationalism, but rather the rejection of all forms of contempt that affirm exclusive rights for some and exclusion for others. The Zionist insistence on national sovereignty,

4

HARVEST AND HORIZONS: AN APPRAISAL OF NOSTRA AETATE PARA. 4

83

defined as Jewish, contradicts the rights of all citizens in the state of Israel, particularly those who are not Jewish. The reality of more than seventy years of Israeli statehood is manifest in the grounded experience of those citizens who encounter manifold forms of discrimination, marginalization and exclusion because they are “non-Jews.” They too must have a voice not only in the political arena, but in theological conversation about the land and the state of Israel. Whatever the framework set for a solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, whether two states living side by side or one unique state, the ultimate principle for a lasting resolution is the equality of the human person. A recent statement of the Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land underlined this principle: “We promote a vision according to which everyone in this Holy Land has full equality, the equality befitting all men and women created equal in God’s own image and likeness. We believe that equality, whatever political solutions might be adopted, is a fundamental condition for a just and lasting peace.”47 As Jews and Catholics gaze toward the land and its inhabitants, they may not be united in a common vision, but they can certainly be united in a common prayer for peace and for the well-being of all who live there.

Conclusion: What About the Others? In much of the debate about continuity and innovation in the relationship with the Jews as presented in paragraph 4 of Nostra Aetate, there is little mention of the fact that the Jews represent one paragraph, even if a very long one, in a five-paragraph declaration. Nostra Aetate had its origins in a reflection on the Jewish question in the post-Second World War period. However, the Church issued a declaration in 1965 on the attitude of the Church to all non-Christian religions. What is the relationship between paragraph 4 and the other paragraphs in the declaration? In particular, how does the reflection on the Jews relate to the reflection on the Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists? Debate has continued as to whether Nostra Aetate is indeed the expression of the original intention of those pioneers who worked on its genesis. Does this opening up to include the faithful of other religions constitute a political strategy to get the Council Fathers to accept the paragraph on the Jews?48 The Church does insist that the relationship between the Church and the Jewish people is unique. After the Council, this was expressed structurally in the placing of the CRRJ under the auspices of the Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity rather than under the Council

84

D. M. NEUHAUS

for Interreligious Dialogue. During his 1986 visit to the synagogue in Rome, Pope John Paul II insisted, “With Judaism therefore we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearly beloved brothers, and, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.”49 What is the exact uniqueness of this relationship; in what sense are Jews “our elder brothers”?50 The shared scriptural heritage (the Old Testament or Tanakh) and the Jewish identity of Jesus, his disciples, and the early Church undoubtedly explain part of this uniqueness. However, as dialogue develops not only with Jews but also with Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others, more light will shed on what kind of unique relationship indeed exists between the Church and the Jewish people. How does this extraordinary rethinking of the relationship with Jews impact relations with the many others who people our world—Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, those practicing traditional religions, or simply people with no religious faith at all? As relationships, unilateral and multilateral, develop, the rethinking that continues to transform the relationship with the Jews might indeed become a paradigm for the reimagining of other relationships so that restoration and creative transformation reshape humanity as the Church continues to seek out ways to be the announcer of Good News, healing for a broken world.

Notes 1. Cf. J. Issac, L’enseignement du mepris (1962) reedited (Paris: Grasset, 2004). 2. Cf. D. Neuhaus, “‘Ebrei’ ed ‘Ebraismo’ nell’Insegnamento cattolico: Una rivoluzione nell’interpretazione,” Civiltà cattolica, 2019 (4055, 1.6 2019), 417–431. 3. Cf. Matthew 27:20–25, John 8:37–47, 18:29–32, 19:12–15, 1Thessalonians 2:14–16. A classic study in English is R. Reuther, Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism (New York, NY: Seabury Press, 1974). 4. A classic study in English is J. Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue (New York, NY: Macmillan, 1969). 5. Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews (Henceforth CRRJ), We Remember, A Reflection Onthe Shoah, IV (1998). 6. Cf. J. Sievers, “God’s Gifts and Call are Irrevocable: The Reception of Romans 11:29 through the Centuries and Christian–Jewish Relations,” in C. Grenholm and D. Patte (eds.) Reading Israel in Romans: Legitimacy and Plausibility of Divergent Interpretations (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2000), 127–173.

4

HARVEST AND HORIZONS: AN APPRAISAL OF NOSTRA AETATE PARA. 4

85

7. CRRJ, The GIFTS and the CALLING OF GOD are IRREVOCABLE (2015) (Henceforth The gifts ), 23. 8. Cf. canons 67–70 at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215). 9. Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 840. 10. CRRJ, Notes on the correct way to present the Jews and Judaism in preaching and catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church (1985) (Henceforth Notes ), IV. 1. 11. Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2011), 186. 12. Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible (2001) (Henceforth The Jewish People), 21. 13. For accusation of blindness cf. 2Corinthians 3:14. 14. Op. cit., 22. 15. CRRJ, Orientations and Suggestions for the Application of the Council Declaration Nostra Aetate (1974) (Henceforth Orientations ) Preamble. 16. http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2019/march/ documents/papa-francesco_20190308_american-jewish-committee.html. 17. CRRJ, The Gifts, 37. 18. The great Jewish thinker, Abraham Joshua Heschel, who met Pope Paul VI, famously commented, “If I were asked either to convert or to die in Auschwitz, I’d rather go to Auschwitz.” Cf. P. Gamberini, “The legacy of Abraham Joshua Heschel,” America (14.10.2015), 23–25. 19. CRRJ, Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate (n. 4) (1974). 20. A. Goshen-Gottstein, “Jewish–Christian Relations: From Historical Past to Theological Future,” reprinted on website Jewish–Christian Relations, (http://www.jcrelations.net/en/?item=1754). 21. W. Kasper, “CRRJ: A Crucial Endeavor of the Catholic Church,” (6.11.2002), http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/ chrstuni/card-kasper-docs/. 22. Cf. J. Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth: His Life, Times and Teaching (New York, NY: Macmillan, 1925) and D. Flusser, Jesus (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1998). 23. W. Kasper, “CRRJ: A Crucial Endeavor of the Catholic Church.” 24. Cf. for example I. Greenberg, For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter between Judaism and Christianity (Philadelphia, PA: JPS, 2004). 25. Cf. A Sacred Obligation: Rethinking Christian Faith in Relation to Judaism and the Jewish People (2002), composed by Catholic and Protestant theologians in the United States. “If Jews, who do not share our faith in Christ, are in a saving covenant with God, then Christians need new ways of understanding the universal significance of Christ” in M. Boys

86

D. M. NEUHAUS

26.

27. 28. 29.

30. 31. 32. 33.

34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39.

(ed.) Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity’s Sacred Obligation (Lanham, MA: Sheed and Ward, 2005). Cf. note 19 in W. Abbot (ed.), The Documents of Vatican II (New York, NY: Guild Press, 1966), 665. “A reference to “conversion” of the Jews was removed from an earlier version of this Declaration because many Council Fathers felt it was not appropriate in a document striving to establish common goals and interests first.” A decisive factor in this was the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Abraham Joshua Heschel, cf. J. Miller (ed.), Vatican II: An Interfaith Appraisal: International Theological Conference (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966), 373. His daughter Susannah recalled, in an interview in America: “My father met with Pope Paul VI to make his objection clear, and he said many times that he was told after the meeting that the pope took his pen and crossed out the sentence,” America (18–25.6.2007), 12. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 839. CRRJ, The Gifts, 36. Cf. Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2011), 44–45. Benedict XVI , Gnade und Berufung ohne Reue: Anmerkungen zum Traktat “De Iudaeis,” Communio, 2018 (45/1), 163–184, Cf. E. Guerriero (ed.), Benedetto XVI in dialogo con il rabbino Arie Folger: Ebrei e Cristiani (Rome: San Paolo Edizioni, 2019) and C. Rutishauser, “Benedikt XVI. ruft den Juden zu: An Christus führt kein Weg vorbei,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung (8.7.2018). Op. cit., 181. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 840. CRRJ, Orientations, Preamble. http://www.jcrelations.net/Dabru_Emet__A_Jewish_Statement_on_Chr istians_and_Christianity.2395.0.html?id=720&L=3&searchText=dabru+ emet&searchFilter=cat_11. G. D’Costa, Catholic Doctrines on the Jewish People after Vatican II (Oxford: Oxford University Press), 65. Cf. Op. cit. Cf. M. Selzer (ed.), Zionism Reconsidered: The Rejection of Jewish Normalcy (New York, NY: Macmillan, 1970). Cf. W. Brueggermann, The Land (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2002). Cf. Luke 19:41–44. “Scattered, wandering about, deprived of land and sky of their own, they roam the earth without man or God as king, a race to whom there is not accorded the right granted to foreigners to set foot upon and greet one land as home.” Tertullian, “Apology,” in Apologetic Works (Washington, DC, 1962), 7.

4

HARVEST AND HORIZONS: AN APPRAISAL OF NOSTRA AETATE PARA. 4

87

40. Cf. S. Sizerm, Christian Zionism: Roadmap to Armageddon? (Westmont, IL: IVP, 2006); F. Shapiro, Christian Zionism: Navigating the Jewish-Christian Border (Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2015); and G. McDermott, The New Christian Zionism (Westmont, IL: IVP, 2016). 41. Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est (2005), n. 28. 42. Cf. A. Marchadour and D. Neuhaus, The Land, the Bible and History (New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2007). 43. A recent publication lays out important elements of this local discourse: Justice and Peace Commission, Is Peace Possible? Christian Palestinians Speak (Jerusalem: Latin Patriarchate Printing Press, 2019). 44. M. Sabbah, Reading the Bible in the Land of the Bible Today (1993), para. 7. 45. “International law becomes the guarantor of the international order, that is of coexistence among political communities that seek individually to promote the common good of their citizens and strive collectively to guarantee that of all peoples, aware that the common good of a nation cannot be separated from the good of the entire human family.” Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 434. 46. CRRJ, Notes, VI, 1. 47. Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, Righteousness and Peace Will Kiss Each Other (20.5.2019). 48. Cf. N. Lamdan and A. Melloni (eds.), Nostra Aetate: Origins, Promulgation, Impact on Jewish–Catholic Relations (Berlin: LIT Verlag, 2007). 49. John Paul II, Discourse in the Synagogue of Rome (13.4.1986), http:// w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/it/speeches/1986/april/docume nts/hf_jp-ii_spe_19860413_sinagoga-roma.html. 50. Cf. P. Cunningham, N. Hofman, and J. Sievers (eds.), The Catholic Church and the Jewish People: Recent Reflections from Rome (New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2007).

CHAPTER 5

Naming the Fellowship Between the Church and the Jewish People at the Second Vatican Council and in Our Time Elizabeth T. Groppe

Behind the dog-eared pages of the volume of the documents of Vatican II that I hold in my hand are the stories of the lives of many persons— bishops, theologians, and countless people of faith—who contributed in some way to the aggiornamento to which Pope John XXIII invited the Catholic Church when he announced the convocation of the Second Vatican Council in 1959. I will focus in this chapter on threads of two of the stories that lie behind the council.1 One is that of those who began working in the 1930s to outline a reformed theology of Catholic– Jewish relations, an effort that bore fruit in Nostra Aetate. The second thread is the story of French Dominican Yves Congar, whose desire for the renewal of the Church inspired prodigious ecclesiological scholarship that contributed significantly to numerous conciliar documents, including Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. After tracing

E. T. Groppe (B) University of Dayton, Dayton, OH, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_5

89

90

E. T. GROPPE

these two threads now woven into the tapestry of conciliar history, I will read Lumen Gentium’s theology of the Church as the people of God in tandem with Nostra Aetate article 4 to advance the thesis that the fellowship of Christians and Jews can be named as that of the people of God, a position that is supported by post-conciliar papal statements and statements of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and its leadership. It is also a position that raises questions for further reflection that I briefly discuss in the final section of the chapter.

The Theological Genesis of Nostra Aetate Paragraph 4 Accounts of the genesis of Nostra Aetate typically highlight the pivotal role of historian Jules Isaac, a French Jew who lost his entire family save one son to Nazism. Upon learning that Pope John XXIII had convoked a council, Isaac requested and received a papal audience in which he shared a dossier of documentation on Christian theologies of contempt for Jews and Judaism. The history that he outlined in the dossier later published as L’Enseignement du Mépris in 1962 (in English, The Teaching of Contempt, 1964) highlights Christian traditions that interpret the diaspora of the Jewish people as God’s punishment, portray the Judaism of Jesus’ day as degenerate, and name Jews as the “deicide people.” These theologies contributed to social ostracism of Jews living among Christians, deadly pogroms, expulsions of Jewish populations from lands governed by Christians, and a culture in which the genocide of six million people was possible. Moved by his audience with Isaac, Pope John directed the French historian to Cardinal Augustin Bea, President of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. After reflection on Isaac’s dossier, Bea suggested to the Pope in September 1960 that his Secretariat charged with conciliar ecumenical relations could also facilitate relations with the Jews.2 Without Isaac’s initiative and the supportive response he received, the conciliar discussion that ultimately led to the promulgation of Nostra Aetate would not have taken place. And without the work of others less well known, the council would not have had the theological framework necessary to begin the reform of Catholic approaches to Jews and Judaism that it initiated. In From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933–1965, University of California historian John Connelly takes us back in time beyond 1960. Examining theological books and journals, personal correspondence, and other

5

NAMING THE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH …

91

archival materials, he reconstructs a personal and intellectual history that expands our knowledge of some figures already well known in the literature on Nostra Aetate and others seldom mentioned. Connelly recounts a complex narrative to which I cannot do justice here, but among the lives that he limns is that of Hans (John) Oesterreicher, born of Jewish parents in 1904 in Stadt Liebau, a German-speaking community of northern Moravia, where he became a leader among Jewish youth. At age 16, Oesterreicher went to Vienna to study medicine. He also continued to pursue an interest in Christianity sparked when he had stumbled upon Houston Stewart Chamberlain’s Words of Christ in a bookstore and found himself “captivated by the majesty and gentleness of Christ.”3 In Vienna, he read books by Søren Kierkegaard and Cardinal John Henry Newman. Also influential was his experience of the preaching of Max Josef Metzger, a Catholic priest who was an evangelist for ecumenism, temperance, and pacifism. At the age of twenty, Oesterreicher was baptized by Metzger and shortly thereafter joined the seminary. Following ordination to the priesthood in 1927, he served as editor of the ecumenical journal Missionsruf . In 1933, aware of the racism and antiJudaism he had encountered among Catholics in Austria, and alarmed by the rise to power of Adolf Hitler, Oesterreicher approached Jesuit George Bichlmair with the proposal to publish a Catholic journal that would challenge Nazism. He did not foresee that Bichlmair would state of the Jews in a 1936 speech that having “persisted in religious apostasy this aimless and restless people does not possess sufficient salvific powers of grace in order to counteract its defective genetic material or to properly develop its valuable genetic material.”4 Bichlmair also wrote: “The Jews belonged to a particular Volk, to a different race.”5 In 1938, Hitler invaded Austria, and Oesterreicher took refuge in Switzerland. Bichlmair founded an office for the aid of Jews who had become Catholic, a mission that led to his arrest by the Gestapo and exile in Silesian Beuthen. In 1937, Oesterreicher, as editor of the Viennese journal Die Erfüllung, published a Catholic critique of anti-Semitism co-authored with Waldemar Gurian (also of Jewish ancestry) and Karl Thieme. The son of a Protestant theologian, Thieme had served as a professor at the Pedagogical Academy in East Prussian Elbing (in today’s Poland), where he pursued interests in both Marxist politics and the reunion of Protestants and Catholics. He served as editor of Religiöse Besinning, the only journal promoting ecumenical dialogue among Christians in Germany. In 1933, following Hitler’s accession to chancellorship, this father of a young

92

E. T. GROPPE

family was placed in temporary custody by the Gestapo and then informed of a new law that forbade Social Democrats from holding positions in the German state. He could no longer teach in the Academy. Thieme was also shaken by the response of Protestant Landeskirche to the Nazi Arierparagraph that prohibited baptized persons of Jewish descent from holding Church office. One after another, churches in Prussia, Thuringia, Saxony, Lübeck, and Wurtermberg voluntarily accepted this Nazi policy. In Thieme’s mind, this was a denial of the power of grace and a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. In October 1933, Thieme and a circle of other Protestant friends (the “Thieme circle”) wrote to Pope Pius XI requesting admission to the Roman Catholic Church. Protestant churches in the Third Reich, they explained, had given to Caesar (that is, to Hitler) what belonged to the Lord, and worshipped not God but race. Jesus Christ, moreover, “loved his Jewish people, even if unbaptized, with burning heart, as we love our own.”6 Pius did not respond to Thieme’s letter, but, in January 1934, Thieme became Catholic in the Liebfrauenkirche in Leipzig-Lindau, followed by approximately forty other Protestant pastors. Thieme’s 1933 letter to Pius, Connelly comments, may well be the first affirmation in modernity by a Christian theologian of Christ’s love for the Jews of the post-biblical era. Another of the central characters in Connelly’s narrative is Dietrich von Hildebrand, son of an agnostic Protestant father and grandchild of a Jewish woman. Following a cosmopolitan childhood in Munich and Florence, Hildebrand studied philosophy with Edmund Husserl, under whom he wrote a dissertation on the “Idea of a Moral Act” that presaged the personalism he would articulate throughout his life as a countervision to all forms of nationalism and fascism. In 1934, as an émigré in Austria, he began publication of Der Christliche Ständestaat, a journal that gave voice to sophisticated critiques of Nazism. In 1934, Hildebrand published an article entitled “Religious Antisemitism” by A. G. Krauss. In this and subsequent essays, Krauss cited Paul’s letter to the Romans as a scriptural warrant for the position that the Jews have a foundational role in salvation history: their rejection of Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah is salvation for the Gentiles. “A. G. Krauss,” it later became known, was Annie Krauss, a Jew from Berlin who like Hildebrand had studied with Husserl. In 1942, she was baptized into the Catholic Church by Father Metzger, as Oesterreicher had been eighteen years prior. Remarkably, there is more to this internexus of relationships. Oesterreicher and Hildebrand began exchanging letters in the 1920s and met

5

NAMING THE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH …

93

in person for the first time in Vienna in 1933. Their friendship would last decades. And Krauss’s reference to Paul’s letter to the Romans in her articles for Der Christliche Ständestaat attracted Oesterreicher’s attention. This Pauline epistle also figures prominently in the theological horizons of Catholics to whom Hildebrand had connections: German Erik Peterson and the French couple Jacques and Raïssa Maritain. Peterson, a student of Adolf Harnack, held a chair of Protestant theology at Bonn and was the author of The Church of Jews and Pagans (1934), a detailed analysis of Romans 9–11 influenced by Léon Bloy’s Le Salut par les Juifs (1892), which Jacques Maritain described as “a storm of supernatural thunderbolts” that revealed “the divine meaning of human history” and “the permanent witness to which Israel is implacably constrained.”7 Léon Bloy was an essayist, novelist, and antimodernist who shunned the material world. He wrote Le Salut in the wake of the Dreyfus affair (1894–1906), the framing of an assimilated French Jewish army captain for espionage he did not commit and the public outpouring of anti-Semitism that accompanied his arrest, trial, and retrial. (This event persuaded Theodor Herzl that Jews would never be accepted, even in post-Enlightenment Europe; his publication of Der Judenstaat contributed to the development of Zionism as a political movement.) It is patently untrue, Bloy wrote, that Jews are racially inferior to others, for from the Jewish “race” comes our Lord Jesus Christ, God become human, as well as his mother Mary, his father Joseph, his family, the prophets, and all the apostles. The ingrained Christian conviction that God has rejected the Jews is also patently false: Scripture itself attests that God continues to love them (Rom 9:1). Notably, despite Bloy’s critique of racism and anti-Semitism, he spoke of Jews in untruthful and hateful terms. “They have nailed him [Christ] strongly enough [to the cross],” he wrote, for example, “that He cannot come down without their permission.”8 And yet, Connelly writes, it was Bloy’s “epochal achievement … to alert Catholics to untapped meanings in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, chapters 9–11.”9 Thieme and Oesterreicher routinely cite Petersen’s exegesis of Rom 9–11, which Petersen had derived from Bloy. But for some time, Connelly continues, Romans remained an epistle that they had not “fully opened.”10 For example, reproach toward the Jews was so deeply engrained in Thieme’s Christian narrative that in 1944, the same man who was so dismayed by the acquiescence of Protestant churches to the Nazi Areinparagrah wrote in The Church and the Synagogue that Jews are

94

E. T. GROPPE

infamous because of the crucifixion of Christ, and that God is an enemy to them because they reject his witness. At the same time, Thieme was emphatic on the command of Jesus to “Love your enemies.”11 Oesterreicher, who by this time had immigrated to the United States where he was serving in a parish in New York City, read Thieme’s The Church and the Synagogue and pleaded with him to think of Jews not as enemies but brothers. Thieme was unpersuaded. Then, in an issue of Judaica, a journal published by Swiss Christian missionaries, Thieme read Rabbi Lothar Rothschild’s essay “A Jewish View of the ‘Jewish Question’.” In a footnote, Rothschild cautions his audience against Thieme’s The Church and the Synagogue, for it is the work of an “anti-Semite.” These words plunged Thieme into a crisis of conscience that resulted in a theological conversion. Christians, he now emphasized, should speak not of the guilt of Jews for the crucifixion of Christ but of our own sins in relation to Jews who are a people sanctified by God. He “urged Christians to imagine their relation to Jews as ecumenical, like that of younger to older brother.”12 In the aftermath of World War II, the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) was established to support and enhance Christian– Jewish initiatives begun at national levels. At meetings in which Christians engaged in real conversation with Jews, they, like Thieme, began to rethink long-standing assumptions. At a meeting in the Swiss town of Seelisberg in 1947, the ICCJ articulated ten theses that are a landmark in the transformation of Christianity’s relationship to the Jewish people. Jules Isaac was part of this consultation. In 1958, Father Anton Ramselaar convened another international gathering of leaders in Christian–Jewish relations in Apeldoorn, Holland. Participants included Thieme, Oesterreicher, and Benedictine Abbot Leo Rudloff (who, together with Oesterreicher and Gregory Baum, would later serve Bea’s Secretariat in drafting the statement De Iudaeis at the council), among others. At a third Apeldoorn meeting at a retreat house in 1960, this group produced a set of theses to guide Catholic–Jewish dialogue that “shifted the weight of Christian understanding of the Jews to Paul’s letter to the Romans.”13 As Oesterreicher later reflected, they “prepared a place in the Church, intellectually and spiritually, emotionally and theologically, for the Council declaration of which they as yet knew nothing.”14

5

NAMING THE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH …

95

The Theological Genesis of Lumen Gentium ’s Theology of the People of God Connelly describes the retrieval of Romans 9–11 in Nostra Aetate as an act of ressourcement, a return to the sources. It was also the labor of ressourcement that brought to the council scholarship on biblical, patristic, and medieval ecclesiologies in service of the renewal of the Church. In response to the Reformation’s critique of Catholicism and the eclipse of Christendom by the emerging European nation states, the Counter-Reformation articulated a societas perfecta ecclesiology that emphasized the visible and institutional dimensions of the Catholic Church. This approach remained dominant until Vatican II, although there was growing interest in other ecclesiological models. The theology of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ had been advanced by both Johann Adam Möhler (1796–1838) and the nineteenth-century Roman school, which synthesized scholastic theology with biblical and patristic themes. The theology of the Mystical Body was also developed by a number of twentieth-century Catholic theologians (including Romano Guardini, Karl Adam, Yves Congar, Henri de Lubac, Jean Daniélou, Erich Przywara, Sebastian Tromp, and Emile Mersch) and Pope Pius XII’s 1943 encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi. This was followed in the 1940s and 1950s with a wave of scholarly interest in a theology of the Church as the people of God. The Church had been designated a “people” (laos ) in New Testament texts (2 Cor 6:16; Rom 9:25–26; Tit 2:14; 1 Pet 2:9–10; Acts 15:14), and the ecclesiologies of both Origen (185–254) and Augustine (354–430) include reflections on the Church as the people of God. In the first half of the twentieth century, scholars including H. F. Hamilton, Nils A. Dahl, Ernst Käsemann, and H. Strathmann initiated the retrieval of this theology, which served the need of Protestant ecumenists for an ecclesiology that would encompass the whole of the Christian body. Within Catholicism, the emphasis among some theologians on the history of salvation as the context for theological reflection led to a reaffirmation of the Church’s relation to biblical Israel (not the post-biblical Jewish community) and a recovery of an ecclesiology of the people of God. This ecclesiology served the developing liturgical movement and Catholic Action, which emphasized that the Church is composed of people who respond to God’s call.15 Catholic contributors to the recovery of a theology of the people of God included Mannes Dominikus Koster,

96

E. T. GROPPE

Lucien Cerfaux, Yves Congar, Anscar Vonier, and Frank Norris. In the 1950s and 1960s, German scholars including doctrinal historian Michael Schmaus, canonist Klaus Mörsdorf, and Joseph Ratzinger contributed to the growing body of literature on the topic, although memories of the way in which the notion of Volk had been manipulated by the Nazis led some to express reservations about this approach. Nonetheless, the ecclesiology of the people of God remained attractive because it expressed the biblical, historical, anthropological, and eschatological dimensions of the Church. The people of God, Congar reflected, is a “beautiful notion” with which “the Holy Spirit must secretly have inspired everyone … sometime between 1937 and 1943.”16 Congar served as a peritus (theological advisor) at the Second Vatican Council, where his contributions were manifold. These included work on the subcommittee entrusted to draft the schema that would become Lumen Gentium. Congar noted in his council diaries that he took responsibility for the first draft of much of sections 9, 13, 16, and 17, which concern the people of God.17 Council commentators repeatedly note the significance of the placement of the chapter De Populo Dei between Lumen Gentium’s first chapter on the mystery of the Church and the third chapter on the ecclesial hierarchy. Congar believed that the council’s addition of the chapter on the people of God to Lumen Gentium was one of the most important decisions made at Vatican II, a decision that “has the greatest promise for the theological, pastoral and ecumenical future of ecclesiology.”18 In the analysis of ecclesiologist Edward Hahnenberg, “the language of people of God rose in prominence to become arguably the most important way of describing the Church present in the document [Lumen Gentium].”19 But it was a language that had been forged in Christian biblical and theological circles—not in the crucible of Christian–Jewish dialogue—as evident in the case of Congar himself. As a child in the French Ardennes, Congar enjoyed the companionship of Protestant and Jewish children. It was ecumenical work among Christians divided by schism, however, that would become a major focus of the work of this Dominican theologian, not bridge-building between Christians and Jews. During World War II, Congar served with the French army and was captured by German forces and detained from 1940 to 1945. In the camps of Mainz, Colditz, and Lübeck, he encountered Jewish prisoners, but despite this proximity to the Shoah, there is scant reference in his writings to the genocide and near-complete destruction of the Jewish communities of Europe.

5

NAMING THE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH …

97

During the council, Congar met with the Jewish community of Strasbourg, who impressed upon him that “the first council to be held after Auschwitz cannot say nothing about these things.”20 When Complotto contra la Chiesa (Conspiracy against the Church) was distributed widely to the council fathers, it was Congar who attempted to secure a formal conciliar denunciation of this “dreadful anti-Semitic” 610-page book.21 Nonetheless, engagement with post-biblical Judaism simply was not one of Congar’s priorities. “I have never been anti-Semitic,” he told Jean Puyo in an interview. “From my childhood, I have had Jewish friends. But in that era, I did not enter into the profound religious and even dogmatic depths of the Jewish question in the manner of someone like [Jacques] Maritain.”22 Congar’s preconciliar theology did affirm the enduring character of God’s covenant with the Jewish people, citing the letter to the Romans that had become so important to Oesterreicher and others working on Christian–Jewish relations.23 At the same time, Congar continued the long-standing Christian practice of using Judaism as a negative antithesis to Christianity. In a reflection on the recognition of truth through sign and parable, for example, he wrote: the refusal by the “Jews”—in St. John’s sense of the word—always appears as a refusal to go any farther, a refusal to re-examine accepted, well-tried, established positions. “It is known … it is settled …” Openness to, acceptance of, the Good News, is, on the other hand, a positive response to an invitation to “come out of oneself.” It is always a matter of choosing something—more exactly, someone—in preference to the egotistical self.24

And, in Congar’s major work on the character of true reform in the Church, he emphasized that the Church must guard against two dangers, which he named pharisaïsme and la tentation de devenir “synagogue” (the “temptation to become “synagogue”).25 In the essay “The Church: The People of God,” Congar noted that one of the primary reasons the people of God is such an important ecclesiological principle is that it expresses the continuity between the Church and Israel.26 But by “Israel,” notes Erik Borgman, “he not so much means the Jewish people of his time, but Israel as it appears in the Old—or First—Testament.”27 Linking the Church to biblical Israel through a theology of the people of God enabled Congar to stress that the Church is not only an institution that mediates sacramental grace

98

E. T. GROPPE

but also a historical, social, and covenantal body with an eschatological vocation to witness to God’s holy name. The link to biblical Israel also served Congar’s emphasis on the corporate character of the Church, and he repeatedly referenced H. Wheeler Robinson’s work on the corporate realism of the biblical account of the Jewish people. Congar affirmed that God’s covenant with the Jewish people is an essential part of the mystery of God’s plan of salvation. Since the coming of the Messiah, however, he stated in a 1955 address, the people of God is the Church, and there has been a “transference to her of the privileges and characteristics of the true Israel.”28 The Church is the new people of God in the biblical sense of kainos rather than neos —“new” in the sense of a renewal of the life of a subject, rather than a substitution of one subject by another. God does not repent of God’s gifts (Ps 93:14; Rom 9:6; 11:26, 27, 29) in spite of the trespass of the Jews (Rom 11:12). Nonetheless, “the dispensation of Moses is entirely superseded as a religious régime” by a new dispensation of a different quality than the old—a religion of the true circumcision not of the flesh but of the Spirit.29 Another manner of naming the relation of Christians and Jews can result from reading Lumen Gentium’s chapter on the people of God in tandem with Nostra Aetate.

Jews and Christians as People of God: A Reading of Lumen Gentium in Tandem with Nostra Aetate Lumen Gentium’s chapter “The People of God” begins with the affirmation that God desires to save men and women not as individuals but as a people. God therefore established a covenant with the people of Israel and instructed them in holiness. This covenant is a preparation and figure of the new and perfect covenant promised through the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 31:31–34) and instituted in the blood of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 11:25) who calls together “a people (plebem) made up of Jew and gentile, making them one, not according to the flesh but in the Spirit. This was to be the new people of God (novus Populus Dei)” (no. 9). Christ is the head of this new messianic people whose law is love and whose destiny is the Kingdom of God, begun on earth and brought to perfection at the end of time when creation will be free from corruption. All women and men are called to the Catholic unity of the people of God which prefigures and promotes universal peace (no. 13). The Catholic faithful, catechumens, and other Christians belong to the people of God in varying ways (variis modis pertinent ) (no. 13). Those who, possessing the Spirit of

5

NAMING THE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH …

99

Christ, accept the entire structure of the society of the Church and all the means of salvation are fully incorporated into the new people of God; catechumens moved by the Spirit who explicitly desire incorporation are by that wish made part of the Church, and the Church is also joined (coniunctam) to baptized Christians who do not profess the faith in its entirety or have not preserved communion under the successor of Peter (nos. 14–15). Persons who have not yet accepted the Gospel are related and ordained to (ordinantur ad) the people of God (no. 16; cf. no. 13).30 First among these are the Jewish people “to whom the testament and the promises were given and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh (Rom 9:4–5). On account of their fathers this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts He makes nor of the calls He issues” (cf. Rom 11:28–29) (no. 16). God’s plan of salvation, the Constitution continues, “also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Muslims, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind” (no. 16). Lumen Gentium here articulates what theologian and ecumenist Michael Root has called a “scalar” theology of Church membership. Rather than a “yes/no” binary approach—a model in which one either is or is not a member of the Catholic Church—a scalar approach allows for degrees of relationship. Orthodox Christians are in greater communion with the Catholic Church than Protestants. A Protestant congregation is not a “Church” in the full and proper sense, but it does have authentic ecclesial elements; baptism in a Protestant congregation results is a real but imperfect communion. Both Protestant and Orthodox Christians are therefore said to belong (pertinent ) to the people of God in varying degrees. In contrast, Jews, Muslims, and others who have not yet accepted the Gospel are said to be ordained to (ordinantur ad) the new people of God. Implicit in the language of Nostra Aetate article 4, however, is the basis for an ecclesiology that affirms that the Jewish people like non-Catholic Christians pertinent (belong) to the new people of God in a scalar and qualified way. Promulgated eleven months after Lumen Gentium, Nostra Aetate describes the Jewish people as “that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles (Rom 11:17– 24)” and emphasizes “the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham’s stock”—vinculi, quo populus Novi Testamenti cum stirpe Abrahae spiritualiter coniunctus est (no. 4). A feminine

100

E. T. GROPPE

form of the very same Latin word coniunctus is used in Lumen Gentium to describe the relation of non-Catholic Christians to the new people of God: although non-Catholic Christians do not profess the faith in its entirety, they belong (pertinent ) to the people of God because the Church is united (coniunctam) to them through faith in God the Father and Christ the Son, the rule of Scripture, baptism, and other sacraments. Congar explains: Regarding non-Catholic Christians, the Council formally avoids the expression ordinari ad, nor does it speak of belonging in (implicit) desire, voto; it uses the word coniunctam, “to be united.” The idea is that of a real but imperfect communion by means of one or other of the elements that make up the goods of the Covenant entrusted to God’s People, the totality of which is required in order that there be complete or pure and simple communion.31

A similar affirmation can be made about the Jewish people. The people of God of the New Testament are united (coniunctam) to the stock of Abraham by spiritual ties—vinculi, quo populus Novi Testamenti cum stirpe Abrahae spiritualiter coniunctus est. The Catholic Church is coniunctam to Protestants and the Orthodox in a real but imperfect communion through elements of the goods of the covenant (LG no. 15) and coniunctam to the Jewish people in a real but imperfect communion through the vinculi of the covenant itself (NA no. 4). On this basis, it can be said from a Christian perspective that the Jewish people pertinent to the new people of God. Of course, Jews and Christians clearly are not one people of God in Lumen Gentium’s sense of a people with a common sacramental life with Christ as its head and organs of visible social unity. There are fundamental theological and liturgical differences between the Catholic Church and the various forms of Judaism in all their complexities‚ the most significant of which are Christological. Nonetheless, Catholics and Jews share in the covenant of the one God of Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. We understand and practice this covenant faith in different ways. But the fellowship of Catholics and Jews can be named ecclesiologically as a real but imperfect communion among people who each belong (pertinent ) in a distinct way to the people of God. The question of whether or not the conciliar texts would support the development of a scalar ecclesiological position inclusive in some way of Muslims, the other branch of the

5

NAMING THE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH …

101

Abrahamic family tree, I leave to others with expertise in Muslim–Catholic relations. Clearly, the position that the Jewish people pertinent in a distinct way to the new people of God differs from what Lumen Gentium forthrightly states, and this conciliar constitution has a higher level of authority than the declaration Nostra Aetate. At Vatican II, however, the Catholic Church was not prepared for a full reconsideration of the Church’s relationship to the Jewish people. It was, wrote Paulist priest Thomas F. Stransky, an original staff member of Bea’s Secretariat for Christian Unity, both too late and too soon for the Church to begin the reformulation of its teaching on the Jews: too late insofar as the nightmare of the Shoah had already been unleashed in Europe, and too soon in that there had been so little development in Catholic theology on the place of the Jewish people in God’s plan of salvation or the relation of Church and synagogue.32 For this reason, it is appropriate to entertain the possibility of a reformulation of Lumen Gentium’s position on the Jews vis-à-vis the Church as the people of God. That this reformulation is indeed warranted is evident in post-conciliar statements of Saint Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Walter Kasper, and Cardinal Kurt Koch. In a 1980 address in Mainz, West Germany, John Paul II referred to his Jewish audience as “brothers and sisters” and spoke of a dialogue between “the people of God of the Old Covenant, never revoked by God [cf. Rom 11:29], and that of the New Covenant.”33 If we take the theology of Nostra Aetate seriously, states Cardinal Kasper, former President of the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews, “then post-biblical Judaism and the Church are not two covenant peoples: they are the one covenant people.”34 A 2015 statement of this Commission, now under the leadership of Cardinal Koch, affirms that “the people of the covenant of Israel are not disconnected from ‘the people of God drawn from the Gentiles.’”35

Naming and Living the Fellowship in Our Time An ecclesiology that affirms that Jews and Christians both belong in distinct ways to the one people of God raises a variety of questions, challenges, and possibilities for the enrichment of Catholic ecclesiology and Catholic–Jewish relations. In the remainder of this chapter, I will discuss briefly three lines of reflection: the paradigm within which we name the fellowship of Catholics and the Jewish people, the real divisions

102

E. T. GROPPE

and brokenness in this relationship, and the reframing of theological dichotomies. Naming Our Fellowship: A Relation Sui Generis Does the affirmation that Jews and Christians both belong to the one people of God imply that this relationship is intra-ecclesial? When Karl Thieme recognized the Jews not as enemies but as brothers, he described the relation of Christians and Jews in the same terms as those used to describe bridge-building initiatives between Protestants, Orthodox, and Catholics: ecumenical. He named the breach in Catholic–Jewish relations a “schism,” a split like that between Israel and Judah.36 Oesterreicher described the Institute for Judeo-Christian Studies that he founded at Seton Hall University in 1953 as ecumenical in its mission.37 An initial version of the statement that ultimately became article no. 4 of Nostra Aetate first appeared as the Decretum de Iudaeis in Chapter IV of the schema on ecumenism, and then as a second appendix to this ecumenical schema.38 At another stage of the conciliar process, the Decretum de Iudaeis was to be included within the chapter on the people of God in the schema on the Church that became Lumen Gentium. The expansion of the council’s attention to the Jewish people to encompass engagement with all world religions and the placement of the statement on the Jewish people within the broader declaration Nostra Aetate was, as David Neuhaus testifies, a work of the Holy Spirit.39 This is evident in the good fruits of the Spirit—including love, joy, and peace (Gal 5:22–23)—that have come from the fellowship with multiple faith communities enabled by Nostra Aetate. But as the Holy Spirit has continued to work among us these past fifty years, enabling forms of relationship and fellowship across faith traditions largely unprecedented before Vatican II, the limits of treating all non-Christian traditions under Nostra Aetate’s rubric of “other religions” is also apparent. Each of these traditions has distinct features and a particular history, and the relationship of each tradition to Christianity is in some ways sui generis. This is particularly true of Christianity’s relationship to the other two Abrahamic faiths (Judaism and Islam) and true in a special way of Judaism. During the council, according to Connelly, Oesterreicher pulled aside any bishop who would listen to emphasize that the decree on the Jews was about the “inner life of the Church.”40 In 1966, one year after the council, Joseph Ratzinger commented that the decision to develop an

5

NAMING THE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH …

103

initial Declaration on the Jews into the Declaration on Non-Christian Religions “may not have been the best thing to do.” Citing Romans 9, he explained: “These words give the Jews a special place in salvation history and in theology, an image which must not be clouded over.”41 In 1986, in an address to the Synagogue of Rome, John Paul II stated “The Jewish religion is not ‘extrinsic’ to us, but in a certain way is ‘intrinsic’ to our own religion. With Judaism therefore we have a relationship that we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearly beloved brothers and, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.”42 In 2000, Cardinal Ratzinger affirmed that “our dialogue with the Jews is situated on a different level than that in which we engage with other religions. The faith witnessed to by the Jewish Bible (the Old Testament for Christians) is not another religion to us, but is the foundation of our own faith.”43 In like vein, Cardinal Walter Kasper, in his former capacity as President of the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews, wrote that “Catholic-Jewish relations are not a subset of interreligious relations in general, neither in theory nor in practice.”44 And, in 2015, the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews affirmed in their Nostra Aetate anniversary statement “‘The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable’ (Rom 11:29)” that dialogue between Jews and Christians: can only be termed “interreligious dialogue” by analogy … It is not the case that two fundamentally diverse religions confront one another after having developed independently of one another or without mutual influence. The soil that nurtured both Jews and Christians is the Judaism of Jesus’ time … The first Christians were Jews; as a matter of course they gathered as part of the community in the Synagogue, they observed the dietary laws, the Sabbath and the requirement of circumcision, while at the same time confessing Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah sent by God for the salvation of Israel and the entire human race.45

Recent scholarship, the Commission continues, indicates that the separation of the Church from the synagogue did not take place abruptly, and may not have been complete until well into the third or fourth century. Even after this separation, common texts within distinct biblical canons are the basis of a “deeply rooted sense of intrinsic kinship between Judaism and Christianity.”46 The gentile branches draw strength and nourishment from the olive tree onto which they are grafted (Rom 11)

104

E. T. GROPPE

and “would wither or even die if they were cut off from the root of Israel.”47 It is imprecise to classify Judaism as an “other religion,” and yet, at the same time, the fundamental Christological differences between the Roman Catholic Church and Judaism in its various forms are such that Catholic–Jewish relations do not fit under the rubric “ecumenical relations” in the sense in which this term is used in dialogue and fellowship with Orthodox, Anglicans, and Protestants. Christian–Jewish relations are indeed, in the words of the Commission, a kind of “‘intra-religious’ or ‘intra-familial’ dialogue sui generis.”48 The theological paradigm and language in which we name our relationship will shape how we discuss what unites us, what divides us, and how we might envision our future together.

Naming Our Fractures and Divisions That which divides us includes the differences in scriptural canons, theology, liturgy, and polity that developed as the Christian Church gradually became a religious community distinct from Judasim. Unitatis Redintegratio, the conciliar Decree on Ecumenism, describes nonCatholic Christians as “our separated brethren” in order to express both the unity and division in the Catholic Church’s relationship to the Orthodox, Protestants, and Anglicans. A similar language is needed to express both the true covenantal fellowship that unites Christians to Jews as the people of God and our real divisions. “Jews and Christians,” stated Cardinal Kasper, “in our current eschatological interim, are two concurrent parts of God’s one people … co-existing as rivals in the positive as well as in the conflict-ridden sense of the word.”49 We are, in words used by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1949, a “divided people of God.”50 In the wake of the long history of Christian theologies of contempt for Jews and Judaism, it is important that we find language to articulate this division that does not implicitly impugn Jews of apostasy and that affirms the beauty and truth that does exist in the Jewish tradition. In 2001, in this spirit, the Pontifical Biblical Commission recognized the Jewish readings of the scriptural texts that are common to the Jewish and Christian canons, but that Christians read very differently than Jews. Even the “Jewish messianic expectation,” the Commission noted, “is not in vain.

5

NAMING THE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH …

105

It can become for us Christians a powerful stimulant to keep alive the eschatological dimension of our faith.”51 Our language and actions must somehow also express that our fellowship is fractured by the sins of our own Christian history. “You are our dearly beloved brothers,” John Paul II stated in his 1986 address at the Synagogue in Rome, “and, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.”52 The response of many in the Jewish community to such expressions of fraternity and sorority has been extremely gracious. Yet after centuries of Christian contempt for Jews that shaped not only our theologies but also our actions, it is inadequate and inaccurate to affirm fellowship without acts such as the prayer of repentance that John Paul II placed in a crevice between the stones in what remains of the Western Wall in Jerusalem.53 In addition, regional bodies of bishops and the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews have made statements that acknowledge the history of Christian anti-Judaism and its contextual relationship to the Nazi genocide of European Jewry between 1941 and 1945.54 Some of these statements are limited in scope, however, and they are not well known by the majority of Catholics. “It is little exaggeration,” states Edward H. Flannery in the preface to his Anguish of the Jews, “that those pages of history Jews have committed to memory are the very ones that have been torn from Christian (and secular) history books.”55 An ecclesiology of the Church as the people of God calls us to a form of repentance that involves both the magisterium and the full, active participation of all Catholics. It invites a gathering of Christian and Jewish leaders to discuss and develop social forms of truth-telling and deep listening that could be actionable by Catholics and meaningful to Jews.56 In communities throughout the world where Catholics and Jews live in proximity, for example, Catholics could invite Jews in face-to-face gatherings to share their experiences of derogatory speech or harmful actions and their memories of the experiences of their parents, grandparents, and ancestors. We can then ask: what does justice require of us? Have we sufficiently reformed our liturgies and catechetical materials to fully reflect Nostra Aetate? What might Catholics do to support the growth and flourishing of the surviving Jewish communities in Europe? Can Catholics in diverse locales across the globe form bodies prepared to speak and act immediately in response to the increasing incidence of events such as the 2018 mass shooting of congregants at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh? My students inform me that the internet

106

E. T. GROPPE

and social media are replete with hateful statements about both Jews and Muslims. Catholic bishops have issued statements decrying the rising incidence of anti-Semitism but the Church as the full people of God must also act.57 Perhaps the strengthening of face-to-face relationships of sisterhood and brotherhood among Catholics and Jews in local communities around the world might contribute in some small way to fostering fellowship in the midst of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict that has taken and disrupted countless lives of Palestinians and Israelis and strained relationships between Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Middle East and across the globe. In our time, the Catholic bishops who are members of the Holy Land Coordination emphasize, the suffering of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is particularly acute.58 The shadow of the Shoah looms behind the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and the shadow of Christian theologies and practices of contempt for Jews and Judaism looms behind the Shoah. The reality of Jewish experience in a European culture shaped by a contempt for Jews practiced over centuries by many Christians has left a legacy of fear, trauma, and mistrust among some Jewish survivors and their descendants. It is a Christian responsibility to initiate new forms of fellowship in the present.

Reframing Theological Dichotomies Christians historically have defined our own religious identity vis-à-vis the Jewish people in a dichotomous manner, and this has wounded not only the Jewish community but also ourselves. One dichotomy that permeates the Christian tradition is the theology that the Jews are a people of the flesh and Christians a people of the Spirit. In terminology that can be traced back at least to Justin Martyr (100–165), Lumen Gentium states that Christ instituted a new covenant: calling together a people made up of Jew and gentile, making them one, not according to the flesh but in the Spirit (ex Iudaeis ac gentibus plebem vocans, quae non secundum carnem sed in Spiritu ad unitatem coalesceret ). This was to be the new People of God. For those who believe in Christ, who are reborn not from a perishable but from an imperishable seed through the word of the living God (1 Pet 1:23), not from the flesh but from water and the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:5–6), are finally established as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people … who

5

NAMING THE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH …

107

in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God”. (1 Pet 2:9–10) (no. 9)

The Decretum de Iudaeis —the first draft of what ultimately became article four of Nostra Aetate—had in similar vein described the Jewish people as “children of Abraham according to the flesh.”59 Oesterreicher’s account of the genesis of the Decretum notes that a discussion about this terminology took place at one of the plenary sessions of the Secretariat for Christian Unity in Ariccia in November 1961. He emphasized that the expression “‘Israel according to the flesh’ has no pejorative meaning. It does not stigmatize the Jews for any supposed carnality, sensuality, or worldliness. It refers simply to the Israel that has come forth by natural generation, the offspring of the loins of Abraham.”60 Notwithstanding this honorable intention, the language “people of the flesh” is in fact associated in the Christian imagination with the language and images of the “carnal Jew.” Moreover, the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews’ “Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate” (1974) emphasizes that Christians “must strive to learn by what essential traits the Jews define themselves in the light of their own religious experience” (preamble), and Jews do not understand themselves as a people who are one only in the flesh (secundum carnem). The flesh, emphasizes Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, is “material for applying the spirit.”61 The human being, writes Jewish scholar Michael Wyschogrod, is not a coupling of the spiritual and the material but a being of a basic unity that cannot be abstractly separated or divided.62 Jewish identity is indeed a matter of physical descent, he notes, but conversion to Judaism is nonetheless possible through a miracle in which a Gentile is reborn spiritually and quasi-physically as a Jew. This, he notes, opens the door to universalism that Christianity widens.63 A theology that dichotomizes the flesh and the Spirit not only portrays Judaism inaccurately but may also function to hinder a fully incarnational practice of the Christian faith. Moreover, it is in tension with Christian protology and eschatology. Lumen Gentium emphasizes that “in the beginning God made human nature one and decreed that all his children who were scattered should be finally gathered together as one (see John 11:52)” (no. 13).64 Insofar as the Church truly mediates this eschatological communion of the entire human family, it is united by a fleshly bond of birth akin to that which binds the people of Israel. “All flesh (sarx),” John the Baptist proclaimed citing the prophet Isaiah, “shall see the salvation of God” (Luke 3:6; Is 40:5), a promise that begins

108

E. T. GROPPE

to becomes reality through the mystery of the Word made flesh (ho logos sarx egeneto) (John 1:14) in Jesus Christ. From this eschatological perspective, Christians and Jews are a people of God who are one both according to the flesh and in the Spirit.

Conclusion As Connelly reconstructs the personal and intellectual history of Nostra Aetate article 4, he is struck by the fact that many of the key contributors to this development were Jews (Jules Isaac) or Jews who had become Christian: Oesterreicher, Baum, Kraus, Raïssa Maritan, Gurian. “Without converts,” he emphasizes, “the Catholic Church would not have found a new language to speak to the Jews after the Holocaust.”65 So deeply ingrained in the Christian psyche was the theology of contempt that it imbued even the perspectives of Bilchmair and Thieme, who spoke or acted courageously against Nazism. For centuries, Christian discourse and works of art portrayed the Jews as blind because of their non-recognition of Jesus as Messiah.66 And yet we Christians have been blind to the sinfulness of our theologies of contempt and the incalculable pain, suffering, and death that they have caused. It was fellowship between Jews and Christians that made possible the drafting of a statement De Iudaeis which ultimately became the fuller Nostra Aetate, a declaration that was, in the words of Thomas Stransky, “an irrevocable hesbon nefesh, a reconsideration of soul” for the Catholic members of the people of God.67

Notes 1. I am very grateful to John Borelli for his critique of a draft of this chapter and his contributions to its improvement. The limitations and any errors that remain are my own. Some portions of this chapter appeared previously in my article “Revisiting Vatican II’s Theology of the People of God after Forty-Five Years of Catholic–Jewish Dialogue,” Theological Studies 72 (2011): 586–619. 2. John Borelli, “Nostra Aetate: Origin, History, and Vatican II Context,” in The Future of Interreligious Dialogue: A Multireligious Conversation on Nostra Aetate, eds. C. L. Cohen, P. F. Knitter, and U. Rosenhagen (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2017), 25. 3. John Connelly, From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933–1965 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2012), 116.

5

4. 5. 6. 7.

8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

16. 17. 18.

19.

20. 21.

22. 23.

24. 25.

NAMING THE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH …

109

Bichlmair, in Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 23. Bichlmair, in Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 119. Thieme, in Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 123. Jean-Luc Barré, Jacques and Raïssa Maritain: Beggars for Heaven, trans. Bernard E. Doering (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2005), 69. Léon Bloy, in Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 183. Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 185. Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 186. Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 195. Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 199. Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 141. John Oesterreicher, in Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 241. See, for example, Empowering the People of God: Catholic Action Before and After Vatican II , eds. J. Bonner, C. D. Denny, and M. Fraser Connelly (New York: Fordham University Press, 2014). Yves M.-J. Congar, O.P., Preface to Frank B. Norris, God’s Own People: An Introductory Study of the Church (Baltimore: Helicon, 1962), v. Yves M.-J. Congar, O.P., Mon journal du Concile, 2 vols. (Paris: Cerf, 2002), 2:511. Yves M.-J. Congar, O.P., “The People of God,” in Vatican II: An Interfaith Appraisal, ed. J. Miller (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966), 197. Edward P. Hahnenberg, “The Mystical Body of Christ and Communion Ecclesiology: Historical Parallels,” Irish Theological Quarterly 70 (2005): 15. Congar, Mon Journal, 1:357. Cardinal Liénart told Congar that the council could not get into the practice of responding to all the literature that was distributed to the bishops from the periphery, and that another way must be found to respond. Congar, Mon Journal, 1:308–309. Jean Puyo, Une vie pour la vérité: Jean Puyo interroge le Père Congar (Paris: Centurion, 1975), 93. Yves M.-J. Congar, O.P., “L’Etat d’Israel dans le dessein de Dieu,” Parole et Mission (July 2, 1958): 168–87; trans. P. Loretz, “The Religious Significance of the Restoration of the Jewish State and Nation in the Holy Land,” in Congar, Dialogue between Christians: Catholic Contributions to Ecumenism (Westminster, MD: Newman Press, 1966), 448. Yves M.-J. Congar, O.P., The Wide World My Parish: Salvation and Its Problems, trans. D. Attwater (Baltimore, MD: Helicon, 1961), 108–9. Yves M.-J. Congar, O.P., Vraie et fausse réforme dans l’Église (Paris: Cerf, 1950), 155–95.

110

E. T. GROPPE

26. Yves M.-J. Congar, O.P., “The Church: The People of God,” in The Church and Mankind, ed. Edward Schillebeeckx, Concilium, vol. 1 (Glen Rock, NJ: Paulist, 1965), 19. 27. Erik Borgman, “The Ambivalent Role of the ‘People of God’ in Twentieth Century Catholic Theology: The Examples of Yves Congar and Edward Schillebeeckx,” in A Holy People: Jewish and Christian Perspectives on Religious Communal Identity, eds. M. Poorthuis and J. Schwartz (Leiden: Brill, 2006), 265. 28. Congar, “L’Etat d’Israel,” 443. 29. Congar, “L’Etat d’Israel,” 448–49. 30. The Latin is: Ii tandem qui Evangelium nondum acceperunt, ad Populum Dei diversis rationibus ordinantur. The use of the term ordinari to describe the relation of non-Christians to the Church has precedent in both the theology of Thomas Aquinas (who is cited in the note to this section of Lumen Gentium) and Pius XII’s encyclical Mystici Corporis (1943), which stated that those who are not members of the Mystical Body of Christ are ordained to it by an unconscious desire and longing (no. 103). For a detailed and helpful account of the history of the ecclesiological use of the term ordinari and its significance in Lumen Gentium, see Gavin D’Costa, Vatican II: Catholic Doctrines on Jews and Muslims (New York: Oxford, 2014), 89–99. 31. Congar, “The People of God,” 204. 32. Thomas F. Stransky, C.S.P., “Holy Diplomacy: Making the Impossible Possible,” in Unanswered Questions: Theological Views of Jewish–Catholic Relations, ed. Roger Brooks (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 55–58. 33. Pope John Paul II, “Address to the Jewish Community–West Germany, November 17, 1980,” in Spiritual Pilgrimage: Texts on Jews and Judaism 1979–1995, eds. E. J. Fisher and L. Klenicki (New York: Crossroad, 1995), 14–15. 34. Walter Cardinal Kasper, “Foreword,” in Christ Jesus and the Jewish People Today: New Explorations of Theological Interrelationships, eds. Philip A. Cunningham, Joseph Sievers, Mary C. Boys, Hans H. Henrix, and Jesper Svartvik (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2011), xv. 35. Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews, ‘“The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable’ (Rom 11:29): A Reflection on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic–Jewish Relations on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of ‘Nostra Aetate’ (no. 4),” (2015), 43. 36. Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 219–20, cf. 207, 299. 37. Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 189. 38. Borelli, “Nostra Aetate,” 34.

5

NAMING THE FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN THE CHURCH …

111

39. David Neuhaus, S.J., Interview (2015), https://repository.library.george town.edu/handle/10822/1043730. Accessed 29 February 2020. 40. Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 296. 41. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Theological Highlights of Vatican II , trans. H, Traub, G. Thormann, and W. Barzel (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1966), 157. 42. Pope John Paul II, “Address to the Synagogue of Rome,” in Pope John Paul II on Jews and Judaism, 1976–1986, eds. E. J. Fisher and L. Klenicki (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 1986), 82. 43. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, “L’eredità di Abramo dono di Natale,” L’Osservatore Romano 140.299 (December 29, 2000), 1. 44. Walter Cardinal Kasper, “Dominus Iesus.” Address at the 17th Meeting of the International Catholic–Jewish Liason Committee, New York; 1 May 2001, New York City, http://www.bc.edu/dam/files/research_sites/cjl/ texts/cjrelations/resources/articles/kasper_dominus_iesus.htm. Accessed 29 February 2020. 45. Commission, “The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable,” 15–16. 46. Commission, “The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable,” 28. 47. Commission, “The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable,” 34. 48. Commission, “The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable,” 20. 49. Walter Cardinal Kasper, “The Relationship of the Old and New Covenant as One of the Central Issues in Jewish-Christian Dialogue.” Address at the Centre for the Study of Jewish-Christian Relations; 6 December 2004, Cambridge, U.K., http://www.bc.edu/research/cjl/meta-ele ments/texts/cjrelations/resources/articles/Kasper_Cambridge_6Dec04. htm. Accessed 29 February 2020. 50. Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 207. 51. Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scripture in the Christian Bible (Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2002), II.3. 52. Pope John Paul II, “Address to the Synagogue of Rome,” in Pope John Paul II on Jews and Judaism, 82. 53. For the text of this prayer, see https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/ research_sites/cjl/texts/cjrelations/resources/documents/catholic/joh npaulii/westernwall.htm. 54. A statement of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops names the actions taken by Christians against Jews over the course of history—including forced conversions, the massacres during the era of the Crusades, expulsions from England, France, and Spain, and ghettoization—as indefensible sins. It also emphasizes the qualitative difference between this history and the genocidal acts of the Nazis. At the same time, it acknowledges that although Christian antagonism toward Jews alone cannot account for the

112

55. 56.

57.

58.

59.

60. 61. 62. 63. 64.

65. 66. 67.

E. T. GROPPE

Shoah, it “did lay the groundwork for racial, genocidal anti-Semitism by stigmatizing not only Judaism but Jews themselves for opprobrium and contempt.” Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, National Council of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Teaching on the Shoah: Implementing the Holy See’s We Remember (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2001), 10. Edward H. Flannery, The Anguish of the Jews: Twenty-Three Centuries of Antisemitism (New York: Paulist Press, 1985), 1. A full consideration of all the complex dimensions of this proposal is beyond the limits of this paper. In March 2000, the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College will sponsor the relevant conference: Repenting Antisemitism and Racism: Guilt and Transformation, see https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/research_sites/cjl/ pdf/2020%20Corcoran%20Chair%20Conference_Announcement%20F lyer.pdf. Accessed 29 February 2020. For episcopal statements, see http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachi ngs/ecumenical-and-interreligious/resources/news-antisemitism-statem ents.cfm. Accessed 29 February 2020. Holy Land Coordination, http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/ human-life-and-dignity/global-issues/middle-east/israel-palestine/holyland-coordination-communique-2020.cfm. Accessed 29 February 2020. Acta et Documenta Concilio Oecumenico Vaticano II apparando, Series II, Praeparatoria, 4 vols. (Vatican City: Vatican, 1969), II/3:458; English translation in appendix 1 of The Catholic Church and the Jewish People: Recent Reflections from Rome, eds. Philip A. Cunningham, Norbert J. Hofmann, and Joseph Sievers (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007), 191–92. John M. Oesterreicher, The New Encounter between Christians and Jews (New York: Philosophical Library, 1986), 289 n. 23. Abraham Joshua Heschel, Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion (New York: Noonday, 1951), 264. Michael Wyschogrod, The Body of Faith: God in the People Israel (Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996), 66–67. Wyschogrod, The Body of Faith, xviii–xxi. For a contemporary theology of a final apokatastasis, see Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart’s That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2019). Connelly, Enemy to Brother, 5. Emphasis original. See, for example, Heinz Schreckenberg, The Jews in Christian Art: An Illustrated History (London: SCM, 1996). Stransky, in N. C. Tobias, Jewish Conscience of the Church: Jules Isaac and the Second Vatican Council (Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), 52.

PART III

Nostra Aetate: Relationship with Islam and Eastern Christians

CHAPTER 6

Catholic Saints and Scholars: Nostra Aetate and Islam Christian S. Krokus

Between its broad opening and concluding exhortation Nostra Aetate examines the cases of specific religious others: indigenous traditions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism. Here we focus on Islam, hoping to shed some light on what God has in mind for the relationship between Christians and Muslims or at least on a method for making progress in that regard. It is proposed that in the section on Islam there is a three-fold structure of conversion, mutuality, and doctrine and that this structure is also evident in the thought of Louis Massignon (1883–1962), the Catholic scholar of Islam and foremost intellectual and spiritual influence upon the section on Islam, as well as Christian de Chergé (1937–96), among the most important witnesses and implementers of Nostra Aetate. It is further proposed that the threefold structure of conversion, mutuality, and doctrine provides a heuristic model for navigating the next stages in the Church’s understanding of the Christian–Muslim relationship.

C. S. Krokus (B) University of Scranton, Scranton, PA, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_6

115

116

C. S. KROKUS

Nostra Aetate has a past. Most proximately its antecedents are located in the post-Shoah desire to condemn anti-Semitism, in Pope John XXIII’s meeting with Jules Isaac, in Pope Paul VI’s visits to the Holy Land and India, and in the structure and terminology of the encyclical Ecclesiam Suam. It results from the labor of many faithful and often heroic Catholics who patiently and flexibly worked through several drafts and overcame many obstacles in order to see the final text approved. One knows additionally that those popes, cardinals, bishops, and periti were dependent upon a generation of creative and faithful theologians, missionaries, and religious already committed to illuminating the “true and holy” in non-Christian traditions (NA 2). A remarkable feature of Nostra Aetate is that its authors understood it would also have a future. In the document itself the Church “examines more closely her relationship to non-Christian religions,” but going forward she expects to continue that examination “through dialogue and collaboration” with the members of those non-Christian religions (NA 1, 2). Nostra Aetate is aware that it is neither the first nor the last word on the matter. Much work remains to be done. It is therefore wise to take our lead from the insights and judgments of the giants on whose shoulders Nostra Aetate stands, but we must also pay attention to those who have authentically appropriated and implemented the document and experimented with its claims and directives. The point that Matthew Lamb made in general will also prove to have been true of Nostra Aetate in particular: “A common characteristic of all of the great reform councils in the Church has been the generations of saintly popes, bishops, priests, religious, laity, and scholars whose lives after the council embodied much fidelity and devotion.”1

Nostra Aetate and Islam Here in its entirety is Nostra Aetate’s section on Islam: 3. The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,2 who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call

6

CATHOLIC SAINTS AND SCHOLARS: NOSTRA AETATE AND ISLAM

117

on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.

The very first sentence can be read as a call to conversion. Christians are expected to regard Muslims “with esteem.” Thomas Michel has recalled reading that line for the first time as a young priest and wondering incredulously, “We do?”3 Acknowledging centuries of “quarrels and hostilities,” the final sentence anticipates his and our surprise. A special difficulty is presented by the injunction to “forget the past” (praeterita obliviscentes ), which taken literally seems a near impossibility and probably a bad idea, but the phrase could be interpreted to mean that Christians and Muslims should “move beyond the suspicions and conflicts of the past.”4 It could be interpreted as referring not to a one-time event but to an ongoing process. In that case, when Nostra Aetate invites Christians and Muslims to “forget,” it is really asking them to forgo or to cease one way of thinking about the other and to embrace a new way of doing so. Michel writes: “In this perspective, the long history of conflict, oppression, violence, and war between Christians and Muslims must be understood as acts perpetrated by Muslims and Christians who failed to live according to the genuine teaching of their respective faiths or else as the misguided actions of those whose theological vision was too narrow to recognize God’s work of grace within the other community.”5 In other words, Nostra Aetate invites Christians in particular to a conversion— an expansion of theological vision, a deepened and renewed evangelical commitment—from viewing Muslims through the lens of rivalry and hostility to viewing them through the lens of esteem and accordingly noticing “God’s work of grace” among them. The second characteristic of Nostra Aetate’s treatment of Islam, mutuality, flows directly from the first. John Dadosky has brought attention to the language of mutuality across several documents of Vatican II as

118

C. S. KROKUS

it is used for various others outside the Church, in Unitatis Redintegratio with other churches and ecclesial communities, in Gaudium et Spes with the world in general, and in Nostra Aetate with Jews and Muslims.6 In each case, it is implied that in order to be authentic to its mission, the Church must be open to cooperation and to learning with and from various others. Christians and Muslims in particular are encouraged to promote “mutual understanding” and to work together for “social justice and moral welfare,” including “peace and freedom.” On the Roman Catholic side, that work has been carried out formally at the global level by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and at the national and regional levels by delegates of episcopal conferences, but equally important are the informal encounters between Christians and Muslims in homes, schools, neighborhoods, places of work, and so on. No matter the context of dialogue, it is essential for mutual understanding that Catholics listen attentively to their interlocutors. As a result of dialogical and theological work before the Council, some new things were able to be said about Islam and about the relationship between Christians and Muslims in Nostra Aetate, and we turn to those judgments below, but paragraph 3 also looks forward, anticipating development at least potentially in what the Church will be prepared to say at some future date. However, as noted above, getting there depends on the presence of an ongoing, deepening turn away from rivalry and toward esteem for Muslims. Tying understanding to conversion evokes Bernard Lonergan’s reflections on theological foundations in Method in Theology: “If one desires foundations for an ongoing, developing process, one has to move out of the static, deductivist style—which admits no conclusions that are not implicit in premises—and into the methodical style—which aims at decreasing darkness and increasing light and keeps adding discovery to discovery.”7 Frederick Crowe, a prominent interpreter of Lonergan, employs the image of a train passing from station to station but never reaching a terminal: “The settlements look attractive, no doubt, but that is part of our permanent temptation.”8 In terms of Nostra Aetate 3, the temptation would be to reduce the Christian–Muslim relationship to its worst historical moments, thereby foreclosing the potential of responsible, ongoing, and developing mutual understanding and esteem. On the other hand, critics are concerned that a radically open-ended process could ignore or erode the fundamentals and uniqueness of the Christian

6

CATHOLIC SAINTS AND SCHOLARS: NOSTRA AETATE AND ISLAM

119

faith. As Crowe puts it: “We need some reassurance that the train is going somewhere and doing so under some control.”9 Lonergan’s solution (oversimplified here) is twofold. There is what he calls the “outer word” of revelation and magisterial tradition that remains normative for Church teaching, but there is also the need for intellectual, moral, and religious conversion on the part of the theologian: “It must be ensured that positions are accepted and counter-positions are rejected. But that can be ensured only if investigators have attained intellectual conversion to renounce the myriad of false philosophies, moral conversion to keep themselves free of individual, group, and general bias, and religious conversion so that in fact each loves the Lord his God with his whole heart and his whole soul and all his mind and all his strength.”10 As Charles Hefling reminds us, “doctrines are not like buckets passed from hand to hand in a fire brigade”—they “pass from mind to mind,” so their development depends very much upon the kind of subjectivity through which they pass.11 The foundations of a methodical theology are therefore converted theologians, for ultimately “genuine objectivity is the fruit of authentic subjectivity.”12 It is possible to understand the sixteenth-century Spanish in which John of the Cross wrote and also to know something about the late medieval scholastic philosophy and theology that he studied and at the same time not really to understand what John means by the terms “Lover” and “Beloved.” An adequate understanding of those terms would seem to demand some experience of falling-in-love in an unrestricted fashion, which is Lonergan’s understanding of religious conversion, of being a Lover in love with the Beloved. It is important as well for theologians to know and to objectify their own experience of conversion: “There are needed studies of religious interiority: historical, phenomenological, psychological, sociological. There is needed in the theologian the spiritual development that will enable him both to enter into the experience of others and to frame the terms and relations that will express that experience.”13 Thus, “the derivation of [theological] categories is a matter of the human and the Christian subject effecting self-appropriation and employing this heightened consciousness both as a basis for methodical control in doing theology and, as well, as an a priori whence he can understand other men, their social relations, their history, their religion, their rituals, their destiny.”14 If the Gospel, and ultimately God, means to promote ongoing intellectual, moral, and religious conversion through Church teaching and sacramental-pastoral practice, then there is need of

120

C. S. KROKUS

appropriating, understanding, and explaining conversion in oneself, of identifying its occurrence in others, and of identifying its seed in key teachings and practices and in their development.15 Lonergan had in mind a Christian context. How much more complex things become when a theologian is trying to recognize and understand religious experience as well as the terms and relations that express that experience across two traditions. It is one thing to understand John of the Cross, but it is quite another to understand the difference between his use of Lover-Beloved language and that used by Hallaj, Rumi, or ‘Attar in the Islamic tradition. Not everyone will be able to compare the two, and not just because not everyone has the necessary linguistic and theological training, but because not everyone has what Hugh Goddard calls an “inner sympathy” or what Catherine Cornille calls “empathy” toward the customs, teachings, texts, and people of another religious tradition. In A History of Christian-Muslim Relations, analyzing both twentieth-century Christian accounts of Islam and Muslim accounts of Christianity, Goddard makes the following judgment: “For all his undoubted knowledge about Christianity, therefore, rather like [Hendrik] Kraemer with all his knowledge of Islam, [Ismail] Faruqi somehow lacked that inner sympathy which would have enabled him to gain a deeper appreciation of Christianity.”16 Setting aside the details of the Kraemer-Faruqi comparison, what interests us is Goddard’s conviction that a hard-to-define positive disposition is an ingredient to an adequate understanding of the Other. Catherine Cornille likewise requires as a condition of fruitful interreligious dialogue the presence of “empathy,” or “the process of transposing oneself into the feelings, the thoughts, and the experiences of another,” which itself is dependent upon “sympathy,” an “attitude of personal warmth and affection” combined with “openness to the meaningfulness and worth of [another’s] religious life.”17 These thinkers echo the insistence in Nostra Aetate 3 upon Christian esteem toward Muslims and upon the relationship between conversion and understanding. If we want to know what God has in mind for the relationship between Christians and Muslims, then the subjectivity of those who are thinking and praying about it, trying to increase the light and decrease the darkness, adding discovery to discovery, matters very much. There is a falling-in-love, a something-happening-to-me because of my encounter with the religious other that seems crucial for increasing the probability of understanding the religious other and hence for developing the necessary interreligious categories for comparison. If the foundations

6

CATHOLIC SAINTS AND SCHOLARS: NOSTRA AETATE AND ISLAM

121

of theology are converted theologians, then the foundations of comparative theology may very well be interreligiously converted theologians. To the degree that they are authentic, experiencing and objectifying ongoing intellectual, moral, and religious conversion that expands their appreciation for the religious Other, to that degree we may trust them to have reached a corresponding degree of objectivity. That leads to the third characteristic of Nostra Aetate 3, namely doctrines. There are doctrines in Nostra Aetate. As Gavin D’Costa observes, the teachings of Nostra Aetate (and Lumen Gentium) are not simply “phenomenological descriptions of Islam as some claim, nor, as others claim, are they pastoral statements to establish common ground for dialogue containing no doctrine,” but in fact “doctrinal teachings are at stake.”18 Theological judgments are made especially about what Christians and Muslims hold in common. For example, beginning with the second sentence, Muslims worship the same God as Christians; key Qur’anic attributes of God as living, self-subsisting, merciful, and all-powerful are affirmed by Christians. Islam is affirmed as more than a so-called natural religion, since Muslims worship the God who creates and reveals, and they model their own faith on that of Abraham. Muslims honor and express devotion to Mary; they accept final judgment and resurrection; they value the moral life, and they worship God through prayer, almsgiving, and fasting. Muslims even accept Jesus’ virgin birth; all of that can be affirmed as common between Christians and Muslims. A real difference is also identified: “Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet,” but even that is a theological judgment and hence a doctrine. The most casual observer knows that this is not an exhaustive list. There is no mention whatsoever of the Qur’an or the Prophet Muhammad, even though they are indisputably essential elements of Islamic belief and practice, and the Islamic claim to Abrahamic lineage remains uncertain. One might wonder whether those silences represent an a priori foreclosure to the possibility of the Church’s saying anything about the Qur’an and Muhammad or Islam as an Abrahamic tradition. However, as Dan Madigan has written, it makes much more sense to interpret the silences of Nostra Aetate as leaving certain questions open for further deliberation and judgment.19 Nonetheless it bears repeating that ultimately the process described above of conversion and mutual understanding does head toward the positing of particular doctrines. What follows is a brief examination of two Catholic thinkers, saints and

122

C. S. KROKUS

scholars: one who lived and wrote before the Council, the influential scholar Louis Massignon, and one who was born before the Council but who performed his theological work afterward, the Trappist monk Blessed Christian de Chergé, who was murdered along with other Catholic religious during a period of revolutionary violence in Algeria in the 1990s. In each of these men’s lives there is evidence of interreligious conversion, learning via mutuality, and the positing of doctrines, so they might serve (with others) as models for thinking about the relationship between the Church and Islam going forward.

Louis Massignon Louis Massignon, the pre-eminent Catholic scholar of Islam, was once described by Albert Hourani as “the only Islamic scholar who was a central figure in the intellectual life of his time.”20 He was the most significant intellectual and spiritual influence upon the men who were responsible for writing and promoting the texts on Muslims in Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate.21 Not only do those texts echo Massignon’s writings, but there are few other thinkers in the vicinity of Vatican II who were so invested in a positive appreciation of Islam. It is true that the footnote to Pope Gregory VII demonstrates that common worship of God between Christians and Muslims was not a completely new idea, and Gavin D’Costa identifies the seventeenth-century Jesuit Juan de Lugo as a possible historical resource; one could add other key persons in the West like Riccaldo de Monte Croce, Peter the Venerable, Nicholas of Cusa, or Raymond Llull, or even more significantly the figures of the East that Sidney Griffith has studied, such as Theodore Abu Qurrah, who lived, thought, and wrote theologically in Arabic and in direct conversation with Qur’anic and early Islamic theological texts and ideas.22 It was, however, Louis Massignon who in the modern era embodied the positive trajectory one finds in Nostra Aetate 3, and the fact of his influence is especially evident when one considers his close personal relationships with people in a position to shape the Church’s teaching: Pope Paul VI, Georges Anawati and Robert Caspar (two of his students who were responsible for drafting the statements on Islam), Archbishops Descuffi of Smyrna and Plumey of Cameroon, and Melkite Patriarch Maximos IV (all three of whom made crucial interventions on behalf of including a text on Islam in Nostra Aetate).23 It has been observed that Massignon’s “influence in

6

CATHOLIC SAINTS AND SCHOLARS: NOSTRA AETATE AND ISLAM

123

framing the encounter between Christianity and Islam has grown significantly since his death.”24 Whatever the cause, the increased attention to his life and work is welcome and important. Massignon’s May 1908 religious conversion, which he called the Visitation of the Stranger and which would ultimately lead him back to his native Catholic faith, was nonetheless seriously bound up with Islam.25 There was the gratitude he felt toward the Alussy family, who sponsored him in Baghdad and secured his release from Ottoman custody after he was accused of espionage. He claimed that this was the occasion of his learning the values of hospitality and the given word, virtues he would forever after associate with Islam. There was his belief that his Visitation of the Stranger was an encounter with the “Unique, Transcendent, and Absolute God” so familiar to readers of the Qur’an; in order to understand this encounter, Massignon first turned to the biographies and manuals of medieval Muslim mystics.26 And there was his insistence that among those responsible, through intercession, for his conversion was the tenth-century Baghdadi Al-Hallaj, executed for having claimed union with God, who became the subject of Massignon’s doctoral thesis, published and expanded to four volumes in its second edition. Massignon writes in the preface: “Not that the study of [Hallaj’s] life, which was full and strong, upright and whole, rising and given, yielded to me the secret of his heart. Rather it is he who fathomed mine and who probes it still.”27 Across thousands of miles and hundreds of years, Massignon and Hallaj were, somehow, friends, and Massignon’s conversion was, somehow, both Christian and Muslim. When asked whether he accepted Islam, he answered: “I believe in the real, imminent, personal God of Abraham, not in the ideal Deity of the philosophers and of the Devil, and that is the first link that unites me to my Muslim friends.”28 When asked whether there were saints in Islam, he responded: “I have encountered them, and now, forty years later, I can attest that my return to the Church is the fruit of their prayer, and that for me, their neighbor, they are not outside the Church, which I rediscovered with them.”29 When a young missionary criticized the Qur’an and the Prophet to him, Massignon instructed: “There is a phrase of Saint John of the Cross which can serve as a starting point: ‘Whenever you do not find love in something, bring your love into it, and soon you will discover the love!’ You should have brought love to your understanding of the Qur’an; you should have put love into your consideration of the person of Muhammad!”30 The French-born Massignon was very much a Catholic. He was even

124

C. S. KROKUS

ordained a priest in the Melkite rite, and the depth and creativity of Massignon’s Christian commitments have also been documented.31 The point I emphasize here is that his experience of conversion included a love of the God to whom Muslims pray, love of the saints of Islam, and deep appreciation for the Qur’an and the Prophet of Islam. Mutuality is evident in Massignon’s scholarship, which has been characterized as employing an “interiorist methodology.” He followed the maxim of Hallaj: “To comprehend something else does not mean to annex it, but rather to be transferred, through decentralization of ourselves, into the very center of the other thing in question.”32 Massignon described his study of the Qur’an in particular as becoming its guest, meditating on its terms, putting them into practice, and allowing his soul to be drawn by them to God as though by a harpoon.33 He argued it was impossible to understand the lives and writings of mystics, whether Muslim or Christian, unless one were willing “personally [to] redo the moral experiment, reliving the experience by putting himself, at least hypothetically, in the place of his subjects, in order to gain a direct, axial understanding of the consequences of their rules for living.”34 He taught anti-Christian Islamic polemics at the Collège de France and Arab philosophy at the University of Cairo, and he entered into intra-Muslim debates. He was immersed in learning with and from Muslims, and apparently his approach was effective. Louis Gardet remarked: “[W]ithout a doubt [Massignon’s] word-for-word grammatical translation sometimes seems a bit forced. But very quickly one perceives that the interpretation of the text is strangely consonant with that of the surest Muslim commentators.”35 Massignon’s commitment to mutuality is particularly evident in the Badaliya sodality that he founded with his friend and confidant Mary Kahil (1889–1979). The Badaliya, which was intended for Eastern Christians, but which met also in Paris and Rome, cultivated at least imaginatively an immersion in the world of Islam. The members prayed the Fatiha at the beginning of their meetings; they adopted Sufi and Qur’anic terminology, for example referring to the spiritual path as the jihad akbar; they accepted the Qur’anic designation of Christians as Nasara, thereby seeing themselves as part of the Muslim landscape rather than vice versa, and they organized and reported upon their activities according to the five pillars of Islam: shahada, salat, zakat, hajj, and sawm. In all of this, the Badaliya were to adopt “an entirely benevolent, affectionate, considerate, and truly fraternal attitude” toward Muslims,

6

CATHOLIC SAINTS AND SCHOLARS: NOSTRA AETATE AND ISLAM

125

“as far as prudence allows,” which “requires deep penetration,” “fraternal understanding,” and “careful consideration” of the lives of Muslims “past and present, whom God has placed in our path.”36 Massignon and Kahil organized what we would call Muslim–Christian dialogues in Cairo, and as a powerful symbol of the fraternity Massignon meant to inspire, he founded a joint Muslim–Christian pilgrimage to the chapel of the Seven Sleepers in Brittany, France.37 At the same time, the word Badaliya means “the substitutes,” and refers to the Muslim tradition of the abdal, the saints who are responsible, through God’s favor and grace, for spiritually maintaining the societies in which they live through their willingness to take on the suffering of their neighbors. Hence, although the Badaliya members did not seek explicit conversions of Muslims to Christianity, they did understand themselves as interceding with God for their Muslim friends and offering to take upon themselves responsibility for whatever was lacking in Islamic beliefs and practices. As Giulio BasettiSani put it, the Badaliya was an extension of the Pauline missionary program: “To the Muslims I became a Muslim.”38 Still, for its time it was a radical reversal of the colonialist mentality so often associated with mission among Muslims, influencing a wider shift in Catholic missiology to “finding Christ even more than preaching him.”39 Massignon’s long engagement with Islam, which was rooted in reciprocal, mutual hospitality, resulted in his making some theological judgments. He affirmed the sameness of the God of Abraham and the God of the Qur’an, and he accepted Islam’s Abrahamic heritage, especially its claim that Muhammad and the Qur’an represent a return to the religion of Abraham who was neither a Jew nor a Christian (3:67). He accepted a qualified inspiration of the Qur’an and qualified prophethood for Muhammad, and he argued that Arabic played a privileged role as a language of revelation. Borrowing a mathematical category that has to do with a function that returns to its starting point, Massignon introduced the idea of temporal involution to explain that “by a return to the most distant past” Islam “announces the closure of revelation, the cessation of waiting.”40 Massignon understood Islam’s “mysterious infiltration into the Holy Land” as representing the return of the exiled Ishmaelites, announcing the ongoing validity of pre-evangelical, pre-Mosaic patriarchal worship.41 In other words, he found a way to include Islam as one in a privileged family of Abrahamic religions, a term he coined, such that

126

C. S. KROKUS

each was involved in a set of mutually informing and correcting relationships with the others, with Christianity ultimately fulfilling the other two.42 The conversion from fear to esteem and the resulting shift from rivalry to mutuality that we saw in Nostra Aetate are evident in the life and work of Massignon. That he went further, describing the Qur’an as an inspired text, endorsing a qualified prophethood for Muhammad, and accepting Islam’s Abrahamic genealogy, positions that the Church did not adopt at Vatican II, orients the Church’s ongoing examination that she pursues as a result of conversion and in collaboration and dialogue with Muslim partners.

Christian de Chergé In December 2018 Christian de Chergé, French prior of the Trappist monastery of Tibhirine in Algeria, was beatified by Pope Francis along with six fellow Trappist monks as well as Bishop Pierre Claverie of Oran and eleven other companions (including six religious sisters), all killed in the violence that plagued Algeria in the 1990s. The film Of Gods and Men chronicles the Trappists’ last days in Algeria before they were kidnapped by an Islamist rebel group, especially the discernment they entered into and through which they decided to remain in the monastery, even though their lives were clearly in danger.43 The beatification of De Chergé and the others is as much, but perhaps more, a confirmation of the lives they lived than the deaths they died. Pope Francis has remarked: “By beatifying our nineteen brothers and sisters, the Church wishes to bear witness to her desire to continue to work for dialogue, harmony and friendship.”44 Francis’ remark echoes the attitude of De Chergé himself, who was the most significant thinker and prolific writer among the martyrs. Knowing that he may soon be killed, De Chergé says in his Testament that his life was already “GIVEN to God and to this country” many years before.45 In his homily for Holy Thursday 1994, just two years before the kidnapping, Chergé encouraged his fellow monks to persevere in the martyrdom of love, a term he borrowed from St. Jeanne de Chantal (1572–1641) and by which he meant the martyrdom of the ordinary, the giving of oneself to others in seemingly small and often hidden ways. His model was Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet at the last supper: “Washing of feet, the shared cup and bread, the cross… a single commandment of love, a single WITNESS. This is the witness of Jesus, his ‘testament,’ in Greek ‘martyrion,’ the ‘martyrdom’ of Jesus.”46 The primary sense of

6

CATHOLIC SAINTS AND SCHOLARS: NOSTRA AETATE AND ISLAM

127

martyrdom therefore is to give oneself away in love to God and neighbor, even to Judas, and to the extent one has done so one is able to say with Christ: “No one takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (John 10:18). The Catholic monks of Tibhirine thought of themselves as “those who pray among those who pray,” recognizing the dignity and spiritual seriousness of their predominantly Muslim neighbors.47 De Chergé was especially invested in dialogue, which he was convinced would be most fruitful when Christians and Muslims committed to what he called a “long living together.”48 Dialogue was sometimes formal as in the semiannual meetings with the local Alawai Sufi order hosted by the monastery and called ribat as-salaam (bond of peace), but more often dialogue was informal, involving shared labor, celebration, mourning, and prayer with friends and neighbors. De Chergé tells, for example, of his regular encounters with a local Muslim friend, a heating technician by trade. The friends described their spiritual conversations as digging at the same well. One day De Chergé teasingly asked his friend whether they eventually would find Christian or Muslim water in the well, and the friend only half-jokingly rebuked him, insisting that what they would find was none other than God’s water.49 De Chergé tells a number of homespun stories, and the effect is to communicate his profound affection for his Muslim neighbors. In his Testament, he writes that he cannot wish for what he knows will be called “the grace of martyrdom” if it brings scorn on the Algerians and even on his would-be assassin. He knew that “obviously my death will appear to confirm those who hastily judged me naïve or idealistic: ‘Let him tell us now what he thinks of it!’” However, he goes on to say: “But these persons should know that finally my most avid curiosity will be set free. This is what I shall be able to do, God willing: immerse my gaze in that of the Father to contemplate with him His children of Islam just as he sees them, all shining with the glory of Christ, the fruit of His Passion, filled with the Gift of the Spirit whose secret joy will always be to establish communion and restore the likeness, playing with the differences.”50 There is more than esteem here. There is love, religious conversion that involves the building up of the other and never his tearing down, and conviction about the goodness of Islam in the eyes of God. Christian Salenson traces De Chergé’s ongoing conversion through several foundational experiences. The first goes back to the time he spent in Algeria as a child when his father was a French colonial officer there. He

128

C. S. KROKUS

remembers witnessing Muslims pray and his mother telling him, “They are praying to God.” Later he recalled: “I have always known that the God of Islam and the God of Jesus Christ do not make two.”51 Later, during his own service as an officer in Algeria, he developed a close personal friendship with a local police officer named Muhammad, whom he came to think of as a mentor. For example, he felt challenged when Muhammad told him that “Christians do not know how to pray.”52 When some nationalists threatened De Chergé, Muhammad intervened on his behalf, saving his life. The next day Muhammad was killed for that act of friendship. Thereafter De Chergé associated his death with the death of Christ, since both laid down their lives for the sake of their friends, and the identity was so close-knit in his mind that in a reflection on the Eucharist many years later, in a series of statements that include phrases such as “He loved me…” “to the end,” “in his way,” “as I do not know how to love,” it is not clear whether De Chergé is referring to Christ or to his friend Muhammad or to both.53 Another foundational experience occurred during a mysterious night of shared prayer that De Chergé spent with a Muslim visitor to the monastery. After the visitor requested that De Chergé teach him to pray, De Chergé asked God that they be taught how to pray together. For hours they prayed, sometimes together, sometimes successively, the Fatiha, the Lord’s Prayer, the Magnificat, interspersed with periods of pregnant silence. De Chergé later reflected: “It incarnated the immense hope of my calling and made me live for the space of three hours what my faith knew was possible for ever and ever.”54 Finally, in what was perhaps the most dramatic experience, on the night of Christmas Eve 1993 the leader of the local rebels, Emir Sayah Attiyah and his men, who were responsible for the killing of thirteen Croatian and Bosnian construction workers, approached the monastery demanding money, medicines, and Frère Luc, the elderly monastery-and-village doctor. De Chergé refused, explaining the significance of the celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace. There seems to have been a moment of respect between the two men. Later, meditating on the event and considering the danger posed by Sayah Attiyah, De Chergé found he could not ask God to kill the Emir, but he could pray that the Emir be disarmed. Immediately, however, he recognized that he had no right to ask that unless he asked that he and his community be disarmed as well.55 His prayer became “Disarm me; disarm them,” which initially seems odd, but upon reflection strikes one

6

CATHOLIC SAINTS AND SCHOLARS: NOSTRA AETATE AND ISLAM

129

as an expression of the vulnerability and humility called for by Nostra Aetate. De Chergé’s favorite image for dialogue is the mystical ladder: the vertical supports represent the Church and Islam‚ and the rungs represent shared or similar religious practices and virtues. He preferred dialogue wherein the participants keep “their feet on the ground (and even in the manure) but their heads seeking above.”56 Dialogue must be rooted in the ordinary context of its participants, but its potential is nothing less than to realize here and now the Kingdom of God. The ladder “is fixed in the earth, in the religious diversity in which we are immersed. It has its points of contact in God and the communion of saints.”57 Dialogue leads the partners toward God, but the ladder allows traffic in two directions such that dialogue is also the process by which a Christian–Muslim communion of saints that already exists “in heaven” is given expression “on earth.” Edith Scholl has shown how central the virtue of humility was to the character of Christian de Chergé and to his understanding of Christ.58 De Chergé’s rooting dialogue in manure is a case in point. There is a radical openness in his orientation and disposition. He refuses to “let ‘the other’ get fixed in some idea I might have of him, an idea that my Church may have passed on to me, or even that ‘the other’ may say about himself.”59 Unlike Massignon, De Chergé never attempted to explain exactly how the Abrahamic religions fit together, and he seems—though one should not push this too far—less concerned than Massignon about making Christ known among Muslims. He focused almost entirely on discovering Christ among Muslims, in Islam, and in the Qur’an in particular, which makes sense since he lived and wrote within and benefited from the context opened by Nostra Aetate and by Louis Massignon. Salenson observes: Christian de Chergé subscribed to the aims of Vatican II. In fact, he had a singular vantage point by comparison with those who, like Charles de Foucauld and Louis Massignon, found themselves equally shaken by their encounter with Islam but who lived before the council and paved its way. De Foucauld developed a spirituality of Christian presence in the World of Islam, the spirituality of Nazareth. De Chergé owed much to De Foucauld, but his own spirituality took the spirituality of Nazareth further. He and others have benefited from the council’s reflections and from a more explicitly affirmed stance of dialogue both with individual Muslims and with Islam as a religion. Christian de Chergé and his brother monks

130

C. S. KROKUS

were the heirs of De Foucuald and Massignon. They were also the beneficiaries of Vatican II and its declaration Nostra Aetate, as well as being contemporaries of John Paul II and his prophetic gestures.60

De Chergé scrupulously avoided what he called “theological jousting,” but that is not to say the mutuality he practiced was without theological or doctrinal content.61 Among De Chergé’s contributions is to have read the Qur’an according to the monastic practice of lectio divina. He was convinced of the Qur’an’s connection to the “wholly Other,” its capacity to facilitate “genuine spiritual experience,” and that under the right conditions it could even be considered a “shortcut to the Gospel.”62 His comparisons of the Qur’an with the Bible and with the Catholic tradition emphasize commonality and complementarity, but one has the impression that he is also answering Christians who claim uniqueness and therefore superiority for this or that aspect of their tradition. For example, when he read Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Dives in Misericordia, he also undertook a study of mercy in the Qur’an, mainly highlighting areas of overlap with the papal document, but also wondering: “Is it possible to speak in a Christian way about mercy without doing justice to all the ‘keys’ it plays in the hearts and religious traditions of humankind? Are they aware in Rome that no Muslim can read the encyclical without feeling deeply ignored?”63 In a series of chapter talks on the Psalms, Chergé regularly attends to resonances with Qur’anic passages. Reflecting on Psalm 104, “Remember the marvels he has done!” he quotes a verse from Sura 13, which refers to the believer “whose heart expands at the remembrance of God.”64 In reference to Psalm 102, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, do not forget any of his blessings,” he compares a passage from St. Augustine’s Confessions with one from the Islamic scholar Tirmidhi: “The memory that the faithful have of God originates in God…; it is the breath of God’s joy that gives birth to remembrance.”65 And with Psalm 33, “There is no chastisement for those who take refuge in him!” he compares the last suras of the Qur’an that invite refuge in God, and he writes, in an implied reference to Massignon: Astonishing: the most beautiful prayers of the Qur’an are human cries…that breathe the fragrance of the Psalms. We know that the Muslim mystics ruminated on them, unceasingly, even at the price of living them out as far as Jesus did. Thus Hallaj, executed as a criminal, crucified,

6

CATHOLIC SAINTS AND SCHOLARS: NOSTRA AETATE AND ISLAM

131

welcoming his chastisement as a gift from those inspired to be his friends by God himself, and it is to his friends that he addresses himself: “Like Jesus, in the midst of the uproar, everything provokes me to sing. Like Jesus, I have thrown myself into the Psalter; I have removed the veil from the face of ideas.”66

Chergé’s worldview was thoroughly Christocentric, incarnational, and if one can put it this way, Visitation-al. His deep love of Islam allowed him to discover Christ leaping in the womb of a Muslim guest or in the Qur’an itself. About the latter he writes: It seems to me that the Christ of Easter would have something to say about Himself through these [Qur’anic] verses and many others if we could let him encounter us there, as if on a new road to Emmaus. If his Spirit can cause to vibrate with light and joy the letter that hides it, is it not because the One who fulfills all scriptures could also give a fuller sense to this one without changing anything on its face?67

Chergé emphasized the presence of a “greater Christ.” Commenting on the Gospel of John 11:27, “No one knows the Son except the Father,” and echoing Teilhard de Chardin, he writes: “Do we not forget that and believe that to be Christian is to know everything about Christ? God is greater. Allah Akbar. Christ is also greater, inconceivably greater. To proclaim that in naked faith is the best witness (shahada) one could render to his divinity.”68 Christians have something to learn about Jesus from Islam, both in the Qur’an’s specific presentation of him and in a spiritual reading that sees all scripture as pointing to Christ, but they also have something to learn about Islam from Jesus. De Chergé was fond of saying that Jesus is the only Muslim because he was all “yes” to the Father. Citing Matthew 11:29, “Learn from me for I am gentle and humble of heart,” De Chergé writes: “Thanks to Jesus we know that only God is humble. Our poor groping efforts to embody the [humble] image [of Jesus] proclaim in their own way what Islam already professes: the transcendence and humility of the Unique One.”69 Associating the humility of Christ with divine transcendence allows De Chergé to recognize in Jesus the incarnate God of both the Bible and Qur’anic traditions, even if Muslims themselves could not agree with that formulation. Humility is key: “It is impossible to be convinced [that Christ can be encountered in Islam] if one does not approach the Qur’anic text with a poor and

132

C. S. KROKUS

disarmed heart, ready to listen to every word that comes from the mouth of the Most-High.”70

Conclusion In his book about Vatican II and its teachings on Jews and Muslims, Gavin D’Costa concludes that the Council “wisely adopts an in-between status for Islam.”71 Islam stands between the special relationship the Church enjoys with Judaism and the relationship she has with other non-Christian religions. Or, as Pim Valkenberg observes: “[An] indirect recognition of the faith of Muslims seems to reflect a position halfway between the default historical approach to Muslims as unbelievers and our present-day inclination to recognize their faith as true faith in the One God whom they adore together with us, as the Council affirms twice.”72 D’Costa is convinced that the Council “formally rejected” a historical understanding of Islam’s Abrahamic lineage and “implicitly rejected” any endorsement of the Qur’an and Muhammad.73 He concludes: “It is difficult to see what possible historical understanding of Islam could come to light that would make it equal to Judaism, for its scriptures are not part of the universally accepted inspired scriptural tradition of Christians.”74 D’Costa’s interpretation could turn out to be correct, but as Francis Clooney has argued, it could also be that “D’Costa…is making clear what was designedly not clear in Nostra Aetate itself.”75 An examination of Nostra Aetate, Louis Massignon, and Christian de Chergé suggests that any judgments about the status of Islam in relation to the Church or about Islam’s constitutive elements ought to be made incrementally—decreasing darkness and increasing light, adding discovery to discovery—and as a result of mutual collaboration and dialogue between Christians and Muslims. At the center must be ongoing, deepening conversion, a falling-in-love with God that expands and deepens Christians’ love for their Muslim neighbors and for Islam, including for the Qur’an and for the Prophet Muhammad. In other words, while remaining faithful to what we know of what God has in mind for the relationship between Christians and Muslims according to the outer word of revelation and tradition, we must remain faithful also to what God is creatively working in and through converted Christians and Muslims. We must be patient with the process, trusting that “God loves a slow-learning people.”76 Pope Francis has emphasized as much, arguing that “time is greater than space” and that

6

CATHOLIC SAINTS AND SCHOLARS: NOSTRA AETATE AND ISLAM

133

“giving priority to time means to be concerned about initiating processes rather than possessing spaces.”77 He has also emphasized dialogue as necessary for theology, encouraging “mutual knowledge among Christian, Jewish, and Muslim students,” allowing for dialogue with “sacred texts, such as the Bible, the Talmud, and the Qur’an,” and enlisting “Charles de Foucauld, the monks of Tibhirine, and the bishop of Oran Pierre Claverie” as important dialogical witnesses.78 Nostra Aetate opened and encouraged interreligious encounter and made possible the formation of “an abundance of interreligious friendships.”79 We must now pay attention to interreligious friends who can identify and explain their experiences of what is different and what is shared, what constricts theological vision and what expands it, what impedes conversion and what promotes it across religious lines, for as we have seen in Nostra Aetate itself and in the scholarly and saintly examples of Louis Massignon before the Council and Christian de Chergé after the Council, friendship rooted in dialogue and love is the Catholic way toward development of further Christian–Muslim understanding and teaching.

Notes 1. Lamb, Matthew. “The Challenges of Reform and Renewal within Catholic Tradition,” in Vatican II: Renewal Within Tradition. Lamb, Matthew and Levering, Matthew, eds. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008: 441. 2. Cf. St. Gregory VII, letter XXI to Anzir (Nacir), King of Mauritania (Pl. 148, col. 450f.). 3. Michel, Thomas. “A Catholic Priest Among Muslims: What I Have Learned,” University of Scranton, 22 March 2012: https://www.youtube. com/watch?time_continue=5&v=wtCw55nh7pM&feature=emb_title. 4. Michel, Thomas. “Islam and Terrorism,” in A Christian View of Islam: Essays on Dialogue. Omar, Irfan, ed. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2010: 153. 5. Michel, “Islam”: 153. 6. Dadosky, John. “The Church and the Other: Mediation and Friendship in Post-Vatican II Roman Catholic Ecclesiology,” Pacifica 18 (2005): 304. 7. Lonergan, Bernard. Method in Theology. New York: Seabury, 1972: 270. 8. Crowe, Frederick. “Theology and the Future: Responsible Innovation,” in Appropriating the Lonergan Idea. Vertin, Michael, ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006: 270–71. 9. Crowe, “Theology”: 271. 10. Lonergan, Method: 270.

134 11. 12. 13. 14. 15.

16. 17. 18. 19. 20.

21.

22.

23.

24. 25.

26. 27.

C. S. KROKUS

Hefling, Charles. Why Doctrines? Cambridge: Cowley, 1984: 134. Lonergan, Method: 292. Lonergan, Method: 290. Lonergan, Method: 292. Neil Ormerod has helpfully shifted the Vatican II interpretive debates from continuity-discontinuity to authentic-unauthentic vis-à-vis observable doctrinal developments. See Ormerod, Neil. “Vatican II—Continuity or Discontinuity? Toward and Ontology of Meaning,” Theological Studies 71 (2010): 609–36. Goddard, Hugh. A History of Christian-Muslim Relations. Chicago: New Amsterdam Press, 2000: 162. Cornille, Catherine. The Im-Possibility of Interreligious Dialogue. New York: Herder & Herder, 2008: 138, 153. D’Costa, Gavin. Vatican II: Catholic Doctrines on Jews and Muslims. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014: 168. Madigan, Daniel. “Nostra Aetate and the Questions It Chose to Leave Open,” Gregorianum 87 A (2006): 781–96. O’Mahony, Anthony. “Louis Massignon: A Catholic Encounter with Islam and the Middle East,” in God’s Mirror: Renewal and Engagement in French Catholic Intellectual Culture in the Mid-Twentieth Century. New York: Fordham University Press, 2015: 230. Krokus, Christian. “Louis Massingon’s Influence on the Teaching of Vatican II on Muslims and Islam,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 3 (2012): 329–45; Krokus, Christian. “Louis Massignon: Vatican II and Beyond,” Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 55.3-4 (2014): 433–50. D’Costa, Vatican II : 182; Griffith, Sidney. The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. George-Tvrtkovic, Rita. “Meryem Ana Evi, Marian Devotion, and the Making of Nostra Aetate 3,” The Catholic Historical Review 103.4 (2017): 755–81. O’Mahony, “Louis Massignon”: 230. See Massignon, Daniel. Le Voyage en Mesopotamie et la Conversion de Louis Massignon en 1908. Paris: Cerf, 2001; Massignon, Louis. “Visitation of the Stranger: Response to an Inquiry about God,” in Testimonies and Reflections: Essays of Louis Massignon. Mason, Herbert, tr. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989. Mason, Herbert. Memoir of a Friend: Louis Massignon. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 1988: 27. Massignon, Louis. The Passion of al-Hallaj: Mystic and Martyr of Islam Vol. 1. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982: lxv.

6

CATHOLIC SAINTS AND SCHOLARS: NOSTRA AETATE AND ISLAM

135

28. Massignon, Louis. “Le Signe Marial, la position ‘interioriste’ de L. Massignon,” in Écrits Mémorables Vol. 1. Jambet, Christian, ed. Paris: Robert Laffont, 2009: 213. 29. Massignon, “Le Signe”: 220. 30. Quoted in Basetti-Sani, Giulio. Muhammad, St. Francis of Assisi and Alvernia. Florence: S. Francesco-Fiesole, 1975: 9. 31. Harpigny, Guy. Islam et Christianisme selon Louis Massignon. Louvainla-Neuve: Centre de d’histoire des religions de l’Université Catholique de Louvain-la-Neuve, 1981; O’Mahony, Anthony. “Louis Massignon as Priest: Eastern Christianity and Islam,” Sobornost 29.1 (2007): 6–41; Krokus, Christian. The Theology of Louis Massignon: Islam, Christ, and the Church. Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press, 2017. 32. Quoted in Basetti-Sani, Giulio. Louis Massignon: Christian Ecumenist. Cutler, Alan, tr. Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1974: 148. 33. Massignon, Louis. “L’éxperience mystique et les modes de stylisation littéraire,” Écrits Mémorables Vol. 2. Jambet, Christian, ed. Paris: Robert Laffont, 2009: 288. 34. Massignon, Louis. Essay on the Origins of the Technical Language of Islamic Mysticism. Clark, Benjamin, tr. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003: 39. 35. Gardet, Louis. “Esquisse de quelques themes majeurs,” in Louis Massignon. Six, Jean-François, ed. Paris: Éditions L’Herne, 1970: 74. 36. Massignon, Louis. Badaliya: Au nom de l’autre (1947 –1962). Borrmans, Maurice and Jacquin, Françoise, eds. Paris: Cerf, 2011: 51. 37. O’Mahony, Anthony. “Louis Massignon, the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus and the Christian Muslim Pilgrimage at Vieux-Marché, Brittany,” in Explorations in a Christian Theology of Pilgrimage. Bartholomew, Craig and Hughes, Fred, eds. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004: 126–48. 38. Basetti-Sani, Louis Massignon: 105. 39. O’Mahony, “Louis Massignon”: 236. 40. Massignon, Louis. Les trois prières d’Abraham. Paris: Cerf, 1997: 65. 41. Massignon, Louis, “The Three Prayers of Abraham,” in Testimonies and Reflections: Essays of Louis Massignon. Mason, Herbert, tr. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989: 14. 42. Massignon, Louis. Les trois prières: 135; Stroumsa, Guy. “From Abraham’s Religion to the Abrahamic Religions,” Historia Religionum 3 (2011): 20. 43. See John Kiser. The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2002. 44. Bordoni, Linda. “Pope: Martyrs of Algeria Sign of Brotherhood for the World,” Vatican News (vaticannews.va, 8 December 2018). 45. Reproduced in Salenson, Christian. Christian de Chergé: A Theology of Hope, Conic, Nadia, tr. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2012: 199.

136

46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56. 57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72.

73. 74. 75.

C. S. KROKUS

Unless from a secondary source, translations of De Chergé are mine. Usage of all-caps is original to De Chergé. Chergé, Christian de. L’invincible espérance. Montrouge: Bayard Éditions, 2010: 225. Salenson, Theology: 185. Salenson, Theology: 107. Salenson, Theology: 50. Salenson, Theology: 201. Salenson, Theology: 42. Salenson, Theology: 24. Salenson, Theology: 26. Salenson, Theology: 28. De Chergé, L’invincible: 314. Salenson, Christian. L’échelle mystique du dialogue de Christian de Chergé. Montrouge: Bayard Éditions, 2016: 22. Salenson, Theology: 63. Scholl, Edith. “Christian de Chergé on Humility,” Cistercian Studies Quarterly 41.2 (2006): 193–215. Salenson, Theology: 40. Salenson, Theology: 49. Salenson, Theology: 55. Salenson, Theology: 69, 72. Salenson, Theology: 43. Chergé, Christian de. “Chapter Talks on the Psalms,” Cistercian Studies Quarterly 51.1 (2016): 106. De Chergé, “Chapter”: 107. De Chergé, “Chapter”: 117–18. Salenson, L’échelle: 52. Salenson, L’échelle: 42–43. Salenson, L’échelle: 59. Salenson, L’échelle: 53. D’Costa, Vatican II : 180. Valkenberg, Pim. “Nostra Aetate: Historical Contingency and Theological Significance,” in Nostra Aetate: Celebrating 50 Years of the Catholic Church’s Dialogue with Jews and Muslims. Valkenberg, Pim and Cirelli, Anthony, eds. Catholic University of America Press, 2016: 24. D’Costa, Vatican II : 180. D’Costa, Vatican II : 185. Clooney, Francis. X. “Nostra Aetate and the Catholic Way of Openness to Other Religions,” in Nostra Aetate: Celebrating 50 Years of the Catholic Church’s Dialogue with Jews and Muslims. Valkenberg, Pim and Cirelli, Anthony, eds. Catholic University of America Press, 2016: 69.

6

CATHOLIC SAINTS AND SCHOLARS: NOSTRA AETATE AND ISLAM

137

76. Crowe, Frederick. Christ and History: The Christology of Bernard Lonergan from 1935 to 1982. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015: 221. 77. Pope Francis. Evangelii Gaudium: Apostolic Exhortation on the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World (24 November 2013): 223. 78. Pope Francis. Address to the participants in a meeting on the theme of “Theology After Veritatis Gaudium in the Context of the Mediterranean” (Naples, 21 June 2019). 79. Fredericks, James. “Introduction,” in Interreligious Friendship After Nostra Aetate. Fredericks, James and Tiemeier, Tracy, eds. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015: 1.

CHAPTER 7

From the Margins to the Center: Exploring Nostra Aetate in the Lives of Charles de Foucauld, Louis Massignon, and Pierre Claverie Isabel Olizar

The Second Vatican Council’s teaching on dialogue with Muslims drew on deep theological and ecclesial roots, including the lives of the Frenchmen Charles de Foucauld (1858–1916) and Louis Massignon (1883–1962). De Foucauld and Massignon returned to faith through their encounters with Muslims and the Muslim World and in response lived vocations witnessing to their faith to Muslims. De Foucauld lived among the Tuareg in Algeria, present as a brother and a friend. Massignon—Melkite Priest, scholar and diplomat—lived a life committed to Muslims and proposed to the Church a new theological framework in which to approach Muslims.

I. Olizar (B) Brasilia, Brazil

© The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_7

139

140

I. OLIZAR

The teaching of the Second Vatican Council on dialogue with Muslims affirmed that Christians and Muslims together adore the one God, described in a positive way aspects of Muslim piety and faith, and committed the Church to dialogue and cooperation with Muslims. Nostra Aetate’s teaching on dialogue with Muslims is framed within a wider context which emphasizes the unity of humanity as it seeks God and calls for all people, created in the image of God, to be treated in a brotherly manner. The conciliar teaching affirmed many of the instincts and insights of de Foucauld and Massignon. The vocation of Pierre Claverie O.P. (1938–1996) continued a development of French Catholic thought in the decades after the Council. Born in French Algeria, Claverie chose to return to independent Algeria as the Church reflected upon how it should be present in a Muslim country. Claverie was committed to dialogue with Muslims, building relationships marked by trust and friendship, and witnessing to his faith through the Church’s loving presence in Algeria, even as Algeria descended into violence. Claverie’s approach to dialogue was shaped by the teaching of Nostra Aetate, but also by the Council’s teaching on religious freedom, Dignitatis Humanae. Claverie was assassinated in 1996. Together with eighteen other religious martyred during this period, he was beatified in 2018.

Roots of Nostra Aetate: The Witness of Charles de Foucauld and Louis Massignon Courbe de la vie The idea of courbe de la vie (the cycle or curve of life) was important to Massignon, and there are significant parallels between the lives of de Foucauld and Massignon.1 Born decades apart, both were raised in the Catholic faith, but then came to lose their faith. Against the background of French colonialism, they were drawn to the Muslim World. De Foucauld joined the military academy at nineteen, and was assigned to Algeria in 1880. He left the army and in 1883, embarked on an arduous and dangerous exploration of Morocco. Disguised as a Jew, he was able to experience Muslim culture and society at a time when Morocco was closed to Europeans. In Morocco de Foucauld returned to belief in God, and, after his return to France, in 1886 to the Catholic Church.2

7

FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTER …

141

Massignon’s interest in the Orient led to academic enquiry into the tenth-century Muslim mystic Al-Husayn ibn Mansur al Hallaj.3 In 1907, while in Iraq as part of an official archaeological mission, he was arrested by Ottoman officials as a French spy.4 Massignon was put on a boat on the Tigris to Baghdad where he underwent a physical and spiritual crisis.5 It led to a profound mystical experience of the presence of God, prompting Massignon to return to the Catholic Church. The scholar Ariana Patey notes that de Foucauld and Massignon were not unique in their returning to Christianity in response to encounters with Muslims and with Islam.6 However, she argues that what holds their vocations together in a special way is that “The summoning of God that they both felt issuing from Islam, was converted into a sense of profound need to reciprocate this witness that marked their Christian spirituality.”7 Having returned to the Christian faith, de Foucauld continued to be drawn to the Muslim World.8 He joined the Trappists and in 1890 entered Notre-Dame du Sacré-Coeur, near Akbes (Syria).9 He left the order in 1897 and went to the Holy Land. In 1901 he was ordained in France, but instead of returning to the Holy Land as he had intended, felt called to Algeria. He founded a hermitage next to the French military base at Beni Abbes, and in 1905 he founded a second hermitage in Tamanrasset, in the south of Algeria among the Hoggar mountains, where he lived in poverty and simplicity among the Berber Tuareg.10 He remained there until his death amidst the violence of the First World War in 1916. Before his conversion experience, Massignon had sent de Foucauld his study of Leo Africanus. He received a response in 1908 which initiated a lifelong friendship between the two men.11 While de Foucauld hoped that Massignon might become his successor, Massignon chose, in a difficult decision, to marry.12 Massignon’s life is hard to define given the multiplicity of ways in which he was engaged in the world: a Catholic intellectual; a priest of the Melkite rite; engaged in French diplomatic activity from the First World War to the Algerian crisis; an academic of Islamic studies and professor at Collège de France; and an advocate for the rights of Muslims in France, Algeria, and Palestine after the Second World War.13 Anthony O’Mahony argues that what holds these diverse activities together is always Islam and the Christian engagement with the Muslim World.14

142

I. OLIZAR

De Foucauld’s Witness to Muslims De Foucauld’s return to faith was prompted by the Muslim adoration of God he witnessed in the deserts of North Africa.15 The scholar Ian Latham writes: “He will never deny the truth and grandeur of the basic Muslim affirmation, ‘God is great,’ and the corresponding natural obligation of all humans to ‘adore’.”16 However, de Foucauld saw the Muslim understanding of God as incomplete. “Islam has not enough contempt for creatures to be capable of teaching a love of God worthy of God: without chastity and poverty, love and adoration remain very imperfect.”17 Indeed, Patey suggests that de Foucauld understood Islam “in a traditionally Christian way, as a heresy.”18 Nevertheless, de Foucauld made a distinction “between the reality of Muslim piety and the elements of Islam that he disagreed with.”19 He prayed alongside the Tuareg and devised prayer beads for use by Christians and Muslims.20 It was de Foucauld’s Christian spirituality that shaped how he approached Muslims. In 1888 on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, de Foucauld, with a profound sense of walking in the footsteps of Christ, developed a desire to imitate Christ, to live among the lowest in society, to love all people, and so to reveal God made man who loves humanity.21 Training for the priesthood in France, de Foucauld came to realize that “the life of Nazareth which appeared to be my vocation must be led not in my beloved Holy Land, but among souls most in need of the physician, sheep most in need of a shepherd.”22 He returned to Algeria to establish a “fraternity” as a “presence” among the local Muslims.23 The brotherhood of humanity was an important aspect of de Foucauld’s thought and approach. He wrote while at Beni Abbes that “I want all of the inhabitants – Christian, Muslim, and Jew – to see me as their brother, the universal brother.”24 Latham suggests that “The word ‘brother’ is for him a summons to welcome the other who comes in their ‘otherness’ and concrete difference, while acknowledging what is ‘common,’ their humanity.”25 At Beni Abbes, de Foucauld lived apart from the military base. Latham emphasizes how in Tamanrasset, de Foucauld sought to be closer to those among whom lived, joining the Tuareg settlement. Latham writes, “Did not Jesus choose to live ‘with us,’ as ‘one of us’? That was, as always, his underlying motive.”26 At Tamanrasset, de Foucauld sought to make Christ present among the Tuareg through the celebration of

7

FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTER …

143

the Eucharist, and through his physical presence, demonstrating love and friendship for the Tuareg, so they might ask who is the master.27 De Foucauld’s witness to Muslims can be understood as that of a missionary, but undertaken, as Patey argues, from within his eremitical vocation and spirituality.28 Latham expands on the concept of de Foucauld’s missionary work: For to evangelize, for him, was essentially to “make Jesus present”; not in word but “in person”; not in an open way (that would be the way of the “militant spirit”), but hidden, “incognito” we might say, in the human actions of the human person who is simply there as a “friend,” not as an “interested” friend, with some concealed ulterior aim, but with the gratuity of true friendship. For the living of friendship is itself the evangelization, the “making present of Jesus,” and any “conversion,” if it happens, is God’s work alone.29

De Foucauld was beatified by the Roman Catholic Church in 2005. In his statement on the beatification, Benedict XVI affirmed the ecclesial significance of de Foucauld’s vocation and witness: Let us give thanks for the witness borne by Charles de Foucauld. In his contemplative and hidden life in Nazareth, he discovered the truth about the humanity of Jesus and invites us to contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation; in this place he learned much about the Lord, whom he wanted to follow with humility and poverty. He discovered that Jesus, who came to join us in our humanity, invites us to universal brotherhood, which he subsequently lived in the Sahara, and to love, of which Christ gave us the example. As a priest, he placed the Eucharist and the Gospel at the heart of his life, the two tables of the Word and of the Bread, source of Christian life and mission.30

Massignon’s Witness to Muslims Massignon understood himself as a spiritual successor to de Foucauld. A source of discontinuity between the two, however, was the extent to which Massignon reflected theologically and mystically on the Islamic religion.31 Massignon developed a “credo” of Islam.32 His “central, and influential, theologoumenon” was his conviction that Christians and Muslims together worship the God of Abraham.33 Massignon considered

144

I. OLIZAR

Abraham the ancestor of the Arabs, and so of Muhammad, a matter of considerable theological significance. As Sidney H. Griffith writes, this assertion “not only provides the Arabs with a quasi-biblical genealogy, but it gives Muhammed himself a connection to the patriarch Abraham, and potentially a natural, if not a scriptural legitimacy in the eyes of Christians.”34 For Massignon, Abraham is a means to hold together Christianity and Islam, as well as Judaism. Islam is an “Abrahamic schism, prior to the Ten Commandments, the foundation of Judaism and to Pentecost, the foundation of Christianity.”35 However, it was Massignon’s Christian faith which was at the heart of how he approached Muslims and the Islamic religion. Indeed, “The most complex and intriguing contradiction in Massignon, is that this friend of Islam becomes ever more Christian.”36 De Foucauld provided a lifelong spiritual model for Massignon. Massignon was also inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, considering him as “not only one of the most ‘compassionate’ men in the history of civilization, but also the first Western Christian to preach, by example, as well as by words, the principle of non-violence, as opposed to the war-like ideology of the Crusades … to preach the principle that only with love should we confront those who appear to be our enemies.”37 Of particular significance to Massignon was the encounter between St. Francis and Malik al-Kamil, the Sultan of Egypt, at Damietta during the Fifth Crusade.38 It was in Damietta in 1934 that Massignon shared a mystical experience with his friend Mary Kahil that led to the foundation of the Badaliya, a fraternity of mystical self-offering for Islam.39 Mary Kahil was a Melkite Greek Catholic, the Church into which Massignon was ordained in 1950. Through this priesthood, Massignon was present in a mystical way in the Muslim World.40 Richard Sudworth writes: “Priesthood was a natural culmination, for Massignon, of the Badaliya community of intercession for Islam. That these prayers could be offered in Arabic and in the land of the Arabic peoples was altogether more fitting: Massignon the priest offering a sacrifice to God on behalf of the Muslim World, and as a bridge between the churches of the West and East.”41 Massignon called for a “Copernican Revolution” on the part of Christians in their approach to Muslims. Christian Krokus writes: “The revolution is for him akin to conversion; it means falling in love with God so that one approaches other persons in the specificity of the institutions and religions to which they belong with the eyes of someone in

7

FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTER …

145

love with God the creator of those persons.”42 Massignon’s esteem for the other was shaped by his idea of la point vierge, “the ‘virginal point’ in the human heart touched only by God.”43 Anthony O’Mahony emphasises the importance of Massignon’s personal vision of dialogue with Muslims: According to Massignon the Christian must not study the Muslim as an object, nor summarize his positive and negative value, nor dissect him like a piece of anatomy (an image used by Massignon). He has to welcome him (and before that to make himself be welcomed by him) like as ‘evening visitor’ sent by God, like the mysterious hosts of Abraham. He has to accept him as he is and wants to be, respecting in him the vocation which God has assigned to him and collaborating with him, in a mutual exchange, with a view to the accomplishment of the will of God for each of us.44

The Second Vatican Council’s Teaching on Dialogue with Muslims The Second Vatican Council had not intended to address dialogue with Muslims.45 This came to be included in the conciliar reflections as a consequence of John XXIII’s commitment to address the Church’s relations with the Jews. There were concerns from within the Muslim World (from both Muslims and Christians) that the schema on the Jews would move the Holy See toward a political rapprochement with Israel, including establishing diplomatic relations.46 Rather than removing the schema on the Jews, this text instead came to include a reflection on dialogue with Muslims, as well as with Hinduism and Buddhism. While a pragmatic response to the geopolitical realities of the time was a factor in including dialogue with Muslims, this should not obscure the fact that the Council’s teaching on dialogue with Muslims drew on deep theological and ecclesial roots, including individual vocations such as those of de Foucauld and Massignon, the centuries-long ecclesial experience of Eastern Catholic Churches within the Muslim World, as well as the personal interest of Paul VI.47 The Council addressed dialogue with Muslims in one sentence in the 1964 Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, and two paragraphs in the 1965 Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate. There are three key elements to this teaching. The first element is the positive affirmation of Muslims’

146

I. OLIZAR

monotheism. Lumen Gentium is the most authoritative of the Council’s teaching on dialogue with Muslims. It reads: “But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place among these are the Moslems, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.”48 This affirmation of the monotheism of Muslims is of theological significance. Gavin D’Costa argues that it “indicates that the Church’s teaching is not related to a phenomenological description of Islam but to a theological assessment that the God worshipped by Muslims is the same God worshipped by Catholics.”49 The teaching of the Council also affirmed that Christians and Muslims understand God in shared ways. Lumen Gentium teaches that Muslims adore with Christians the God who is one, creator, merciful, and judge. Nostra Aetate teaches that Muslims “adore one God, living and enduring, merciful and all-powerful, Maker of heaven and earth and Speaker to men.”50 However, the Council’s teaching was limited in its theological assessment of Islam. While both Lumen Gentium and Nostra Aetate refer to Abraham, the reference is phrased in subjective terms. An earlier draft of Lumen Gentium had suggested a historical link between Muslims and Abraham though Ishmael. As D’Costa writes, “It is clear that such historical claims engender theological implications of some magnitude, so it is hardly surprising that this single issue was the most contested.”51 A reference to the revelations made to the Patriarchs was also removed. D’Costa states that “if the word revelation was employed it would signal to Muslims that there was an acceptance of their religion and, more specifically, the Qur’an, and therefore implicitly the authority of the prophet Muhammad.”52 The second element of the conciliar teaching is the way in which it describes aspects of Muslim piety in a positive manner. Nostra Aetate says of Muslims: “Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His virgin mother; at times they call on her, too, with devotion. In addition, they await the day of judgment when God will give each man his due after raising him up. Consequently, they prize the moral life, and give worship to God, especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.”53 The document is silent, however, on essential aspects of the Muslim faith, namely on Muhammad and on the Qur’an. Georges Anawati writes: “it can be said that the Council’s Declaration gives an account, in the shortest possible form,

7

FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTER …

147

of the Muslim theodicy, but not of the essence of the Moslem faith, which includes among its most important elements belief in the prophetic mission of Mohammed.”54 The third element of the conciliar teaching is the way in which it commits the Church to dialogue and cooperation with Muslims: “Although in the course of the centuries many quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this most sacred Synod urges all to forget the past and to strive sincerely for mutual understanding. On behalf of all mankind, let them make common cause of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace, and freedom.”55 As Anawati suggests, “It must be said that this is the really constructive part of the Declaration concerning Islam. It must meet with the approval of all men of good will. And in fact, there is already to be seen on the Moslem side open satisfaction that the Church should be thus outlining an area of effective co-operation outside that of dogmatic and theological differences.”56

The Influence of de Foucauld and Massignon on Conciliar Teaching Recent academic discussion has reflected on Massignon’s influence on the teaching of the Council.57 As Krokus notes, those arguing for the influence of Massignon focus on the textual similarities between the teaching of the Council and his thought, in particular his central theologoumenon.58 Massignon’s influence can perhaps also be felt in the positive description of aspects of Muslim piety. Krokus writes that Massignon had “never ceased extolling the high moral character and witness of practicing Muslims” and highlights the parallels between the teaching of the Council and this aspect of Massignon’s thought.59 The Council’s commitment to a new relationship with Muslims also reflects Massignon’s desire for a “Copernican revolution” in how the Church approached Muslims. Krokus writes that Massignon had “witnessed how the Church might do its part to replace the centuries-long rivalry between Christians and Muslims with a new relationship built upon fraternity, hospitality, and friendship.”60 The conciliar commitment to a new era of cooperation and mutual understanding is an ecclesial acceptance of this individual witness.

148

I. OLIZAR

It is important to recognize that while the similarity between Massignon’s central theologoumen and the Council’s teaching is significant, the caution of the Council’s teaching contrasts with the fullness of Massignon’s credo. Nevertheless, Massignon does seem to have contributed to an atmosphere in which the Church could rethink its approach to Muslims. Anawati writes, referring to Massignon, “thanks to him and his pupils there appeared in the Church a trend favorable to the ‘Islamic Christian dialogue.’ This explains how a declaration concerning Islam such as that made by the Second Vatican Council was possible, and how it represents an advance in the Church’s attitude to Islam.”61 A consideration of the wider conciliar teaching on dialogue also suggests resonances with the vocations of de Foucauld and Massignon. Nostra Aetate speaks of dialogue with Muslims within a wider reflection on humanity as it seeks God in diverse ways. In its opening section, Nostra Aetate states: “For all peoples comprise a single community, and have a single origin, since God made the whole race of men over the entire face of the earth. One also is their final goal: God.”62 It notes how the various religions are looked to as people seek answers to “the unsolved riddles of the human condition.”63 The closing section of Nostra Aetate speaks of the brotherhood of all humanity: We cannot in truthfulness call upon God who is the Father of all if we refuse to act in a brotherly way toward certain men, created though they be in God’s image. A man’s relationship with God the Father and his relationship with his brother men are so linked together that Scripture says: “He who does not love does not know God”. (1 John 4:8)64

The understanding of all men as brothers underpins Nostra Aetate’s defense of an equal human dignity, and of human rights. “The ground is therefore removed from every theory or practice which leads to distinction between men or peoples in the matter of human dignity and the rights which flow from it.”65 This wider teaching also affirms the instincts of de Foucauld. His vocation among the Tuareg was not shaped by an account of the Islamic religion, but by Christian spirituality centered on the conviction of the unity of humanity, and of the brotherhood of all people. Massignon’s profound esteem for each person’s encounter with God, the point vierge, and his desire to approach each person with the eyes of someone in love with the God who created them, also resonates with

7

FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTER …

149

Nostra Aetate’s recognition of a humanity seeking God in diverse ways. Massignon too provided a lived example of the how the equal dignity and rights of all people taught by Nostra Aetate might be respected: he defended the dignity of Muslims in France, “offering them evening classes in French, supporting their claims for residence, speaking for them to an often hostile public, and encouraging the practice of their religion in their new ‘foreign’ (outside the dar al-Islam, the ‘house of Islam’) environment.”66 Above all, de Foucauld and Massignon, in their different ways, witnessed to Muslims through their presence in the Muslim World. The Council’s Decree on the Church’s Missionary Activity, Ad Gentes, gave ecclesial affirmation to this form of mission. It speaks of those revealing Christ “by the example of their lives and by the witness of their speech.”67 De Foucauld’s life among the Tuareg is strongly echoed by the teaching of Ad Gentes: That they may be able to give witness to Christ fruitfully, let them be joined to those men by esteem and love, and acknowledge themselves to be members of the group of men among whom they live. Let them share in cultural and social life by the various exchanges and enterprises of human living. Let them be familiar with their national and religious traditions, gladly and reverently laying bare the seeds of the Word which lie hidden in them.68

Nostra Aetate in the Post-Conciliar Period: The Vocation of Pierre Claverie, “A life Poured Out”69 Pierre Claverie was born in French Algeria in 1938, a member of the million or so pieds noirs of European descent.70 In 1958 he entered the Dominican novitiate in Lille, and the following year Le Saulchoir, an important center of French theological thought in the decades before the Council. He made his solemn vows to the Dominican order in 1964.71 Claverie’s religious formation therefore took place against the background of the intellectual ferment and renewal of the Council, as well as against the background of the bloody Algerian war for independence (1954– 1962). Claverie was prompted to reflect upon his life in French Algeria, and he became aware of the Other among whom he had lived. He wrote later of this growing awareness: “How could I have lived in ignorance

150

I. OLIZAR

of this world, which demanded recognition of its identity and dignity? In churches, how could I so often have heard the words of Christ about loving the Other like myself, like him, and never have met that Other who was popping out like a bogeyman in our little universe?”72 Claverie was driven by a desire to “Algerianize” himself in order to enter into Algerian society and culture.73 He studied Arabic and Islam and returned to independent Algeria in 1967. It was a profoundly different Algeria from the one he had left, with the pieds noirs, including Claverie’s family, having left. He also returned to a Church seeking to discern its future as a small Church in a Muslim country as it sought not to be “an embassy Church”, but truly to be rooted in Algeria.74 The Church’s presence in Algeria became increasingly challenging. In the 1970s its schools, hospitals, and other services were nationalized.75 Without this means to serve the Algerian population, “to live with” became the most important reason for their presence, rather than “to do things.”76 The Algerian regime appealed to Islam as an aspect of the nation’s identity, and the Church became an easy target of government and media polemics.77 Claverie’s appointment as Bishop of Oran in 1981 coincided with these increasingly challenging circumstances, made more complex by the rise of Islamism in the 1980s and growing violence.78 In 1991 Algeria descended into a civil war which led to the death of many tens of thousands of people.79 Between 1994 and 1996, nineteen Catholic religious were murdered.80 Pierre Claverie was the last of these, assassinated with his Muslim driver, Mohamed, in 1996. Claverie and the other murdered religious were declared martyrs on January 27, 2018.81

Pierre Claverie’s Approach to Dialogue Claverie’s biographer, Jean-Jacques Pérennès, argues that Claverie had a distinctive approach to dialogue, with five key themes.82 The first is the recognition of a thorny past marked by controversy and exclusion.83 Claverie was well aware of the “thorny past” of Christian–Muslim relations, as well as of the challenges of the present, including the difficulties that Christians in parts of the Muslim World were facing. Claverie understood these difficulties, past and present, to be the result of a failure of “acknowledging and accepting otherness.”84 He urged Christians and Muslims to see beyond the categories of the past.

7

FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTER …

151

We must be genuine, and get to know each other, with our strengths and defects. This presumes that we leave behind our images of each other, including the ideas conveyed by traditional theologies, in order to make contact with the living reality: real, living believers, who are neither Crusaders nor terrorists; real, living Islam, which is not entirely hemmed in by Islamist rhetoric, but is also seeking itself amidst the assaults of modernity.85

Claverie’s second theme was that, in spite of this, there have always been points of contact and communication. The misconceptions that Christians and Muslims can have of each other may obscure the fact that “the Muslim and Christian worlds have always had trade relationships, diplomatic ties, and even ‘relationships of friendship and respect.”’86 Claverie valued these examples of productive relationships, as well as historical instances of theological dispute “carried out in a climate of respect.” Inheritors of the faith of Abraham, voyagers on the same terrain of the biblical adventure, it is hard for us to understand why we are different, and why, from the beginning, we have sought to impose our own convictions upon one another, resorting by various means to violence or to social, moral, or economic pressure. And yet we see that we are rather similar and called to the same mission received from the one God, which is not that of prevailing over others, but that of building together a more humane world according to his will.87

Claverie’s third theme was learning to recognize the Other as a subject. Claverie wanted to move “toward a religion that does not seek to exclude other forms of belief, but recognizes the Other as a free and responsible subject.”88 He wrote, “I not only accept the Other is Other, a distinct subject with freedom of conscience, but I accept that he or she may possess a part of the truth that I do not have, and without which my own search for the truth cannot be fully realized.”89 Claverie distinguished between this concept of freedom of conscience and the concept of tolerance, such as that granted to Christians by dhimmi status. Of tolerance he wrote: “Clearly one can interpret the word differently, but I have too much experience of its meaning of condescending acceptance in Muslim society to really embrace it. Of course, it is better than rejection, exclusion, and violence but I prefer to speak of respect for the other.”90

152

I. OLIZAR

Claverie’s fourth theme was facing our differences instead of avoiding them. Claverie was concerned that dialogue did not always sufficiently recognize the differences between Christian and Muslim beliefs. For example, revelation, scriptures, word of God, and prophecy are all terms that differ in significance for Muslims and Christians.91 He was critical of a ‘“deceptive closeness,’ a naïve ecumenism that lithely repeats that we are all “people of the Book” and yet comes to an impasse at “the abyss that separates us.”92 The use of a vocabulary presumed to be held in common might allow one to think that real communication is going on, and dialogue has been achieved. Disappointment is not long in coming…Even if it were possible to form friendships, it would still be difficult to understand the Other in terms of the principles of his or her way of life and belief. We have not yet adequately measured the significance of the distance that separates us.

Claverie’s fifth theme was creating an atmosphere of friendship and trust. For Claverie, an atmosphere of trust and friendship was the prerequisite for authentic dialogue between Christians and Muslims. Claverie was personally committed to friendship with those around him. At his episcopal ordination in Algiers, he said: With you, in learning Arabic, I above all learned to speak and to understand the language of the heart, the tongue of fraternal friendship where different races and religions can speak to one another. There still, I believe that this friendship comes from God and leads to God.93

Despite the deteriorating situation in Algeria, Claverie continued to emphasize the fraternal presence of the Church. We have no interests to protect, no influence to maintain. We are not driven by any sort of masochistic perversion. We have no power but are there as at the bedside of a friend, of a sick brother, silently holding his hand and wiping his brow. We are there for the sake of Jesus, because he is the one suffering there amid violence that spares no one, crucified again and again in the flesh of thousands of innocents.

7

FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTER …

153

Claverie’s Approach to Dialogue: Nostra Aetate and Dignitatis Humanae Claverie’s approach to dialogue echoed the teaching of the Council on dialogue with Muslims. However, as Pérennès notes, Claverie “was more a preacher and a pastor than a theologian,”94 and, while influenced by the theological framework of the Council teaching, his vocation was focused on building trust, friendship, and cooperation rather than on furthering the council’s theological description of Muslims. Perhaps Claverie’s awareness of the significant differences between Christian and Muslim theologies and traditions affirms the approach of the Council: the careful theological description of the Islamic religion and of what is shared between Christians and Muslims, and the silences alluding to areas of difference. Authentic dialogue requires respectful and honest recognition of such differences, which need not hinder, and in fact is a prerequisite for, building trust, friendship, and cooperation between Christians and Muslims. Claverie’s approach also echoed the wider teaching of Nostra Aetate. Claverie had a strong sense of the diverse ways in which people seek God, stemming from the way in which he had become aware of the Other, the Muslim Algerians and their identity and faith, during his Dominican formation. As Claverie wrote in an essay shortly before his death: “I have acquired a personal conviction that humanity is found only in the plural.”95 Claverie also continued the form of Christian witness, that of “a poor and brotherly presence,” exemplified by de Foucauld and affirmed by Ad Gentes.96 Claverie’s approach to dialogue also was influenced by the teaching of Dignitatis Humanae, the Council’s 1965 Declaration on Religious Freedom. In this declaration, the Church set out an understanding of the person and of human dignity as the foundation to the civil right to religious freedom. Endowed with reason and free will, and bearing personal responsibility, each person is called to seek the truth; however this search can only be undertaken in accordance with their dignity if undertaken in freedom.97 The Church committed herself to the defense of the right to religious freedom in state and society, but also reflected on how religious freedom shapes the way in which the Church undertakes her mission in the world. If Nostra Aetate calls for esteem for Muslims in recognition of the shared adoration of the one God, and as members of a shared humanity, Dignitatis Humanae calls for esteem for Muslims as individuals

154

I. OLIZAR

seeking God, in freedom and with personal responsibility, reminiscent of Massignon’s idea of the point vierge. Claverie’s approach to dialogue illustrates how Dignitatis Humanae has become an increasingly important guide for Christian–Muslim dialogue in the period after the Council. In a context in which religious freedom was increasingly denied, and the possibility of a “humanity in the plural” undermined, Claverie witnessed at great risk to himself to an alternative way to understand the person. He wrote: “If only, after Algeria’s crisis of violence and of deep divisions in society, religion, and identity, we can finally realize that the Other has a right to exist, bears a portion of the truth, and is worthy of respect, then the dangers to which we have been exposed ourselves will not have been in vain.”98

Conclusion This reflection on the lives of de Foucauld, Massignon, and Claverie traces a century-long trajectory of French Catholic thought on Christian–Muslim relations. The teaching of the Council marked an ecclesial recognition of vocations to Muslims that had previously been considered marginal. It provided a framework in which Claverie and others could advance Christian–Muslim dialogue in the decades after the Council. Within this trajectory, four central themes emerge. The first theme is the theological relationship that exists between Christians and Muslims. This relationship was of particular importance to Massignon’s vocation, and the conciliar teaching affirmed positively a theological relationship between Christians and Muslims. It is this which brings Muslims second only to the Jews in closeness to Christians, and which grounds the dialogue and cooperation spoken of in Nostra Aetate. Nevertheless, the Council’s teaching was cautious in this regard, more so than Massignon’s credo. As Claverie’s approach to dialogue suggests, the question of the theological relationship between Christians and Muslims remains a difficult one. Perhaps the questions posed have become even more difficult in the post-conciliar period, as Islam seeks “itself amidst the assaults of modernity.”99 The caution of the Council seems prescient, as expressions of Islam in the modern world posit understandings of God, the person, and humanity that differ from the Christian understanding. The second theme is the way in which the dialogue with Muslims is founded on a wider understanding of the unity of humanity and of the necessity of treating all people in a brotherly manner. These were the

7

FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTER …

155

central instincts of de Foucauld, affirmed by the conciliar teaching. These ideas influenced Claverie’s approach to dialogue: it accounts for the way in which he approached Muslims, but it also formed the basis of a vision of Algerian society founded on an understanding of a shared but plural humanity. The third theme is the way in which religious freedom has emerged as an important complement to the conciliar teaching on dialogue with Muslims. The Council recognized the importance of the individual’s free and responsible search for truth. The Council’s reflections were primarily shaped by the context of the Church in the USA, Western Europe, and Communist Europe, but in the post-conciliar period the question of religious freedom has increasingly been important in the Muslim World, as Christians and Muslims seek to build shared societies. The fourth theme is that of Christian witness through presence in the Muslim World. De Foucauld chose to live among the Muslim Tuareg as a friend and brother. Massignon chose to be ordained into the Melkite Rite, celebrating the Eucharist in Arabic, and accompanying Muslims in France and the Muslim World on their quest for justice and equality. Claverie returned to Algeria to be a part of a small Church struggling to be present in a Muslim country, and chose to remain with Muslim friends and countrymen as Algeria descended into violence. This is a form of Christian witness that persists against the changing contexts in which Christian–Muslim dialogue takes place. Claverie expressed this witness in the following words: But we are and wish to be missionaries of the love of God, which we have discovered in Jesus Christ. This love, infinitely respectful of human beings does not impose itself, does not impose anything, does not force consciences and hearts. With delicacy and solely through its presence, it liberates that which was in chains, reconciles that which was rent asunder, restores to its feet that which has been trodden down.100

Notes 1. In his study Étude sur une courbe personnelle de vie, Massignon wrote, “one must choose for each individual their personal axis which is particular to them”. Cited in Anthony O’Mahony, “Louis Massignon: A Catholic Encounter with Islam and the Middle East,” in God’s Mirror: Renewal and Engagement in French Catholic Intellectual Culture in the

156

I. OLIZAR

2.

3.

4.

5. 6. 7. 8.

9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22.

23. 24.

Mid-Twentieth Century, ed. Katherine Davies and Toby Garfitt (New York: Fordham University Press, 2015), 236. For the biography of de Foucauld see Ariana Patey, “The Life and Thought of Charles De Foucauld: A Christian Eremetical Vocation to Islam and His Contribution to the Understanding of Muslim-Christian Relations within the Catholic Tradition” (unpublished doctoral thesis, Heythrop College, University of London, 2012), 24–47. See Richard Wheeler, “Louis Massignon and Al-Hallâj—An Introduction to the Life and Thought of a 20th Century Mystic,” ARAM 20 (2008), 221–243. Christian S. Krokus, The Theology of Louis Massignon: Islam, Christ, and the Church (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2017), 12. See Ian Latham, “The Conversion of Louis Massignon in Mesopotania in 1908,” ARAM 20 (2008). Patey, “The Life and Thought of Charles de Foucauld,” 4. Ibid., 251. Ian Latham, “Charles de Foucauld (1858–1916): Silent Witness for Jesus ‘in the Face of Islam’,” in Catholics in Interreligious Dialogue: Studies in Monasticism, Theology and Spirituality, ed. Anthony O’Mahony and Peter Bowe OSB (Leominster: Gracewing, 2006), 47–70 (47). A Trappist is a member of the Order of the Reformed Cistercians of the Strict Observance, a branch of the Cistercians. Patey, “The Life and Thought of Charles de Foucauld,” 6. Richard Wheeler, “Louis Massignon and Al-Hallâj,” 230. Ibid., 232. See O’Mahony, “Louis Massignon: A Catholic Encounter with Islam and the Middle East,” 241. Ibid., 236. Latham, “Silent Witness,” 49. Ibid., 51. Ibid. Citing Charles de Foucauld, Lettres a Henry de Castries: introduction by Jacques de Dampierre (Paris: Grasset, 1938), 86. Patey, “The Life and Thought of Charles De Foucauld,” 54. Ibid., 68. Ibid., 130. Ibid., 95–96. Ibid., 118. Citing a letter from de Foucauld to Abbé Caron, VicarGeneral of Versailles, 8 April 1905, in René Bazin, Charles de Foucauld, reprinted 2nd ed. Translated by Peter Keelan (London: Burns Oates & Washbourne, 1931), 140–141. Latham, “Silent Witness,” 52. Ibid., 54. No original source is given.

7

25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30.

31. 32.

33. 34. 35.

36. 37.

38.

39. 40.

41.

42. 43.

FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTER …

157

Ibid., 55. Ibid., 56. Patey, “The Life and Thought of Charles De Foucauld,” 192, 196. Ibid., 171. Latham, “Silent Witness,” 60. Benedict XVI, Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to Pilgrims at the End of the Beatification Mass, November 13, 2005. Vatican Website. https://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/speeches/2005/nov ember/documents/hf_ben_xvi_spe_20051113_beatifications.html. Hughes Didier, “Louis Massignon and Charles De Foucauld,” ARAM 20 (2008), 337–353 (352). See Sidney H. Griffith, “Sharing the Faith of Abraham: The ‘Credo’ of Louis Massignon,” Islam and Christian Muslim Relations 8, no. 2 (1997), 193–210. Ibid., 193. Ibid., 196. Anthony O’Mahony, “Catholic Theological Perspectives on Islam at the Second Vatican Council,” New Blackfriars 88, no. 1016 (2007), 385– 398 (389). Citing Robert Caspar, A Historical Introduction to Islamic Theology (Rome: Pontificio Istituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica, 1998), 9. Wheeler, “Louis Massignon and Al-Hallâj,” 240. Giulio Bassetti-Sani, OFM, Louis Massignon: Christian Ecumenist (Chicago, IL: Franciscan Herald Press, 1974), 33. Cited in Scott M. Thomas, “A Trajectory toward the Periphery: Francis of Assisi, Louis Massignon, Pope Francis, and Muslim-Christian Relations,” The Review of Faith and International Affairs 16, no. 1 (2018), 16–36 (16). For an account of this see Scott M. Thomas, “St. Francis and Islam: A Critical Appraisal for Contemporary Muslim-Christian Relations, Middle East Politics and International Relations,” The Downside Review 136, no. 1 (2018), 3–28. See Agnes Wilkins OSB, “Louis Massignon, Thomas Merton and Mary Kahil,” ARAM 20 (2008), 355–373. The Melkite Church is an Eastern Catholic Church which was established in the eighteenth century. It is of Byzantine rite and Arabic speaking. Anthony O’Mahony, “Introduction,” in The Catholic Church in the Contemporary Middle East, ed. Anthony O’Mahony and John Flannery (London: Melisende, 2010), 7–18 (3). Sudworth, Richard J. “Responding to Islam as Priests, Mystics, and Trail Blazers: Louis Massignon, Kenneth Cragg, and Rowan Williams,” Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies 55 (2014), 451–472 (456). Krokus, The Theology of Louis Massignon, 43. Griffith, “Sharing the Faith of Abraham,” 207.

158

I. OLIZAR

44. O’Mahony, “The Influence of the Life and Thought of Louis Massignon on the Catholic Church’s Relations with Islam,” The Downside Review [Special issue on ‘Catholic Encounters with Islam’ ] 126, no. 444 (2008), 169–192 (184). 45. Oscar J. Beozzo, “The External Climate,” in History of Vatican II. Vol. 1. Announcing and Preparing Vatican Council II. Toward a New Era in Catholicism, ed. Guiseppe Alberigo and English version edited by Joseph A. Komonchak (Maryknoll Leuven: Orbis Peeters, 1995), 357– 404 (389–392). 46. John M. Osterreicher, “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions: Introduction and Commentary,” in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II , ed. Herbert Vorgrimler (London: Burnes and Oates, 1969), 1–136 (41–42). 47. Caspar writes that it was Paul VI who ‘took the initiative of personally asking the conciliar commission to prepare a text on Islam each time there was to be a mention of the Jews.’ Robert Caspar, “Islam According to Vatican II: On the Tenth Anniversary of Nostra Aetate,” Encounter: Documents for Christian–Muslim Understanding 2, no. 21–40 (1976), 1–7 (2). 48. Lumen Gentium 16. “Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution of the Church),” in The Documents of Vatican II , ed. Walter M. Abbott S.J. (London: Geoffrey Chapman), 14–96 (35). 49. Gavin D’Costa, Vatican II: Catholic Doctrines on Jews and Muslims (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), 160. 50. Nostra Aetate 3. “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions,” Walter M. Abbott, The Documents of Vatican II , 660–668 (660–661). 51. D’Costa, Vatican II , 172. 52. Ibid. 53. Nostra Aetate 3; Abbott, Documents of Vatican II , 663. 54. Georges C. Anawati, “Excursus on Islam,” in Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II , ed. Herbert Vorgrimler (London: Burnes and Oates, 1969), 151–154 (152); Anawati, “Excursus on Islam,” 153. 55. Nostra Aetate 3, Abbott, Documents of Vatican II , 663. 56. Anawati, “Excursus on Islam,” 154. 57. See Christian S. Krokus, “Louis Massignon’s Influence on the Teaching of Vatican II on Muslims and Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations,” Islam and Christian Muslim Relations 23 (2012), 329–345; and “Louis Massignon: Vatican II and Beyond”. Anthony O’Mahony, “Catholic Theological Perspectives”; and “The Influence of the Life and Thought of Louis Massignon”. Andrew Unsworth, “A Historical and TextualCritical Analysis of the Magesterial Documents of the Catholic Church on Islam: Toward a Hetero-Descriptive Account of Muslim Belief and

7

58. 59. 60. 61. 62.

63. 64. 65. 66. 67.

68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74. 75. 76. 77.

FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTER …

159

Practice” (unpublished doctoral thesis, Heythrop College, University of London, 2007); and “Louis Massignon, the Holy See and the Ecclesial Transition from ‘Immortale Dei’ to ‘Nostra Aetate’: A Brief History of the Development of Catholic Church Teaching on Muslims and the Religion of Islam from 1883 to 1965,” ARAM 20 (2008), 299–316. D’Costa suggests a less influential role for Massignon, D’Costa, Vatican II , 187. Krokus, “Louis Massignon: Vatican II and Beyond,” 434. Ibid., 435. Krokus, The Theology of Louis Massignon, 229. Anawati, “Excursus on Islam,” 152. Nostra Aetate 3. “Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions,” Walter M. Abbott, The Documents of Vatican II , 660–668 (660–661). Ibid., 1. Ibid., section 5, 667. Ibid. Ibid., 261. “Ad Gentes. Decree on the Missionary Activity of the Church,” in The Documents of Vatican II , ed. Walter M. Abbott S.J. (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1967), 584–630, section 11 (597). O’Mahony writes ‘Indeed, the explicit recasting of western missionary effort, by the French theologian and Cardinal of the Church, Jean Danielou, SJ after the Second World War, as one finding Christ even more than preaching him, can be traced directly to Danielou’s association with Massignon.’ Anthony O’Mahony, “Louis Massignon, the Melkite Church and Islam,” ARAM 20 (2008) 269–297 (269–270). Ad Gentes, section 11, 597–598. Jean-Jacques Pérennès, A Life Poured Out: Pierre Claverie of Algeria (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2007). Ibid., 1. Ibid. Pérennès gives detailed detail on Claverie’s formation in chapters two and three. Ibid., 36. Quoting Claverie, Ut sint unum, Bulletin de la province dominicaine de France (July 1981), 80. Ibid., 67. Quoting from letter of Claverie, September 1, 1969. Ibid., 149. Martin McGee, OSB, Christian Martyrs for a Muslim People (New York / Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2008), 14. Pérennès, A Life Poured Out, 90. Quoting Henri Sanson, “Chrétiens en Algérie,” Christus 86 (April 1975), 211–221. Ibid., 84.

160

I. OLIZAR

78. Naylor discusses the complexities of the violence in Algeria. Phillip C. Naylor, “Bishop Pierre Claverie and the Risks of Religious Reconciliation,” The Catholic Historical Review, 96, no. 4 (2010): 720–742. 79. Naylor gives a figure of 150,000–200,000 deaths. Ibid., 736. 80. McGee gives an account of each of the lives of the nineteen killed. McGee, Christian Martyrs. Pérennès reflects upon the lives of several of those killed, including Claverie, in “Inventing a New Way of Being a Christian in a Muslim Country: The Case of the 19 Martyrs of the Church of Algeria (1994–1996),” Studie Historiae Ecclesiasticae 38, no. 1 (May 2012), 61–74. 81. http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/ 2018/01/27/180127c.html. Claverie and the 18 others martyrs were beatified on December 8, 2018 in Oran. 82. Pérennès, A Life Poured Out, 146–149. In his analysis, Pérennès draws on Claverie’s five editorials in le Lien in 1985. These were reprinted in 1986 in the Bulletin of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, under the title “Chemins du dialogue islamo-chrétien.” They are also published in Claverie, Lettres et messages, 251–273. Pérennès also draws on Claverie’s address to the Paris Mosque in 1988, where Claverie spoke at the invitation of the rector, Sheikh Abbas, and on an address given in Lille in 1992. Pérennès does not specify the precise source of the various quotations he uses in this analysis. 83. Ibid., 146. 84. Ibid. 85. Ibid., 181. Quoting from Chrétiens et musulmans: vivre ensemble? Conference given in Lille on January 16, 1992; La Vie Spirituelle (October 1997), 748. 86. Ibid., 146–147. 87. Ibid., 147. 88. Ibid. 89. Ibid., 148. 90. Pierre Claverie, “Humanity in the Plural.” Reprinted in Pérennès, A Life Poured Out, 258–261 (261). The original French essay ‘Humanité plurielle’ appeared in Nouveaux Cahiers du Sud, January 1996, and was reprinted by le Monde, August 4–5, 1996, after the assassination of Claverie. 91. Pérennès, A Life Poured Out, 149. 92. Ibid., 222. 93. Ibid., 69. Citing “Le mot du père Claverie,” La Vie Spirituelle (October 1997), 701–702. 94. Ibid., 161. 95. Claverie, “Humanity in the Plural,” 261.

7

FROM THE MARGINS TO THE CENTER …

161

96. Jean-Jacques Pérennès, O.P “The Legacy of Pierre Claverie,” International Bulletin of Missionary Research 31, no. 3 (July 2007), 136–142 (141). 97. “Dignitatis Humanae. Declaration on Religious Freedom. On the Right of the Person and of Communities to Social and Civil Freedom in Matters Religious,” in The Documents of Vatican II , ed. Walter M. Abbott S.J. (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1967), 675–696. Section 2. 98. Claverie, “Humanity in the Plural,” 261. 99. Pérennès, A Life Poured Out, 181. Quoting from Chrétiens et musulmans: vivre ensemble? 100. Pérennès, A Life Poured Out, 102. From Claverie’s homily at his installation as bishop at the Cathedral of Oran. There are strong echoes here of Dignitatis Humanae 11: ‘For He bore witness to the truth, but He refused to impose the truth by force on those who spoke against it. Not by force of blows does His rule assert its claims. It is established by witnessing to the truth and by hearing the truth, and it extends its dominion by the love whereby Christ, lifted up on the cross, draws all men to Himself.’

CHAPTER 8

The Christian West and the Eastern Patriarchates: Reflections on Nostra Aetate and the World of Islam Sidney H. Griffith

The resounding voice of Patriarch Maximos, speaking French in the general assembly of the Second Vatican Council, where Latin was the rule, paved the way for Nostra Aetate. Just as importantly, he and his fellow Arabic-speaking bishops of the Oriental patriarchates in union with Rome who were participating in the council publicly (if only for a moment), called the attention of the church and the world at large to the Christian presence in the Islamic Middle East. Fifty years later, in the early decades of the twenty-first century, these same communities once again attracted public attention, this time as victims of persecution in their homelands. Christians and others in the West suddenly became startlingly aware of the suffering of their co-religionists at home in the world of Islam, co-religionists of whose history, culture, and creeds they knew little or nothing at all. One wonders why, despite the multiple histories

S. H. Griffith (B) The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_8

163

164

S. H. GRIFFITH

of Christianity authored by academic and ecclesiastical scholars in all the languages of modern scholarship, so-called Oriental Christians nevertheless slipped out of the Western mind,1 with the exception of missionaries from the West in both medieval and modern times who sought and still seek to recruit easterners to allegiance to Western Christian churches, and to abandon their ancient heritage. Recent historical research calls attention to several factors that shed light on the estrangement between Eastern and Western Christians and helps to explain the heretofore sparse discussion of Oriental Christianity in Western church history. Three historiographical blinders in particular call for the researcher’s close attention: inter-confessional antipathy; religio-cultural dissonance, and the demographic eclipse of Christianity in the heartlands of its origins. Once the blinders are removed, the way is opened to look not only for forgotten history, but most importantly for the lessons of that history for Christian life today. In the present moment, in response to the call of Nostra Aetate for interreligious dialogue, and especially in reference to Christian/Muslim dialogue, one looks for what the intellectual history of Christians at home in the World of Islam has to teach Westerners about the articulation of Christian faith within the purview of Islam in present-day circumstances. As we shall see, Arabicspeaking, Christian writers from early Islamic times until today adopted an approach that in many ways anticipates Nostra Aetate’s own brief sketch of Islamic thought and approach to interreligious dialogue.

I Church historians have told the story of the schisms in the Christian community resulting from the decisions of the councils of Ephesus in 431 AD and Chalcedon in 451 AD as having come about gradually, roughly during the century that elapsed between the time of the council of Chalcedon and the council of Constantinople II in 553 AD. The latter council gave definitive force to the policy of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I (527–565) to enforce Chalcedonian orthodoxy throughout the Roman Empire. It is a story told almost exclusively from the point of view of Roman imperial orthodoxy, which even uses the denominational adjectives anachronistically: the polemically inspired epithets “Nestorian,” “Jacobite,” and “Melkite,” and the entirely polemical “Monophysite,” as designations for what were regarded as dissident churches.2 But none of the communities designated by these names existed as fully developed,

8

THE CHRISTIAN WEST AND THE EASTERN PATRIARCHATES …

165

ecclesial entities in the sixth century, although that the Christological controversies from which they emerged were in full spate at that time. It was not until almost fifty years later, after the emperor Heraclius (610– 641) had lost the territories of the so-called “Oriental patriarchates” to the Islamic conquest at the battle of the Yarmuk in 636 AD, that Roman imperial orthodoxy, at the council of Constantinople III (681 AD), found a doctrinal definition that would prove lasting. It was reaffirmed just over a century later, in connection with the Byzantine Iconoclast controversy, at the council of Nicea II in 787 AD. But forty-odd years elapsed before the publication of the earliest forms of the Synodicon of Orthodoxy in 843 AD, and the establishment of the Feast of Orthodoxy.3 In fact, the denominational identities of the enduring rival churches in the Eastern patriarchates did not come to maturity until well after the rise of Islam. The schisms between the churches and the creedal antipathy they generated from the sixth century onward, thus became intertwined with a burgeoning religious and cultural dissonance with Byzantium and the West that emerged in tandem with the Islamic occupation of the territories of the Oriental patriarchates.4 Rome, Constantinople, and even Jerusalem came to view most of their Aramaic, Syriac, and Copticspeaking co-religionists in the patriarchates of Antioch and Alexandria as heretics—although by the first half of the seventh century, when Islam arose in Arabia, these alleged “heretics” composed up to fifty percent of confessing Christians in the world at the time!5 Between the era of the Islamic conquest and the Crusades, for all practical purposes the only news of Oriental Christians to reach the West came from returning pilgrims to the Holy Land. For like the Westerners, the Orientals too visited the Holy Places, established churches and monastic communities there, and sometimes wrote about their experiences. Then as now, the Holy Land was the one place in the world where all Christians could meet one another; historically, however, they visited the loca sancta side by side without learning much about one another. It was only when the Westerners came to the Holy Land as Crusaders, and stayed to found a kingdom of almost two hundred years’ duration (1099–1291), that they showed any sustained interest in the Christians of the East (other than the Greeks) whom they met there. The twelfth-century archbishop in Outremer, William of Tyre (c.1130– 1185), wrote a book called The History of Deeds Done beyond the Sea (Historia Rerum in Partibus Transmarinis Gestarum) in which there clearly emerged for the first time what would increasingly become the

166

S. H. GRIFFITH

prevailing Latin attitude toward the Christians of the East.6 He referred to what he perceived to be the most heretical beliefs of the various churches he encountered there, groups which he and his contemporaries called “Armenians,” “Jacobites,” “Syrians,” “Nestorians,” “Copts,” “Maronites,” and others. Of the Maronites, William of Tyre commented that they had been heretics for five hundred years, but that around 1182 they were “restored to their right minds and abandoned their heresy.” Another writer of Crusader times, Cardinal Jacques de Vitry (d.1240), who toward the end of his life became the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, wrote a History of Jerusalem, in which he made a systematic effort to describe in detail the “Syrians,” “Jacobites,” “Nestorians,” “Maronites,” “Armenians,” and even the “Georgians” and the “Mozarabs” of Spain.7 It was the first time that Latin Christians in the West had an opportunity to learn something about the forgotten half of the Christian world. The intellectual temper of the thirteenth century provided them with theological categories within which to comprehend their co-religionists, although they were the categories of the heresiographer.8 Nevertheless, from the thirteenth century onward the Oriental Christians were at least known by name in Rome and the West, and in times to come their histories, languages, liturgies, and beliefs would become subjects of intense study, fostered by no less an authority than the Popes themselves. However, this knowledge scarcely spread beyond the academic world. From the time of the Crusades to the Council of Florence (1438– 1445), there were numerous expeditions and missions of monks, friars, and merchants from the Latin West to the lands of the Oriental Christians. There were even efforts on the part of the West to reach beyond the world of Islam, in the hope that a Christian potential ally against the Muslims might be found in the East, an effort that foundered during the rise of the Mongol Empire in the thirteenth century. But it was the impetus of the Council of Florence that brought the East to the West in the form of men and books and opened an era of serious study in Europe of the languages of the Christian Orient.9 The major agenda of the Council of Florence was the reunion of the Roman and Byzantine churches. After much theological debate and diplomatic maneuvering, a short-lived union with the Greek Orthodox was signed. Subsequently, documents of union were signed with the Armenians, with the Copts of Egypt, and ultimately with the Syrian Orthodox, the Church of the East, and the Maronites. However, this ecumenical activity soon became moot, or was rejected outright when the Turks conquered Constantinople in 1453. Once again

8

THE CHRISTIAN WEST AND THE EASTERN PATRIARCHATES …

167

the world of Islam put the west on the defensive—a posture it was to maintain for almost three hundred more years in response to Turkish pressure. In the meantime, academic study of the religious and civil societies of the Middle East flourished in Western universities. But by then, the interests of scholars had turned more toward Islam and away from the far-off and little understood Christian churches that coexisted with the Muslims. It was not until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that Christians in the West would again encounter the Christians at home in the world of Islam. Protestant missionaries from Europe and America went to the Middle East to convert Muslims to Christianity; failing in that enterprise, they often stayed to convert local Christians to Western Christian denominations, all the while under the protection of Western colonial powers. In this way, Westerners again lost sight of the Oriental Christian communities who had long ago acculturated themselves into the World of Islam as dhimmi, or “protected” “scripture people” (ahl al-kit¯ ab), living under restrictive social and political policies that ensured their status as subaltern populations, policies that in the long run led to their increasing demographic decline in the lands of Christianity’s origins.10 But how did this acculturation of Christians into the Islamic society of the Levant take place?

II After the rise of Islam, most Christians in the Oriental Patriarchates lived under Muslim rule. One must consider that Islam itself was a factor the church-dividing Christian controversies from the eighth century onward. This was especially the case in the mutual relations of the three ecclesial communities who lived among and interacted with the Muslims, the Nestorians, the Jacobites, and the Chalcedonian Melkites, to use the troika of names most frequently used in the works of contemporary Muslim writers who spoke of the beliefs and practices of the Christians, whom the Qur’an calls “Nazarenes.”11 The denominations of Christians living in the Islamic world included many more than these three; from the beginning there were also the Copts, the Armenians, the Georgians, and the Maronites, not to mention the Greek Orthodox, the Latins, and the Mozarabs of Spain. Christian communities living under the rule of the Islamic caliphate had by the middle of the eighth century shaped their enduring, subaltern identities, both culturally and intellectually, within the context of several

168

S. H. GRIFFITH

new societal factors: their encounters with the Muslims; their adoption of the Arabic language; their isolation from other Christian communities outside of the Islamic world, and what one might call the “Islamic cast” of Christian life and culture in the Islamic milieu. The socio-political parameters of their world had changed. The late Oxford historian, Albert Hourani, evocatively described the situation as follows: By the third and fourth Islamic centuries (the ninth or tenth century A.D.) something which was recognizably an “Islamic World” had emerged. A traveler around the world would have been able to tell, by what he saw and heard, whether a land was ruled and peopled by Muslims…. By the tenth century, then, men and women in the Near East and the Maghrib lived in a universe which was defined in terms of Islam…. Time was marked by the five daily prayers, the weekly sermon in the Mosque, the annual fast in the month of Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca, and the Muslim calendar.12

The Christian communities living within this “Islamic World” came to their maturity as separate church communities for the most part within this world and without interference from or significant contact for long periods of time with the patriarchal sees of either Constantinople or Rome. This was the case even for the Melkites, who professed the faith of Byzantine imperial orthodoxy; for a crucial period in their history they too were cut off from easy access to Constantinople. The break in two-way communication between Constantinople and Jerusalem extended during the crucial century and a half from around the year 815 to the time following the Byzantine emperor John Tzimisces’ (d.976) “crusade” into Syria and Palestine in 975. This was the period of the effective “Arabicization” of church life in the caliphate and the first phase of Christian theological development in response to intellectual pressure from Muslim controversialists and polemicists. These circumstances, along with the concomitant doctrinal disagreements on the part of the Nestorians, Jacobites, Copts, and Armenians with the Greek and Latin-speaking churches, provided the historical situation for creedal and cultural estrangement, which in turn produced the perception of alienation on the part of the Christians of the Islamic world from their brethren in the West. One might even take the appearance of this phenomenon to be the definitive moment in the historical transition in ecclesiastical history from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages. It was in these socio-cultural circumstances

8

THE CHRISTIAN WEST AND THE EASTERN PATRIARCHATES …

169

that the Nestorians, Jacobites/Copts, and Melkites, the classical denominations of the Christians in the Islamic world, emerged into their mature identities, formulating their differences with one another in polemical responses to one another’s arguments in tracts most often written in Arabic.13 It did not take the Christian communities of Syria/Palestine long after the consolidation of Islamic hegemony over the Levant to begin the long progress of adopting the everyday language of the new polity for the expression of Christian thought and belief. The transition took place in close parallel with developments in Islamic religious thought and practice, as well as in tandem with concurrent social and political developments. Christians, whose original ecclesiastical languages had been principally Greek, Syriac, and eventually Coptic, or both, now began to translate their heritage into Arabic and to express themselves in the idiom of the dominant Islamic cultural polity, to which somewhat ironically, they were destined themselves to make major contributions. It is important to recognize from the outset that the adoption of Arabic as an ecclesiastical language was not just a move into an alternate idiom already current in the Roman or Persian cultural circles of Late Antiquity, as had happened already in the transmission of originally Greek Christological thought, for example, into Coptic and Syriac. Rather, the adoption of Arabic on the part of Christians at home in the World of Islam was a step forward into their virtual acculturation as a subaltern community into a new Islamic or “Islamicate” society. The earliest texts written in Arabic by Christians appear for the first time in the historical record in the eighth century. The earliest writers were for the most part monks of the Melkite/Chalcedonian communities who lived in the monasteries of the Judean desert, Mar Sabas, or Mar Charit¯on, or in the monastery now called after the name of St. Catherine at Mount Sinai. The surviving archive of the earliest texts consists largely of translations from Greek or Syriac Bibles and Lectionaries, from liturgical texts, monastic hagiographies, and other Christian classics. But a small number of the early texts are original compositions in Arabic; they are works of apologetics, justifying the reasonableness of Christian doctrine and practice in the face of objections coming from Muslims. They represent the first steps on the part of Christian authors in the eighth century into the Arabic-speaking world of the Muslims, just over a century after the death of Muhammad, and perhaps only a half century after the widespread dissemination of the Qur’an, the first book in

170

S. H. GRIFFITH

Arabic.14 So it was that Arabic became not only the sacred language of Islam, but an ecclesiastical language as well. In a certain sense the Qur’an bequeathed its idiom to the Bible in Arabic, and the way was prepared for the emergence of what has been called Islamo-Christian Civilization.15 There is a large surviving archive of Christian Arabic literature, originally preserved in the monastic and ecclesiastical libraries of the Middle East, that documents the history of Muslims and Christians living together in the world of Islam and engaging in interreligious controversy. Most of the authors of the theological texts in this vast archive were concerned with two recurrent topics: first, doing Christian theology within the purview of Islam in an apologetic effort to respond to the challenge of Islam; and then defending in Arabic, with the Muslims as it were looking over their shoulders, the church-dividing Christologies that the several churches, the Melkites, the Jacobites, and the Nestorians, brought with them into their new world of theological discourse in Arabic. From the seventh century to the fifteenth century, Christian intellectuals and writers on these topics were in the habit of looking to the centers of Arabic-speaking, Islamic scholarship and intellectual life—first in the environs of Baghdad, and latterly in Damascus and Cairo—for both the idiom and the method of convincingly discussing their distinctive doctrines in Arabic, doctrines that had been originally articulated principally in a Greek or Aramaic/Syriac technical vocabulary. From the fifteenth century onward, in the wake of a number of historical and cultural developments, such as the Crusades, the Mongol invasions of the Levant, the hardening attitudes of Muslim jurists against Christians from the time of Ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328), and finally, from the thirteenth century until modern times, the increasing incursions of European commercial interests into the world of Islam (which sought entrée through the local Christian communities), Arabic-speaking Christians gradually turned their attention from the centers of Islamic culture and learning and began to look more intently for intellectual and cultural stimulation in philosophy and theology to the West: Constantinople (until 1453), Rome, Paris, and even England. During the early years of the twentieth century, Arabicspeaking, Christian intellectuals were among the most prominent voices in the Arab Nationalism movement that promoted cultural and political unity among the Arabic-speaking populations of the Near East and North Africa. During the latter years of the twentieth century, however, Arab Nationalism gradually gave way in popularity to several Islamist ideologies that have become influential in the larger world of Islam, producing the

8

THE CHRISTIAN WEST AND THE EASTERN PATRIARCHATES …

171

troubled situations with which we are all too familiar in the early decades of the twenty-first century. From the late eighth century through the early fourteenth century, the era of the growth and flourishing of Islamo-Christian religious discourse in Arabic, there were three overlapping phases of interactive thought and writing that mirror developments in concurrent, Islamic intellectual history. Each phase features a mode of intellectual inquiry that shapes a style of reasoning and writing that coexisted with the others from the beginning, although at different moments in the constantly flowing stream of discourse, different accents of inquiry and expression have am, the dialecpredominated. The first phase was that of the c ilm al-kal¯ tical, systematic theology inaugurated by Muslim thinkers in Umayyad times as a mode of dialogical, reason-based inquiry into the meaning of the basic truth-claims of the Qur’an and Islam and a defense of their credibility. Arabic-speaking Christians were quick to adapt this mode of reasoning to the apologetic requirements of defending the reasonableness of their own doctrines and religious practices in response to the Qur’an’s critique of them and the obloquy of Muslims. The second phase of interactive thought and writing was that of falsafah, or philosophy. While Christians were the prime translators of philosophical, logical, and scientific texts from Greek and Syriac into Arabic, Muslim thinkers were not slow to engage intellectually with the translated philosophical texts and commentaries, especially in the areas of logic, theology, ethics, and political philosophy. In the ninth, tenth, and eleventh centuries, especially in Baghdad and its wide sphere of influence, philosophy in Arabic became a common ground for interreligious discussions not only in logic and metaphysics, but also in ethics and in envisioning the ideal polity. By the end of the Abbasid era in the midam), although thirteenth century, even theology in Arabic (c ilm al-kal¯ not without a struggle, had become suffused with the idiom and insight afforded by the adoption of an originally Hellenic tradition: close study of the Platonizing Aristotelian logic and philosophy that had been widely popular in Late Antiquity. The third phase of interactive thought and writing between Muslims and Christians was that characterized by muj¯ adalah (disputation); it came most insistently to the fore in Cairo in the thirteenth century, spurred on by a spate of anti-Christian polemical texts written by prominent Muslim jurists of the period, initially in response to the provocative “Letter to a Muslim Friend,” written around the turn of the century by Paul of

172

S. H. GRIFFITH

Antioch, the Melkite bishop of Sidon in today’s Lebanon. It ultimately provoked responses from a number of Muslim jurists, culminating in the notably anti-Christian work of Ibn Taymiyyah and his younger contemporary, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, in the fourteenth century. Meanwhile, in what a number of modern scholars have seen as the golden age of Christian Arabic literature, beginning in thirteenth-century Egypt, Arabic-speaking Coptic scholars wrote extensive theological treatises in Arabic in which they not only responded to the polemics of their Muslim adversaries but they also provided systematic, summary discussions of Christian faith and practice. Their work is particularly notable for its interaction with the thought of important Muslim thinkers, such as the philosopher Ibn S¯ın¯a (980–1037), the mystical theologian al-Ghazz¯al¯ı (d.1111), and the theologian and Qur’an commentator, Fakhr ad-D¯ın ar-Raz¯ı (1149–1209). Of the numerous Arabic-speaking Christian thinkers and writers whose works over the span of some seven hundred years give witness to the assimilated, religious culture of the Christians at home in the world of Islam, hardly any mention of their names, even of the most prominent, or any further mention of their works, appears in western histories of Christianity. We might occasionally find references to the earliest Christian theologian whose name we know and who regularly wrote in Arabic, the Melkite bishop of Harr¯an in Syria, Theodore Ab¯u Qurrah (c.755– c.830), or the Nestorian Hunayn ibn Ish¯aq (808–873), who was a noted translator of originally Greek scientific and philosophical texts into Arabic, or the Jacobite Yahy¯a ibn c Ad¯ı (893–974), who was the onetime leader of the Baghdad school of Aristotelians in the tenth century. But of the rest there is almost complete silence. Exceptions to prove the rule are surviving Medieval Latin translations of two of the most popular Arabic defenses of Christian belief and practice ever written in response to Muslim challenges. The most prominent of them was among the Arabic texts which the abbot of Cluny, Peter the Venerable (1094–1156), commissioned for translation into Latin during his visit to Toledo in the 1140s. It was an anonymous text, called the Correspondence between alH¯ ashim¯ı and al-Kind¯ı, originally composed in Arabic by a now unknown Christian apologist and polemicist in the ninth century, perhaps in the environs of Baghdad.16 It had the widest circulation of all Arab Christian works of the early Islamic period, and it was also the most overtly anti-Islamic of them all. By way of contrast, there was also a Latin translation of perhaps the most irenic of Christian Arabic apologetic texts, the

8

THE CHRISTIAN WEST AND THE EASTERN PATRIARCHATES …

173

Nestorian Patriarch Timothy’s (727/8–823) account of his debate with the caliph al-Mahd¯ı,17 which was available in the West in Latin translation by the late thirteenth or early fourteenth century.18 Otherwise, the virtual damnatio memoriae of Christian Arabic literature in the West is in stark contrast to the case of the works of Arabic-speaking Jewish scholars and writers who lived in Islamic lands. Who even among serious Christians has not heard of Saadia ha-Ga’¯ on (882–942), Isaac Israeli (850–932), Judah Halevi (c.1075–1141), and especially Moses Maimonides (1135–1204)? Unlike contemporary Arab Christian writers, their works have been of significant importance to the intellectual life of present-day Jewish communities, even in the West, up to our own times. Scarcely anyone among Western Christians today, except for a handful of scholars, remembers the name of even one of the major, Arabic-speaking Christian theologians of the world of Islam; their very names seem to have been forgotten as their communities decreased in numbers.

III The demographic diminishment of the Christian communities at home in the world of Islam has many explanations. Perhaps the most eloquent of recent popular studies of the phenomenon is Philip Jenkins’ The Lost History of Christianity, in which the author studies the multiple ways in which religions might virtually die out, even in their homelands.19 In the instance of the continuing decline of a significant Christian presence in most of the Levant—the lands of its origins—is one of the few times in world history in which a large Christian population has for the most part converted to another religion. This realization has no doubt energized the large-scale missionary incursions on the part of Western Christians into Muslim countries from the late nineteenth century to today. As mentioned above, these efforts largely failed to convert Muslims, but often succeeded in converting Oriental Christians to western Christian denominations. The result has been the further weakening of the social and political posture of the fissiparous Oriental Christian churches in their homelands, effectively alienating them from the traditional idiom of religious discourse in Arabic in favor of a Western vocabulary inspired by the Reformation. Similarly, there have been the equally divisive movements of groups within some churches in the Oriental patriarchates to seek ecclesial

174

S. H. GRIFFITH

communion with the Patriarch of Rome, while retaining the usages of their traditional, ecclesiastical, canonical, and liturgical identities. The origins of these movements can be traced as far back as the time of the Crusades. From the twelfth century onward, a continuous stream of predominately Franciscan and Dominican missionaries and emissaries plenipotentiary from Rome travelled to the East in pursuit of what one might call a “politics of union,” making agreements in the name of the bishop of Rome with churchmen and politicians as far away as the Mongol rulers of China. These efforts bore fruit when parties within the Oriental churches eventually came into union with the see of Rome: Maronites (as mentioned previously), Melkites,20 Chaldeans, Syrian Catholics, Armenian Catholics, and Coptic Catholics. In the West, these so-called “uniate” churches came to be considered ecumenical bridges. But given their origins in tension and controversy, both locally and internationally, they also increased the ongoing estrangement between the churches East and West, and further weakened their social and political standing in their own homelands.21 Meanwhile, in the Middle East, as elsewhere in the world, Christians are faced with the multiple challenges of both intra-religious dialogue, that is to say ecumenism, and interreligious dialogue—specifically, but not exclusively, dialogue with Jews and Muslims.22 Given the situation of the churches within this milieu, dominated as they are by Muslims in most places or by Jews in Israel/Palestine, in ways unfamiliar to the West, the minuscule population of Christians in the Oriental patriarchates have squeezed between the external pressures exerted on the one hand by non-Christians and the call for the unity of Christians on the other. Furthermore, should by God’s grace communion be one day restored between the churches of Rome, Alexandria, Constantinople, and now Moscow, the rapprochement would immediately affect only those in the Orient already in communion with either the Catholic or the Orthodox churches. There would remain the historic communities of the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Armenian Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Ethiopic and Eritrean Orthodox Churches, not to mention their offshoots in India and elsewhere. The geographical icon of the state of this Christian and religious disunity in the Middle East is until today on display in Jerusalem, the “Mother of the Churches” as Cyril of Scythopolis (c.525–c.558) liked to call her. There the very loca sancta serve as visible, audible, even

8

THE CHRISTIAN WEST AND THE EASTERN PATRIARCHATES …

175

tactile monuments to interreligious and inter-Christian partitions. Virtually every church is present there; their interactions (sometimes physical) are played out publicly on a daily basis and often in a confrontational style. While the historical factors of confessional antipathy, religio-cultural dissonance, and demographic eclipse in the Middle East have conspired over the centuries to estrange Christians in the West from their coreligionists who were at home in the world of Islam, Western scholarly interest in the history and religious thought of all the communities of Arabophone Christians has steadily increased from the middle of the twentieth century until today. A high point of this development was achieved in mid-century with the publication of Georg Graf’s Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur.23 And an abundance of recent research and publication has increasingly called attention to Christian theology in Arabic, composed by Arabophone theologians of the several Oriental churches over the centuries, from the mid-eighth century in Abbasid times, almost to the beginnings of the Ottoman period of Islamic history.24 Scholars are now in a position to venture an overview of the growth and development of theology in Arabic in its classical period, and especially to explore its pertinence to today’s efforts by Christian theologians to do theology within the purview of Islam.

IV Christian theology in Arabic presents a discursive profile all its own. While the theologians of all the denominations at home in the World of Islam inherited a tradition rooted ultimately in Greek patristic sources, this heritage was most immediately channeled to them through the medium of their own culturally distinctive, confessional, and liturgical languages, particularly Syriac, Coptic, Armenian, and Ethiopic. Arabic for them was in the beginning a second language, a new public idiom in which they were called upon to articulate their own confessions of faith and to demonstrate the credibility of their several creedal formulae in response not only to one another’s counter-discourse, but also to the Qur’an’s and Islam’s direct challenge to the major articles of Christian faith, the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation. A feature of this newly Christian Arabic, already discernible in the earliest eighth century texts, both translations and original compositions in Arabic, is the Muslim cast of language, evident in the recurrence of Qur’anic diction and obvious

176

S. H. GRIFFITH

Islamic phraseology in Christian Arabic discourse. Religious vocabulary and modes of religious discourse were at this early point already Islamicized. The earliest Arabic-speaking Christian theologians were apologists for their faith, called mutakallim¯ un in Arabic, translated as “religious conversationalists.” Deeply rooted in the Christological reasoning behind their own community’s confessional formulae, they both refuted the claims of their own Christian, creedal adversaries, and also defended the reasonableness of Christian faith and practice against the objections of Muslims, in Islam’s canonical language. They followed both the controversial methodology and the topical outline of the contemporary Muslim mutakallim¯ un, who wrote in defense of the credibility of Islamic beliefs and practices. It is important to emphasize that throughout the three phases of Islamo-Christian theology in Arabic in its classical period, the two apologetic/polemical imperatives coursed in tandem with one another: the defense of the credibility of intra-Christian, confessional identity, and the defense of the credibility of the articles of Christian faith and Christian religious practice vis-à-vis the challenges of Islam. In both instances, Christians themselves were the primary audience for Christian theology in Arabic, even in instances in which a given work is addressed to a nonChristian individual or communal opponent. The aim was to explain and to defend credibility, not to convert a Muslim adversary. The method was to explain why Christian faith and practice are to be preferred over Islam because of its doctrinal credibility and moral practicality, proposed on the authority of both revelation and reason. The principal genres of Christian theology in Arabic had their origins in texts composed originally by Syriac-speaking writers in the early years of Islamic times.25 All of them, it is interesting to note, are dialogical in form and literary structure. The principal genres, both in Syriac and in Arabic, may be categorized as follows: the monk in the emir’s majlis; the master and the disciple; the epistolary exchange; and the formally systematic treatise. I will not describe these genres in any detail26 ; suffice it to say that the apologetic/polemical strategy evident in all of them highlights their inherently dialogical, conversational, even controversial character, a feature they share with the contemporary, Islamic c ilm alkal¯ am. A nagging problem faced Arabic-speaking Christian theologians, one that Syriac-speakers had encountered before them. It had to do with the fact that from Late Antiquity onward, Greek language and Greek

8

THE CHRISTIAN WEST AND THE EASTERN PATRIARCHATES …

177

intellectual culture dominated the linguistic articulation of Christian faith and practice, from the New Testament to the formation of the patristic and liturgical heritage of all the churches, up to and including the era of Constantinople’s Councils of Orthodoxy, from the Council of Nicea I (325) to the Council of Nicea II (787). Ecclesiastical thinkers and writers increasingly employed a Greek logical and metaphysical idiom in their explications of the intricacies of expression involved in controversial theological topics, such as in the articulation of confessional formulae regarding the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation. While the theological, creedal, conciliar, and canonical discourse of the patristic era were not limited to Greek, Christian speakers and writers in other patristic languages had to find translation terms in their own, non-Greek languages for carefully defined concepts enshrined in Greek; terms such as ousia, physis, hypostasis, and prosopon, to cite only the most important ones.27 Most non-Greek languages did not have terms that corresponded exactly to this Greek technical vocabulary. Terms chosen by philosophers and theologians to represent them in Syriac and Arabic, to mention the two most pertinent languages, had to be explained in reference to Greek meanings, which the translation terms in the target languages did not immediately suggest. I will not explore this issue in detail, but mentioned it because in this context of Arabic, it often made the difficult all but incomprehensible, if not utterly misleading. What is more, this lexical dissonance between Christian theology in Arabic, with its bias for Islam, and the languages of the Christian West further estranged of the Christian churches from one another. The apologetic, theological agenda adopted by Arabic-speaking Christian writers in the Islamic world was set in response to the challenges to Christian faith voiced by Muslims in two kinds of early Islamic texts: the Qur’an, and the S¯ırah and Had¯ıth literature, which contain the biography of Muhammad and communal memories of his words and deeds. The sixty-odd years during which this work came to maturity among Muslims correspond to the years during which Christian apologetics in the Islamic world found its first expression. The profile of Muhammad that emerges from the S¯ırah rests basically on an Islamic adaptation of the biblical themes found in the profiles of prophetic figures in Judaism and Christianity,28 and also Manichaeism. It was against this background that the topical agenda of the Christian apologies emerged, in tandem with those developed among Muslims in response to the teachings of the Qur’an, as they were interpreted by the Islamic mufassir¯ un, the exegetes of the Qur’an, and the Muslim mutakallim¯ un, the apologetic theologians.

178

S. H. GRIFFITH

V In its several historical phases, Christian theology in Arabic eventually became an Islamo-Christian theology, or a Christo-Islamic discourse articulated within the purview of Islam. It is theology born in interreligious dialogue avant la lettre, even a comparative theology. To echo a phrase from Nostra Aetate, Christian theology in Arabic in effect “rejects nothing that is true and holy (vera et sancta)” in Islamic thought. On the contrary, it defends the credibility of Christian faith and worship in terms that often take their cue from the very terms and lines of reasoning in which the Qur’an and Muslim kal¯ am challenge the basic articles of the Christian creed. These are the confession of a strict monotheism (attawh¯ıd), compatible with trebling the “oneness” of the one God (tathl¯ıth wahd¯ aniyyat All¯ ah), and the Christian recognition of the incarnate union (al-ittih¯ ad) of divinity and humanity in the person of Jesus, the Messiah, the son of Mary, recognized as prefigured in the scriptural accounts of the Bible’s Patriarchs and Prophets. Nostra Aetate, echoing the teaching of the encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Ecclesiam Suam (August 6, 1964),29 does as much in its brief paragraph expressing the Church’s esteem for the Muslims. In striking contrast to most earlier, Western ecclesiastical statements about Islam, Nostra Aetate does not address perceived errors or heresies in the career of Muhammad and in the teachings of the Qur’an; the conciliar text does not even mention “God’s messenger and seal of the prophets” (XXXIII al-Ahz¯ ab 40), nor does it cite the Arabic scripture by name, thereby setting aside the two topics hotly attacked for centuries by Western, anti-Muslim polemicists: the Qur’an and the person of Muhammad.30 To the contrary, the text immediately expresses the church’s esteem for Muslims (Muslimos ) and proceeds to describe Islamic faith and practice in irenic, subtly comparative language that can be seen actually to mirror the structure of Islamic creedal statements. They adore the one God (unicum Deum adorant ), living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth,31 who has spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable (occultis ) decrees, just as Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself (libenter sese refert ) submitted to God. Though they do not acknowledge (agnoscunt ) Jesus as God, they revere (venerantur) Him as a prophet (prophetam). They also honor Mary, His virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition,

8

THE CHRISTIAN WEST AND THE EASTERN PATRIARCHATES …

179

they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead. Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting. (Nostra Aetate, par. 3; Vatican translation)

The Islamically astute reader will readily recognize the text’s irenic rendition of distinctly Islamic phrasing, rendered in typical, Latin Christian phraseology, a point which I will not explore in detail. The topical am, moves agenda, in the characteristic fashion of the Arabic c ilm al-kal¯ from the confession of one God (at-tawh¯ıd), to a list of God’s attributes (sif¯ at All¯ ah), to “God’s is what is in the heavens and on the earth,” (Q LXI:1), to the fact of divine revelation (at-tanz¯ıl ) to humankind, to prophetology (an-nubuwwah), to the iconic role of Abraham and the Virgin Mary, and finally to morality and the Last Day, the final Judgment. At the end, one recognizes in the Christian troika, “prayer, almsgiving, and fasting,” three of the five pillars of Islam: (salat, zakat, and sawm), leaving out only the Islam specific shah¯ adah, and the once in a lifetime hajj to Mecca. It is important to recognize several instances in which the connotations of certain terms in the Vatican’s approved English translation of paragraph 3 of Nostra Aetate seem to be out of sync with the carefully chosen terms of the official Latin text. In the first place, because Latin has no definite article, the phrase unicum Deum adorant is best translated as “they adore one only God.” “They adore the one God” is defensible in the context, but it overdetermines the text’s literal affirmation.32 Similarly, to speak of God’s “inscrutable” decrees seems to be an overstatement of occultis, which is here meant to refer to God’s test of Abraham’s faith, recounted in Genesis 22:1–19, and more closely corresponds to “secret,” “hidden,” or “mysterious.” It is likely that the text, which more literally says that Islam “refers itself to the faith of Abraham,” means not to affirm a link, but to say that Islam freely adopts the faith of Abraham as a paradigm for its own faith in God’s commands and promises; Abraham is the Qur’an’s model of monotheism par excellence. Finally, regarding Jesus, to say that though Muslims do not acknowledge Jesus as God, “they revere Him as a prophet” understates the text’s virtual imperative statement that Jesus is nevertheless (tamen) to be venerated (venerantur) as a prophet, a phrasing that seems to recognize His status in the Qur’an as a “hyper” prophet, even “the Word of God and a Spirit from Him” (IV an-Nis¯ a’ 171). These matters of translation into English, albeit minor, are important because the authoritative Latin text in the instances mentioned is less

180

S. H. GRIFFITH

restrictive and more suggestive in connotation in the Catholic tradition than the English equivalents readily connote. The periti, Vatican II’s scholar-consultants who carefully crafted paragraph 3 of Nostra Aetate as it was officially promulgated on 28 October, 1965, were principally scholars of Islamic thought; they were not primarily students of Christian theology in Arabic, i.e., Islamo-Christian theology. Nevertheless, they were surely thinking theologically within the purview of Islam in a way that mirrors the approach of the earlier, Arabophone theologians of the Christians in the World of Islam in their heyday. While their work is still largely unknown and unstudied by western scholars, Nostra Aetate’s summons “to work sincerely for mutual understanding” between Muslims and Christians should certainly encourage scholars to remember the Muslim/Christian fraternity of an earlier era as a first step not only in today’s Muslim/Christian interreligious dialogue, but also as a moment of ecumenical progress toward reversing the centuries’ long estrangement between the churches of East and West.

VI Muslim observers of the Christian churches in their midst have done their best over the centuries to describe and understand the differences between their communities, those whom they called the Melkites, the Jacobites, and the Nestorians. These Muslims noted that the three mainline Christian denominations, to borrow modern terminology, agreed with one another on almost every point of doctrine, and that their theological divisions were predicated almost solely on their differing confessional formulas, and in the expression of several views about how the union of the divine and the human in the incarnate Christ may most truthfully be stated. Arabic-speaking Christian writers were well aware of the same issue, though most of them went to vigorous lengths in their Arabic works to defend the veracity of their own denomination’s formulas against those of other Christian adversaries. And it was in this process that the several churches developed enduring expressions of their differences with one another. Nevertheless, there were also some ecumenists among the Christian writers who thought that in the face of the multiple challenges from Islam, it would behoove the Christians to look beyond their mutual differences for the sake of presenting a united defense of the credibility of Christian beliefs.

8

THE CHRISTIAN WEST AND THE EASTERN PATRIARCHATES …

181

In the tenth century, the Melkite scholar Ab¯ u ‘Al¯ı Na¯ıf ibn Yumn (d. after 983) wrote a treatise in which he proposed the then novel idea that Christians living among Muslims should come to some accord among themselves, recognizing that Christians do in fact confess the same faith, while they express it in different confessional formulas. The Coptic theologian al-Mu’taman ibn ‘Ass¯al (fl. 1240) took up this idea in the thirteenth century in his magisterial work in Arabic, The Summary of the Principles of Religion. Explicitly and by name, relying on Ibn Yumn’s suggestion, he explained how all the Christian communities and denominations in fact professed the same faith in Christ, although they differed in their theologies.33 One does not find this idea echoed in Western Christian thought until modern times: in the wake of Vatican II, and in Pope Paul VI’s and John Paul II’s accords with these same ecclesial communities, citing creedal agreement explained in differing theologies.34 In 1977, a French priest and peritus at Vatican II, who belonged to the Greek Catholic/Melkite Catholic Church of Beirut, published a book titled L’Église des Arabes, which was reissued in 2007 with a long preface by Fr. Gabriel Hachem, also a Melkite Catholic priest, and at the time director of the Faith and Unity section of the Middle East Council of Churches.35 The book is an historical and cultural analysis of the fourteen churches of the patriarchate of Antioch. On the basis of the mosaic of ecclesiastical traditions historically associated with the metropolis of Antioch, and also of these churches’ encounter with Islam, Fr. Corbon calls for their communion. He places a special emphasis on the kenosis and suffering of the churches in this region as a particular ground for seeking communion in love with one another. Speaking of their ancient divisions (canonical, doctrinal, and pastoral), Fr. Corbon calls for a dialogue among the local churches, eschewing interference from churches in the West, with whom some local communities are in communion. He emphasizes the vision of these churches in communion with one another rather than a unity or union of churches. A force for Christian communion in the territories of the Oriental patriarchates has in modern times been the Middle East Council of Churches, made up of families of the local churches, under the following names: Oriental Orthodox family, Eastern Orthodox family, Catholic family, and Evangelical family. The council defines itself as a “fellowship of churches” in the very area in which the Church was born, which is in search of a “healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:2) in view of the burden

182

S. H. GRIFFITH

of the human dysfunction weighing heavily upon them. The MECC was inaugurated in 1974, but the Catholic churches did not join until 1990. And even today, due to ancient theological enmity, the Assyrian Church of the East is excluded from this list of twenty-eight member churches.36 There are many other ecumenical organizations and movements active among the churches in the Middle East, such as the Congress of Catholic Bishops and Patriarchs of the Middle East, the al-Liqa’ Center for ecumenical and interreligious dialogue, and the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, to name only a few. Among the individual churches, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch with its Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development has been particularly open to other churches. But in regard to the healing of theological, doctrinal, and canonical rifts among the churches, the steps toward reunion are still in the early stages. Two most hopeful developments are the ongoing conversations under a number of auspices between the Orthodox and the so-called Oriental Orthodox, and the Catholic Church’s Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, and of both of them with the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Typical of the statements emanating from both the Orthodox and Catholic conversations with the Oriental Orthodox are those that affirm common faith while noting differing theological formulas, and acknowledging the difficulties stemming from the decisions and anathemas of past councils, along with issues of liturgical openness between the churches. The road toward a reunited church is clearly a long one, but it is equally clear that the Orthodox and Catholic churches have been willing to take the first steps along the way to opening themselves to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to work together in the effort to bring about the fulfillment of Our Lord’s prayer for his disciples: “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou has sent me” (John XVII:20–21).

8

THE CHRISTIAN WEST AND THE EASTERN PATRIARCHATES …

183

Notes 1. See, e.g., John Anthony McGuckin, The Path of Christianity: The First Thousand Years (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2017). In this excellent overview, Middle Eastern Christians are mentioned sporadically and only briefly, and then only in reference to the course of western Christian history, Orthodox and Catholic. 2. See, e.g., Vincent Deroche, Entre Rome et l’Islam: Les Chrétientés d’Orient, 610–1054 (Paris: Éditions Sedes, 1996). 3. See J. M. Hussey, The Orthodox Church in the Byzantine Empire (Oxford History of the Christian Church; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), esp. pp. 62–68. 4. In a recent publication, Jack Tannous has, in my opinion, wrongly discounted the reality and force of the inter-confessional, theological antipathy between the churches of the Middle East. See Jack Tannous, The Making of the Medieval Middle East: Religion, Society, and Simple Believers (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018). 5. For more on the Oriental churches in the world of Islam, see Sidney H. Griffith, The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), pp. 129–155. 6. See Peter W. Edbury and John Gorden Rowe, William of Tyre: Historian of the Latin East (Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991). 7. See the English translation in Jacques de Vitry, The History of Jerusalem AD 1180 (New York: Forgotten Books, 2017). 8. See Rita George Tvrtkovic, A Christian Pilgrim in Medieval Iraq: Riccoldo da Montecroce (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2012). 9. See Joseph Gill, The Council of Florence (Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 1959). 10. For a historical overview and up to date bibliography, see Heather J. Sharkey, A History of Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the Middle East (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017). With some caution, see also the publications of Bat Ye’or, in particular her Islam and Dhimitude: Where Civilizations Collide (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2002). See also Yohanan Friedmann, Tolerance and Coercion in Islam: Interfaith Relations in the Muslim Tradition (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003). 11. See Sidney H. Griffith, “The Qur’an’s ‘Nazarenes’ and Other Late Antique Christians: Arabic-Speaking, ‘Gospel People’ in Qur’anic Perspective,” in S. H. Griffith and S. Grebenstein (eds.), Christsein in der islamischen Welt: Festschrift für Martin Tamcke zum 60. Geburtstag (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2015), pp. 81–106. 12. Albert Hourani, A History of the Arab Peoples (New York: Warner Books, 1992), pp. 54–57.

184

S. H. GRIFFITH

13. See Sidney H. Griffith, “Byzantium and the Christians in the World of Islam: Constantinople and the Church in the Holy Land in the Ninth Century,” Medieval Encounters 3 (1997), pp. 231–265: idem, “What Has Constantinople to Do with Jerusalem? Palestine in the Ninth Century; Byzantine Orthodoxy in the World of Islam,” in Leslie Brubaker (ed.), Byzantium in the Ninth Century: Dead or Alive? Papers from the Thirtieth Spring Symposium of Byzantine Studies, Birmingham, March 1996 (Aldershot, UK and Brookfield, VT: Variorum, 1998), pp. 181–194. 14. See Sidney H. Griffith, “The Monks of Palestine and the Growth of Christian Literature in Arabic,” The Muslim World 78 (1988), pp. 1–28; idem, “Greek in Arabic: Life and Letters in the Monasteries of Palestine in the 9th Century: The Example of the Summa Theologie Arabica,” Byzantion 56 (1986), pp. 117–138. 15. See Richard W. Bulliet, The Case for Islamo-Christian Civilization (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004). 16. See James Kritzeck, Peter the Venerable and Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1964). See Jose Muñoz Sendino, “Al-Kindi, Apologia del Christianismo,” Miscelanea Comillas 11 & 12 (1949), pp. 339–460. An English translation is available in N. A. Newman, The Early ChristianMuslim Dialogue: A Collection of Documents from the First Three Islamic Centuries (632–900 AD); Translations with Commentary (Hatfield, PA: Interdisciplinary Biblica Research Institute, 1993), pp. 365–545. 17. See F. Samir Khalil Samir and Fr. Wafik Nasry, The Patriarch and the Caliph: an Eighth-Century Dialogue between Timothy I and al-Mahdi; a Parallel English-Arabic Text (Provo, Utah: Bringham Young University Press, 2018). 18. See Thomas E. Burman, Religious Polemic and the Intellectual History of the Mozarabs, c. 1050–1200 (Brill’s Studies in Intellectual History, vol. 52; Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), pp. 96–97. 19. Philip Jenkins, The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia—How It Died (New York: Harper One, 2008). 20. The term “Melkite” is ambiguous. In its origins in early Islamic times it was coined by its adversaries to designate those Arabic-speaking Christians who professed the faith of Byzantine Orthodoxy, but it was not synonymous with “Greek Orthodox.” Nevertheless, after the time of the Crusades, and especially in Ottoman times, when the Greek Orthodox Church gained the upper hand over their coreligionists in the Oriental Patriarchates, the Melkites; were for all practical purposes now subsumed into the Greek Orthodo’ Church in the Middle East. In modern times, adding to the terminological confusion, the old designation “Melkite” was co-opted after the year 1729 by the Arabic-speaking, “Melkite” Greek Catholic Church, a community that in the eighteenth century came from

8

21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

26. 27.

28.

29.

THE CHRISTIAN WEST AND THE EASTERN PATRIARCHATES …

185

the Orthodox Church into union with Rome. See Robert M. Haddad, Syrian Christians in Muslim Society: An Interpretation (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1970). See Bernard Heyberger, Les Chrétiens du Proche-Orient: Au temps de la réforme catholique; Syrie, Liban, Palestine, XVIIe – XVIIIe siècles (Rome: École Française de Rome, 1994). See also Jean-Pierre Valognes, Vie et mort des chrétiens d’Orient: des origins à nos jours (Paris: Fayard, 1994). See the reflections in Pope Benedict XVI, “Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Medio Oriente” (http://www.vatican.va), and the articles collected in Anthony O’Mahony and John Flannery (eds.), The Catholic Church in the Contemporary Middle East (London: Melisende, 2010). See Georg Graf, Geschichte der christlichen arabischen Literatur (5 vols., Studi e Testi, 118, 133, 146, 147, 172; Vatican City: Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1944–1953). For bibliographical guidance, see in particular David Thomas et al. (eds.), Christian–Muslim Relations: A Bibliographical History (12 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 2009–2018). For a general survey of these early texts, see Sidney H. Griffith, “Disputes with Muslims in Syriac Christian Texts: From Patriarch John (d. 648) to Bar Hebraeus (d. 1286),” in Bernard Lewis and Friedrich Niewöhner (eds.), Religionsgespräche im Mittelalter (Wolfenbütteler Symposion, 1989; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1992), pp. 251–273. For much more detail, see now Michael Philip Penn, Envisioning Islam: Syriac Christians and the Early Muslim World (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015); idem, When Christians First Met Muslims: A Source Book of the Earliest Syriac Writings on Islam (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2025). See the genres and strategies of discourse discussed in some detail in Griffith, The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque, pp. 75–105. See the discussion of these Greek terms and their often used, Arabic translations in Rachid Haddad, La trinité divine chez les théologiens arabes (750–1050) (Paris: Beauchesne, 1985). See Uri Rubin, The Eye of the Beholder: the Life of Muhammad as Viewed by the Early Muslims; a Textual Analysis (Studies in Late Antiquity and Early Islam, 5; Princeton: The Darwin Press, 1995). Under the heading, ‘Second Circle: Worshippers of the One God,” Pope Paul VI speaks in Ecclesiam Suam of the Jewish People and goes on to say, “Then we have those worshippers who adhere to other monotheistic systems of religion, especially the Moslem religion. We do well to admire these people for all that is good and true in their worship of God” (par. 107). English trans., The Pope Speaks 10 (1964), pp. 253–292.

186

S. H. GRIFFITH

30. See most recently John V. Tolan, Faces of Muhammad: Western Perceptions of the Prophet of Islam from the Middle Ages to Today (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2019). See now the forthcoming study by Anna Bonita Moreland, Muhammad Reconsidered: A Christian Perspective on Islamic Prophecy (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, March 2020). 31. A note in the text (n. 5) says: “Cf St. Gregory VII to Anzir (Nacir), King of Mauritania (Pl. 148, col. 450f.).” 32. It has been argued that the documents of Vatican II and other contemporary magisterial documents place “the God of Islam in a special relationship with Christianity. If this is correct, this is a new magisterial teaching at the Council.” Gavin D’Costa, Vatican II: Catholic Doctrines on Jews and Muslims (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014), p. 185. On this view, the new teaching is the explicit recognition that Christians and Muslims acknowledge and worship the one, same God. Nostra Aetate on its own does not literally say this. Christian anti-Muslim polemicists often claim that Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God. Even so notable a scholar of Christian/Muslim relations as the late Bishop Kenneth Cragg, spoke of “a partly mutual theism” between Christians and Muslims in the preface to his English translation of the City of Wrong. See M. Kamel Hussein, City of Wrong: A Friday in Jerusalem (trans. Kenneth Cragg; Oxford: One World, 1994), p. vii. 33. See Sidney H. Griffith, The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2008), pp. 129–142. 34. See the references in Pope John Paul II, Ut Unum Sint, par. 62. 35. Jean Corbon, L’Église des Arabes (Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1977 and 2007). 36. See the information available on the council’s website: http://www.mecchurches.org.

CHAPTER 9

The Holy See, Islam, and the Role of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchs in Developing Nostra Aetate Kail C. Ellis

This chapter focuses on how the Second Vatican Council came to include Muslims and Islam in a five-part document initially designed to examine the Church’s relationship with the Jews and Judaism. In particular, the chapter highlights the important role of scholars and missionaries who prepared the way for the statement, and that of the Catholic patriarchs and bishops of the Eastern Church and the prelates from Asia who insisted that Muslims and Islam as well as other non-Christian religions be addressed. It concludes with a summary of the current trends in Muslim–Christian relations.

K. C. Ellis (B) Villanova University, Villanova, PA, USA e-mail: [email protected]

© The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_9

187

188

K. C. ELLIS

Nostra Aetate’s Statement on Muslims and Islam Nostra Aetate’s statement on Muslims and Islam is a brief but carefully worded document specifically geared to Muslim belief. It begins with the assurance that the Catholic Church regards Muslims “with esteem,” and specifies that the Islamic faith acknowledges the one God, the Creator, omnipotent and merciful; accepts the revelation of God as the “Speaker to humanity” through the prophets; “just as Abraham, with whom Islam takes pleasure in linking itself”; and calls for total submission to God’s inscrutable decrees (islâm means submission to God). The beliefs that Christians and Muslims have in common are mentioned in the document, including Muslim regard for Jesus (Though they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet ); Mary, (at times they even call on her with devotion); the day of judgment, (they await the day of judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead); and the moral life (They value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting ). The declaration acknowledges “in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Muslims” but urges “all to forget the past and strive sincerely for mutual understanding.” It calls upon Christians and Muslims to “make common cause of safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace, and freedom.”1 This goal proved to be especially important for future Muslim–Christian dialogue.

The Origin of Nostra Aetate The narrative of Nostra Aetate’s origin usually begins with a description of the private audience between Pope John XXIII and Jules Isaac, the highly respected French Jewish historian, that took place on 13 June 1960. The process for the inclusion of other non-Christian religions in Nostra Aetate, however, is generally less well known although it is commonly attributed to the concerns of the Eastern Catholic patriarchs who feared the ramifications of a council statement on the Jews and Judaism on the Christian communities in the Middle East. Anthony O’Mahony disagrees with this assessment as “it would be too negative an evaluation to suggest that Nostra Aetate emerged solely in relation

9

THE HOLY SEE, ISLAM, AND THE ROLE OF THE EASTERN CATHOLIC …

189

to a controversy over a document on the Catholic Church’s relationship with Judaism.” Such views, he cautions, overlook the Church’s much earlier outreach to Muslims and other non-Christian religions prior to the development of Nostra Aetate.2 One example of this outreach occurred in January 1961, when Cardinal Amleto Cicognani, the Secretary of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, approached the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) about establishing a position in their congregation that would be devoted to predominately Muslim countries. Heading the position would be a specialist in Islamic Studies who was also a member of the White Fathers congregation. The White Fathers agreed and Fr. Joseph Cuoq, a well-known missionary in Africa, was subsequently selected for the position.3 It was also at this time that a number of other scholars began to emerge who would assist in articulating the Church’s relationship with other religions. Among them was Fr. Georges Anawati, a Dominican scholar of Islam and a consultor to the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. His 1963 lecture at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (Angelicum) on the topic, “Islam at the time of the Council: prolegomenes (introductory remarks) of an Islamic-Christian dialogue,” so highly impressed Cardinal Eugene Tisserant, former Secretary of the Oriental Churches and Dean of the College of Cardinals, that he later recommended Fr. Anawati to Cardinal Bea to assist in drafting section 3 of Nostra Aetate on the Church’s relations with Muslims.4 As discussions of including Islam in the document proceeded, some conciliar Fathers from the missionary orders serving in Asia and Africa expressed concerned about the sole focus on Islam. They pointed out that including Muslims and Islam in the declaration could be viewed by some as giving them a privileged position in the document at the expense of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Animism, the traditional religion of African peoples.5 Eventually, this concern was addressed by mentioning these religions in section 2 of the declaration. The major thrusts of the declaration, however, remained in section 3 that dealt with Muslims and Islam and section 4, a larger, more expansive statement on the spiritual bond between Christians and Jews.

190

K. C. ELLIS

Pioneers of Catholic Scholarship on Islam Catholic scholarship in theology relating to Muslims and Islam, nevertheless, had been developing in the minds of Catholic thinkers for some decades.6 These scholars included not only Georges Anawati, but also Jean Danielou, Louis Massignon, Louis Gardet, Jean Mohammed alJalil, Maurice Boormans, and Youakim Moubarac. Danielou, a Jesuit and later Cardinal, was involved in the Cercle du Saint Jean-Baptiste between 1944 and 1974. The Cercle promoted interreligious dialogue and practiced a tolerant approach to modernity by welcoming young migrants and laying the solid foundations for interreligious dialogue and a positive appreciation of religions.7 Louis Massignon’s pioneering work of fostering interreligious dialogue led to a new concept of Islam in Catholic circles, although his vision proved controversial and was never explicitly expressed in the conciliar texts.8 Massignon was a distinguished scholar and diplomat who returned to the Catholic faith of his childhood through studying the Muslim mystic and poet, al-Husayn ibn Mansur al-Hallaj (858–922). In 1934, he and his associate, Mary Kahil created the Badaliya sodality in Cairo that sought to bring Muslims and Christians together in prayer and substitutive love. Badaliya, the plural of the Arabic badil, is the one who, chosen by God, offers oneself in the place of another. As advanced by Massignon, adherents of the Badaliya “would live the Trinitarian Missions of self-emptying love and knowledge as the means for inviting, attracting, and welcoming Muslims [and] as a way of redressing in love whatever might be lacking in Muslim prayer and belief.”9 Massignon and Kahil received official approval from Rome in 1947 for the statutes of the Badaliya. They attracted many members in Cairo, as well as those who were inspired to join in solidarity with them from the Roman Badaliya, among whom was then Monsignor Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Pope Paul VI, and many others in monasteries and church communities around the world.10 Massignon died in 1962, just as the Second Vatican Council was opening. However, his influence continued through his students who held prominent positions at the Council. Fr. Anawati credits the change in the Church’s negative theological perception of Islam to Massignon’s work.11 Other scholars who became prominent figures at the Council included Jean Mohammed Abd el-Jalil and Louis Gardet, whom Maurice Boormans identified as Christian pioneers of dialogue with Islam. Boormans,

9

THE HOLY SEE, ISLAM, AND THE ROLE OF THE EASTERN CATHOLIC …

191

a member of the congregation of White Fathers, was a faculty member at the Institut des Belles-Lettres Arabes in Tunis, where he taught Muslim law and the history of Christian–Muslim relations.12 Writing about Abd al-Jalil and Gardet, he noted that their backgrounds and work were essential to bringing the practitioners of Islam and Christianity closer together.13 Abd al-Jalil was a Moroccan convert whose academic career and many friendships brought him to Catholicism in 1928. He took Jean as his baptismal name and asked Massignon to be his sponsor. His path eventually led him to the Franciscan Order and ordination to the priesthood in 1935. Both his Muslim cultural background and newly found Christian religious convictions enabled him to help Christians understand Islam and Muslim civilization. His books include Interior Aspects of Islam, History of Arabic Literature, and Marie [Mary] and Islam. He also published anonymously in the journal En terre d’Islam, calling on the faithful “to devote Friday to prayer for our distant brothers.”14 Louis Gardet was also a Catholic priest who, with the assistance of Massignon, was one of the founders of the Little Brothers of Jesus and an expert in Islamic culture and sociology. Highly critical of what he considered the West’s “obsession” with an absolute Christian civilization that denigrated other cultures as inferior realities, he believed that resistance to the Muslim world could be dispelled only by dialogue. With Anawati, Gardet published Introduction to Muslim Theology (1948). He was also the sole author of two authoritative books, The Muslim City: Social and Political Life (1954), and Islam, Religion and Community (1964). The scholarship of the Lebanese Maronite priest, Youakim Moubarac, also reflects Massignon’s influence. Moubarac’s doctoral thesis, asserting that the Abraham of the Qur’an was as neither a Jew nor a Christian, but a Hanif muslim (a person who is upright, a true believer), proved highly controversial.15 He was among a core of sympathizers to the Badaliya that Massignon and Mary Kahil founded for Eastern Christians living among Muslims.16 He authored several important scholarly books on Islam and Christianity, including the multi-volume Pentologie Maronite (1985). It is thanks to these Catholic scholars and their interest in and recognition of Islam over many years, that the groundwork was prepared for the inclusion of Muslims in the landmark declaration, Nostra Aetate.

192

K. C. ELLIS

Ecclesiam Suam and Lumen Gentium While the work of Islamic scholars was important in the developing the Church’s attitude toward Muslims, others consider that the radical change in the attitude of the Church toward Islam and other religions began officially with Pope Paul VI’s first encyclical, Ecclesiam Suam (His Church). Issued just prior to the third session of the council on 6 August 1964, the pope made clear that his intention was not “to make this encyclical [Ecclesiam Suam] a solemn proclamation of Catholic doctrine or of moral or social principles,” but rather, “to send you a sincere message, as between brothers and members of a common family.” His citing of “worshipers who adhere to other monotheistic systems of religion, especially the Moslem religion,” as well as his invitation that “We do well to admire these people for all that is good and true in their worship of God,” were important expressions of the Church’s appreciation of Muslim monotheism.17 Ecclesiam Suam was followed three months later by the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium (Light of the Nations ), promulgated by Paul VI on 21 November 1964. Lumen Gentium affirmed “the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place, amongst these there are the Muslims who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.”18 The delicacy with which Paul VI mentioned Muslims in Ecclesiam Suam, and the council’s declaration, Nostra Aetate, which lists the shared beliefs of Muslims and Christians, are significant for what is not mentioned. There is no mention of the Qur’an or of the prophet Muhammed, nor is there reference to Islam’s fundamental difference with Christianity, namely, the Incarnation as a means of revelation in Christianity.19 These omissions gave rise to criticisms that Nostra Aetate references Muslims but not Islam. Fr. Anawati comments: “One can say that the Declaration summaries with a minimum of words Muslim theodicy but not what is essential to Muslim faith of which the belief in the mission of Muhammad is one of the most important elements.” Anthony O’Mahony, however, confirms that these omissions were deliberate, not an oversight. He states that “the council never intended to give a full description of Islam, as it was reluctant to enter into a comprehensive theological assessment of the tradition given the Qur’an’s passages on polygamy and repudiation, as well as mainstream Islam’s teaching on

9

THE HOLY SEE, ISLAM, AND THE ROLE OF THE EASTERN CATHOLIC …

193

the essential link between the spiritual and the temporal and between religion and state.”20 Despite its reluctance to address these issues, O’Mahony states nonetheless that the council did not foreclose discussion of these matters with Nostra Aetate. Rather, they were left open for future consideration by the Church.21

The Pontificates of Benedict XV and Pius XI Pope Benedict XV assumed the papacy on 3 September 1914, barely a week after the beginning of the First World War. His previous service in the papal diplomatic core and the Secretariat of State of the Holy See would seem to have prepared him with the diplomatic experience necessary to deal with the European catastrophe that he characterized as “the Suicide of Civilized Europe.” However, his efforts in negotiating with the belligerent powers met with limited success, despite his stance of neutrality. His plea to hold a Christmas truce in 1914, his encyclicals condemning “the most awful weapons military science has devised,” and the peace plan he proposed that was linked to justice rather than military conquest, were ignored.22 Added to the carnage of war in Europe, Benedict was confronted with the 1915–1916 genocide of Armenian, Syriac, and Chaldean Christians. Scholars of the genocide contend that this was part of a thirty-year effort by the Ottomans to rid the empire of its Christian communities, seeing them as a danger to the state’s survival. Tragically, by 1924, it had resulted in the killing or exclusion of four million Christians.23 Benedict wrote to the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V pleading with him to intervene, but his letter went unanswered.24 Although Benedict’s efforts at peacemaking were rebuffed, it is clear that he anticipated the post-war international chaos the war would engender. With the collapse of the Russian Empire in 1917, Benedict managed to believe that the Provisional Government of Alexander Kerensky might provide the opportunity for reunion with the Russian Orthodox Church. This hope proved unrealistic and was soon dashed by the October Revolution of 1917, the creation of Soviet Russia, and the rise of Communism. One may surmise that it was because of these setbacks that Benedict turned his attention to the conditions of the remaining Christians in the teetering Ottoman Empire who, in the early twentieth century, accounted for twenty percent of the empire’s population. The end of the empire came in stages, first with the armistice in October 1918, and definitively with the abolition of the Sultanate in

194

K. C. ELLIS

1922. However, the catastrophe of the Christians’ fate continued with the “exchange” of the Ottoman Greek Christian population in Anatolia and Muslims in Greece that was formalized by the treaty of Lausanne in 1923, legalizing the expulsion of an additional two million Anatolian Greeks and Balkan Muslims.25 As a response to the plight of the Eastern Christians, Benedict XV utilized the Holy See’s resources by establishing in 1917 two institutes. The first was the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, which was charged with responsibility for assisting Eastern Christians in the development and protection of their rights. The second was the Pontifical Oriental Institute, a school of higher learning for graduate students to pursue research, teaching, and publishing related to the traditions of the Eastern Churches. Both institutions were designed as magnets for students from the Eastern Catholic and Byzantine Orthodox traditions to engage each other’s traditions. In the more than one hundred years since their founding, both institutions have served the Christians of the East. The Pontifical Oriental Institute, for example, counts among its graduates several Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs of the Eastern Churches as well as the current Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of some 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide.26 Pope Pius XI built upon Benedict’s initiatives by establishing the chair in Islamic Institutions in the Pontifical Oriental Institute. His encyclical, Rerum Orientalium (On the Promotion of Oriental Studies ) of 8 September 1928,27 moved the study of Islam to the forefront of the Church’s involvement in the Middle East. Pius XI was proud of this achievement and later recalled “ with special gratification” that the chair was “a thing hitherto unheard of in Roman centers of learning.” Paul Ali Mehmet Mulla Zadem, a Turkish convert to Christianity was appointed to hold the chair.28

The Dominicans and the Missionaries of Africa (White Fathers) The pioneering work of Benedict XV and Pius XI inspired other scholars to present positive assessments of Muslims and Islam.29 Marie-Dominique Chenu, the dean of the Dominican seminary of Le Saulchoir, Belgium and a specialist of thirteenth-century historical theology, was among the leaders of this initiative. Chenu believed it was important to study the role of the Arab philosophers in the transmission of Greek philosophy to

9

THE HOLY SEE, ISLAM, AND THE ROLE OF THE EASTERN CATHOLIC …

195

Europe from its original sources, and not to rely on “questionable translations barely faithful to primary material.”30 His efforts corresponded with those of Cardinal Eugene Tisserant, the Secretary of the Congregation of the Oriental Church who was actively engaged in the Vatican’s efforts to expand Christian knowledge of other religions, especially Islam. In 1938, Tisserant petitioned the Dominican General Chapter in Rome to prepare a team of friars to study Muslim beliefs that would lead to an institute for Oriental studies. Chenu was placed in charge of the initiative, and began mentoring three students: Fathers Georges Anawati, Jacques Jomier, and Serge de Beaurecueil, all of whom were later periti (experts) at the Second Vatican Council.31 Chenu emphasized that their goal was to open a dialogue, without proselytism, between Muslim and Christian scholars. Specifically, he told his students, “Your endeavor is not at all to try to subjugate Islam, or to attempt to convert a few Muslims separated from their community, but your task is to give yourself utterly to a serious study of Islam, its doctrine and civilization.”32 Chenu’s efforts resulted in the founding of the Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies in 1953, with Fr. Anawati as the first director. Cairo, the intellectual center of the Arab world and the home of Al Azhar University (established in 970 and one of the oldest Islamic universities in the world), was selected as its location.33 Earlier, in 1926, the White Fathers founded the Institute des BellesLettres Arabes in Tunisia. This institute also became a major contributor to the Holy See’s promotion of the study of Islam.34 Cardinal Bea later testified to the importance of both institutions to the development of Nostra Aetate.35

Muslim and Eastern Christian Responses to the Council When Pope John XXIII announced in 1959 that he would convoke an Ecumenical Council, he listed two main objectives: the internal reform of the Church and dialogue with other Christian Churches.36 Given these goals, Muslims regarded the council as a Christian affair, and had no special reactions or expectations from it. The Egyptian journal Magallat al-Azhar, associated with Al Azhar University, was an exception. Three journalists from the publication wrote about the Council in general terms. The first journalist urged Catholics and Muslims to agree on certain points of common interest in economic

196

K. C. ELLIS

and political areas and to combat atheism. The second article, more political, identified Zionism as an enemy, stating that “we are waiting for the Holy See to take a stronger and clearer position against it and to condemn it publicly.”37 The third journalist stressed the mutual concern of Muslims and Christians over the sacred places in Palestine and the tragedy of the Palestinian refugees, which affected both Christian and Muslim Arabs in the same way.38 The preparatory commission for the council sent requests for agenda items to over 2400 bishops, 156 superiors-general of male religious communities, and sixty-nine pontifical faculties of theology and canon law. Only four responses were recorded. The first came from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome in a letter from the rector and eighteen members of the Jesuit faculty, which requested discussion of anti-Semitism. A similar request came from the University of Fribourg, Switzerland that asked the Council to declare unacceptable three propositions dealing with the Jews, namely: (i) “the Jews rejected and crucified Jesus,” (ii) “the believers from the Gentiles have been elected instead of the people of Israel,” and (iii) “the people of Israel have been rejected by God forever.”39 Finally, the Pontifical Urbaniana in Rome and the Pontifical Faculty in Ponna, India urged the adoption of a spiritual theology and an appreciation of the religious values of other religions.40 The general lack of interest was reflected in the response from Middle Eastern Christians, with the possible exception of the Greek Catholics and their Patriarch, Maximos IV. At this time, Eastern Christians had little interest in Christian dialogue with Muslims. Instead, their concerns centered on Islam’s influence on their lives in subtle and overt ways such as job discrimination, the denial of leadership roles in academia and in the military and security forces, onerous governmental regulations that impeded the repair and building of churches, and the use of “blasphemy laws” to settle disputes by accusing Christians of disrespecting Islam. While he was acutely aware of these difficulties, Patriarch Maximos IV remained convinced that Eastern Christians and the Arabic-speaking churches in general could be a bridge between the Arab (Muslim) and Western minds by fostering dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

9

THE HOLY SEE, ISLAM, AND THE ROLE OF THE EASTERN CATHOLIC …

197

The Eastern Catholic Bishops and the Politics of Nostra Aetate The Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, under the direction of Cardinal Bea, prepared the schema Decretum de Iudaeis, “On the Jews,” in November 1961 for the first session of the Council. Initially a freestanding draft, it was not discussed because of three concerns. The first was the Wardi affair, an attempt by the World Jewish Congress to appoint Chaim Wardi as the representative of the World Jewish Congress at the Vatican. The appointment was endorsed by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.41 However, the appointment did not take place, as it had no authorization from the Vatican and violated the Council’s protocol that limited observer status to Christians and to those invited by the Secretariat.42 The second concern was the reaction of the Arab governments, who anticipated the schema would be a prelude to Vatican recognition of the state of Israel. The third concern was the objection of Eastern Catholic patriarchs and bishops who feared its adoption would have adverse consequences for their Christian communities in the Middle East.43 Although seriously ill with cancer, Pope John XXIII personally requested the Council to take up the issue in the second session, which was scheduled to open on 29 September 1963. Pope John had approved the basic lines of the document some months before; however, his death on 3 June 1963 cast doubt on the future of the initiative. This concern was lifted with the election of his successor, Pope Paul VI, who was determined to continue the council.44 Encouraged by Paul VI’s election, Cardinal Bea tried once more to detach the statement from any political connections by placing the statement on the Jews in the wider context of the attitude of the Church to non-Christian religions. The previous draft was reworked as a supplementary fourth chapter of a “Decree on Ecumenism” and presented along with the chapter on religious liberty. The adverse reaction to the drafts by some in the council led to their being put on hold. Several council Fathers, particularly from the United States, exerted intense pressure on the Secretariat to reinstate the drafts on the Jews and religious liberty. Among them were Cardinal Albert Meyer of Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Ritter of St. Louis, the latter warning that “Without these two chapters [on the Jews and religious liberty], the cause of the Catholic Church in the United States, I am afraid, will suffer greatly.”

198

K. C. ELLIS

Similar communications are reported to exist in the Vatican Archives from other bishops as well as from Jews and Jewish agencies.45 Cardinal Bea and his Secretariat insisted that the document should be understood as a “religious” and not a “political” document. This concept, however, was foreign in the Middle East, where politics and religion are intertwined. When the text subsequently appeared in various newspapers throughout the world, it once again generated intense controversy, especially in the Arab press. Diplomatic protests ensued from Arab governments, as well as threats from politicians and popular demonstrations in Arab countries. The Jordanian Prime Minister, Bahjat Talhouni, warned that his government would “blacklist those Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops of the Vatican council who signed the Declaration.”46 Some Christian members of the Jordanian parliament declared they would ask the government to take control of all Catholic schools, while others urged Jordanian Catholics to break with the Vatican and join the Orthodox Church. Cardinal Ignace Tappouni, among others, warned that the Arab press would misunderstand the good intentions of the Fathers.47 The text’s failure to mention the positive statements in the Qur’an about Christ and Mary was another problem. Patriarch Maximos stated: “If we are to discuss the Jews, then we should likewise take up the question of Moslems, among whom we must live in a minority.”48 This was followed with a statement from the Council of the Melkite Church, namely, “We would equally wish that a similar decree be prepared relative to Islam and other monotheist religions.”49 Next, some Muslims challenged Patriarch Maximos to justify the purpose of the declaration. The patriarch responded by insisting on the need to protect the rights of Jewish citizens in Arab countries and the necessity of distinguishing between Zionism, a political movement, and Judaism, an inspired religion. He also issued a challenge of his own to the Arab governments, urging them to fulfill their responsibilities to their Christian citizens by eliminating discriminatory practices such as the restrictions on building and repairing their churches and opening schools. He emphasized the need for both parties to “work to render reciprocal help, since the sacrifice, if it is indefinitely required from the same side, cannot be continued.”50 Cardinal Bea acknowledged the deepening controversy, noting “there is scarcely any other schema about which so much has been written in the press of the world and in newspapers of wide circulation and influence.”

9

THE HOLY SEE, ISLAM, AND THE ROLE OF THE EASTERN CATHOLIC …

199

He tried to calm the concerns of the Arab governments by reiterating “there is no question of acknowledging the state of Israel on the part of the Holy See.”51 He also acknowledged that on “the approval or disapproval of this declaration will largely hinge a favorable or unfavorable judgment of the whole Council.”52 Recognizing the need to take a step back, Bea explained, “It was considered prudent to allay anxiety by removing the schema on the Jews from the agenda of the Council.”53

Paul VI’s Journey to the Holy Land A reprieve from concerns over the uncertainty of the statement on the Jews came in the surprise announcement that Pope Paul VI would go to the Holy Land in January 1964 to meet with the Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople in Jerusalem. Given its groundbreaking importance for ecumenical relations, the trip had obvious prior planning. When it was announced, however, it came as a surprise and was widely hailed, as ecumenism and Christian unity were major themes of the pope’s agenda for the council. Meetings were also planned with King Hussein of Jordan and Zalman Shazar, the president of Israel, as symbolic gestures that Muslims and Jews were also the pope’s interlocutors.54 Importantly, the trip delayed discussion of the schema on the Jews, which could have compromised the pope’s reception in Jordan and Jerusalem. The delay also gave the Coordinating Commission the opportunity to broaden the text to include mention of Islam and other non-Christian religions, and to make changes that were more palatable to the Eastern patriarchs.55

The Expansion of Nostra Aetate Maintaining the Christian presence in the Middle East was also a factor in expanding Nostra Aetate. Regional conditions had put immense pressure on Christians, estimated as ten to eleven million out of a population of 150 million Arabs, the majority of whom were Egyptian Copts. The political reality in the early 1960s included Arab socialism, led by President Nasser of Egypt, the Palestinian–Israeli conflict, and the status of the Palestinian refugees. Eastern Catholic Christians were a minority within a minority, constrained by the anxieties of their more numerous Orthodox Christian and Muslim neighbors. Orthodox leaders told Patriarch Maximos, “If the Pope and his Council believe they have the right

200

K. C. ELLIS

to make Eastern Catholics run the risk of vexations resulting from a proIsraeli declaration, they do not have the right to expose us, the Orthodox of these countries, to the same risk. The Arab States and the Muslims do not distinguish between the different Christian confessions and will not fail to make us undergo the same vexatious measures.”56 Since ecumenism and Christian unity were high on the council’s agenda, the Catholic patriarchs had to consider the sensitivity of the Orthodox Christians to any unilateral declaration on the Jews. The Orthodox had already expressed reservations about papal primacy and infallibility as obstacles to Christian unity.57 Aided by the expertise of the Council periti, the Secretariat for Christian Unity revised the draft by incorporating the beliefs that Muslims and Christians shared. The concerns of the bishops of Africa and Asia were also addressed by adding references to Hinduism, Buddhism, as well as Islam, and African religions. The title of the statement was changed to the more inclusive “The Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions.”58 Before submitting the final version of the schema to the fourth session, Cardinal Bea dispatched to the Middle East three members of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity: Bishop Johannes Willebrands, Bishop Emile-Josef Smedt, and Father Pierre Duprey. He directed them “to make contact with the principal Catholic and non-Catholic ecclesiastical authorities in order to ascertain their difficulties and their wishes in the matter.”59 The delegation visited each of the patriarchs and several of the Eastern Catholic bishops; all accepted the new declaration. The Secretariat then prepared an Arabic translation of the declaration, which included the relatively long and positive section on Muslims that appeared in the text before the section on Judaism. Willebrands and Duprey personally delivered the translation to the Arab states’ embassies in Rome. A communiqué was released by the Secretariat that stressed, “Both the contents and purposes of the declaration are purely religious,” and cautioned against “any use of the text to support partisan discussion or particular political claims.”60 The Council approved the modified text at the third session on 20 November 1964, by a vote of 1657 votes in favor, 99 against, and 252 who voted with reservations. At the final vote, scheduled for the fourth session on 15 October 1965, the Council overwhelmingly accepted Nostra Aetate. Pope Paul VI promulgated the declaration on 25 October 1965, marking a completely new and major chapter of the

9

THE HOLY SEE, ISLAM, AND THE ROLE OF THE EASTERN CATHOLIC …

201

history of the Catholic Church. Within the context of the Second Vatican Council’s other decrees dealing with Religious Liberty, Ecumenism, and the Church in the Modern World, Nostra Aetate clearly reflected the Church’s profound regard for the dignity and inviolability of the human conscience.

Nostra Aetate and Contemporary Muslim–Christian Relations Since its proclamation in 1965, it would be impossible to think of the developing relationship between Muslims and Christians without reference to Nostra Aetate. Paul VI’s contacts with scholars sympathetic to Islam, his meetings with numerous Muslim leaders during his pontificate, and the formation of the Commission on Relations with Islam in 1974, were indicative of the importance of this initiative.61 Nostra Aetate became, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “the Magna Carta of interreligious dialogue.”62 In addition, it paved the way for the eventual establishing of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and several Muslim countries during the next fifty years. The document is a testimony to Pope Paul VI’s openness to Muslims and Islam as a religion, a culture and a political system, an attitude that continued with his successors. Pope John Paul II expanded Paul VI’s outreach to Muslims. He issued his first remarks on Islam only a year after his election in October 1978, during a visit to Ankara, Turkey. He reaffirmed the Church’s commitment to dialogue with Muslims and the spiritual bonds that unite both Muslims and Christians—a position he repeated during numerous meetings around the world. In August 1985, John Paul II was an official guest of King Hassan II of Morocco. There, the pope declared that Christians and Muslims “have understood each other badly.” Nevertheless, he continued, “God is calling us today to change our old habits. We have to respect each other and stimulate each other in good works upon the path of God.” He reiterated this position during his pastoral visit to Bangladesh in November 1986, where he urged that “the past misunderstandings and conflict which have marked Muslim-Christian relations be put aside.” The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops also issued a forceful statement on the need for dialogue with Muslims in 2014:

202

K. C. ELLIS

Sadly, in recent years, there has been a deliberate rejection of this call to engage in dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters by some in the Catholic Church and in other ecclesial families. We understand the confusion and deep emotions stirred by real and apparent acts of aggression and discrimination by certain Muslims against non-Muslims, often against Christians abroad. We, and increasingly our Muslim partners in dialogue, are concerned about these very real phenomena. Along with many of our fellow Catholics and the many Muslims who themselves are targeted by radicals, we wish to voice our sadness, indeed our outrage, over the random and sometimes systematic acts of violence and harassment—acts that for both Christians and Muslims threaten and disrupt the harmony that binds us together in mutual support, recognition, and friendship.63

Likewise, in a visit to Lebanon in 2012, Pope Benedict XVI addressed young Muslims at the Maronite Patriarchal seat where he acknowledged their presence and the promise it held for reconciliation between Christians and Muslims. He said: “together with the young Christians, you are the future of this fine country … seek to build it up together! And when you are older, continue to live in unity and harmony with Christians. It is vital that the Middle East in general, looking at you, should understand that Muslims and Christians, Islam and Christianity, can live side by side without hatred, with respect for the beliefs of each person, so as to build together a free and humane society…”.64 Pope Francis continued his predecessors’ outreach to young people, but added a significant nuance, the need for promoting mutual respect through education. Education, he stated, is in the way we understand each other, built upon the foundation of mutual respect. We are called “to respect each person, first of all his life, his physical integrity, his dignity and the rights deriving from that dignity, his reputation, his property, his ethnic and cultural identity, his ideas and his political choices … Families, schools, religious teaching and all forms of media have a role to play in achieving this goal.”65

Conclusion Although the Catholic Church’s declaration on its relations with Muslims originally grew out of pastoral and political concerns in the Middle East, today, relations with Muslims have expanded beyond that region, and have become even more crucial and complicated. Islam spans a vast geographical area. The most populous Muslim countries (Indonesia,

9

THE HOLY SEE, ISLAM, AND THE ROLE OF THE EASTERN CATHOLIC …

203

Pakistan, and Bangladesh) are neither Arab nor Middle Eastern. Large Muslim populations live in India, Russia, and China. Immigration and conversions have made Islam a growing religion in Europe and the United States. In France, Islam is the second largest religion, with an estimated five million adherents out of a population of 54 million. An estimated three million Muslims live in the United States. Islam has grown closer to Christianity not only because of theological dialogue and shared social and economic concerns, but also geographical proximity. Nevertheless, conflicts and struggles remain. The distrust and misunderstanding among religions first mentioned in Nostra Aetate have not been dispelled. Developments in Europe have aggravated this situation with the election of ethno-nationalist leaders who are attacking democratic pluralism, minority rights, civil liberties, and immigration under the banner of nativist nationalism. Indeed, the hostile reaction to immigration and the flood of refugees fleeing violence, civil wars, and economic destitution from Muslim countries has been vociferous. Fears of “radical Islam” have drastically shaped the policies of the United States and other countries, echoing “the clash of civilizations” thesis of Samuel Huntington of 1993. The so-called “clash” melds suspicions about government infiltration with fears that Shari’a law, the legal code of Islam, has taken hold in the United States. Anti-Muslim attitudes have spread, influencing US law. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, 201 anti-Shari’a law bills have been introduced in forty-three states since 2010. In 2017 alone, fourteen states introduced an anti-Shari’a law bill, with Texas and Arkansas enacting the legislation.66 A former high-level official in the White House stated, “Fear of Muslims is rational” and “Islam is not necessarily a religion but a political system that has a religious doctrine behind it.”67 Another former official, allied with a cardinal of the Church who is highly critical of Pope Francis, sees Islam as “threatening to overrun a prostrate West weakened by the erosion of traditional values.”68 The Middle East remains a crucible of Muslim–Christian relations and of unresolved issues first addressed by the Second Vatican Council over five decades ago. The Holy See continues to be a strong proponent of the rights of Palestinians, as well as of the security of Israel. It seeks the safeguarding of the Holy Places, especially Jerusalem that are sacred to Jews, Muslims, and Christians. The Holy See remains supportive of the territorial integrity of Lebanon, as it did during that country’s civil war. It continues to promote peace among the countries in the Middle East,

204

K. C. ELLIS

as it did when it established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1993, with Jordan in 1994, and with the State of Palestine in 2017. The Holy See has attempted to add its weight to a brokered peace in the Middle East conflict and despite numerous disappointments it remains ready to do so today. Nonetheless, the politics and wars in the Middle East have taken their toll, not only on Muslim–Christian relations, but also on one of the main concerns of the Holy See, the Christian presence in the region. Many of the estimated ten to eleven million Arab Christians in the Middle East are marginalized, some suffer persecution, and many seek to immigrate due to socio-economic conditions. It is reassuring that some prominent Muslim religious and political leaders have affirmed the Christian presence in the Middle East but in many regions, the negativity toward Christians remains.69 A statement of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land issued in 2014 emphasized that repeated references to the persecution of Christians only are insufficient. The statement pointed out that Muslims too are victims of persecution. [In] the name of truth, we must point out that Christians are not the only victims of this violence and savagery. Secular Muslims, all those defined as “heretic,” “schismatic” or simply “non-conformist” are being attacked and murdered in the prevailing chaos. In areas where Sunni extremists dominate, Shiites are being slaughtered. In areas where Shiite extremists dominate, Sunnis are being killed. Yes, the Christians are at times targeted precisely because they are Christians, having a different set of beliefs and unprotected. However, they fall victim alongside many others who are suffering and dying in these times of death and destruction.70

Consequently, the threat to the equality of citizenship for both Christians and Muslims remains. The burden seems to fall heavily on Christians, causing some to regard sectarianism and the continued rule of authoritarian regimes as protections from militant Islamists. Arab Christians are now experiencing a deep sense of abandonment that is threatening their continued presence in the region, echoing the concerns voiced by the bishops and patriarchs of the Eastern Church at the Second Vatican Council.

9

THE HOLY SEE, ISLAM, AND THE ROLE OF THE EASTERN CATHOLIC …

205

Despite the obstacles to Muslim–Christian relations, the development of Nostra Aetate is instructive. By stating the Catholic Church’s attitude, not only to Jews, but also to Muslims and other non-Christians, the declaration is one of the most significant developments to come out of Vatican II. The declaration urges people of good will to “work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and more welfare, as well as peace and freedom.” That work continues to be a sign of hope to a world overburdened with discrimination, injustice, poverty, and war.

Notes 1. Nostra Aetate, paragraph 3. 2. Anthony O’Mahony, “Catholic Theological Perspectives on Islam at the Second Vatican Council,” New Blackfriars, Vol. 88, No. 1016 (July 2007), 387. 3. John Borelli, “The Origins and Early Development on Interreligious Relations during the Century of the Church (1910–2010),” U.S. Catholic Historian, Vol. 28, No 2 (2010), 93. 4. Ibid., 93–94. 5. Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, “Nostra Aetate: A Guide to Ongoing Dialogue,” Columbian Interreligious Dialogue. https://columbanird.org/ nostra-aetate-a-guide-for-ongoing-dialogue/, accessed March 31, 2020. 6. O’Mahony, op. cit., 385–398. 7. Françoise Jacquin, History of the Saint John Baptist Circle: The Teaching of Father Danielou (Paris: Beauchesne Publisher: 1987). 8. Anthony O’Mahony, op. cit. 9. Christian S. Krokus, The Theology of Louis Massignon: Islam, Christ, and the Church (Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press: 2017), 198. 10. Ibid., 15, 207–209. Also, Dorothy C. Buck, “A Model of Hope,” in Sufi, No. 59 (Autumn 2003). http://www.dcbuck.com/Articles/Modelo fHope/modelhope.html. 11. Georges C. Anawati, “Excursus on Islam,” Commentary on the Documents of Vatican II, Vol. III (New York: Herder and Herder New York: 1969). 12. Maurice Borrmans, “Christian Pioneers of Dialogue: Massignon, AbdJalil, Gardet, Arnaldez, Anawati,” in Mission and Dialogue—Essays in Honour of Michael L. Fitzgerald (Leuven-Paris: Peeters: 2012), 129–145. Review: Scheuer, J., Revue Théologique de Louvain, Vol. 45, No. 3 (2014), 444–477. 13. Ibid.

206

K. C. ELLIS

14. “Abd-el-Jalil, Jean Mohammed 1904–1979,” WorldCat Identities. http://worldcat.org/identities/lccn-n81052742/ 15. O’Mahony, op. cit., 390. 16. Krokus, op. cit., 200. 17. Ecclesiam Suam, “Encyclical of Pope Paul VI on the Church,” August 6, 1964. Nos. 7, 107. http://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/encycl icals/documents/hf_p-vi_enc_06081964_ecclesiam.html. 18. Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, Solemnly Promulgated by His Holiness, Pope Paul VI on November 21, 1964. No. 16. http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_Councils/ii_vatican_Coun cil/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html. 19. Authoritative statements by Pope Paul VI during his 1969 trip to Uganda, and Pope John Paul II’s 1979 trip to Turkey, mention the Qur’an and the Surah. See: “Vatican Council and Papal Statements on Islam.” http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-int erreligious/interreligious/islam/vatican-council-and-papal-statements-onislam.cfm, accessed April 2, 2020. 20. O’Mahony, op. cit., 397. 21. Ibid. 22. Terry Philpot, “Word War I’s Pope Benedict XV and the Pursuit of Peace,” National Catholic Reporter, July 19, 2014. https://www.ncronl ine.org/news/justice/world-war-pope-benedict-xv-and-pursuit-peace. 23. Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi, The Thirty-Year Genocide: Turkey’s Destruction of Its Christian Minorities, 1894–1924 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: 2019), 3. 24. Benedict wrote to Sultan Mehmet on September 10, 1915. Papal Artifacts, “Pope Benedict XV’s Letter to Ottoman Sultan Mehmed V on the Armenian Genocide & Pope Francis in Armenia,” June 24, 2017. http:// www.papalartifacts.com/5954-2/. 25. Giuseppe Motta, Less than Nations; Central-European Minorities after World War I, Vol. 1 (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing: 2013), 54. 26. “Seven Facts about the Pontifical Oriental Institute.” https://gregorian foundation.org/2016/01/02/7-facts-about-the-pontifical-oriental-instit ute/ Reference in Rerum Orientalium (“On the Promotion of Oriental Studies”), Pope Pius XI. http://www.papalencyclicals.net/pius11/p11 reror.htm. 27. Reference in Rerum Orientalium (“On the Promotion of Oriental Studies”), Pope Pius XI. http://papalencyclicals.net/pius11/p11reror. html. 28. Rerum Orientalium (“On the Promotion of Oriental Studies”), Pope Pius XI. http://www.papalencyclicals.net/pius11/p11reror.htm. In

9

THE HOLY SEE, ISLAM, AND THE ROLE OF THE EASTERN CATHOLIC …

29.

30.

31. 32. 33. 34.

35. 36.

37.

38. 39.

40. 41. 42. 43. 44.

45. 46.

207

1967, Pope Paul VI renamed the Congregation Congregatio pro Ecclesiis Orientalibus. See John Borelli, “The Complicated Journey of Nostra Aetate: The Twenty-Second Monsignor John M. Oesterreicher Memorial Lecture,” (South Orange, NJ: Seton Hall University, November 1, 2015), 7–8. Minlib Dallh, “From Le Saulchoir to Nostra Aetate,” The Promise of Renewal, Dominicans and Vatican II, Nicholas Olkovich, Michael Attridge, Darren Dias O.P., and Matthew Eaton, eds. (Adelaide: ATF Theology: 2017), 257, 262–264. Ibid., 257. Ibid., 262–264. Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies. https://www.ideo-cairo.org/ en/history-en/. Julius Basetti-Sani, “For A Dialogue between Christians and Muslims,” The Muslim World (Hartford), Vol 57, No. 2 (April 1967), 126–137. (In 1964, this institute was transferred to Rome and became the Pontifical Institute for Arab Studies and Islamology, see PISAI website). Augustin Cardinal Bea, The Church, and the Jewish People, trans. Philip Loretz S. J. (New York: Harper & Row: 1966), 163. Ad Petri Cathedram, Encyclical of Pope John XXIII, on Truth, Unity and Peace in a Spirit of Charity, June 29, 1959. http://www.vatican.va/con tent/john-xxiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_j-xxiii_enc_29061959_adpetri.html. J.O. Beozzo, “The External Climate,” History of Vatican II: Toward a New Era in Catholicism, Vol. I, Giuseppe Albergio and Joseph A. Komonchak, eds. (Maryknoll and Leuven: Orbis, Peeters: 1995). 388. Ibid., 389. Norman C. Tobias, Jewish Conscience of the Church: Jules Isaac and the Second Vatican Council (Cham: Springer International Publishing: 2017), 178. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-46925-6. John Borelli, email to author, November 18, 2018. John O’Malley, What Happened at Vatican II (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: 2008), 220. Ibid. Gavin D’Costa, Vatican II: Catholic Doctrines on Jews and Muslims (Oxford: University of Oxford Press: 2014), 125. Robert A. Graham, S.J., “Non-Christians,” in Walter Abbott, S.J. (General Editor) and Joseph Gallagher, (Translation Editor), The Documents of Vatican II with Notes and Comments by Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Authorities (New York: Guild Press: 1966), 657. Borelli, “The Complicated Journey of Nostra Aetate,” op cit, 18–19. The New York Times, November 26, 1964.

208

K. C. ELLIS

47. Xavier Rynne, Vatican Council II, 1962–1965 (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books: 1999), 238. 48. Ibid., 241. 49. Patriarch Maximos IV Sayegh, The Greek Melkite Church and the Council: Discourses of Patriarch Maximos IV and the Hierarchs of His Church at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, (trans. From the French edition: [Beirut: Dar Al-Kalima, 1967], West Roxbury, MA: Sophia Press: 2014), 333. 50. Ibid. 51. “Address of Cardinal Bea, S.J., November 19, 1963.” Council Daybook, Vatican II, Session II, Floyd Anderson, ed. (Washington, DC: National Catholic Welfare Conference: 2005), 282–283. 52. “Relation on the schema, October 15, 1964,” in Bea, op. cit., 159. 53. Bea, op. cit., 23. Also, “Communiqué on the Anti-Semitism Statement, issued on November 8, 1963,” Council Daybook, op. cit., 250. 54. “Hopes, fears, disappointments, perspectives,” organized by the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Science in Bologna (Italy), published under the title, “Les évaluations en conflit autour de Nostra Aetate,” in Communio, XXV, 5, (September–October, 2000), 96–123. 55. Bea, op. cit., 24–25. 56. Patriarch Maximos IV Sayegh, op. cit. 57. Patriarch Maximos Sayegh, op. cit., 32–37, cited in Gerald T. Murphy, Maximos IV at Vatican II: A Quest for Autonomy (West Roxbury, MA: Eparchy of Newton, Sophia Press: 2011), 88. 58. Council Daybook, Vatican II, op. cit., 60–62, “ Cardinal Bea,” the unofficial English translation of the September 25 speech of Augustin Cardinal Bea in which he presented the proposed declaration on the Jews to the Council Fathers. 59. Ibid. 60. John O’Malley, What Happened at Vatican II (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: 2008), 275. 61. See: Joseph L. Ryan, S.J., “The Holy See and Jordan,” in The Vatican, Islam, and the Middle East, Kail C. Ellis, ed. (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press: 1987), 182. Also, Georges C. Anawati, O.P., “ChristianIslamic Dialogue,” in Ellis, ed., 53–54. 62. Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with Representatives of some Muslim Communities, Cologne, August 20, 2005. http://w2.vatican.va/content/ben edict-xvi/en/speeches/2005/august/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_200 50820_meeting-muslims.html. 63. “Statement on Dialogue with Muslims, the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs,” United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2014. http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-int

9

THE HOLY SEE, ISLAM, AND THE ROLE OF THE EASTERN CATHOLIC …

64.

65.

66.

67.

68.

69.

70.

209

erreligious/interreligious/islam/dialogue-with-muslims-committee-sta tement.cfm, accessed February 23, 2018. Benedict XVI, “Apostolic Journey to Lebanon, Message to Young People,” Square across from the Maronite Patriarchate of Bkerké, September 15, 2012. http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-eachings/ecu menical-and-interreligious/interreligious/islam/vatican-Council-andpapal-statements-on-islam.cfm. Pope Francis, “Message to Muslims throughout the world for the end of Ramadan, July 10, 2013.” http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ ecumenical-and-interreligious/interreligious/islam/vatican-Council-andpapal-statements-on-islam.cfm. “Anti-Sharia Bills in the United States,” Southern Poverty Law Center, February 5, 2018. https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2018/02/05/ anti-sharia-law-bills-united-states. Scott Shane, Matthew Rosenberg, Eric Lipton, “Trump Pushes Dark View of Islam to Center of U.S. Policy-Making,” The New York Times, February 2, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/01/us/politics/ donald-trump-islam.html. Jason Horowitz, “Steve Bannon Carries Battles to Another Influential Hub: The Vatican,” The New York Times, February 7, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/07/world/europe/vaticansteve-bannon-pope-francis.html. “Remarks of His Majesty King Abdullah II, Plenary Session of the 69th General Assembly the United Nations,” New York, September 24, 2014. http://www.un.org/en/ga/69/meetings/gadebate/pdf/JO_en. pdf Also, Muslim Leaders in Lebanon Condemn Persecution of Christians in the Middle East. http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/muslimleaders-in-lebanon-condemn-persecution-of-christians-in-the-middle-east56617/. 1 April 2014—Persecution of Christians in the Middle East: Communique of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land. https://www.lpj. org/april-2-2014-persecution-of-christians-in-the-middle-east-commun ique-of-the-assembly-of-catholic-ordinaries-in-the-holy-land/.

CHAPTER 10

Eastern Orthodox Perspectives on Nostra Aetate and Muslim–Christian Relations Archimandrite Nikodemos Anagnostopoulos

Although the purpose of this volume is related to the theological responses and the observations on the the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, as an Orthodox clergyman and academic, I would like to briefly illustrate as an introduction to my presentation, Orthodox responses on the convocation of the Second Vatican Council, because Vatican II was not a major religious event only in the history of the Catholic Church. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, during his visit to Rome in May 1990, explained the Orthodox response to Vatican II in these words: “The investigation of the history of the Church reveals a large number of significant events. We gratefully remember these events and praise the Lord for. Still, some of these events are dark spots on the body of the Church and their remembrance makes us feel compassionate and repentant, because through the actions and the decisions of our ancestors the body of Christ, that is, the Church, bears these marks on it. Pope Paul VI inspired by the spirit of his predecessor John XXIII and Ecumenical

A. N. Anagnostopoulos (B) University of Notre Dame in England, London, UK © The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_10

211

212

A. N. ANAGNOSTOPOULOS

Patriarch Athenagoras deeply believed in the necessity to heal the wounds of the division of Christianity. A new era has begun, a period of dialogue, of love and truth.”1 Patriarch Bartholomew was referring to that bright day of the history of the Church, 6 January 1964, when Pope Paul VI and Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras met on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. They prayed together and exchanged the kiss of peace, an event which at that time captured the attention of the Christian world, and marked positively the future relations of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. However, it is of a great importance to mention that both the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch recognized that their meeting did not end the Great Schism of 1054. They knew that both churches now had to address the difficult issues of division. They believed that the Holy Spirit was guiding their churches toward reconciliation; and in their common statement, they declared that they “met with the desire to fulfill the Lord’s will and proclaim the ancient truth of the Gospel confided to the Church.” The first act, which clearly declared mutual forgiveness for the misconceptions of the past and gave potential and hope for the beginning of a sincere dialogue, was the decision of the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch and his synod in 1965 to lift anathemas and ex-communications that were decreed in 1054. In 1965, the first bilateral theological dialogue between Orthodox and Catholic Churches was established in the United States, and has continued to present day. This was followed by the inauguration of the theological dialogue between Catholic and Eastern Churches in 1980. Many meetings of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches have been held. The purpose of these meetings is the resolution of doctrinal differences and the restoration of full communion between the churches. Since the visits of the Patriarch and the Pope to one another’s Sees, there have been many common meetings of the clergy and the laity from both Orthodox and Catholic Churches in prayer, in pilgrimages, and in study, designed to foster reconciliation and unity. These initiatives from both churches have finally lifted the historical obstacles between Catholics and Orthodox. It is important to mention that until the convocation of the Second Vatican Council, there were neither formal church relations nor positive steps toward rapprochement between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches.2 The significance of the meeting of the two primates in Jerusalem is mentioned by Metropolitan Panteleimon Rodopoulos, the

10

EASTERN ORTHODOX PERSPECTIVES ON NOSTRA AETATE …

213

first representative and observer of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the proceedings of the Second Vatican Council, who stated: “This historic meeting has been the visible sign of a complete change in the relations between Eastern and Western Christianity.”3 Vatican II and particularly Nostra Aetate, the Decree on Ecumenism, and the Declaration on Religious Freedom set the foundations for the beginning of the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the other Christian denominations and religious communities, highlighting that every individual has the right to religious freedom. I referred to the Decree on Ecumenism because this document makes a special consideration to the relations and the dialogue between the Catholic and the Eastern Churches, acknowledging that from the beginning, the Churches of the East have had a treasury from which the Western Church has drawn, and the fact that the ecumenical councils held in the East defined the basic doctrines of the Christian faith. The council also acknowledged that Eastern Churches possess true sacraments by apostolic succession whereby they are linked with the Catholic Church in closest intimacy. In addition, the Council encouraged some worship in common under suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority. We should always remember that one of the causes that led to the separation between East and West in 1054 was the difference in theological expression of doctrine. Again, the council declares that through dialogue, these various theological expressions might be considered as mutually complementary rather than conflicting. The Declaration on Religious Freedom, on the other hand, is directly related to the challenges that the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople is still facing in terms of Church administration and religious freedom based on the legislation of the Turkish republic. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is at present a church in captivity. Because of Turkish legislation, the Patriarchate as a religious institution does not have a legal identity. Turkish authorities recognize it as the religious center of the Greek Orthodox minority of Istanbul only, and deny recognizing its ecumenical dimension. The legal identity of religious communities in Turkey is not recognized by the authorities. Therefore, the Ecumenical Patriarchate as a religious institution still has no legal identity in Turkey,4 and this fact extends to property ownership. On the path of secularization, in order to classify property ownership of religious institutions, in June 1935 the Turkish government introduced a new law regarding religious properties. This legislation stated that property matters of all religious

214

A. N. ANAGNOSTOPOULOS

institutions were under the authority of the Turkish state. There are two categories of religious properties: the mazbut, properties belonging to Muslim institutions and administered by the state, and the mülbak, properties owned by non-Muslim religious institutions and administered by elected committees. Therefore, none of the churches or other places of worship, which are under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Turkey, are owned by the Patriarchate. All the buildings of worship and temples are owned by minority foundations, which are administered independently of the Patriarchate. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is prohibited from purchasing any type of property. Another significant event, which interferes with the recruitment of priests by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, is the closure of Halki Theological Academy in 1971. I will not elaborate on this, but I believe that the challenges that the Ecumenical Patriarchate still faces should be considered and discussed in every aspect of interfaith and interreligious dialogue when the question of religious freedom arises. The Church of Constantinople needs the support of the Catholic Church, her sister Church, on these matters. Going back to the importance of Vatican II from an Orthodox point of view, I recall the visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to the Apostolic See of Rome in 2012, during the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, which highlights the impact that this council had on Orthodox Churches. It is therefore our duty and responsibility to meditate upon the significance of this historic event of the Christian world. We should observe the decisions of the Council, which have affected the relations among Catholics, Orthodox, and other religious communities for the past fifty-five years, and consider the future of these relations as well as the cooperation between Catholic and Orthodox traditions based on the principles declared by Vatican II. The following declaration, made on the opening day of the Council, 11 October 1962, illustrates the significance that the Churches of the East perceived in the convocation of the Council. The Ecumenical Patriarchate and all the Orthodox Churches pray in the spirit of Christ for the successful completion of the work of the Second Vatican Council, which the Orthodox world watches with deep interest and attention. The Orthodox Churches nourish the hope that the Second Vatican Council will broaden the horizons of Christian understanding and therefore it will establish the conditions for fruitful dialogues for the

10

EASTERN ORTHODOX PERSPECTIVES ON NOSTRA AETATE …

215

promotion of pan-Christian unity under the light of brotherly love for which our Lord Jesus Christ prayed.5

We should also not forget that the sunrise of 13 March 2013 lifted the relations and dialogue between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches into a new era; it was the day that the papal conclave elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio as the successor of Pope Benedict XVI. On 19 March 2013, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew attended Pope Francis’s inauguration ceremony. This was the first time since the Great Schism of 1054 that the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople attended a papal installation. I think it is important to refer briefly to these series of significant events and theological developments from both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches before focusing on the significance of Nostra Aetate. This declaration that so greatly influenced the thought and the attitudes of other Christian Churches, especially in the East, has been considered as the most important turning point in the history of Catholic–Muslim relations, and as Pope Benedict XVI stated, is the Magna Carta in terms of Muslim–Christian relations, the bridge for sincere dialogue between Islam and the Catholic Church.6 Let me relate a brief tale from the Orthodox monastic tradition. There once were two monks who lived together for many years. One day one of them had to go to the city. And when he went to the city, he saw people arguing and he said, “What’s happening?” Someone told him that the people were having an argument. “What’s an argument?” the monk asked. He had never experienced an argument in his monastic life. Then the individual explained to him what an argument is, and why people were arguing. He said, “When I return to the monastery I will explain to my brother what an argument is.” When he returned, he said to the other monk: “Brother, I have experienced the most amazing thing.” “What is that?” the other monk said. He replied, “An argument.” “What is an argument?” the second monk asked. The first monk said, “I will show you. Do you see this brick? I will take it and put it between us. And I will say that this is my brick, and then you will say that it is yours, and then we will go back again, and we will argue.” He took the brick and said: “Brother, this is my brick.” The second monk replied: “If you say so, brother.” There is much wisdom in this story. With a brick, one can build walls or bridges.

216

A. N. ANAGNOSTOPOULOS

Nostra Aetate, especially paragraph 3, highlights the common theological principles between Islam and Catholicism, and reflects the teachings and the beliefs of other Christian Churches, including Orthodoxy; it acknowledges the oneness of God, the importance of submitting oneself to God’s will, reverence to Jesus (although Muslims do not recognize Him as the son of God), honor to the Virgin Mary, belief in the Day of Judgment, the value of moral life, and the veneration of God through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. And it concludes that the Church reproves any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. I will not analyze the theological principles that Nostra Aetate underpins; I will leave this task to the Catholic theologians, but I support the idea that as Christians and in the light of the core message of Nostra Aetate, we should work to “maintain good fellowship among the nations” (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live in peace with all men (14), so that we may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven (15).7 Hans Küng, a Swiss Catholic priest, theologian, and author, in his book Islam, Past, Present and Future, argues that there is no peace among the nations without peace among the religions; there is no peace among the religions without dialogue between the religions; and finally that there is no dialogue between the religions without investigation of the foundations of the religions.8 An open and sincere dialogue that began with the Declaration on Non-Christian Religions is the only way that Muslims and Christians all over the world will be able to set the borders in relation to their respective beliefs and doctrines, and find the path through their common teachings and values that leads to their cooperation and collaboration for the benefit of our contemporary society. However, the question that arises is related to the aspects and the difficulties of interreligious dialogue, especially between Christians and Muslims. Because of the variety of the relations between Christianity and Islam, depending on the political circumstances of each country—especially in the Islamic world—as well as different cultures and customs, and the strong influence of political Islam in Islamic societies, it is no simple task for Christian and Muslim leaders to address the problems of the society and to search together for solutions which can make modern world more just and more respectful of the rights, dignity, and human freedom of each individual. The issues in our contemporary multicultural societies affecting Muslim–Christian dialogue are related in many instances to situations in which national unity and stability are in grave danger. Different groups of

10

EASTERN ORTHODOX PERSPECTIVES ON NOSTRA AETATE …

217

people fear that their interests or rights are being violated or threatened by others because of religious differences. In some situations, the interplay of religious ethnicity and citizenship results in antagonistic national movements. Christians and Muslims need to explore seriously models of governance that safeguard a balance between individual and community rights. These situations should challenge us to develop new forms of political involvement into religious affairs. This involvement necessitates an ability to liberate religion from narrow sectional interests, with the aim of engaging critically in issues of human rights and social and political justice and striving toward peaceful resolution of conflict. The question of Muslim–Christian relations and the development of interreligious dialogue is more problematic and challenging from an Orthodox point of view. The Church of Constantinople, as well as the Orthodox Patriarchates of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, are located in Muslim majority countries, and their pastoral work and administration are in many cases obstructed by Islamic governments. I referred briefly to specific problems of the Church of Constantinople. The conditions are completely different when comparing the missionary work of the Catholic Church in these countries to the survival of Eastern Orthodox Churches in regions where they have been established for centuries. Another obstacle related to the development of interfaith dialogue in Western secular societies where Christianity has historically shaped the collective identity and remains culturally influential, is that Muslims are confronted with the choice between integration and self-assertion. Many Muslims call for the necessity of a greater participation in public life, and seek, at the same time, recognition of their particularities as individuals and communities. Reconciling all these claims is not always easy. This is illustrated by the opposition Muslims sometimes voice against any civil law that would break the terms of Islamic law or infringe on their rights to practice their traditions and bring up their children as Muslims. On the other hand, in the number of countries where Muslims constitute the majority, there are political movements, religious leaders, and intellectuals who call for the application of Islamic law as a criterion of governmental administration. This call generates fear among many Christians, who cannot accept being put in the position of aliens or second-class citizens in their own nations. Christians often complain that Shari’a law, even when it protects the freedom of Christian worship and practices and guarantees Christians’ rights to their own personal law, leads to marginalization.

218

A. N. ANAGNOSTOPOULOS

Finally, a frequent cause of tension between Christians and Muslims arises from the fact that both Islam and Christianity are missionaryoriented religions; both believe that they have a divine call to invite others to join their respective faiths. This right and duty is not to be denied. In their willingness to spread their faiths and bring others to the knowledge and worship of God, they should attempt to exercise their mission in ways that respect the freedom and dignity of persons and maintain harmony between the communities. Muslims often suspect that Christian educational, medical, and philanthropical activities, especially among poor Muslims, conceal the hidden objective of proselytism. These are significant challenges for both Christian and Muslim communities, which we should try through our dialogue and cooperation to overcome and resolve. In June 2016, fifty-two years after Vatican II and after long preparations that actually date back to the period of the convocation of Vatican II, the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church was held in Crete. Among all the important decisions and the declarations that the representatives of the majority of the Orthodox Churches co-signed in Crete was the declaration on the “Mission of the Orthodox Church in Today’s World”, and in particular the contribution of the Orthodox Church in realizing peace, justice, freedom, fraternity and love between people, and in the removal of racial and other discriminations. I will in brief refer to these important teachings of the Orthodox Church, which reflect the spirit of Nostra Aetate and signify the need of cooperation between Catholics and Orthodox in our contemporary society.

The Dignity of the Human Person The dignity of a human person is unique, and stems from being created in the image and likeness of God and from our role in God’s plan for humanity and the world. On this basis, it is essential to develop interChristian cooperation in every direction for the protection of human dignity and of course for the good of peace, so that the peacekeeping efforts of all Christians, without exception, may acquire greater weight and significance. As a presupposition for a wider cooperation in this regard, the common acceptance of the highest value of the human person is useful. The various local Orthodox Churches can contribute to interreligious understanding and cooperation for peaceful coexistence and harmonious life together in society. We are convinced that, as God’s

10

EASTERN ORTHODOX PERSPECTIVES ON NOSTRA AETATE …

219

fellow workers (I Cor 3:9), we can advance to this common service together with all people of good will, who love peace that is pleasing to God, for the sake of human society on the local, national, and international levels. This ministry is a commandment of God (Mt 5:9).

Freedom Freedom is one of God’s greatest gifts to the human being. He who created man in the beginning made him free and self-determined, limiting him solely by the laws of the commandment (Gregory the Theologian, Homily 14, On Love for the Poor, 25. PG 35, 892A). Freedom renders the human being capable of progressing toward spiritual perfection; yet, it also includes the risk of disobedience as independence from God and consequently the fall, which tragically gives rise to evil in the world. The consequences of evil include issues prevailing today, such as violence, moral negligence, racism, the oppression of certain social groups, religious communities, and entire groups of people, social inequality, the restriction of human rights in the field of freedom of conscience (in particular, religious freedom), the misinformation and manipulation of public opinion, economic misery, the hunger of millions of people, forced migration of populations and human trafficking, and the refugee crisis. These problems create infinite anxiety for humanity today.

Peace and Justice The Orthodox Church has diachronically recognized and revealed the centrality of peace and justice in people’s lives. The very revelation of Christ is characterized as a gospel of peace (Eph 6:15). It is clear therefore why the Church, as the body of Christ (I Cor 12:27), always prays for the peace of the whole world. At the same time, we are obligated to underline that the gifts of peace and justice also depend on human synergy. The Holy Spirit bestows spiritual gifts when, in repentance, we seek God’s peace and righteousness. These gifts of peace and justice are manifested wherever Christians strive for the work of faith, which is the unconditional love of our neighbor (I Thes 1:3).

220

A. N. ANAGNOSTOPOULOS

The Attitude of the Church Toward Discrimination The Lord, as King of righteousness (Heb 7:2–3) denounces violence and injustice (Ps 10:5), while condemning the inhumane treatment of one’s neighbor (Mt 25:41–46; Jn 2:15–16). In His Kingdom, reflected and present in His Church on earth, there is no place for hatred, enmity, or intolerance (Is 11:6; Rom 12:10). The Orthodox Church’s position on this is clear. She believes that God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth (Acts 17:26) and that in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28). The Orthodox Church confesses that every human being, regardless of skin color, religion, race, sex, ethnicity, and language, is created in the image and likeness of God, and enjoys equal rights in society. Consistent with this belief, the Orthodox Church rejects discrimination for any of the aforementioned reasons since these presuppose a difference in dignity between people. The Orthodox Church, in the spirit of respecting human rights and equal treatment of all, values the application of these principles in the light of her teaching on the sacraments, the family, the role of both genders in the Church, and the overall principles of Church tradition. Reflecting on the spirit of Nostra Aetate and the declaration of the Holy and Great Council of Crete on the mission of the Orthodox Church in today’s world, it is obvious that despite some positive steps over the last couple of decades, human rights, and free religious practice—regardless of nationality, language, or religion—are problematic aspects of today’s societies. Patriarch Bartholomew joined his brother Pope Francis at the Vatican on 8 June 2014 during an Invocation for Peace. Together with the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch, Israeli President Shimon Peres, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, he participated in an interfaith service of Jews, Christians, and Muslims, a significant sign of their desire for mutual reconciliation and their search for a solution to the conflict in the Middle East. Reflecting on the half-century that has elapsed since the convocation of the Second Vatican Council and the recent decisions of the Holy and Great Council of the Orthodox Church, one can argue that the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches are closer to the day in which they will finally partake together in the Eucharistic banquet. I believe that

10

EASTERN ORTHODOX PERSPECTIVES ON NOSTRA AETATE …

221

the relations of the two Churches have entered a crucial juncture. We should consider that there are more things that unite Orthodox and Catholics than those that divide us; therefore, without underestimating all these positive achievements of the dialogue between the Catholic and the Orthodox Churches over the last fifty-five years, we should acknowledge that there is a necessity for further steps from both sides. More than common declarations and exchanges of visits between the respective Sees of Rome and Constantinople must occur in order to achieve the full unity for which Christ our Lord prayed to the Father: “that all may be one.”9 Recalling a phrase by Paulo Coelho de Souza, a Brazilian lyricist, and novelist, who says that how people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves,10 I will conclude with the hope that as long as both Muslims and Christians share the deep conviction that all humans are God’s creations, who are on a journey back to their Divine Source, in the end we will act in the best possible way, living in the hope that God will accept our work and judge our differences with mercy, and knowing that everything we have received is ultimately from Him.

Notes 1. Bαρθoλoμα´ιoς, Mητρoπoλ´ιτης Xαλκηδ´oνoς (νυν Oικoυμενικ´oς ατριαρχης), ´ « 25 šτη απ´o της αρσεως ´ των αναθεματων ´ » , Eπιστημoνικη´ αρoυσ´ια Eστ´ιας εoλ´oγων Xαλκης, ´ Aθηνα, ´ B´ Translated (Google) as: Metropolitan of Chalcedon (now Ecumenical Patriarch), “25 years since the removal of the curses.” Scientific Presence of the Theological Center of Halkis, Athens, II(1991), 105, 106. 2. ρηγ´oρης M. ιαντας, ´ ιoρθ´oδoξoς διακoν´ια τoυ Oικoυμενικo´ ατριαρχε´ιoυ και της Eκκλησ´ιας της Eλλαδoς ´ και η συμβoλη´ των δo ´ Eκκλησιων ´ στoυς διμερε´ις θεoλoγικoς ´ διαλ´oγoυς με τη Pωμαιoκαθoλικη´ Eκκλησ´ια και την Eκκλησ´ια των αλαιoκαθoλικων, ´ ´ 2005, σ. 69–71. Translated εσσαλoν´ικη: Koρνηλ´ια ϕακιανακη (Google) as: Grigoris M. Liantas, Inter-Orthodox ministry of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Church of Greece and the contribution of the two Churches to the bilateral theological dialogues with the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of the Old Catholics. Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki: Cornelia Sfakianaki 2005, pp. 69–71. 3. ρηγ. ιαντας, ´ o´ .π., σ. 76–77. Translated (Google) as Liantas, ibid., pp. 76–77.

222

A. N. ANAGNOSTOPOULOS

4. Dilek Kurban and Konstantinos Tsitselikis. (2010). Mια Iσ τ oρ´ια ´ και τ ην Aμoιβαι´oτ ητ ας : Tα Mειoν oτ ικ α´ Bακ o´ ϕια σ τ ην Eλλαδα Toυρκ´ια. Translated (Google) as: A History of Reciprocity: The Minority Bacchus in Greece and Turkey. TESEV: Istanbul, p. 14. 5. «Oρθoδoξ´ια » Kωνσταντινoυπ´oλεως. Translated (Google) as “The Orthodoxy of Constantinople.” 37 (1962), p. 557. 6. Pope Benedict XVI: Nostra Aetate is Magna Carta for Catholic-Muslim dialogue. 7. Declaration on the Relation of the Church to non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, 28 October 1965. 8. Hans Küng, Islam, Past, Present and Future in One World, Oxford: 2007. 9. Jn 17:21. 10. Paulo Coehlo, https://quotefancy.com/quote/885127/Paulo-CoelhoHow-people-treat-other-people-is-a-direct-reflection-of-how-they-feelabout.

PART IV

Nostra Aetate and Other Christian Churches

CHAPTER 11

The Church of England’s and the Responses of the Broader European Protestant Traditions to Nostra Aetate Richard Sudworth

Introduction The Roman Catholic journalist Auberon Waugh, son of celebrated novelist Evelyn, wrote this typically waspish observation of my own Church: In England, we have a curious institution called the Church of England. Its strength has always been in the fact that on any moral or political issue it can produce such a wide divergence of opinion that nobody – from the Pope to Mao Tse-tung – can say with any confidence that he is not an Anglican. Its weaknesses are that nobody pays much attention to it and very few people attend its functions.1

R. Sudworth (B) Lambeth Palace, Church of England, London, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_11

225

226

R. SUDWORTH

I will not endeavor to comment on attendance figures, or the influence of the Church of England. Still less will I engage with the question, “Is the Pope Anglican?” But the serious point that Waugh’s quotation raises is the difficulty of articulating a distinctly Anglican theology from within its celebrated expansiveness. Far too often, “Anglican theologies” is shorthand for whatever any individual communicant of the Church of England believes. However, with appropriate qualification, we can properly observe trends and contours in Anglican theology, and even a breadth of perspectives is itself a theological position of sorts. In this paper, I will describe and analyze what I see as the reception of Nostra Aetate in the Church of England. Before that can be done in any coherent way, though, a brief explanation of authority within the Church will be necessary. Without any formal magisterium, it is tempting to believe that Anglican theology is a simple tautology: basically, amounting to any “theology originating from Anglican writers.”2 The Church of England does not have a confessional statement like many European, Protestant denominations. Rather, the historic creeds of the Church are the confessional foundational to Anglican belief, together with an attention to the unifying and formative nature of patterns of worship to doctrine. Thus, the conviction that “the law of prayer is the law of belief,” lex orandi lex credendi, holds true for Anglican identity. For Paul Avis, this means that “Anglicans are invited to rehearse their faith primarily in liturgical and doxological form.”3 Assessing what the Church of England, or Anglicans, believe about other religions, is, therefore, an especially fraught task. What, essentially, may offer equivalence to the conciliar declaration that is Nostra Aetate? For the purposes of this study, I intend to highlight the significance of statements of the Anglican Communion on other religions agreed at the gatherings every ten years of the Lambeth Conference, and how they have been variously integrated into the Church of England. Lambeth Conferences bring together bishops from across the Communion, and in the successive deliberations of 1988, 1998, and 2008, we are privy to a series of reflections on the relation of Anglican Christians to the world religions. As Michael Ipgrave points out, proceedings of the Lambeth Conference offer a “teaching resource” and an “agreed reference point for Anglican teaching on inter faith relations” rather than a definitive statement of doctrine.4 When one considers a Church’s assessment of other religious traditions, a disposition of modesty and diffidence may then be especially suitable for the task at hand. The Lambeth Conference is one of the four

11

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S AND THE RESPONSES …

227

instruments of unity of the worldwide Anglican Communion, along with the Anglican Consultative Council, the primates of the Anglican Communion, and the Archbishop of Canterbury. As Norman Doe notes, “There is no body of global law in Anglicanism: the decisions of the institutional instruments of unity have persuasive moral authority not enforceable juridical authority, unless incorporated in the laws of member churches.”5 Their “persuasive moral authority” will be seen to draw from the example of Nostra Aetate and reveal a conversation culminating in a 2008 document entitled Generous Love, which was then ratified by the Church of England’s General Synod in 2009. In the successive deliberations of the 1988, 1998, and 2008 Lambeth Conferences, we will see an indebtedness to Nostra Aetate, and also a departure from the important pronouncements of Vatican II reflective of the markedly different landscape for interreligious relations in the twentyfirst century.6 Once this comparative analysis of ecclesial, interreligious relations is outlined, I will then focus on one particular issue that is central to Christian–Jewish relations: the question of mission to the Jews. How Nostra Aetate has reframed the discourse of the Church of England, and broader European, Protestant traditions’ assumptions on this question will form the concluding part of this study. Indeed, the Church of England’s recent release of a theology of Christian–Jewish relations, entitled God’s Unfailing Word, will provide another opportunity to identify an ecumenical legacy in Nostra Aetate that continues to this day.

Jews, Christians and Muslims: The Way of Dialogue (1988) The most obvious feature of the Lambeth Conference publication entitled Jews, Christians, and Muslims: The Way of Dialogue from 1988 is its presumption of the Abrahamic theologoumenon. This is the first formal Anglican Communion treatment of other faiths in the wake of Nostra Aetate, and those relations are circumscribed by the so-called Abrahamic religions. Sidney Griffith identifies the source of this motif in Surah 4:125 of the Qur’an in the reference to “the true religion of Abraham the faithful Gentile.”7 In Nostra Aetate’s assertion that, with Christians and Jews, Muslims “adore the one God”8 there is a clear precedence for the bracketing together of Jews, Christians, and Muslims that constitutes the rationale for the Anglican Communion document, The Way of Dialogue.

228

R. SUDWORTH

Nostra Aetate reminds us that “God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; He does not repent of the gifts He makes or of the calls He issues.”9 In similar fashion, The Way of Dialogue states that “Judaism is still a living religion”10 and “We firmly reject any view of Judaism which sees it as a living fossil.”11 Echoing the explicit rejection of the charge of deicide of the conciliar document, The Way of Dialogue condemns “discrimination and persecution of the Jews” and the teaching of contempt, recognizing that Christian teaching “provided the soil in which the evil weed of Nazism was able to take root and spread its poison.”12 These parallel moves signal vital messages for Christian–Jewish relations still very much in the shadow of the Shoah. Interestingly, in the same way that Nostra Aetate was originally intended to reflect on Christian–Jewish relations, The Way of Dialogue similarly had the limited original focus. The political pressures of churches in the Middle East brought reflections on Islam into what became an Abrahamic schema.13 In both Nostra Aetate and The Way of Dialogue, then, there is a double move with respect to Christian–Jewish relations that seeks to affirm the ongoing purposes of God among the Jews, and to reject anti-Jewish rhetoric in the teachings of the Church. I would observe, though, that the Anglican document goes further, and arguably undermines its own theological coherence because of a greater dependence on the Abrahamic schema than in Nostra Aetate. Nostra Aetate presents a series of concentric circles of relation to other faiths, beginning with “the community of all peoples” and the search for “answers to the unsolved riddles of the human condition” in various religions.14 As the account progresses, the conciliar document reflects on Islam, with a recognition of worship of the one God, to culminate in an understanding of God’s faithfulness to “Abraham’s stock,” the Jews. The Jews are seen in relation to the Church, through the New Covenant, and evidently in a qualitatively different fashion from the relation to Muslims. This is a “spiritual patrimony” and a “fraternal dialogue.” To underline the point that this is not driven by post-war exigencies alone, this account is “moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love.”15 There is a theological patterning in the concentric circles of relations to other faiths in Nostra Aetate. For all that The Way of Dialogue draws from Nostra Aetate, there is a fundamental difference in this area that made the Anglican document much more problematic to bishops at the Lambeth Conference in 1988. If Nostra Aetate presents us with concentric circles of revelation where the Jewish people, in the Old Covenant, are closest

11

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S AND THE RESPONSES …

229

to the Church, The Way of Dialogue offers a triangular relationship of Christians, Jews, and Muslims. While the Way of Dialogue stressed that “Judaism can never be one religion among others,” the inclusion of Islam in what it describes as a “tripartite basis” for relations puts a strain on the theological foundations.16 The Way of Dialogue describes Islam as standing in “a particular relationship to Christianity because of its acceptance of Jesus as the promised Messiah of the Hebrew Scripture.”17 Again, this is a theological rationale that includes Jews but it is not made clear what that particular relationship is, especially when those Hebrew Scriptures, as is admitted, are regarded by Muslims as corrupted. For all that Nostra Aetate espoused an Abrahamic sympathy for Christians, Jews, and Muslims, it would seem to be of the most minimal kind: that of worship of the one God. Louis Massignon’s originating influence for an Abrahamic theologoumenon was not fully realized at Vatican II. As Neal Robinson observes, Nostra Aetate has a “Massignonian ring” about it, but that is all.18 The earlier draft of the accompanying Lumen Gentium described Muslims as “acknowledging Abraham as their father” revealing an explicit acknowledgment of Massignon’s project. The fact that this was altered in the final version to become the much more qualified language that “Islam takes pleasure in linking itself” to Abraham and “professes to hold” the Abrahamic faith, is telling.19 With Christian Krokus, I would posit a “deferred judgment on Islam as an ‘Abrahamic Faith’ pending further research.”20 In The Way of Dialogue, the inclusion of Islam as a “living religion”21 along with Judaism begs the question of what “living” actually means. If this is a theological statement around the status of the religion within the providence of God, then this is not justified or explained in the text. If this is a rather more prosaic and self-evident declaration of Islam’s continuing tradition, its adaptability and growth, then it devalues the parallel, earlier statement of Judaism as “a living religion.”22 During the deliberations over The Way of Dialogue at the 1988 Lambeth Conference, a number of these and other theological blind spots that were otherwise evaded by Nostra Aetate were unpicked. The emphasis on the disposition of dialogue, and thus the foundations for Christian–Jewish and Muslim relations in shared roots and characteristics, provoked controversies, particularly among bishops from Africa and Asia.23 As Bert Breiner, the principal drafter of The Way of Dialogue, admits, “the finished product goes much further than its elder cousin,

230

R. SUDWORTH

Nostra Aetate.”24 For a number of bishops in the South, the theological synchronicity between Christians and Muslims, the apparent relegation of evangelism, and the commendation of Islamic “peacableness” did not accord with their lived experience. The Way of Dialogue seemed caught between accusations of theological shallowness and theoretical abstraction. Where Nostra Aetate made a virtue of what Daniel Madigan has described as the “open questions”25 left by Vatican II, The Way of Dialogue arguably tried to say too much. Because of the tumultuous response to The Way of Dialogue in 1988, and the context of controversies over sexuality threatening the unity of the Anglican Communion, substantive statements on other faiths were deliberately avoided for 1998. Instead, the Lambeth Conference of 1998 committed to the sharing of stories from across the Communion of encounters with Islam, and gave space to Church of England bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, whose family background is Pakistani, for a presentation on mission and dialogue.26

Generous Love (2008) It was not until the Lambeth Conference of 2008 that we witnessed an effort at articulating Anglican thinking on other faiths with the publication of Generous Love: The Truth of the Gospel and the Call to Dialogue. It is this document that was then ratified by the Church of England in 2009. Before analyzing some of the content of Generous Love in relation to Nostra Aetate, it is worth stepping back and reflecting on what kind of document this is. Clare Amos, one of the main drafters of Generous Love, writes that “It was intended to act as a theology of inter-faith relationsrather, than, say, a theology of religions.”27 Conscious of the difficulties faced by the reception of The Way of Dialogue, Amos reveals that the 2008 document was “an attempt to provide a statement that was as definitive as possible.”28 As such, Generous Love is much more modest in its aspiration and seeks to ground a theology of encounter as opposed to a theology of the religious other. In this sense, my contention would be that it is much more akin to Nostra Aetate, in offering an equivalent “Pastoral Constitution” for Anglican relations with other religious traditions. Indeed, one of the other principal drafters, Michael Ipgrave, has shared—with appropriate wryness—that drafts of Generous Love were originally stored in his computer directory under the working title, “Anglican Nostra Aetate.”29

11

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S AND THE RESPONSES …

231

In the Foreword by the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, it is stated that “With great foresight, the Roman Catholic Church at the Second Vatican Council set out some of the theological perspectives that might help shape a faithful and generous approach to other faiths.”30 What is striking, though, is that Williams immediately follows this statement of indebtedness to Nostra Aetate with the bald qualification that “the situation has moved on, both in theology and in practical relations between communities.” There is an explicit recognition that Nostra Aetate has “greatly influenced the teaching of successive Lambeth Conferences”31 but the admission of a changed context is left hanging. In an interview, Ipgrave substantiates the changed context by reference to the greater pessimism around interreligious relations consequent upon the occasion of religiously motivated terrorism, notably in the events of 9–11. Williams, again in an interview, emphasizes the changed theological scene. For Williams, the dominance of theologies of religion in the 1970s and 1980s, pejoratively described by him as “mega-theories,” has waned.32 Instead, a landscape that is noticeably more pessimistic about the place of religions in interfaith aspirations to peace and unity has given energy to theologies with much more modest intent. Such theologies articulate a basis for relating that reflect what I have described elsewhere as an “ecclesial-turn in interfaith relations.”33 There is no attempt to theologically assess another religious tradition, so the focus is rather a theological rationale for how and why the Church should engage with other religious traditions. In confirmation of a move to establish a mode of relating outwards from within the heart of the Christian tradition, Generous Love explicitly begins “with God.”34 A Christological and Trinitarian impulse to the encounter with the religious other is the formative move of Generous Love. This move enables the primacy of witness to the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ to energize interreligious dialogue. Where the trinity was mentioned in The Way of Dialogue merely as a point of contention in Christian-Muslim relations, in Generous Love, “our relationships with people of different faiths must be grounded theologically in our understanding of the reality of the God who is Trinity.”35 From being an impediment to interreligious relations, the Trinity is now the central impulse to those relations.

232

R. SUDWORTH

Strikingly, the only substantive reference to another religious tradition is to that of Judaism in the context of the reading of scriptures. The Way of Dialogue is quoted in repeating the injunctions that “We must ‘reject any view of Judaism which sees it as a living fossil, simply superseded by Christianity’” and “A right understanding of the relationship with Judaism is fundamental to Christianity’s own self-understanding.”36 But there is no parallel appraisal of Islam. Consolidating the ecclesial temper of Generous Love, the eucharist is signaled as the central performative act of the Church, enabling the generosity and hospitality of interreligious dialogue, in the section entitled, “Celebrating the Presence of Christ’s Body.” The ecclesial hue to Generous Love is of a piece with the overarching theology of Vatican II. The eucharistic ecclesiology of the theologians of the nouvelle théologie school, such as Yves Congar, Henri de Lubac, and Jean Daniélou provided an impetus to the reforms of Vatican II. Their turn to the Church Fathers was a ressourcement that was itself influenced by the neo-patristic sensibility of the likes of George Florovsky, Sergei Bulgakov, and Nicolas Afanasiev. Indeed, Afanasiev is the only Orthodox theologian cited in the pre-conciliar deliberations (“acta”) and is celebrated for his dictum that “the eucharist makes the Church.”37 It is surely no coincidence that the eucharistic, ecclesial temper to Generous Love comes at a time when Rowan Williams, sometimes characterized as “Orthodox in Anglican form,” was Archbishop of Canterbury. What is clear is that Generous Love does not fall into the trap that Nicholas Lossky notices in too many Anglican theologies: that of “putting Jesus Christ between brackets…in order to be able to dialogue.”38 What Generous Love demonstrates is the inevitable and necessary interdependence of ecclesiologies and fundamental understandings of God in an effort to articulate a theology of relations with other religious traditions. Nostra Aetate, we must remember, was not published in isolation, but was accompanied by a raft of systematic theologies. Furthermore, as Gavin d’Costa has argued, there are hermeneutical rules to the interpretation of conciliar constitutions flowing from their relative status. Thus, a Pastoral Constitution such as Nostra Aetate has to be interpreted in the light of the more authoritative Dogmatic Constitutions, such as Lumen Gentium, on the nature of the Church. Our understanding of the Church guides our interpretation of the theology of relations to other religious traditions; not the other way round.39 Generous Love continues what

11

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S AND THE RESPONSES …

233

Frederick Quinn describes as the “lineage of the Vatican landmark document, Nostra Aetate (1965)”40 in commending an irenic engagement with other faiths, and does so by enjoining the eucharistic ecclesiology that charges the wider enterprise of Vatican II. It is Generous Love, ratified by the General Synod in 2009, that provides the most authoritative account of a theology of relations with other religions for the Church of England. Following the difficulties occasioned by The Way of Dialogue in 1988, we may ask ourselves, with Pim Valkenberg, whether the concept of Abrahamic religions has a future. Valkenberg notes the various ambiguities of this motif, and how context so often determines the application of this motif. He argues that, in the spirit of the journeying Patriarch, this motif cannot be understood statically and in a closed fashion. Where it resonates, it will speak into the originating violence of the scripture narratives of Abraham: “the symbol ‘Abraham’ serves to point out to the religions that their dialogue must never degenerate into a convivial get together.”41 On this basis, the oblique Abrahamic resonances articulated in Nostra Aetate were more effective in resourcing the Church’s encounter with other religious traditions than the bolder Abrahamic schema of The Way of Dialogue.

God ’s Unfailing Word (2019) and the Question of Mission to the Jews In this final section, I will draw my attention to the specific question of mission to the Jews in presenting the comparative study of Nostra Aetate’s influence on the Church of England theologies of interreligious relations. In addition, I will reflect on some of the developments on this question within the World Council of Churches and a number of Protestant traditions subsequent to the publication of Nostra Aetate. As has already been expressed, the Church of England has followed Nostra Aetate in repudiating the idea that God may have withdrawn his covenantal relationship with the Jewish people. Both Churches reject a form of supersessionism that would deny God’s continuing purposes for the Jewish people. What is less clear, though, is the legacy of Nostra Aetate with respect to mission to the Jews, a question by no means resolved even when supporting God’s ongoing promise to Jewish people.

234

R. SUDWORTH

In the light of the Shoah and the clear affirmation in Nostra Aetate that “God does not repent of the gifts He makes,”42 proclamation, or evangelism, to the Jews has become a central controversy in Christian– Jewish relations. If the Jews are still God’s chosen people, and if a long history of Christian anti-Judaism with its inexorable genocidal logic is genuinely to be repudiated, then how can the church properly desire the conversion of Jews? As Joan Spillman states, “If Christians seek to convert Jews, they can hardly claim to respect Judaism; by such efforts, they are saying that Judaism ought to be eliminated.”43 This is an argument that smoothes over a great deal of complexity. The ambiguities of Vatican II have arguably given rise to inconsistent perspectives on this question within other Christian traditions. Whether one agrees with John Connelly—or not—that Nostra Aetate was a “revolution” in Catholic thinking on the Jewish people, or an explicit expression of what had been continuously implicit in the mind of the Church, there is no doubt that it opened space for the undeniably novel questioning of mission to the Jews. As Connelly states, “In recent years, nothing has vexed Catholic-Jewish relations more than the question of mission—the supposed duty of Christians to bring the gospel ‘to all nations.’”44 It is worth noting that after the horrors of World War II, the first gathering of the World Council of Churches (“WCC”) in 1948 spoke with especial intent into relations with Jews in order to correct the “ageold disorder…which anti-Semitism represents.” Yet despite this context and intention, the WCC asserted that “We have, therefore, in humble conviction to proclaim to the Jews, ‘The Messiah for Whom you wait has come.’”45 Even so soon after the Shoah, the context and the theology did not permit any questioning of the assumption of mission to the Jews. In 1967, however, two years after Nostra Aetate, The Commission on Faith and Order of WCC offered two alternative approaches. One approach affirms the traditional hope for Jews as “the same as it is for all men…that they may come to know…Jesus Christ as Lord.”46 The second approach, for the first time, admits a question around mission to the Jews, albeit on a spectrum that is effectively qualified by the recognition that the Jews are still God’s elect. Tellingly, the WCC refrains from a judgment and states that “the conversation among us has just begun and we realize that in this question the entire self-understanding of the Church is at stake.”47 The double assertion in Nostra Aetate of context and theology shaping a unique and distinctive relationship between Christians and Jews

11

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S AND THE RESPONSES …

235

is also evidenced here. So, the horrors of the Shoah mean that “we all have to realize that Christian words have now become disqualified and suspect in the ears of most Jews.”48 If, theologically, the relationship between the Church and Jews is “different from the attitude she has to all other men who do not believe in Christ,” then there are legitimate grounds for those that regard Jews as the people of God, with the Church, “separated from one another for the time being.”49 The contextual and theological premises of Nostra Aetate thus prompt very different approaches to the question of mission to the Jews. That conversation remained unresolved when the Executive Committee of WCC addressed Jewish-Christian dialogue in 1982. Proselytism by coercion is explicitly rejected, but a breadth of opinion on what constitutes “authentic mission to the Jews” is again admitted.50 The 1974 General Convention of the American Lutheran Church suggests this same level of irresolution and breadth: “It is unrealistic to expect that Lutherans will think alike or speak with one voice on the motive and method of bearing witness to their Jewish neighbors.”51 Again echoing the theological and contextual or pragmatic rationale of Nostra Aetate, “In recognition of the solidarity that unites us and the tensions and disagreements which have divided us.”52 In 1980, the American Lutheran Church continues this permissive approach to the breadth of positions on evangelism.53 Interestingly, in 1977, the Central Board of the Swiss Protestant Church Federation followed the pattern of maintaining a proclamatory task to Jewish people but offered a qualification to the phrase “mission to the Jews.” In their view, this “puts Jews on a par with heathens and undervalues the specific position of the Jewish people among the nations, as well as the fact that Judaism has known the God of the Bible.”54 Nostra Aetate undoubtedly privileges the Christian–Jewish encounter, acknowledging the unique relationship and indebtedness to Judaism, as well as the central standing of Jewish people within the providence of God. The Swiss Protestant Federation scratch away at this assertion with regard to its implication for mission to the Jews. The church is called to proclaim the gospel to all peoples, but we have here a “thinking aloud” that notes that any witness is qualitatively different to that of other peoples. What that practically means for proclamation is left unsaid. The fundamental theological position in all these instances has not changed: Jesus Christ being the full revelation of God to the whole world. The question of the application of that mission of witness in the here

236

R. SUDWORTH

and now is what is variously interpreted in a number of the declarations. So, at one end of the spectrum, the eschatological in-gathering of the church and the Jewish people, albeit in Christ, is served by a mission of good deeds by Christians to Jews, and not by verbal proclamation. At the other end of the spectrum, the call to proclamation is tempered by the charge that centuries of Christian anti-Judaism make any witness difficult and loaded, and that we must beware of any presumption that God is not already witnessing to his covenant people. Both positions build on the opening made possible in Nostra Aetate’s theological and contextual grounding of Christian–Jewish relations. Some Protestant churches have gone further in landing on the side that would definitively repudiate a gospel imperative to Jewish people. In 1980, the Synod of the Evangelical Church of the Rhineland, in their document, “Towards Renovation,” stated that “We believe that in their calling Jews and Christians are always witnesses of God in the presence of the world and before each other. Therefore we are convinced that the church may not express its witness toward the Jewish people as it does its mission to the peoples of the world.”55 Even with the admittedly radical departure that this represents, and the document’s emphasis of shared witness, it begs the question what the unique witness of the church to Jews then is. For all the acknowledgment of Christian anti-Judaism, the renewed recognition of the Jewish story within God’s providence, and the particularity of shared roots, it is still not clear how the church may testify to messianic fulfillment in Jesus Christ. In simple terms, is conversion to the Christian faith entirely within the domain of the eschaton? This is a hugely vexed question when one notes also the paradox that a number of Roman Catholic advocates for change, for repudiation of mission to the Jews, such as John Oesterreicher, were themselves converts from Judaism. The direction of travel is not one-way, though, and churches that have qualified and even condemned evangelism to the Jews have prompted corresponding reactions from some other traditions. So, a consortium of North American Evangelical Protestants in “The Willowbank Declaration” of 1989 condemned church leaders who had, in their language, “retreated” from the task of evangelization of the Jews.56 While acknowledging and rejecting Christian anti-Semitism and affirming dialogue, the Willowbank Declaration sees no disqualification for the task of evangelization. Moreover, this imperative is underscored by the perceived biblical witness to an eschatological in-gathering of Jewish converts to the church. The unqualified approach to proclamation to the Jews that we have here

11

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S AND THE RESPONSES …

237

does acknowledge a context for which Christians bear some blame for a history of anti-Jewish sentiment, though the Holocaust is not explicitly mentioned. But the theological position that Nostra Aetate prompts, is missing. There is no admission of God’s ongoing faithfulness to the Jewish people, and thus a hard supersessionism is espoused that does not see any unique standing with the Christian faith. The Church of England has continued to represent a breadth of positions on this question, following the theological and contextual framing of Nostra Aetate. In Sharing One Hope? in 2001, a resource to guide thinking in exploratory mode rather more than a definitive point of doctrine, three legitimate positions are offered to the Church. The first would be a belief that there is no mission to the Jews; the second that would envision witness and mission but only in the context of friendship and dialogue, with careful listening and sensitivity; and the third would posit a mandate to convince Jews that Jews was the Messiah. In all three positions, there is a framing of mission in the shared task of witnessing to the kingdom of God.57 At the end of November 2019, the Church of England released a teaching document entitled God’s Unfailing Word, which endeavors to synthesize various resources that have been published, and give more directive weight to a particularly Anglican perspective on Christian–Jewish relations. In the Preface to God’s Unfailing Word there is an immediate acknowledgment that “Since the seminal declaration of the Second Vatican Council…the Christian churches have been engaged in a continuing and deepening reflection on their relationship with the Jewish people and with Judaism.”58 The question of mission and evangelism is reflected upon as one of four “Critical Issues” for Christian–Jewish relations. A summary affirmation is offered that acknowledges “The distinctive relationship of kinship and divergence between Christianity and Judaism” that “should cause Christians to think carefully about mission and evangelism in the case of their Jewish neighbors.”59 In similar fashion to Sharing One Hope?, a breadth of positions on evangelism is presented in God’s Unfailing Word. However, there is a much stronger appeal to the foundational pillars of the document’s theology of Christian–Jewish relations. The two preparatory chapters outline, successively, a “Difficult History” and a “Distinctive Relationship.” The contextual and theological prompts of Nostra Aetate are evident again in both a recognition of the church’s complicity and responsibility for anti-Judaism and anti-semitism, and the valuing of covenantal promise for the Jewish people.

238

R. SUDWORTH

Interestingly, the “Distinctive Relationship” chapter expounds an idea originated by Cardinal Walter Kasper that the encounter with Jewish people is a “sacrament of otherness,” a paradigmatic distinctive relationship.60 Shared scriptures and prayers, and God’s faithfulness to his people mean that Christians can expect to meet God in Christian–Jewish encounter. Again, what this actually means for evangelism and conversion is left unsaid, but it does charge proclamation with measures of humility and mutuality that cannot but alter the nature of the mission of the church. The Orthodox Chief Rabbi of the UK, Ephraim Mirvis, writes an Afterword which welcomes the “sensitive and unequivocal owning [of] the legacy of Christianity’s role in the bitter saga of Jewish persecution.”61 However, there is a “substantial misgiving” at the absence of any rejection of those who “dedicate themselves to the purposeful and specific targeting of Jews to conversion to Christianity.”62 This is a sharp reminder that however Christians frame and qualify the issue of evangelism to the Jews, it remains a problematic impediment to trust for many Jewish people. Archbishop Justin Welby’s Foreword reflexively engages with the Chief Rabbi’s Afterword, their exchange modeling friendship, despite the evident disagreement.

Conclusion I have not sought to reflect on the Roman Catholic’s position on proclamation to the Jews, though I note the 2002 position of North American Catholic bishops in Reflections on Covenant and Mission in developing thinking on the nature of the unique relationship. For Reflections, the Church and the Jewish people have two distinct callings in mission, and together they have a witness to the world. However, the church’s “evangelizing task 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.”63 Whether this development has been solidified in Roman Catholic teaching by the 2015 statement, The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable,64 I will leave for others with more authority to judge. What I will observe from the outside, though, is that this remains a genuine debate within the Roman Catholic Church. Are we to turn away Jewish candidates for baptism, as Father Kaminka did? When Connelly argues that Nostra Aetate teaches us that “God extends grace to all humans” as the basis for arguing for the rejection of evangelism to the

11

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S AND THE RESPONSES …

239

Jews, I want to say that that logic applies to people of all faiths and none.65 As soon as we use the language of “targeting” and frame evangelism within a potential aspiration to deny the future existence of a whole community in the desire for conversion, we are engaging in debates that have purchase with all other religious traditions. The abuses represented by these challenges to the church are not unique to the Christian–Jewish encounter. My fear is that in so responding to the very just accusation of Jewish people to the failures of the church, perversely, we end up undervaluing the uniqueness of the Jews and the distinctiveness of the Christian–Jewish encounter. I wonder that the ambiguities of Nostra Aetate that continue to resonate with and shape so many Christian traditions’ interreligious theologies have been influential precisely because of those elements of ambiguity. God’s Unfailing Word quotes Nostra Aetate at a number of points, and in expounding the concept of the sacrament of otherness recalls that it was “sounding the depths of the mystery which is the Church.”66 What we say about the witness of Christ Jesus to the Jews goes right to the heart of both a deep hope and central claim of Christianity, and an appalling rupture and cause for judgment on the church. The paradoxes and discomforts of that position need to be held together with honesty to honor our respective integrities as well as to take seriously the tragic history of Christian–Jewish encounter. In honoring both the theology and the history, Nostra Aetate remains a gift to the global Church.

Notes 1. Auberon Waugh, Auberon Waugh’s Christmas Sermon, https://blogs.spe ctator.co.uk/2013/12/auberon-waughs-christmas-sermon/, downloaded on 16 August 2019. This article was originally published in the 23 December 1966 edition of The Spectator. 2. Alister McGrath, The Renewal of Anglicanism (London: SPCK, 1993), 74. 3. Paul Avis, The Identity of Anglicanism: Essentials of Anglican Ecclesiology (London/New York: T & T Clark, 2007), 15. 4. Michael Ipgrave, “The Use of Scripture in Generous Love,” in Communicating the Word: Revelation, Translation, and Interpretation in Christianity and Islam, ed. David Marshall (Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 2011), 147.

240

R. SUDWORTH

5. Norman Doe, “Common Principles of Canon Law in Anglicanism,” in A Fallible Church: Lambeth Essays, ed. Kenneth Stevenson (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 2008), 87. 6. For a fuller study of this subject with respect to Christian-Muslim relations in particular, see Richard Sudworth, “Anglican Interreligious Relations in Generous Love: Indebted to and Moving from Vatican II,” in The Character of Christian-Muslim Encounter: Essays in Honour of David Thomas, eds. Douglas Pratt, Jon Hoover, John Davies, & John Chesworth (Leiden: Brill, 2015). 7. Sidney H. Griffith, The Church in the Shadow of the Mosque: Christians and Muslims in the World of Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), 162–164. 8. Nostra Aetate § 3, http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vat ican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html accessed on 20 August 2019. 9. Nostra Aetate § 4. 10. “Jews, Christians and Muslims: The Way of Dialogue,” in Appendix 6, The Truth Shall Make You Free: The Lambeth Conference 1988: The Reports, Resolutions and Pastoral Letters from the Bishops (London: Anglican Consultative Council, 1988), 300. 11. “Jews, Christians and Muslims: The Way of Dialogue,” 302. 12. Ibid., 303. 13. Michael Ipgrave, “Understanding, Affirmation, Sharing: Nostra Aetate and an Anglican Approach to Inter-Faith Relations,” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, Volume 43, No. 1 (Winter 2008), 6. 14. Nostra Aetate § 1 & 2. 15. Nostra Aetate § 4. 16. “Jews, Christians and Muslims: The Way of Dialogue,” 302, 308. 17. Ibid., 303. 18. Neal Robinson, “Massignon, Vatican II and Islam as an Abrahamic Religion,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Volume 2, No. 2 (December 1991), 195. 19. http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/doc uments/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html accessed on 20 August 2019, § 3 & § 16. 20. Christian S. Krokus, “Louis Massignon’s Influence on the Teaching of Vatican II on Muslims and Islam,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Volume 23, No. 3 (July 2012), 332. 21. “Jews, Christians and Muslims: The Way of Dialogue,” 303. 22. Ibid., 299.

11

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S AND THE RESPONSES …

241

23. For an annotated commentary of “The Way of Dialogue” informed by contemporaneous notes of discussions and the records of the principal drafter, Bert Breiner, I am indebted to Lucinda Mosher’s unpublished historical-critical analysis of 1997 for the General Theological Seminary, New York: “Christ and People of Other Faiths and Jews, Christians and Muslims: The Way of Dialogue,” Statements on Interfaith Relations of The Anglican Communion prepared by The Dogmatic & Pastoral Concerns Section, Lambeth Conference 1988. 24. Lucinda Mosher, Christ and People of Other Faiths, 14–15. 25. Daniel Madigan, “Nostra Aetate and the Questions It Chose to Leave Open,” Gregorianum, Volume 87, No. 4 (2006), 784. 26. Michael Nazir-Ali, “Embassy, Hospitality and Dialogue: Christians and People of Other Faiths,” in The Official Report of the Lambeth Conference 1998 (Harrisburg PA: Morehouse Publishing, 1999), 268–327. 27. Clare Amos, “For the Common Good: The Church of England, Christian-Muslim Relations and A Common Word,” Islam and ChristianMuslim Relations, Volume 20, No. 2 (April 2009), 183. 28. Clare Amos, “For the Common Good,” 183. 29. Shared with the permission of Michael Ipgrave from a private conversation, 29 March 2010. 30. Generous Love: The Truth of the Gospel and the Call to Dialogue. A Report from the Anglican Communion Network for Inter Faith Concerns, The Anglican Consultative Council, February 2008, http://www.presencea ndengagement.org.uk/generous-love accessed on 20 August 2019, v. 31. Generous Love, 7. 32. From an interview with Rowan Williams by the author on 6 September 2012, at Lambeth Palace. 33. Richard Sudworth, “Anglicanism and Islam: The Ecclesial-Turn in Interfaith Relations,” in Living Stones Yearbook 2012 (London: Living Stones of the Holy Land Trust, Melisende, 2012), 65–105. 34. Generous Love, 1. 35. Ibid., 15. 36. Ibid., 5. 37. Michael Plekon, “The Russian Religious Revival and Its Theological Legacy,” in The Cambridge Companion to Orthodox Christian Theology, eds. Mary B. Cunningham, & Elizabeth Theokritoff (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 203–217. 38. Nicholas Lossky, “An Interview,” One in Christ, Volume 44, No. 2 (Winter, 2010), 108. 39. Gavin D’Costa, “Hermeneutics and the Second Vatican Council’s Teachings: Establishing Roman Catholic Grounds for Religious Freedoms in Relation to Islam. Continuity or Discontinuity in the Catholic Tradition?”

242

40.

41. 42. 43.

44.

45.

46.

47. 48. 49. 50.

51.

52. 53. 54.

55.

R. SUDWORTH

Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Volume 20, No. 3 (July 2009), 277–290. Frederick Quinn, “Toward ‘Generous Love’: Recent Anglican Approaches to World Religions,” Journal of Anglican Studies, Volume 10, No. 2 (2011): 161–182, 164. Pim Valkenberg, “Does the Concept of ‘Abrahamic Religions’ Have a Future?” Concilium, Islam and Enlightenment, New Issues 2005/5, 109. Nostra Aetate § 4. Joan Spillman, “Targeting Jews for Conversion: A Contradiction of Christian Faith and Hope,” in Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity’s Sacred Obligation, ed. Mary Boys (Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), 163–174, 163. John Connelly, “The Catholic Church and Mission to the Jews,” in After Vatican II: Trajectories and Hermeneutics, ed. James L. Heft (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. Eerdmans, 2012), 96–133, 96. “The First Assembly of the World Council of Churches 1948,” The Theology of the Churches and the Jewish People: Statements by the World Council of Churches and Its Member Churches (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1988), 6. “The Commission on Faith and Order 1967,” The Theology of the Churches and the Jewish People: Statements by the World Council of Churches and Its Member Churches (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1988), 20. “The Commission on Faith and Order 1967,” 21. Ibid., 23. Ibid. “The Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches 1982,” The Theology of the Churches and the Jewish People: Statements by the World Council of Churches and Its Member Churches (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1988), 34. “The General Convention of the American Lutheran Church 1974,” The Theology of the Churches and the Jewish People: Statements by the World Council of Churches and Its Member Churches (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1988), 71. Ibid. “General Convention of the American Lutheran Church.” “Central Board of the Swiss Protestant Church Federation 1977,” The Theology of the Churches and the Jewish People: Statements by the World Council of Churches and Its Member Churches (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1988), 87. “Synod of the Evangelical Church of the Rhineland (FRG) 1980,” The Theology of the Churches and the Jewish People: Statements by the World Council of Churches and Its Member Churches (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1988), 93.

11

THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND’S AND THE RESPONSES …

243

56. Quoted in Jews and Christians: Perspectives on Mission: The Lambeth-Jewish Forum (Cambridge: The Woolf Institute, 2011), 49. 57. Inter Faith Consultative Group of the Archbishop’s Council, Sharing One Hope? (London: Church House Publishing, 2001), 25–27. 58. Christopher Cocksworth, “Preface,” God’s Unfailing Word, Faith and Order Commission of the Church of England (London: Church House Publishing, 2019), vii. 59. God’s Unfailing Word, 51. 60. Ibid., 43. 61. Ephraim Mirvis, “Afterword,” God’s Unfailing Word, 102. 62. Ibid., 103. 63. Reflections on Covenant and Mission, Christian sub-section on “The Mission of the Church: Evangelization,” Consultation of the National Council of Synagogues and the Bishops’ Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs Committee, 2002. 64. The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable (Romans 11:29): Reflections on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic–Jewish Relations on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate, 2015, available at: www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/relationsjew sdocs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20151210_ebraismo-nostra-aetate_en.html accessed on 16 April 2019. 65. John Connelly, “The Catholic Church and Mission to the Jews,” 113. 66. God’s Unfailing Word, 42.

CHAPTER 12

Nostra Aetate and the Christians of the Middle East George Sabra

A broad title has been intentionally chosen for this paper because it endeavors to cover several different aspects of the relation of Vatican II’s famous declaration, Nostra Aetate, to the Middle East. Middle Eastern Catholic Christians were present at its genesis, formulation and declaration, and they voiced their viewpoints about it during the Council; Middle Eastern Christians and churches, both Catholic and non-Catholic, were concerned and affected by it in their home countries; and Middle Eastern Christian theologians have had to deal with its theological implications in regard to the relations to Jews and Muslims, and they were also inspired and emboldened by it to tread new paths of theologizing and to adopt new attitudes in interreligious dialogue. It would not be possible in the limited space available here to address all these aspects adequately or exhaustively, but this will be an attempt to put before readers the main issues and challenges that Nostra Aetate raised for the Christians

G. Sabra (B) Near East School of Theology, Beirut, Lebanon e-mail: [email protected]

© The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_12

245

246

G. SABRA

of the Middle East. Part of what is being done here may be considered an account, albeit not exhaustive, of the reception of Nostra Aetate in the Middle East—a task that, to my knowledge, has not been done so far.

Middle Eastern Christians and Nostra Aetate During Vatican II It is well known that the topic of non-Christian religions was not on the agenda of the Vatican Council when drafts were being prepared for the various declarations. It was the request of Pope John XXIII in 1962 to Cardinal Bea to prepare a conciliar text defining the relationship of the Catholic Church to the Jewish people and dealing with the charge of anti-Semitism that had plagued Europe for centuries and had resulted in the horrible crime of the Holocaust in World War II that opened the door for a statement about all religions. Cardinal Bea prepared a text and presented it to the Central Commission in 1962, but this first draft was put aside because it caused an uproar in Arab countries and because it met with opposition from many bishops from the Middle East and other places as well. It was felt that every “concession” to the Jews “would be interpreted as an act of hostility to the Arabs, if not a first step towards Vatican recognition of the State of Israel.”1 The participants from the Middle East were vocal and outspoken here; they feared reprisals against Christians in the Middle East if positive things were said about the Jews; they insisted that something positive needs to be said about other religions.2 But fear of reprisals was not the only reason behind Arab Christian positions; many of them believed that the Jews could not be acquitted of the charge of killing Christ. Patriarch Maximos IV of the Greek Catholic (Melkite) Church based his objections to the proposed text on Mt. 27:25, “his blood be upon us and our children,” not in the sense that all Jews at the time of Christ, or all their descendants were personally responsible, but that “a mark of shame [remains] imprinted on their foreheads as long as they remain apart from Christ the Savior.”3 Patriarch Maximos also warned that the approval of the text would set off a massacre of Arab Christians, meaning by the Muslims, of course.4 Nevertheless, the advocates of a text on the Jews did not rest their case. In 1962, during the Second Session of the Council, they insisted that something needed to be said about the Catholic Church and the Jews, but that perhaps it should not be in a separate declaration. Some suggested that it be part of the decree on ecumenism, but this was

12

NOSTRA AETATE AND THE CHRISTIANS OF THE MIDDLE EAST

247

rejected; others proposed that it be a paragraph in the declaration on the church in the world today, but the Second Session ended without a decision. A special committee was assigned to rework the text, and one of its famous amendments was the removal of the condemnation of the charge of “deicide.” The Fourth Session of 1964 was decisive. A strong tendency of the Fathers of the Council was in favor of a statement on the Jews, but those bishops and patriarchs who came from mainly non-Christian countries, especially Islamic countries, were still opposed to the text, and some proposed that it should be widened to encompass statements about other religions besides Judaism. The Christians of the Middle East were very vocal here. The main issue seems to have been the condemnation of the charge of “deicide” which had been reintroduced to the text. The reworked text was put before the Fathers of the Council in September 1964, and it won majority approval. It was now broadened to include statements about all non-Christian religions. Still, the chapter on the Jews—the longest—caused controversy. The hottest issue was the condemnation of the expression “deicide.” The reworked document had reintroduced the condemnation of “deicide” as applied to the Jews, but the Vatican and the Council Fathers had, as a result, faced rising political and ecclesiastical protests in the Arab world—both Christian and Muslim. As far as I know, no other text of the Second Vatican Council caused so much protest and had as much political repercussion as this one.5 The Vatican Secretariat of State was seriously worried about a breakdown in diplomatic relations between the Vatican and some Arab countries. From November 1964 until the early months of 1965, there were protests in the Middle East against the Roman Catholic Church amid accusations that it favored international Zionism at the expense of Palestinian claims; the government of Jordan approved the request of many of its Christian citizens to ban visits to the Holy Places by priests who had approved the text; newspapers spoke of threats of reprisals against those who voted for it; there were reports of a demonstration of 10,000 Christians in Aleppo, Syria against the exoneration of the Jews of the death of Christ; there were rumors of whole Catholic parishes crossing over to Orthodox Churches; the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem wrote the Pope asking for removal of the condemnation of deicide, and so did the Latin Christians of Jordan, and the Vatican had to send emissaries on two trips to the Middle East to meet with Christian and political leaders: the first trip was to Lebanon and Syria, the second to Jerusalem and Cairo. They met with

248

G. SABRA

Catholic and non-Catholic leaders. The overall results of the visits were very negative about the declaration on the Jews. Patriarch Maximos IV of the Melkite Church is reported to have threatened to withdraw from the Council hall if the Jews were exonerated of the charge of deicide, a matter which alarmed Pope Paul VI. The Eastern Catholic churches, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Coptic Orthodox Church, and the Anglicans of Jerusalem were all negative about the declaration or some of its content. All of this was reported back to the Vatican and had some effect on the proceedings of the Council. Eventually, the text was approved, and it had overwhelming support from the Fathers of the Council, but the Arab and Eastern Christian protests had their effect as well. The condemnation of the charge of deicide was removed from the text; it was formulated differently. Another result of Arab Christian protests was that the text was expanded to address all religions, and not exclusively the Jews. Thus, the first encounter of Middle Eastern Christians with Nostra Aetate was negative and problematic. Catholic Christians from the Middle East tried to prevent it and asked that there be no declaration. They were not alone in this, of course, but they were very vocal. When they could not stop the declaration, they insisted on changes and amendments. But what were the reasons for this strong opposition of Middle Eastern Christians to the declaration on the Jews? It is easy to label the Arab Christian objections as resulting from the inability of the Arabs to separate politics and religion, as some said,6 or to dismiss it as “opportunistic,”7 or to attribute it to the refusal of the Arab Christians to publish any of the explanations that the Fathers had given about the purely religious nature of the text, and that what it says is mainly about the Old Testament and the relation of its people to the Church, and that it says nothing about the state of Israel,8 or to the accusation that some of the Arab Christian bishops and theologians were really anti-Semitic.9 There may be some truth to all of these explanations, but the fact is that those Western theologians and Fathers of the Council who supported a strong pro-Jewish declaration seemed to have had little understanding or appreciation of the context of Middle Eastern Christians. Religion and politics—religion and any aspect of life—are closely intertwined in the Middle East. The problem was, and still is, not that the Christians of the Middle East are not able to separate religion and politics, but that the region as a whole is not able or willing to do so. Religion pervades every aspect of life, not least of all politics. Furthermore, what many Christian theologians and Council

12

NOSTRA AETATE AND THE CHRISTIANS OF THE MIDDLE EAST

249

Fathers meeting in the Vatican did not fully realize and appreciate was that the Middle Eastern Christian (and Muslim) experience with the Jews was, by the 1960s, very different from the European and Western experience of World War II and the atrocities committed against Jews in Europe. Whereas the Westerners were beginning to awaken in the 1960s to the horrors committed in their countries and in their context against Jews, and so began to reflect theologically and religiously on the Jews as victims, the Arabs of the Middle East, both Christian and Muslim, were already living under the shadow of the establishment of a state in their region for the Jews by force and war, so that their experience was one where Jews were not victims but victimizers. In that context, when a major Christian church in the world officially declares that the Jews are victims and that God’s covenant with them is not revoked (which could imply that the promise of the land is still valid), it is understandable that Arab Christian and Muslim opposition would be so strongly expressed.10 The issue of differing contexts and different experiences with Jews continued long after Vatican II.

Middle Eastern Christians and Nostra Aetate After Vatican II Once the declaration was overwhelmingly approved and then promulgated by the Council, the Eastern Catholic Churches received it, and began the process of translating it to Arabic along with the other conciliar documents. There is no indication whatsoever that there was a delay or reluctance in translating the text that had caused problems and controversies for Eastern Catholics.11 The first general impact of the text, along with the other documents of the Council, was that the Catholic Church had created a completely new atmosphere in relation to its position on non-Christians. This of course was not unique to the Middle East; it was a worldwide impact on the Catholic Church everywhere, but it was also felt clearly in the Middle East. The pre-Vatican II traditional position of no salvation outside the Catholic Church was now totally revised. It was definitely a new era as far as relations with other religions were concerned. For the Middle Eastern Christians and churches, however, there were two issues that Nostra Aetate put before them as a challenge: the paragraphs about the Jews and the Muslims. How were the statements on the Jewish people and the Muslims received in the Middle East? What was their impact?

250

G. SABRA

Statements on the Jews Taking up the statements on the Jews and Jewish people first, it is noteworthy that very little was done or said or developed in this matter. What was said in Nostra Aetate about the Church and the Old Testament and about the common heritage of Jews and Christians in the history of salvation was not a problem. But what was revised about the guilt of the Jews in the death of Jesus, namely, that not all Jews at the time of Jesus were participants in his death or that the Jews of today cannot be blamed for what some of their forefathers did was not generally taken up in discussions or in writings. The opposition to some of the statements about the Jews in Nostra Aetate which Eastern Christians voiced during the Council was not continued explicitly after the promulgation of the declaration, but the general silence about it was a kind of implicit continuation of that opposition. The political situation in the region, especially after the 1967 war, did not at all provide an appropriate context to develop positive Christian theological positions about the Jews. Clearly, the impact of the new, positive position on the Jewish people was not the same as in the West. Whereas the Roman Catholic Church in Europe and the West in general removed from its liturgy and prayers anti-Semitic statements and expressions, no such thing took place among the Catholic churches of the East. Although there have been reforms, for example, of the Maronite liturgy since Vatican II, no anti-Jewish prayers or texts were removed; the Greek Catholic Church, which follows the Byzantine tradition, also did not remove any anti-Jewish texts from its prayers and liturgy.12 The task of revising Catholic theological views of the Jewish people was not taken up by the churches of the Middle East after Vatican II. Paragraph 4 of Nostra Aetate did not figure much in Catholic or other Christian theological reflections. Even when Nostra Aetate’s fortieth anniversary was observed in a round table discussion in Beirut,13 the whole event was dedicated to the relation of the Vatican document to Christian-Muslim dialogue; nothing was said about the Jewish content of the declaration. There were, however, two notable but not very influential, exceptions to the silence about the Jewish paragraph of the declaration. One is to be found in the writings of a certain Lebanese Dominican priest, Fr. Luke (Ramzi) Malik (1916–2003), and the other is in a short text prepared for the Synod for Lebanon by the Maronite priest and scholar, Fr. Emile Akiki, in 2005.

12

NOSTRA AETATE AND THE CHRISTIANS OF THE MIDDLE EAST

251

Fr. Luke (Ramzi) H. Malik published a short work in 1978 entitled Israel and Ishmael.14 Malik’s aim was to propose a solution to the political and religious problems between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East. He begins with Abraham as the starting point of sacred history and affirms that Ishmael too was blessed and received promises. God is present outside the institution of the chosen people, and there is life and salvation and life with God there too. The rise of Islam gave a new start to Ishmael’s destiny and heritage in the history of world religions. Malik asks, “Could there be in God’s plans, alongside the ever-persisting mystery of Israel, a web enclosing the descendants of Isaac-Israel and those of Ishmael-Esau, a design that would embrace also Arabs and Muslims?” and “Could the posterity of Ishmael be granted the privilege of provoking Israel to jealousy and emulation?” (Rom 9–11).15 Malik seems to give positive answers to his questions: “The church as mystery, not as institution, can no longer afford to ponder her own mystery and that of Israel, without being led to find herself confronted with the mystery of Ishmael and Islam.”16 Jews, Christians, and Muslims, and all men and women of goodwill, need to form the people of the God of Abraham.17 His proposal that the descendants of Ishmael—Arabs and Muslims—grant the land to the descendants of Israel-Isaac is not of concern to us here, but what is relevant for our purposes is the reinterpretation of Romans 9–11 that Malik offers. It is a reinterpretation that takes into positive consideration the change in Western theology after the Holocaust. Malik claims that the Church’s realization of the mystery of Israel can extend also to Muslims as sons of Ishmael. He is rather positive about the continued existence of the Jewish people, although the political return to Palestine is ambiguous. The Jewish people remains a mystery in light of Romans 11:28.18 Thus, Malik does not subscribe to the mainstream of Arab Christian theology that refuses to see any theological significance in the continued presence of the Jewish people or to the understanding of Romans 9–11 as claiming that God’s covenant with the Jews has not been abrogated. Malik considers Nostra Aetate as “a sign of the times.”19 He was obviously influenced and encouraged by the “Declaration of the Church on the non-Christian Religions.” The second attempt came several decades later. In preparing for a Synod for Lebanon, the Maronite Church asked some theologians to submit texts on a variety of topics. Fr. Emile Akiki, professor at the Faculty of theology at the Maronite Holy Spirit University, was asked in 2005 to prepare a text on theological foundations for a relation with Judaism.

252

G. SABRA

Akiki prepared a text of about three pages in French.20 Akiki first presents an exposition of the fourth paragraph of Nostra Aetate on the Church and the Jews, noting that the Oriental patriarchs and bishops were opposed to it. Nevertheless, he goes on to elaborate its ecclesiological and Christological significance, explaining how the Council implicitly recognizes and admits, on the one hand, a continuity between biblical Israel and the Jewish people of today, and on the other affirms explicitly that the relation which unites the church to the lineage of Abraham concerns Israel of all times. The relation which unites the Church spiritually with the Jewish people is not one of mere chronological succession; in other words, it is not a relation of substitution. There is a perennial character to Israel which encompasses both the Jewish people and the Church.21 Christologically, Akiki highlights the Jewishness of Jesus, which Pope John Paul II later affirmed. Since Christ is Jewish, the Church, as his body, is so too. This is the Christological aspect that links the two peoples in one: Israel.22 In his brief personal conclusion, Akiki considers the text of Nostra Aetate about the Jews as very advanced in its elaboration of the good relations between Christians and Jews based on the givens of divine revelation: It remains to be said that this text places all the Eastern Catholic Churches before the challenge of an appropriate reading in their own Arab-Islamic, Palestinian-Israeli context. Could our Church in the East apply these theological foundations in order to lead the way for a dialogue (difficult for the moment) like the one of the western Catholic Churches?23

Akiki thus put before the Catholics of the East the Western revision of the traditional understanding of the relation of the Church to the Jewish people, both biblically and in the ensuing history. Could this, he asks, be appropriated in the Christian East?24 Both of these attempts, Malik’s and Akiki’s, bore no fruit. In Malik’s case, the publication and distribution of his booklet Israel and Ishmael caused a problem in his own Dominican Order in Lebanon as well as with the Lebanese authorities, who suspected that he was promoting a recognition of the state of Israel and a justification of its right to exist. Malik had to leave Lebanon for a while to let things calm down. As for Akiki, the organizers of the Synod for Lebanon did not incorporate his text about the theological foundation for a relation with Judaism into the texts of the Synod; it was left out. The escalating conflict between the Arabs and the State of Israel immediately after Vatican II, beginning with the

12

NOSTRA AETATE AND THE CHRISTIANS OF THE MIDDLE EAST

253

1967 war and its aftermath, made it extremely difficult to open a dialogue or to reflect purely theologically on the relationship between Christians and Jews in the Middle East. Especially after 1975, when Israeli political discourse about the conflict became biblical—in other words, when the Likud Party came to power, and the justification for the existence of Israel became more and more religious and theological—the land as the eternal gift of God to the Jews, placed the Christians of the Middle East, Catholics, and others in a very difficult position, even when they simply wanted to defend the Old Testament as the book of the Church, let alone other issues relating to the continued theological significance of the Jewish people in light of Romans 9–11. What made things even worse was the rise of Western Christian (mainly Evangelical) support for the state of Israel and its policies of expansion and settlement, on the basis of a dispensationalist reading of some parts of the Bible—both Old and New Testaments. This is the phenomenon known as Christian Zionism. One can thus conclude that Nostra Aetate’s paragraph 4 about the Jews has had little positive impact in the Middle East. Middle Eastern peoples, including Middle Eastern Christians, received it at a time when their experience with Jews was very different, in fact almost the opposite of the western experience with Jews. And that context has not changed; the experience has become progressively more negative.25

Statement on Islam Nostra Aetate’s brief section on Islam (paragraph 3) does not seem to have been a matter of much discussion or controversy during the Council itself. After all, it was added to a text that was not supposed to be about other religions in the first place but only about the Jews. As has already been noted, one of the main reasons which led to the insertion of a section on Islam was the insistence of the representatives of the Middle Eastern Catholic churches. For their own context and situation among Muslims in the Arab world, they needed to have their worldwide Church say something positive about Islam too. Indeed, Nostra Aetate speaks positively about Muslims and their beliefs. It points to the common heritage and beliefs of both Christianity and Islam and refers to their common Abrahamic link. It urges Catholics to put the negative past behind them and to strive for “mutual understanding” and cooperation in “safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace and

254

G. SABRA

freedom.”26 The Vatican Council was thus calling upon Catholic Christians to do two things: to view Islam in a new way and to engage with Muslims in a new way. In other words, Nostra Aetate was, on the level of theory, inaugurating a new way to theologize Islam and, on the practical level, promoting dialogue and collaboration in common causes. What impact did these two aspects of section 3 of Nostra Aetate have on Middle Eastern Catholics and Christians in general?

Theologizing Islam Undoubtedly, the whole approach to Islam (as well as to other religions) was new. The affirmation that the Church looks “with sincere respect upon the ways and conduct and of life,” upon the rules and teachings of other religions which differ from the Catholic ones, but nevertheless “often reflect a ray of Truth which enlightens all men,”27 inaugurated a whole new atmosphere and world of discourse for relating to and viewing Islam and other religions. The patristic idea of logos spermatikos 28 is taken up here in terms of the analogy of light, and the traditional way of referring to other religions, especially Islam as a false religion founded by a false prophet or as a Christian heresy,29 is set aside. The positive approach to Islam expressed in paragraph three of Nostra Aetate set the tone for much Eastern Catholic theological views of Islam after Vatican II. The writings and addresses of Bishop Cyrillus Bustros, former Greek Catholic bishop of Baalbek and of Beirut, for example, all fall within the parameters set by Vatican II about Islam. Bishop Bustros has been involved in teaching as well as dialoguing with Muslims in Lebanon and the Middle East for several decades. He always quotes Nostra Aetate, sets forth common doctrines, tries to explain and clarify differences and calls for common action and collaboration in causes related to social, economic, cultural, and humanitarian matters.30 Nevertheless, Vatican II was not really revolutionary or radically new when it came to theologizing Islam among the Christians of the Middle East. Lebanese Catholic theologians had already started theologizing Islam positively before Vatican II was called to convene. In the 1950s, two Maronite priests from Lebanon were already working on forging new ways of viewing Islam and incorporating the religion of the Arabs into biblical salvation history. Youakim Moubarac (1924–1995) and Michel Hayek (1928–2005) were both students of the famous orientalist and Islam scholar Louis Massignon (1883–1962). Moubarac31 considers

12

NOSTRA AETATE AND THE CHRISTIANS OF THE MIDDLE EAST

255

Islam to be an Abrahamic religion, like Judaism and Christianity. Islam, in his words, is to be considered “as an Abrahamism, i.e., as the passionate adoption of a primitive and common revelation and as a desperate plea for reconciliation around it of not only Arabs and Jews but also Christians and all believers.”32 Moubarac realizes that his own Church in the Second Vatican Council did not expressly include Islam among the group of biblical religions, such as Judaism, but viewed it as a monotheistic religion, like the religion of Israel. Nevertheless, Moubarac sees that the Vatican Council did not close the door to a further theological investigation that could enable one to say whether Islam’s appeal to an Abrahamic origin is theologically authentic.33 Inspired by his teacher, Massignon, Moubarac goes further than the Second Vatican Council, and considers Islam to be an authentic monotheism—an Abrahamic religion like Judaism and Christianity. Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar and the father of Muslims, had received God’s blessing in response to Abraham’s prayer (Gen 17:18–23) before he [Ishmael] and his mother were driven out. Moubarac adopts the view of his teacher, Massignon, which has been succinctly expressed as follows: The rise of Islam among Ishmael’s descendants to the Arabs, should therefore be interpreted as the fulfillment of God’s promise to make him a great nation. Muhammad shared the faith of Abraham, because like him, he left his homeland to serve the true God.34

The origin of Islam is thus in Abraham, not in his descendants or in any subsequent events in the history of salvation. Islam is the “Arabic re-actualization of Abraham’s faith.”35 Hayek,36 on the other hand, considers Islam to be an “Ishmaelism.” Ishmael is the father of the Arabs, as Isaac is the father of the Jews, and both are children of Abraham. Just as Isaac’s being taken to sacrifice is a prophetic prefiguring of Christ’s sacrifice, Ishmael also prefigures that sacrificial dimension in his dereliction in the desert with his mother. Islam, like Israel, is born out of a desert “immigration” to Christ whom it awaits, as does Judaism. On the basis of St. Paul’s vision in Romans 9–11, Hayek widens the interpretation of those difficult chapters to include Islam. He speaks of a triple movement of supernatural election whose accomplishment should allow the Abrahamic blessings to attain their universal dimensions, i.e., in being extended to all nations. Thus, if Ishmael is excluded in favor of Isaac, Isaac is in turn excluded so that the Gentiles

256

G. SABRA

could enter into the Abrahamic family. If this entry of the Gentiles excites the jealousy of Israel, who will be readmitted because God does not repent of his gifts and so remembers Israel and receives it back again, Ishmael too, of the race of Abraham, will also be admitted and included last. That is how the promises to Abraham attain their fullness.37 Hayek thus affirms that Islam has something to contribute to sacred history; it enables a better comprehension of divine plans and a clearer vision of the realization of divine promises. Islam informs Christianity about something that escapes it—the fulfillment of the promise to Ishmael.38 Hayek rejects Christian views of Islam that brand it as a Christian heresy or a Jewish sect or demonize it as the beast of the apocalypse. Islam is of Abrahamic origin, and Muhammad can be called a prophet in relation to his people. The Mohammedan claim to prophethood is neither false nor vain; it is legitimate according to a very special reading of the history of salvation.39 If asked, is Islam then from God, Hayek would reply that it is of divine inspiration, but that its inspiration is of a different order than that found in the Judeo-Christian tradition. It is a pre-biblical, Abrahamic, primitive inspiration that constitutes a stage on the way to positive revelation. In the words of Hayek: In so far as Islam actualizes the destiny of Ishmael, it can be justifiably considered as a preparation for the revelation and the supernatural promise, because it reconciles the Gentiles with a natural revelation whose limits are faith in God, the unique creator and judge.40

For Hayek, Christ is the fullness and realization of the promises made to Israel, and also the completion of the hijra of Islam. Ishmael is a prefiguration of Christ, and Hagar a prefiguration of Mary.41 Islam is preparatory to the fullness of revelation in Christ, and so it is part of salvation history; it occupies a legitimate place in God’s dealings with humanity. Both Moubarac and Hayek started this work before Vatican II. Their inspirer and teacher, Louis Massignon, has been credited with having laid the foundations for the positive way in which Vatican II expressed itself on Islam.42 Both of these disciples of his were encouraged by the Council, and they actually went much further than it in their theological assessment of Islam.43 Other theologians in the Catholic Church in the East have called for the same assessment in contemporary times.44

12

NOSTRA AETATE AND THE CHRISTIANS OF THE MIDDLE EAST

257

Among non-Catholic theologians, it is difficult to ascertain whether some thinkers were directly influenced by Nostra Aetate; at least one does not find explicit admissions on this matter due to the long historical rivalry between the religious traditions in the region, but one wonders whether the writings of the Greek Orthodox Bishop George Khodr were not at all touched by the new attitude opened up in Nostra Aetate about Islam and other religions in particular. Khodr certainly mentions Nostra Aetate positively.45 Furthermore, Khodr has a famous article from 1971 in which he puts forward something like his theology of religions; he speaks of the Christ who resides (sleeps) “in the night of the religions”.46 The idea of logos spermatikos, which also underlies Nostra Aetate, is essential there.47 To complete the picture, however, there have been other Catholic theologians and scholars who continued to discuss and theologize Islam as though Vatican II had not taken place. The idea that Islam is basically a Christian heresy found new expression in the writings of a Maronite scholar who wrote under the pseudonym Abu Musa al-Hariri.48 The claim that Islam is a (legitimate) version of Jewish-Christianity was expressed pseudonymously by a Greek Catholic scholar, al-Ustadh al-Haddad.49

Christian-Muslim Dialogue and Collaboration The Vatican Council’s call for “dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions,”50 and in particular for Christians and Muslims to “strive sincerely for mutual understanding” and to make common causes in “safeguarding and fostering social justice, moral values, peace and freedom”51 had a wide impact and was very fruitful on the practical level. To be sure, Nostra Aetate did not launch or inaugurate Christian-Muslim dialogue in the Middle East. Christians and Muslims have been living with each other for centuries; they have cooperated together in the past, and they have talked together too. In the twentieth century, the country of Lebanon was created as a Christian-Muslim experiment of coexistence and dialogue, mainly on the political level of dialogue. There were even international dialogue events and conferences held in Lebanon at least a decade before Vatican II’s declaration on Non-Christian Religions—e.g., the Bhamdoun conference in 1954.52 Nostra Aetate, however, was a further strong push in the direction of dialogue and collaboration. In its aftermath, Catholic, as well as other

258

G. SABRA

Christian, religious and academic institutions began an intensive engagement in dialogue and cooperation. It would require a separate study to list and describe the work of interreligious dialogue initiatives and collaborative efforts in Lebanon alone, where universities, churches, councils of churches, seminaries, and various NGOs are operative. It would not be difficult to show that Catholic engagement in Christian-Muslim dialogue and cooperation is one of the most dynamic and intensive in this area.53

The Significance of Nostra Aetate for Theology in the Middle East Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Nostra Aetate, which treat of the relation of the Church to the Muslims and to the Jewish people, compose almost half of the Declaration. In devoting so much attention to the relation of the church to these two religions, the Vatican Declaration has actually— though unintentionally—delineated the two main contexts which shape and inform Christian theological reflection in the Middle East. Middle Eastern Christians live in the larger world of Islam and also in the world of the Arab-Israeli conflict. These two worlds or contexts, which are obviously interrelated and overlapping, provide Christian theology in that region of the world with its themes, issues, questions, and challenges.54 Living for centuries among Muslims and under Islamic rule has given rise to many themes and areas of theological reflection for Middle Eastern Christian theology: making sense of Islam and the role of Christianity in the world of Islam, engaging in interreligious dialogue, and addressing questions of cultural and religious identity in relation to the political order of society. The common heritage of Christianity and Islam that Nostra Aetate expressed and its positive attitude toward relations with Muslims are obviously still valid and valuable today, but Islam and ChristianMuslim relations have developed and changed since the early 1960s. The resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism and extremism, the battle for the soul of Islam between so-called moderate and extremist Islam, the political and ideological struggle within Islam itself between Sunnis and Shi’is, and the worsening situation of Christians in many Islamic countries have given rise to a new situation that Christians—in the Middle East and worldwide—need to face and address. Paragraph 3 about the Muslim faith in Nostra Aetate, no doubt wisely and cautiously formulated, came into existence in the first place not because the need was felt to address the topic of Islam on its own, but so as not to speak exclusively about

12

NOSTRA AETATE AND THE CHRISTIANS OF THE MIDDLE EAST

259

Jews. That is no longer adequate in the world of today where Islam, in its various manifestations, is everywhere on the world scene. As for the section on the Jews, what was problematic for the Christians of the Middle East during and after the Vatican Council about the declaration on the Jewish people became even more problematic in later years and continues to be problematic today. As Israeli political discourse began to be biblical from the mid-1970s onwards, when the Likud Party came to power in Israel, the religious and the political in the Arab-Israeli conflict became more and more entwined. What the Middle Eastern bishops and patriarchs at the Council feared became a more vivid reality as the West Bank and the occupied territories of historical Palestine came to be called Judea and Samaria, and as the existence and justification of the state of Israel came to be increasingly argued for on biblical and theological grounds. The theological support by some Western, mainly American, Evangelical churches and organizations on the basis of a dispensationalist reading of some parts of the Old and New Testaments further fueled the situation. Some Western Christians—Christian Zionists, as they are known—now are supporting the divine right of Israel and thus justifying its policies of expansion, wall-building, confiscation of lands, and expulsion of Palestinians on the basis of biblical arguments. The relevance of the Old Testament to the Christian faith, the theology of the land, the status of the Jewish people today and the continuing covenant with them, the Jewishness of Jesus, and Romans 9–11 can no longer be discussed or reflected upon without political consequences and implications. What Nostra Aetate said about the Jews, the relation of the Church to the Old Testament and the covenant with the Jewish people is no longer—some would say was never—adequate to deal with the complex political and religious context in the Middle East.55 In speaking about the relation of the church to Jews and Muslims, Nostra Aetate delineated the main tasks and concerns of Middle Eastern Christian, not just Catholic, theology. Theological reflection and engagement with these two spheres is still the task, but it needs further updating and redirection in the light of today’s context.

Notes 1. G. Miccoli, “Two Sensitive Issues: Religious Freedom and the Jews,” in History of Vatican II , ed. G. Alberigo. Vol. IV (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2003), 138.

260

G. SABRA

2. Ibid., 141. 3. Ibid., 151. 4. Ibid., 175–176 (n. 304). For the positions and contributions of Patriarch Maximos IV and the Greek Melkite Church, see: L’Eglise Grecque Melkite au Concile. Discours et Notes du Patriarche Maximos IV et des Prélats de son Eglise au Concile oecuménique Vatican II. (Beyrouth: Dar Al-Kalima, 1967). 5. What follows about the Arab political protests and Vatican diplomatic initiatives is based on R. Burigana and G. Turbanti, “The Intersession: Preparing the Conclusion of the Council,” in History of Vatican II, 546– 555. 6. Cardinal Bea remarked: “The Arabs make no distinction between politics and religion and interpret every religious statement favorable to the Jews as the taking of a position in favor of the State of Israel.” Reported by Congar in his diary of the Council, as quoted in History of Vatican II , 550. 7. Cardinal Bea also described the protests against the text in the Middle East as “opportunistic” in nature: Ibid., 547. 8. Ibid., 550. 9. Neophytos Edelby, Souvenirs du Concile Vatican II . Ed. Naji Edelby (Rabweh: Centre Grec (Melkite) Catholique de Recherche – 2, 2003), 342, note 113: Y. Congar noted in his Diary that Patriarch Maximos IV had anti-Semitic reactions. 10. Congar was one of the very few who understood this, although he was a very strong advocate of a statement on the Jews: see History of Vatican II , 554, note 239. 11. The first appearance of Nostra Aetate in Arabic, along with other conciliar documents, was in 1969 in a volume entitled “al-watha’q al-majma‘iyyah” (Conciliar Documents) published by the Jesuits (Imprimerie catholique). 12. This has been confirmed to me in interviews I conducted with Father Elias Khalifeh, former Abbot of the Lebanese Maronite order and professor of theology, about the Maronite Church (Interview held on July 23, 2019); and Bishop Cyril Bustros of the Greek Melkite Church (Interview held on July 25, 2019). 13. The round table discussion was actually held at the Catholic St. Joseph University in 2006, instead of 2005, due to political developments in Lebanon, and the contributions were published in an Arabic booklet commemorating the event: The Actual State of Christian-Muslim Dialogue after 40 Years of Vatican II’s Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Beirut: Dar al-Mashriq, 2007). 14. Fr. Luke, Ramzi Habib Malik, Israel and Ishmael. New Edition entirely revised, with a letter-preface by Yves Congar (Beirut: Al–Ba‘th, 1978). I

12

15. 16. 17. 18. 19.

20.

21. 22. 23. 24.

25.

26. 27. 28.

NOSTRA AETATE AND THE CHRISTIANS OF THE MIDDLE EAST

261

have discussed Malik’s work in my “Middle Eastern Christian Theologies of Islam and the Prospects of Dialogue,” in Christsein in der islamischen Welt. Festschrift für Martin Tamcke zum 60. Geburtstag. Released by Sidney H. Griffith and Sven Grebenstein (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2015), 613–633. What follows is based on p. 9, note 37. Malik, Israel and Ishmael, 21, 22. Ibid., 26. Ibid., 30 f. Ibid., 29. “The openness of the Second Vatican Council towards the non-Christian religions, particularly Judaism and Islam, as well as the development ever since of the general ‘sense of the Church,’ no less than the course of world religious events themselves – do not all these facts seem as the signs of the times …?” Ibid., 21. “Fondement théologique du lien avec le Judaisme” (Étude du texte sur “la religion juive” dans le document “Nostra Aetate”). 2005. Unpublished. Ibid., 2. Ibid., 3. Ibid [Translation mine]. A call for a Jewish-Christian dialogue was also voiced by Fadi Daou, a Lebanese Maronite priest, in his published doctoral dissertation where he discussed the need for interreligious dialogue in the Middle East: “Undoubtedly, the great difficulty is in the matter of dialogue with Judaism. The conflictual relations between the State of Israel and the Arabs do not facilitate this task for the Muslim or Christian protagonists of such a dialogue. This argument, however, cannot justify the quasi nonexistent effort on the part of Christians. The Second Vatican Council recommends that there be between Christians and Jews ‘that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit above all of biblical and theological studies, and of brotherly love.’” F. Daou, L’Inculturation dans le “Croissant.” Les Églises orientales catholiques dans la perspective d’une Église arabe. Vol. 2 (Lille: Atelier national de reproduction des thèses, 2002), 653 f. [Translation mine]. When Pope Benedict XVI published his book Jesus of Nazareth in 2007 and repeated that the Jews as a people or those of today were not responsible for the death of Jesus, there was uproar again in some parts of the Arab world. One need only Google “acquittal of the Jews” in Arabic to see the reactions. Nostra Aetate, #3. Ibid., #2. This is the teaching of Justin Martyr (ca. 110–163) and Ireneaus of Lyons (d. 202).

262

G. SABRA

29. This has been the dominant view among Middle Eastern Christians since the time of John of Damascus (d. 753) in his De haeresibus (chap. 101). 30. Bustros’ writings on Islam and Christian-Muslim dialogue are mainly in Arabic. The most comprehensive of which is Afkar wa ara’ fi alhiwar al-masihi al-islami wal ‘aish al mushtarak [Thoughts and Viewpoints on Christian Muslim Dialogue and Coexistence] (Jounieh: Paulist Press, 1999). 31. What follows about Moubarac and Hayek is taken from G. Sabra, “Middle Eastern Christian Theologies of Islam and the Prospects of Dialogue,” in Christsein in der islamischen Welt. Festschrift für Martin Tamcke zum 60. Geburtstag. Released by Sidney H. Griffith and Sven Grebenstein (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2015), 620–623. 32. Youakim Moubarac, Recherches sur la pensée chrétienne et l’Islam dans les temps modernes et a l’époque contemporaine (Beyrouth: Publications de l’Université Libanaise, 1977), 449 f. 33. Ibid., 405. 34. Neal Robinson, “Islam,” in The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought, ed. by Hastings, Mason and Pyper (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 330 f. 35. Antoine Fleyfel, La théologie contextuelle Arabe. Modèle libanais (Paris: L’Harmatan, 2011), 109. 36. Michel Hayek (1928–2005) spent most of his life outside Lebanon; he studied in France, then served as a priest there (1952–2003). A student of the famous Orientalist Louis Massignon, Hayek developed his thought on Islam and its relations to Christianity in many of his works, but foremost among them: Le Christ de L’islam (Paris: Seuil, 1959); Le mystère d’Ismael (Paris: Maison Mame, 1964); and Les arabes où le baptême des larmes (Paris: Gallinard, 1972). 37. M. Hayek, Le Mystère d’Ismael (Paris: Maison Mame, 1964), 28 f. 38. Ibid., p. 221. 39. So concludes A. Fleyfel, La théologie contextuelle Arabe, 78 f. 40. Hayek, Le Mystère d’Ismael, 225. 41. Hayek, Les arabes où le baptême des larmes, 211 f. 42. “The patient and hidden work of the Arabist Louis Massignon made possible the inclusion of a paragraph on Islam.” M. Barnes, Theology and the Dialogue of Religions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 63. 43. Moubarac lamented that “the Christian vision of Islam has not yet known a ‘post-Vatican II’” see M. Aoun, Le Christ arabe. Pour une théologie chrétienne arabe de la convivalité (Paris: L’editions du Cerf, 2016), 156. 44. E.g.: Fr. Joseph Jebara: “The Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions,” in The Actual State of Christian-Muslim Dialogue after 40 Years of Vatican II’s Declaration on the Relationship

12

45.

46. 47.

48.

49.

50. 51. 52.

53.

54.

NOSTRA AETATE AND THE CHRISTIANS OF THE MIDDLE EAST

263

of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Beirut: Dar al-Machriq, 2007). Jebara enumerates some of the deficiencies of Nostra Aetate: it did not touch on some of the essential doctrine of Islam, like the prophethood of Muhammad or the sacredness of the Qur’anic text; it remained silent on some Islamic practices such as holy war, or polygamy and the status of women; and it did not address Islam as a religion, but only Muslims. NA is a good, small start, but today it is no longer sufficient. See pp. 40–43. George Khodr, Afkar wa ara’ fi al-hiwar al-masihi al-islami wal ‘aish almushtarak [Thoughts and Viewpoints on Christian Muslim Dialogue and Coexistence] (Jounieh: Paulist Press, 2000), 91. G. Khodr, “Christianisme dans un monde pluraliste: L’Economie du saint Esprit,” Irénikon vol. 44 (1971): 191–202. Khodr, Afkar wa ara’ fi al-hiwar al-masihi al islami wal ‘aish al mushtarak [Thoughts and Viewpoints on Christian Muslim Dialogue and Coexistence] (Jounieh: Paulist Press, 2000), 145. Abu Musa al-Hariri, Qass wa nabi. Bahth fi nasha’t al-Islam (Beirut, 2001). The author is actually Fr. Joseph Qazzi, a Maronite priest and scholar, who was a member of the Faculty of Theology in the University of the Holy Spirit, Kaslik, Lebanon. Al-Ustadh al-Haddad, al-Qur’an da‘ wa nasraniyyah (Jounieh: Paulist Press Publications, 1969). The author is Yusuf Darrah al-Haddad (1913– 1979), a Greek Catholic (Melkite) priest from Syria who studied at the St. Anne Seminary in Jerusalem, then lived and worked in Lebanon for the rest of his life. Nostra Aetate, #2. Ibid, #3. In 1954 a major—some say the very first—Christian-Muslim world conference was held in the Lebanese mountain town of Bhamdoun upon the invitation of Rev. Kirkland Evans Hopkins of the American Friends of the Middle East. Seventy-two religious leaders and scholars from twenty-two countries attended. One need only consider the output of the Lebanese Catholic University of St. Joseph in its various publications, academic programs and dialogue initiatives, or the Greek Catholic Melkite Seminary of St. Paul in its important publications on Christian-Muslim dialogue; or the pioneering and innovative work of the NGO ADYAN, founded by a Maronite priest (Fr. Fadi Daou), to mention only a few. See: G. Sabra, “Theology,” in Christianity in North Africa and West Asia, ed. Kenneth R. Ross, Mariz Tadros, and Todd M. Johnson (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2018), 325–334, which treats of this matter in greater length and detail.

264

G. SABRA

55. Two more or less recent publications support this viewpoint: Jamal Khader and David Neuhaus, “A Holy Land Context for Nostra Aetate,” Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations vol. 1 (2005–2006): 67–88, and David Neuhaus, Al-yahudiyyah nasha’t baynana (Beirut: Dar al-Mashreq, 2019). While both these writings mention Nostra Aetate and acknowledge its importance, they realize that theological discussion of Jewish-Christian relations cannot be done anymore without addressing the political and social dimensions of the Jewish-Arab/Palestinian conflict.

CHAPTER 13

A Missionary Minefield or Millennial Partnership? American Presbyterians, Catholics, and Jews Before and After Nostra Aetate Kaley M. Carpenter

Introduction In St. Paul’s first letter to the fledgling Corinthian church, the former Pharisee enforcer of Jewish law describes his new work as a follower of Jesus: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some … for the sake of the gospel.” Paul’s method? “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win the Jews … To those outside the law I became like one outside the law …”1 Nostra Aetate can be seen similarly. A compromise document from one of the most contested church councils in the Church’s history, it began by acknowledging the painful past between Catholics and Jews in order to heal it. What it did not say was as important as what it declared. Drawing on Paul’s letter

K. M. Carpenter (B) Villanova University, Villanova, PA, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_13

265

266

K. M. CARPENTER

to the Romans, its scripturally based brevity affirmed the Jews’ perpetual “sonship … glory … covenants … law … worship and … promises” from God without mentioning the new geo-political existence of the Israeli nation state or the Holocaust that had precipitated it. It acknowledged Christians’ gracious ingrafting into God’s favor through the Jewish people while recounting their opposition to the first-century religious movement. It denied a divine cursing, rejection, or guilty verdict upon Jews indiscriminately for Jesus’ death, while implying that God’s continued promises to the Jewish people would find ultimate fulfillment in Christian belief. And it condemned anti-Semitism while justifying the evangelistic spread of “the cross of Christ as the sign of God’s all-embracing” salvation.2 Although hindsight reveals these compromises’ ambiguities and tentativeness, Nostra Aetate’ s exculpatory statements were revolutionary in setting a new tone for ecumenism—despite maintaining that, in some way, faith in Jesus superseded ancient Jewish forms of salvation and their contemporary practice in anticipation of a Messiah. The document’s success in avoiding theological and political landmines is revealed by the fact that Reformed Protestants, with whom the Catholic Church had recognized abiding differences in Vatican II’s Unitatis Redintegratio, have explicitly credited Nostra Aetate as their model for repentance with Jewish brethren.3 The American mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) first did so as a denomination in 1987, and as individual presbyteries starting almost thirty years later. In 2015, the authors of “‘In Our Time’—A Statement on Relations between the Presbytery of Chicago and the Jewish Community in Metropolitan Chicago,” asked, “Why would a Presbyterian look to a Roman Catholic document such as the groundbreaking Nostra Aetate with regards to articulating a modern day statement to the Jewish people?”4 Citing “[t]he unity of the Roman Catholic Church, and her attachment and containment of Christendom tradition” as its surprising answer, this mainline Protestant body then ventured beyond Nostra Aetate to address the theological significance of contested Middle Eastern territory at the center of Israeli–Palestinian hostilities.5 In keeping with its continued trajectory of liberalism, or theological and social progressivism, the Presbytery argued that Jews’ covenant with God not only included land but also continued from antiquity unabated, independent of Christian belief. Thus it proclaimed that supersessionism, or “any theology see[ing] the Jewish people as supplanted or replaced by Christians[, is] ‘contrary to the core witness of the New Testament and … not supported by the mainstream Reformed

13

A MISSIONARY MINEFIELD OR MILLENNIAL PARTNERSHIP? …

267

tradition.’”6 Here too it pushed past Nostra Aetate, which, while denying that believers in Jesus “replaced” or “supplanted” the Jewish people, did imply that Jesus’ resurrection transcended or superseded former Jewish geo-political ideas of salvation. The PC(USA) Presbytery acknowledged the challenge its denial of supersession thus presented to continued evangelizing of Jews. Going further than Nostra Aetate, and by privileging certain scriptures at the expense of others, it argued in effect for the existence of two separate but equal covenants—one for Christians and one for Jews. The PC(USA)’s debt to Nostra Aetate as a model and motivation for examining its own relations with Jews shows the document’s significance beyond the twentieth-century Catholic Church for shaping twenty-first century ecumenism. Yet the PC(USA)’s navigating of politics and biblical hermeneutics has alienated some of the very Jews with whom it sought to reconcile, in part because the church has continued to interpret scripture creatively, and taken corporate action, in favor of Palestinian rights. An examination of how mainline Presbyterians differ from the Catholic Church in their approach to interpreting scripture on the issues of modern Israel and supersession theology not only helps to explain their contrasting relations with Jews since Nostra Aetate; it also reveals how the two churches at different times—starting with Vatican II— have alternately followed each other’s lead. Ultimately, analyzing recent tensions between the PC(USA) and American Jewish organizations illumines in stark relief Nostra Aetate’s successful legacy for Rome. The Catholic Church, despite its own traditional theology on biblical Israel, has managed both to cultivate deeper appreciation from Jews and to question their treatment of Palestinians through other diplomatic channels—things which the PC(USA) has earnestly attempted but has not yet wholly succeeded. On this seemingly intractable issue of Middle East peace, the Catholic Church continues to try to “be all things to all people,” to those inside and outside its faith, because of the way it has built upon the legacy and ambiguities of Nostra Aetate.

The Roots of American Presbyterian Division and Catholic Relations Before Nostra Aetate The significance of twenty-first century Presbyterians crediting Catholics for pioneering improved relations with Jews is best seen against the more tendentious history of American Presbyterian–Catholic relations in

268

K. M. CARPENTER

general. Unlike the authors of the PC(USA)’s “‘In Our Time’,” Presbyterians in the preceding three hundred years were less congratulatory of Catholics than critical of, cautious, or calculated with them. Seventeenthcentury Scots-Irish settlers brought their Reformed convictions to the new world from Europe, where many had experienced Catholic persecution. By the early 1800s, Presbyterians had joined with New England Congregationalists to establish the nation’s first missionary organization, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. As part of, and in response to, the Second Great Awakening, these two denominations sent proselytizing volunteers to proclaim Christianity’s good news to Jews, Muslims, and “nominal” (often Catholic) Christians in the Middle East.7 In 1837, Presbyterians created their own separate mission board for this work in order to preserve and propagate their distinctive reformed theology. They were simultaneously part of an early twentieth-century Protestant missionary consensus which continued to see both Jews and Catholics, at home and abroad, as unsaved and in need of Protestant conversion.8 The end of that consensus came quickly, however, amid the Progressive Era, during which increasing “social” gospel work appeared alongside traditional evangelizing in response to the conditions created by industrialization and the growing (predominantly Catholic and Jewish) immigrant work force powering it.9 The consensus also collapsed under pressure from higher biblical criticism, Darwinism, and other intellectual currents eroding traditional, supernatural formulations of historic Christianity. These contests of conviction played out not only across American Protestantism but also globally, prompting Pope Pius X’s 1907 encyclical letter, Pascendi Dominici gregis (subtitled “On the Doctrines of the Modernists”).10 Without a similar unilateral leader, however, the more democratically structured Presbyterian church—in typical Protestantstyle—split into two denominations during what is now known as the Fundamentalist–Modernist controversy, based on how each ecclesiastical contingent interpreted scripture.11 This hermeneutical realignment soon cut across traditional Protestant–Catholic divides. More progressive or liberal believers ready to accommodate their religious convictions to the larger, secular culture consolidated power in the PC(USA), while their more conservative counterparts departed, or were deported from, the mainline church to establish significantly smaller rival bodies. One such denomination, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, included members who at times

13

A MISSIONARY MINEFIELD OR MILLENNIAL PARTNERSHIP? …

269

defended Rome’s continued adherence to traditional creeds against modernists’ insults that reactionary theological litmus tests “more rigid than the pope’s” were suddenly in vogue before allowing a person the moniker of “Christian.”12 Ironically, such conservative Presbyterians conveyed the same appreciation for Catholic unity and historic tradition a century before the PC(USA)’s “In Our Time.” Despite the “division between the Church of Rome and evangelical Protestantism,” one in 1923 even praised the “great … common heritage which unites the Roman Catholic Church, with its maintenance of the authority of Holy Scripture and with its acceptance of the great early creeds, to devout Protestants today!”13

Millennial Partnership? Post-Vatican II Presbyterian–Jewish Relations If one fast forwards to the emergence of Vatican II and the declaration Nostra Aetate, however, it would seem that the Protestant liberals were the better allies of Rome. The PC(USA) was the only American Presbyterian church to send official observers to each session of the Second Vatican Council.14 PC(USA) delegates not only wrote monthly dispatches from Rome for their congregations and the American reading public but also contributed to (occasionally controversial) reflections on the resulting documents in collaboration with Catholic attendees.15 So impressed were these American Presbyterians by Vatican II’s leap into the modern era that Reformed German missiologist Hans-Warner Gensichen criticized in 1967 what seemed to him to be a “sentimental … spirit of unrestrained euphoria” that “the golden age of undisturbed ecumenical harmony has begun.” In his assessment of the Church’s openness to ecumenism and what Protestants needed to learn from it, he quipped, “We have no desire to criticize those Protestant council observers who considered it appropriate to join in the Te es Petrus at every opportunity.” Warning against responses of either triumphalism or stubborn parochialism, Gensichen credited the Council with the insight that, “for all God’s people … there are only two possible directions—back to Christ and out into the world.” The common responsibility from which the Protestant mission was no longer exempt, he argued, was “to ensure that this intention of the Council … be fulfilled” and in this way “the road from the Counter-Reformation to the ‘Co-Reformation’ … be taken.”16

270

K. M. CARPENTER

Although liberal Protestants were excited about the potential for ecumenical work that Vatican II and Nostra Aetate offered, religious historian Ulrich Rosenhagen points out that, during the first twenty years after the council, “no official Protestant church statement explicitly mentioned it.”17 But they did take inspiration from it, including the World Council of Churches (1968), the General Conference of the United Methodist Church (1972), the American Lutheran Church (1979), the Texas Conference of Churches (1982), and The United Church of Christ (1987). After the PC(USA) published its “A Theological Understanding of the Relationship Between Christians and Jews” (which did explicitly cite Nostra Aetate) as well in 1987, the Episcopal Church (1988) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church (1998) also followed suit.18 In his survey of these resulting pronouncements, former PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship Director Joseph Small notes that common among them were an acknowledgment of the Christian church’s debt to Israel and a wholesale rejection of anti-Semitism. All affirmed God’s enduring fidelity to the Jews and a fundamental spiritual bond between Christians and Jews because of this. They rejected official, targeted evangelization in favor of dialogue and greater understanding between Christians and Jews, even while acknowledging “the evangelistic impulse at the heart of their faith” and the theological tension between it and churches’ “belief in the inviolability of God’s covenant with the Jewish people.”19 Only the PC(USA), however, explicitly addressed the issue of land, a subject which Nostra Aetate had avoided, by treating it as both a political and theological matter.20 As a denominational teaching and pastoral resource on Jewish–Christian relations, “A Theological Understanding” paralleled the church’s recent attempts by its General Assembly (the denomination’s highest decision-making body) to maintain a “clear and consistent position concerning the struggle in the Middle East as a matter of the church’s social policy.”21 For this modernist church involved in contemporary geopolitics, there had been much to analyze. Just two years after Vatican II had ushered in new PC(USA)-Catholic collaboration, the state of Israel successfully launched the Six Day War in 1967, even annexing to itself territory at the expense of Jordan, Syria, and Egypt. Escalated violence ensued between Israel and other Muslim countries. The PC(USA), whose missionaries had established and ran churches and schools in the region since 1837, attempted to navigate within these sometimes literal crosshairs.22

13

A MISSIONARY MINEFIELD OR MILLENNIAL PARTNERSHIP? …

271

With regard to its social politics, the church asserted in equal measure “the right of statehood in Palestine for Palestinians and the right of the State of Israel to exist within secure borders established by the United Nations General Assembly resolutions.” With regard to theology, it rejected any dispensationalist or “Christian Zionist” views that saw “the formation of the State of Israel as a signal of the end time [and] the Last Judgment.” It also admitted that there was no easy way to reconcile scripture’s saying both that Jews were already in covenant with God and that Christians should evangelize them: “The continued existence of the Jewish people and of the church as communities elected by God is, as the apostle Paul expressed it, a ‘mystery’ (Romans 11:25). We do not claim to fathom this mystery[,] but we cannot ignore it … We testify to this election, but we cannot explain it.”23 Thus began the document’s wrestling with supersessionism, the theological idea that the Jewish people’s special role as an exclusively religioethnic caretaker and recipient of God’s salvation had come “to an end and its place was taken by the church, a new Israel.” 24 Its roots were found in New Testament writings interpreting Jesus’ death and resurrection as replacing the second temple’s sacrificial system for sin and ending traditional dietary and other laws. Starting in the apostolic era, it animated debates on what, if any, Jewish traditions that Christian converts needed to maintain. Supersessionist ideas took on new meaning with the second temple’s destruction and the physical dispersion of the Jewish people later in the first century. Certain formulations of it had made the “preservation of Jewish identity a matter of theological indifference at best, and a mortal sin at worst” within the church and later—in its darkest versions—outside of it as well. Going beyond Paul’s own assumption of the continued existence of Israel, consisting of Jews still needing to be “won” (1 Cor 9:20) and “saved” (Romans 11:26), supersession through the modern era was used to justify “stubborn” Jews’ adversities and—in Nazi Germany—even Jews’ annihilation.25 Admitting that theological supersessionism was found in biblical texts, the PC(USA) nonetheless denied that God’s covenantal promises to Jews ended merely in Christian conversion, and so dismissed the belief that the church “replaced” or superseded the Jewish people’s identity and raison d’etre. Like Nostra Aetate, “A Theological Understanding” cited Romans 11:16–32’s claim as evidence that the Gentiles had been grafted into God’s people, and that God had not rejected them.26 As a result,

272

K. M. CARPENTER

it pledged that dialogue on equal religious terms, rather than divisive proselytizing, would characterize future relations.27 But unlike Nostra Aetate, “A Theological Understanding” simultaneously affirmed that “a faithful explication of biblical material relating to the covenant with Abraham cannot avoid the reality of the promise of land.” Observing that the promise included the demand, “‘You shall keep my covenant’ …. (Genesis 17:7–8),” it then claimed that “[d]isobedience could bring the loss of land, even while God’s promise was not revoked.” The living out of God’s covenant in the land, it argued, “brings with it not only opportunity but also temptation. The history of the people of Israel reveals the continual tension between sovereignty and stewardship, blessing and curse.”28 It was on this basis of disobedience that the document would then contextualize Palestinian rights. After acknowledging “the continuity of God’s promise of land” along with “the obligations of that promise to the people Israel,” the PC(USA) stated that, because “no government at any time can ever be the full expression of God’s will,” and because “[a]ll … stand accountable to God,” the Israeli state “is a geopolitical entity … not to be validated theologically.”29 The document then criticized as “inadequate” an understanding of the Promised Land “solely in terms of a specific geographical entity on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.” “‘Land,’” it declared, “is understood as more than place or property; ‘land’ is a biblical metaphor for sustainable life, prosperity, peace, and security.” Upon acknowledging “the rights to these essentials for the Jewish people,” the declaration spoke in more general, Christian ethical terms. “As bearers of the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” the church recommended giving “those same rights in the name of justice to all peoples.” Particularly deserving were the Palestinians whom, it argued, should be understood within the biblical categories of the poor and oppressed rather than as powerful enemies of God’s chosen people: The Hebrew prophets made clear to the people of their own day as well, indeed, as any day, that those in possession of “land” have a responsibility and obligation to the disadvantaged, the oppressed, and the “strangers in their gates” … [W]e, whether Christian or Jew, who affirm the divine promise of land, however land is to be understood, dare not fail to uphold the divine right of the dispossessed.

Looking with “dismay at the violence and injustice occurring in the Middle East,” the PC(USA) then disavowed “any teaching which says

13

A MISSIONARY MINEFIELD OR MILLENNIAL PARTNERSHIP? …

273

that peace can be secured without justice through the exercise of violence and retribution.”30 Despite exegetically depicting mercy as incumbent upon Israel with regard to the Palestinians instead of justifying military protection from them, the mere fact of the declaration, with its repudiation of any biblically derived anti-Semitism, “fostered new contacts with Jewish synagogues and deepened old ones.”31 “A Theological Understanding” in fact marked a victory for Presbyterians who felt “a growing need for interfaith dialogue” with Jews and Muslims in their local neighborhoods. Ironically, its passage had almost been prevented by members who thought it went too far, both theologically and politically, in affirming either a continued Jewish covenant that obviated Christian evangelization or a legacy of a promised “land” at all.32 Within five years, American Jewish and PC(USA) relations began to fray over precisely these tensions. Concern over the growing violence in the Middle East had prompted the Stated Clerk of the church to write directly several times to both the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Yasar Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Sharon decrying both Palestinian extremist violence and Israel’s “punishing” the Palestinian people as a whole in reprisals for it.33 In 2002 the PCUSA had also locally and denominationally approved staffing and funding for a “Messianic New Church Development Project” near Philadelphia. Although originally conceived as an ecumenical outreach to, and place of welcoming worship for, secular Jews in religiously mixed marriages who sought to reconnect with aspects of their culture, the so-called church had become styled as an orthodox synagogue, complete with Torah Scrolls and a pastor who appeared to present himself as a rabbi. The Jewish community responded swiftly by denouncing what appeared to be Protestant proselytizing under deceitful or manipulative means.34 The PC(USA)’s 2004 General Assembly heard the complaints but did not condemn outright or break ties with the congregation, citing the democratic priority of a local presbytery over the national organization. It voted instead to commission a study of the congregation and similar initiatives within the denomination as a whole. Adding insult to injury for many in the Jewish community was the same General Assembly’s approval of a proposal from a growing lobby within the church concerned about the rights and welfare of Palestinians. Officially organized by the General Assembly that year as the Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN), the

274

K. M. CARPENTER

group helped prepare and pass a divestment plan to liquidate the church’s holdings in companies doing business with the Israeli government.35 In response to the PC(USA) divestment, five organizations identifying themselves as the “mainstream Jewish community” responded with a joint protest letter of their own in November 2004. It was signed by the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Anti-Defamation League, the Union for Reform Judaism, and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Together they expressed their being “startled” at divestment by “the Ecumenical Protestant community,” which they viewed as “natural allies” and with whom they had been brought close by “a deep commitment to social and economic justice, human and civil rights and peace”—wording which echoed the most liberal spirit of Nostra Aetate. From their perspective, Israel had made repeated proposals for a two-state solution since Israel’s founding in 1948, only to be met with Palestinians’ repeated rejection of it and an insistence upon Israel’s “annihilation.” In other words, it was the Jews, and not the Palestinians, who needed biblically mandated mercy and protection, but it was the Palestinians who refused the basic right of “land” to Jews that the PC(USA) said belonged to all people. The letter then called for these Protestant leaders to “deepen our understandings of these different narratives” and “create opportunities to further our common cause.” Topping the list were “joint missions to the region, where we can endeavor to see the land as the other does” and “working with the American government and others” to resume peace negotiations.36 The hope of mainstream Jews to lobby U.S. foreign policy makers one day cooperatively with mainline Protestants paralleled perfectly the PCUSA’s own diplomatic petitions to Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Spurred by this Jewish response and by the General Assembly’s mandate for additional study of the “Messianic New Church” project, the church’s Offices of Theology & Worship, Interfaith Relations, and Evangelism joined with the National Council of Synagogues to hold a series of dialogues and conferences designed to create a document to supplement the 1987 “A Theological Understanding.” Finally completed in 2010, “Christians and Jews: People of God,” underwent review by Middle East Christian churches and American Presbyterians of Middle East descent who helped advise on contentious wording like “Israel” and “The Complicating Factor of Middle East Politics.” Like “A Theological Understanding,” this new document acknowledged “the reality of God’s

13

A MISSIONARY MINEFIELD OR MILLENNIAL PARTNERSHIP? …

275

gift of land” while denying that this reality resolved the present political conflict or settled territorial disputes. But “Christians and Jews” was not passed by the 2010 General Assembly to serve similarly as an official teaching or pastoral resource like “A Theological Understanding” had been—things had become too political to do so. Rather, its title was “downgraded” to read, “A Contribution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) to the Interfaith Conversation.” In the meantime, the local presbytery eventually severed ties with the messianic Philadelphia congregation, but on financial grounds rather than on principle: the church had apparently failed to gather enough of a critical mass or weekly Sabbath contributions to stay afloat. Ultimately, according to PC(USA) Director Small, “The story of ‘Christians and Jews: People of God’ illustrates both the ways in which American Protestant churches can honor the living legacy of Nostra Aetate by deepening its theological insights, and the ways that the contemporary politics of Israel and Palestine impede that task.”37 Just four years later, however, a different document—a compendium of the church’s other previous statements on Jewish relations—was given the same title and instead commissioned by the church’s biennial General Assembly as an official resource for the denomination. This was done in part through the efforts of a pro-Israeli lobby within it called Presbyterians for Middle East Peace (PFMEP) that had coalesced in response to the 2004 events. Yet the PFMEP was met by IPMN’s counterstrategy to expand the church’s divestment in companies assisting Israel’s military. The new divestment initiative passed with little discussion at the assembly’s 2014 meeting, apparently through IPMN’s political maneuvering. In response, more than forty General Assembly attendees protested, claiming that the Israeli–Palestinian conflict “in essence has become within the PC(USA) a Middle East war of proxy over the last decade” in which “the denomination’s historic commitment to fair and open debate of crucial issues” had been set aside.38 These polemics mounting on both sides received coverage in international publications like The Economist. The debate over Israel and Palestine continues to simmer within the denomination today, even while local PCUSA pastors and Jewish leaders work regularly together on other socio-economic, political issues impacting their shared neighborhoods.39

276

K. M. CARPENTER

The Catholic Church on the Israeli State and Jewish Salvation After Nostra Aetate The Catholic Church has also seen its theology interact with international politics in the Middle East since Nostra Aetate as it has attempted to work out the declaration’s implications in practice. In 1975, the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, established the year before by the Roman Curia, the Church’s central administration, published “Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate.” It belatedly acknowledged the declaration’s emergence from the post-Holocaust context and called for developing mutual understanding and esteem through a kind of no-holds barred dialogue. Such dialogue, it said, should “prob[e] the riches of one’s own tradition [and] … demand ... respect for the other as he is …” in light of not only “his faith and religious convictions” but also “religious liberty.” In other words, “Christians … must strive to learn by what essential traits the Jews define themselves in the light of their own religious experience.” Though it more progressively recommended “Joint Social Action” between Catholics and Jews, and went so far to state that “whatever in the Old Testament retains its own perpetual value … has not been cancelled by the later interpretations of the New Testament,” the Church still concluded as it had in Nostra Aetate that “those promises were fulfilled with the first coming of Christ.”40 Yet the Commission had already publically acknowledged—two years before the publishing of the PC(USA)’s “A Theological Understanding,” in fact—“the State of Israel and its political options … in their reference to the common principles of international law.” Like the PC(USA) would soon articulate, Rome did not view Israel from “a perspective which is in itself religious.” But, while the Catholic Church affirmed that the permanence of nation state was a “historic fact and a sign to be interpreted within God’s design,” it did not go so far as to attempt a theological analysis like the PC(USA) would in 1987.41 Almost a quarter century later, the Pontifical Bible Commission’s 2001 guide, “The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible”—a document introduced by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and written “in the spirit” of Nostra Aetate—significantly moved the Church’s progressive path closer to the PC(USA)’s position on supersessionism. Going beyond the 1975 Guidelines, and like the PC(USA), “The Jewish People” declared not only that Jewish scriptures were sacred and

13

A MISSIONARY MINEFIELD OR MILLENNIAL PARTNERSHIP? …

277

indispensable for both Judaism and Christianity but also that Judaism’s interpretation of these scriptures was legitimate on its own terms: Christians can and ought to admit that the Jewish reading of the Bible is a possible one, in continuity with the Jewish Sacred Scriptures from the Second Temple Period, a reading analogous to the Christian reading which developed in parallel fashion. Both readings are bound up with the vision of their respective faiths, of which the readings are the result and expression. Consequently, both are irreducible.42

Jewish scholar Edward Kessler, in his review of the document after its promulgation, said the Catholic idea that “the Old Testament contains a divine revelation unrelated to the coming of Christ and Christianity” which is “not only valid for the Hebrews at the time of its writing … but is still valid for contemporary Judaism,” was groundbreaking. For him it constituted “a major step forward in the Christian reconciliation with Judaism,” significantly contributing to “the creation of theological space required for a genuine interfaith encounter.”43 That space, concluded Kessler, included shared eschatological contemplation. He saw in “The Jewish People” that both Christian and Jew anticipated “the definitive fulfilment … at the end with the resurrection of the dead, a new heaven and a new earth.” Indeed, the Catholic document affirmed, “Jewish messianic expectation is not in vain … Like them, we too live in expectation.” This new space also opened wide related questions for the Catholic Church about Jews’ covenantal relationship with God with which the PC(USA) had already wrestled: how to read Paul’s conflicting accounts of Jews’ salvific state after their rejection of Jesus? Were they cut off to make way for a graciously chosen remnant (Rom 11:5, 17, 20)? Or “beloved as regards election, for the sake of the ancestors,” receiving future mercy on account of God’s irrevocable gifts and calling (Rom 11:27–29)? Put differently, were there two covenants or one? In his review Kessler asked this pointedly: “To what extent does salvation of Jews depend primarily on their own covenant rather than on the universal work of Christ?” “The Jewish People” answered with both/and instead of either/or— a strategy reminiscent of the PC(USA)’s 1987 rationale of two different covenants. On the basis of the Church’s new appreciation for the Jewish scriptural tradition, it affirmed a distinct, continuing covenantal status of the Jews—like the PC(USA)’s documents had—but also reiterated like

278

K. M. CARPENTER

Nostra Aetate the extended invitation for them to enter a new one. First, in support of a perpetual Jewish covenant belonging to “Israel” as distinct from any Christian church, “The Jewish People” explicitly distinguished the two from each other: “Far from being a substitution for Israel, the Church is in solidarity with it. The New Testament never calls the Church ‘the new Israel.’”44 Yet “The Jewish People” ultimately argued that awaiting God’s originally chosen people was “a ‘new covenant’ (Jr 31:31) … now established through the blood of Jesus … composed of Israelites who have accepted [it] and of other believers who have joined them” in “the Church.” Then, in language clearly pointing to a soteriological state superseding ancient Israel’s and modern Judaism, “The Jewish People” described the church’s sheer existence “only in virtue of belonging to Christ Jesus, the Messiah of Israel.” It continued even more provocatively, “The difference is that for us the One who is to come will have the traits of the Jesus who has already come and is already present and active among us.”45 Rather than be offended by this Christian presumption on the Jewish savior’s eschatological identity, however, Kessler argued that Jews should appreciate the document’s acknowledgement that their faithful messianic waiting was legitimate. In fact, Kessler’s analysis of “The Jewish People” shows the fruit of Rome’s taking contemporary Jews seriously as God’s people.46 For Kessler, the document affirmed “that the Jewish Scriptures, with their associated Jewish interpretations, can make a contribution to … Christian understanding … when previously they had been a point of difference and argument.” To him this was exemplified in the Church’s acknowledging, valuing, and empathizing with the “Jewish understanding of waiting for the Messiah,” even if it identified Jewish expectations of their future savior with Christians’ hope for the second coming of Jesus. In Kessler’s words, quoting directly from “The Jewish People”: “Christians, like Jews, live in expectation.”47 It is hard to imagine a better outcome of ecumenical dialogue: modern Jews being open to the possibility that their Messiah and that of the Catholics could be one and the same.

13

A MISSIONARY MINEFIELD OR MILLENNIAL PARTNERSHIP? …

279

Conclusion: A Jewish Response to Nostra Aetate, Fifty Years on Shortly after Nostra Aetate’s fiftieth anniversary in 2015, other American Jewish leaders congratulated the Catholic Church on the subsequent process which had brought the spirit of the Vatican Council’s shortest declaration nearer to full expression. Delivering the 2016 John Courtney Murray, S.J., Lecture, the rabbi of Congregation Shir Chadash in New York, Daniel Polish, stated that Nostra Aetate was less important for what it did in 1965 than “what it made possible” since then.48 As evidence he pointed to another, even more recent, publication by the pontifical Commission on Religious Relations with the Jews: “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable: a Reflection on Theological Questions Relating to Catholic-Jewish Relations.” While not a church declaration of equal authority to Nostra Aetate, this new 2015 pronouncement finally— and explicitly—treated deicide, the Shoah, Judaism, Israel, evangelization of Jews, and supersessionism—all words or topics that were “implicit or avoided in the document of 1965” but had been addressed by various church writings or action since.49 Polish contextualized the document by recalling several recent symbolic gestures by popes, from John Paul II’s acknowledgment of Judaism, the living religious tradition of Jews following and worshipping God, in his historic 1986 papal visit to a synagogue (no sitting pope before had ever gone to one), to Francis’ laying a wreath at the grave of Theodore Herzl, the visionary of political Zionism, in 2014. These, said Polish, pointed forward to the 2015 document’s acknowledging Torah observance as a way toward “communion with God.” The document also confirmed Nostra Aetate’s establishing of a “new religious framework,” in which replacement or supersession theology was explicitly “deprived of its foundation” and validated the nation state of Israel in a new, public way. “The Gifts and Calling of God” did so, Polish said, by “unequivocally” professing “the Jewish roots of Christianity,” the “continued love of God for the chosen people of Israel,” and disavowing a dichotomy between “a church of Gentiles” and “the rejected synagogue” at the heart of more negative versions of supersessionism.50 He also noted its statement that any sharing of the Catholic faith with Jewish brethren was to be an individual, not institutional, expression, which distinguished it from the church’s offical mission toward other faiths.51 On this score, Rome,

280

K. M. CARPENTER

like the PCUSA, similarly dispensed with denominationally directed evangelism of Jews. But Polish closed his remarks by drawing conclusions from this that the Catholic Church might have been comfortable with—or may not even have recognized. He described the latent theology of Nostra Aetate that had led to such developments as one “of humility; of relinquishing the claim to exclusive truth, embodied if not in the text, then certainly in the process.” But such may be the risk of being all things to all people. So far has Rome come in its ecumenical relations with Jews that new, trendy magazines of Jewish thought and culture, like Mosaic, have featured multi-article series by both Catholics and Jews dedicated to the possibility of Catholic Zionism, or full papal recognition of the Israeli state. Titles range from “Can Traditionalist Catholics Really Accept Catholic Zionism?” and “The Church is Still Decades Away” to “For the Church, a Purely Neutral Approach to the Existence of Israel is Theologically Unsustainable.”52 The spectrum of theological and political thought captured in them evinces the diversity of conviction that the Roman Catholic Church manages to keep within its fold—and does so in stark contrast with the splintering of Presbyterian denominations or their General Assemblies. At the same time, the Church continues to challenge the status quo in the Middle East, with equally arresting photo ops of Pope Francis praying along the concrete barrier wall dividing Palestinian territories like Bethlehem from Israel, and by praising the United Nations for referring to and treating Palestine as a “state.”53 These discussion of Rome’s different positions on the Middle East, like the 2015 “Gifts and the Calling” document, would have been unthinkable before Nostra Aetate. Yet it is exactly this fifty-five-year history of struggle and theological discernment with regard to Catholic–Jewish relations that has made it possible. This process also sets Rome apart from Protestant churches, eliciting more patience and perseverance for it from Jewish activists and thinkers. To return to the question, “Why Would Presbyterians Turn to a Catholic Document?” and the essay that asked it, one of its authors ventured an answer that underscores yet again the continuing, transformative power of Nostra Aetate: “[F]or those who are puzzled by why Catholics get a friendlier hearing when they criticize the state of Israel along the same lines as Presbyterians and other mainline Protestants, it is Nostra Aetate, and what it means to that relationship, in its affirmation of Jewish identity, that is most often cited as the reason.”54

13

A MISSIONARY MINEFIELD OR MILLENNIAL PARTNERSHIP? …

281

Notes 1. 1 Corinthians 9:20–21, New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, 1993), https://www.biblegate way.com/passage/?search=1+Corinthians+9:19-23. 2. “Nostra Aetate,” http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vat ican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html. 3. “Reformed” churches follow the teachings of John Calvin, a French Catholic who, influenced by Erasmus and Martin Luther, codified a biblically based theology “reformed” from both Roman and Lutheran formulations. From his system of church government based on local “presbyteries” comes the name “Presbyterian.” Christopher Leighton describes their goal as steering “between the authoritarian tendencies of an episcopacy (the rule of bishops within Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism) and the decentralized localism of Congregationalism.” See “Calvinism” and “Reformed Tradition in America” in D. G. Hart, Dictionary of the Presbyterian and Reformed Tradition in America, Mark A. Noll, ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2005); Christopher M. Leighton, “The Presbyterian-Jewish Impasse,” in The Protestant-Jewish Conundrum: Studies in Contemporary Jewry, vol. 24 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 107; Joseph Small, “In Our Time: The Legacy of Nostra Aetate in Mainline Protestant Churches,” in A Jubilee for All Times: The Copernican Revolution in Jewish–Christian Relations, Gilbert S. Rosenthal, ed. (Eugene OR: Pickwick Publications, 2014), 4. 4. Jay Moses, “‘In Our Time’—A Statement on Relations between the Presbytery of Chicago and the Jewish Community in Metropolitan Chicago,” Council of Centers on Jewish Christian Relations, November 21, 2015, 1, https://www.ccjr.us/dialogika-resources/documents-and-statements/ protestant-churches/na/presbyterian/pc-usa-chicago-2015nov21; Jay Moses et al., “Why Would Presbyterians Turn to a Catholic Document?” Studies in Christian–Jewish Relations 10 (2015). 5. Ibid. The adjective “mainline” denotes Protestant churches established by European colonists in North America that significantly influenced United States culture from the 1700s, modified their theological teachings in light of modern, secular intellectual developments in the 1900s, and have declined steadily in membership in the 2000s. C. Kirk Hadaway and Penny Long Marler, “Growth and Decline in the Mainline,” in Faith in America: Changes, Challenges, New Directions, Charles H. Lippy, ed., vol. 1: Organized Religion Today (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2006), 3–4. 6. Moses, “‘In Our Time’—A Statement on Relations between the Presbytery of Chicago and the Jewish Community in Metropolitan Chicago.”

282

K. M. CARPENTER

7. Kaley M. Carpenter, “Presbyterianism in the Middle East,” in The Oxford Handbook of Presbyterianism, Gary Scott Smith and Paul Kemeny, eds. (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2019), 197–99. 8. This consensus found its epitome in the 1910 World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland. It had no Catholic attendees in part because debate had raged during its planning over whether Catholics should be classified among those whom Protestant missionaries converted. Brian Stanley, The World Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 49–72. 9. Elijah Alperin and Jeanne Batalova, “European Immigrants in the United States,” August 1, 2018, https://www.migrationpolicy.org/article/eur opean-immigrants-united-states. 10. Hannah Schell and Daniel Ott, “Progressivism and Its Discontents,” in Christian Thought in America: A Brief History (Augsburg Fortress, Publishers, 2015), 194–219, https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt13wwws8.11. 11. Bradley J. Longfield, The Presbyterian Controversy: Fundamentalists, Modernists, & Moderates (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1993). 12. Harry Fosdick, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win?” Christian Work, June 10, 1922. 13. J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2009), 44; David Mills, “Gresham Machen, Friend to Catholics,” First Things (blog), May 25, 2013, https://www.firstthings. com/blogs/firstthoughts/2013/05/gresham-machen-friend-to-cathol ics.Longfield; D. G. Hart, Defending the Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Crisis of Conservative Protestantism in Modern America (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994); J. Gresham Machen, Letters from the Front: J. Gresham Machen’s Correspondence from World War 1, Barry Waugh, ed. (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Publishing, 2012), 319. 14. Robert McAfee Brown, Observer in Rome: A Protestant Report on the Vatican Council, First Edition (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Co., 1964); “Vatican Council II, 1962–1965, Ralph Waldo Lloyd Papers, Box IV, Section 4” (Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, PA, n.d.). 15. “Los Angeles Archdiocese Bans Book on Vatican Council Documents,” St. Louis Review, n.d., Vatican Council II, 1962–1965, Ralph Waldo Lloyd papers, Box IV, Section 4, Presbyterian Historical Society, Philadelphia, PA; “Vatican Council II, 1962–1965, Ralph Waldo Lloyd Papers, Box IV, Section 4”; Walter M. Abbott, S.J., ed., The Documents of Vatican II with Notes and Comments by Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox Authorities (New York: Guild Press, 1966); Brown, Observer in Rome: A Protestant Report on the Vatican Council.

13

A MISSIONARY MINEFIELD OR MILLENNIAL PARTNERSHIP? …

283

16. Hans-Werner Gensichen, “The Second Vatican Council’s Challenge to Protestant Mission,” International Review of Mission 56, no. 223 (July 1967): 291–309. 17. Ulrich Rosenhagen, “Leap-Frogged? The Protestant Reception of Nostra Aetate,” Commonweal Magazine, February 10, 2016, https://www.com monwealmagazine.org/leap-frogged. 18. Of all these ecclesiastical organizations, only the Texas Conference and the PC(USA) mentioned Nostra Aetate directly. Joseph Small, “In Our Time: The Legacy of Nostra Aetate in Mainline Protestant Churches,” in A Jubilee for All Times: The Copernican Revolution in Jewish–Christian Relations, Gilbert S. Rosenthal, ed. (Eugene OR: Pickwick Publications, 2014), 77–95; Michael S. Kogan, Opening the Covenant: A Jewish Theology of Christianity (Oxford University Press, USA, 2008), 137–38; General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA), “A Theological Understanding of the Relationship between Christians and Jews,” June 1987, https://www.bc.edu/content/dam/files/research_sites/cjl/texts/ cjrelations/resources/documents/protestant/presusa-theo.htm. 19. General Conference of the United Methodist Church (USA), “Bridge in Hope: Jewish-Christian Dialogue,” https://www.ccjr.us/dialogika-res ources/documents-and-statements/protestant-churches/na/methodist/ umc72apr; “Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate (n. 4),” 1975, http://www.jcrelations.net/Gui delines_and_Suggestions_for_Implementing_the_Conciliar_Declaration_ Nostra_Aet.2415.0.html; Small, “In Our Time,” 88. 20. Small, “In Our Time,” 91; Moses, “‘In Our Time’—A Statement on Relations between the Presbytery of Chicago and the Jewish Community in Metropolitan Chicago.” 21. General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA), “A Theological Understanding of the Relationship between Christians and Jews.” 22. This included the kidnapping of PC(USA) missionary Benjamin Weir by Iran’s Hezbollah, a militant Shiite Islamic group formed to oppose Israel, as leverage for weaponry. Tony Richards, “Former PC(USA) Moderator Benjamin Weir Dies,” October 14, 2016, https://www.pcusa.org/ news/2016/10/14/former-pcusa-moderator-benjamin-weir-dies/; Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson, Benjamin Weir, et al., Plaintiffs, v. The Islamic Republic of Iran et al., Defendants, No. Civil Action No. 01-1303 (TPJ) (United States District Court for the District of Columbia April 29, 2003). 23. The Pauline statement in Romans 11:25 reads: “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be

284

24. 25. 26.

27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32.

33.

K. M. CARPENTER

saved.” General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA), “A Theological Understanding of the Relationship between Christians and Jews.” R. Kendall Soulen, The God of Israel and Christian Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), 1–2. Ibid. Romans 11:24–26, 28–29 reads, “For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree. So that you may not claim to be wiser than you are, brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved … As regards the gospel they are enemies of God for your sake; but as regards election they are beloved, for the sake of their ancestors; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition). General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA), “A Theological Understanding of the Relationship between Christians and Jews.” General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA). General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA). Emphasis added. General Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA). Small, “In Our Time,” 92. Former missionary and PC(USA) moderator Benjamin Weir had initially objected to any section on a Jewish promised land. The New York Times also reported that critics believed the statement “went against the ‘Christian responsibility’ to spread the Gospel to all of mankind.” It noted that Reverend Salim E. Sahiouny, who represented 50,000 Presbyterians in Arab countries as executive secretary of the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, claimed that the document used “biblical and theological material to support the political entity of Israel.” Rejecting the notion that Christians could believe that God’s covenant with the Jews continued to exist, Sahiouny argued that “the fulfillment of the Old Testament was in Christ … and by rejecting Christ, ‘the Jews have rejected the covenant.’” Ari L. Goldman, “Presbyterians Balk at Proposal on Jews,” The New York Times, June 13, 1987, https://www.nytimes.com/1987/06/13/us/pre sbyterians-balk-at-proposal-on-jews.html. The letter references “many strong appeals” previously sent not only to Sharon but also to Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) chair Yasser Arafat. Clifton Kirkpatrick, “Letter of Protest to Sharon,” March 11, 2002, https://al-bushra.org/hedchrch/presbyterian1.htm; “Coalition Letter from Religious Leaders to Prime Minister Anel Sharon and Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas Regarding the Road Map to a Permanent TwoState Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,” Episcopal Church, May

13

34.

35.

36.

37.

38. 39.

40. 41.

42.

43.

A MISSIONARY MINEFIELD OR MILLENNIAL PARTNERSHIP? …

285

13, 2003, https://episcopalchurch.org/library/article/coalition-letter-rel igious-leaders-prime-minister-anel-sharon-and-prime-minister. Leighton, “The Presbyterian-Jewish Impasse,” 107–8; 112; Kaley M. Carpenter, Interview with Fred Klett, Executive Director, CHAIM: A Reformed Ministry to Jewish People, November 6, 2019. Leighton, “The Presbyterian-Jewish Impasse,” 113–14; Cary Nelson, “The Presbyterian Church and Zionism Unsettled: Its Antecedents and Its Antisemitic Legacy,” Religions, no. 10 (2019): 1–22. “Letter from the American Jewish Committee, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Anti-Defamation League, Union for Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism to the PC(USA) on Its Divestment from Israel,” November 29, 2004, GlobalMinistires.org, https://web.archive.org/web/20070622012243/http://www. globalministries.org/mee/jointsanctions.pdf. Small, “In Our Time,” 12–14; Joseph D. Small and Gil Rosenthal, Let Us Reason Together: Christian and Jews in Conversation (Louisville, KY: Witherspoon Press, 2010). Nelson, “The Presbyterian Church and Zionism Unsettled: Its Antecedents and Its Antisemitic Legacy,” 3. B. C., “What Heresy Does and Doesn’t Mean: Presbyterians and Israel,” The Economist, February 20, 2014, https://www.economist. com/erasmus/2014/02/20/what-heresy-does-and-doesnt-mean; Kaley Carpenter, Interview with Joseph D. Small, March 21, 2020; Kaley Carpenter, Interview with Carla Pratt Keyes, Pastor of Ginter Park Presbyterian Church (Richmond, Virginia), February 18, 2020. “Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate (n. 4).” “Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church,” accessed March 23, 2020, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_coun cils/chrstuni/relations-jews-docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_19820306_jewsjudaism_en.html. “The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible,” (JPSSCB) 2001, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfa ith/pcb_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20020212_popolo-ebraico_en. html#5.%20The%20Unity%20of%20God’s%20Plan%20and%20the%20I dea%20of%20Fulfilment. Edward Kessler, “The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible: A Response to the Pontifical Biblical Commission Document,” Jewish–Christian Relations, July 31, 2003, http://www.jcr elations.net/The+Jewish+People+and+their+Sacred+Scriptures+in+the+ Christian+Bible%3A%3Cbr%3EA+Response+to+the+Pontifical+Biblical+ Commission+Document.2757.0.html?L=3.

286

K. M. CARPENTER

44. Section 4 of Nostra Aetate also references the precedent that Israel served for the later church. While Nostra Aetate insists that the church cannot “forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles,” it affirms simultaneously the ultimate Christian essence of the tree. And it is “the witness of the Apostle,” presumably the conversion to Christ of Paul himself, which defines God’s gift and call to Israel. “Nostra Aetate,” accessed February 9, 2020, http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_coun cil/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_nostra-aetate_en.html. 45. “The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible.” 46. Ibid. 47. Kessler, “The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible: A Response to the Pontifical Biblical Commission Document.” 48. Daniel Polish, “A Lever That Moved the World: Catholic–Jewish Relations 50 Years after ‘Nostra Aetate,’” America Magazine, January 14, 2016, https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2016/01/14/levermoved-world-catholic-jewish-relations-50-years-after-nostra-aetate. 49. Polish. 50. “‘The Gifts and the Calling of God Are Irrevocable’ (Rom 11:29)—A Reflection on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic–Jewish Relations,” 2015, http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/ chrstuni/relations-jews-docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20151210_ebraismonostra-aetate_en.html. 51. Polish, “A Lever That Moved the World.” 52. Gavin D’Costa, “The New Catholic Zionism,” Mosaic: Advancing Jewish Thought, September 9, 2019, https://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/ israel-zionism/2019/09/the-new-catholic-zionism/; Daniel Johnson, “The Church Is Still Decades Away from Full Recognition of Israel,” Mosaic: Advancing Jewish Thought, September 16, 2019, https://mosaic magazine.com/response/israel-zionism/2019/09/the-church-is-still-dec ades-away-from-full-recognition-of-israel/; Kevin Madigan, “Can Traditionalist Catholics Really Accept Catholic Zionism?,” Mosaic: Advancing Jewish Thought, September 23, 2019, https://mosaicmagazine.com/res ponse/israel-zionism/2019/09/can-traditionalist-catholics-really-acceptcatholic-zionism/; Meir Soloveichik, “For the Church, a Purely Neutral Approach to the Existence of Israel Is Theologically Unsustainable,” Mosaic: Advancing Jewish Thought, September 25, 2019, https://mosaic magazine.com/response/israel-zionism/2019/09/for-the-church-a-pur ely-neutral-approach-to-the-existence-of-israel-is-theologically-unsustain able/; Gavin D’Costa, “The Most Important Question Facing Catholics about Zionism,” Mosaic: Advancing Jewish Thought, October 2, 2019,

13

A MISSIONARY MINEFIELD OR MILLENNIAL PARTNERSHIP? …

287

https://mosaicmagazine.com/response/israel-zionism/2019/10/themost-important-question-facing-catholics-about-zionism/. 53. Karl Vick, “Pope Makes Surprise Visit to Pray at Bethlehem Separation Wall,” Time, May 25, 2014, https://time.com/113866/pope-bet hlehem-israel-abbas/. 54. Moses et al., “Why Would Presbyterians Turn to a Catholic Document?” 8.

PART V

Nostra Aetate and Eastern Religions: Hinduism and Buddhism

CHAPTER 14

Catholic Teaching on Hinduism in Nostra Aetate: Phenomenology of Religion and Its Theological Implications in the Case of Hindu Theism Martin Ganeri

Introduction A noteworthy and welcome feature of official Catholic Church teaching during and since the Second Vatican Council has been the way that phenomenology of religions is used as a basis for making theological statements. By “phenomenology of religions” I mean the concrete reality of what is contained in the different religions and the resultant descriptions that we make of them, descriptions which are meant to be accurate. By “theological statements” I mean the evaluations made of other religions in the light of Christian faith: judgments about the true and holy in other religions; judgments about the spiritual affinity between Christianity and other religions; judgments about whether and what kind

M. Ganeri (B) Blackfriars Hall‚ University of Oxford, Oxford, UK e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_14

291

292

M. GANERI

of dialogue between religions there can be. In modern official Church teaching, we see that phenomenology of religions matters. The concrete reality of religions is acknowledged, and an attempt is made to give accurate descriptions of them. Theological statements are meant to be true to the concrete reality of religions, describing what is there. This is a welcome development, because any theology of religions is better or worse depending on how adequately it perceives what is actually there. The “Declaration of the Church’s Relation to non-Christian religions,” Nostra Aetate, includes a considerable amount of phenomenological detail about the religions it deals with, which serves as a basis for its own theological statements. It is thus both a descriptive and an evaluative statement. In this chapter, I consider the relation between phenomenology of religion and theology of religion in regard to the great religions of the East. Nostra Aetate mentions Hinduism and Buddhism by name, and offers short descriptive statements about them. It is important to consider these religions, which have been and remain important for millions of human beings. In considering the relationship between phenomenology and theology of religions in regard to Eastern religions, crucial questions arise about the relationship between Christianity and other religions in general. It would be impossible to deal with what Nostra Aetate teaches about the religions of the East and its theological implications in one chapter, and so I will consider only what it says about Hinduism, and one aspect of Hinduism: the Hindu encounter with God, or Hindu theism. Hinduism is the world’s third largest religious grouping (with Hindus numbering about one billion people), and most Hindus are theists. Hindu theism is a central feature of the religious life of a very large percentage of the human population, and represents an important aspect of the great religions of the East. Over the centuries, however, Hindu theism has been viewed in negative terms by Christians. It has been described as being polytheistic and diametrically opposite to Christian monotheism, and also to Jewish and Muslim monotheism. Using this description, Christianity cannot see the true and holy in Hindu theism, and there is no significant spiritual affinity between Christianity and Hinduism. It has been commonplace to assert that there is a particular affinity between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, which rests on the basis that they alone are monotheistic religions. This affinity is further strengthened by the fact that these three religions share

14

CATHOLIC TEACHING ON HINDUISM IN NOSTRA AETATE …

293

in different ways in the same historical traditions, specifically traditions centered on Abraham. In this chapter, I challenge these theological judgments by questioning the phenomenology on which they rest. Hinduism does contain monotheistic religions, and these monotheistic religions are centered on the dynamic of a mutual love between God and humanity. Thus, Christians can recognize Hindu theism as having a fundamental affinity with Christian monotheism, as Christianity locates love at the heart of both the relationship between God and humanity and within the very being of God himself. A shift in the phenomenological description of Hinduism is found in Nostra Aetate and in other official Church teaching during and since the Second Vatican Council. A consequent shift in the theological appraisal of Hinduism from a Christian perspective is supported by these documents. None of this questions the value of the positive bonds between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam for theology or for dialogue. Yet I want to challenge the way Hinduism, and by extension other religions of the East, has been excluded from fellowship. I also want to deepen the theological understanding of the spiritual affinity among monotheistic religions. Furthermore, I want to confirm the importance of good phenomenology of religions as part of the ongoing process of getting the theology of religions right. It is important to be clear about what is meant by “Hinduism.” Confusion about Hindus and their beliefs and practices arises because it is assumed that Hinduism is one religion, a single system. However, as the German Indologist Heinrich von Stietenchron has said: “‘Hinduism ’ should be understood to denote a socio-cultural unit or civilization which contains a plurality of distinct religions” (Von Stietenchron, 2001, 33). The term “Hinduism” is a shorthand or blanket term for everything that is contained in this civilization. In reality, Hinduism contains a number of different religions, although they share many features and interact with each other. Some of these are nontheistic in nature, while many are theistic traditions. Within this rich civilization, one must consider each theistic tradition and whether that tradition is monotheistic or not and, if so, what kind of monotheism it represents.

294

M. GANERI

Nostra Aetate and Hinduism I begin by examining what Nostra Aetate says about Hinduism, how it came to be there, and how it relates to other official Church teaching of that time. Nostra Aetate states that its aim is to consider what human beings “have in common and what tends to promote fellowship among them” (Nostra Aetate (NA) 1 (Gioia, 1997, 37). It then sets out common questions for different religions: questions about the nature of human beings; the meaning and goal of human life, and questions about the nature of divine, the “ultimate inexpressive mystery, beyond human explanation, which embraces our entire existence, from which we take our origin and towards which we tend” (NA 1, Gioia, 1997, 37). In the next section, the document moves on to consider how the religions of the East answer these questions, with a short passage on Hinduism: The religions which are found in more advanced civilizations endeavor by way of well-defined concepts and exact language to answer these questions. Thus, in Hinduism men explore the divine mystery and express it both in the limitless riches of myth and the accurately defined insights of philosophy. They seek release from the trials of the present life by ascetical practices, profound meditation and recourse to God in confidence and love.1 (NA 2, Gioia, 1997, 38)

That Hinduism is mentioned at all is an unexpected gift in a document that as a whole was an unexpected gift. When the decision was made to expand the scope of the document in this way, the commission responsible for the document drew on the expertise of scholars and theologians who had knowledge of different traditions, including the Jesuit theologian Joseph Neuner SJ (1908–2009), who went to the Council as a peritus or theological expert from India along with the Indian bishops.2 Neuner was responsible for the section on Hinduism (Neuner, 2003, 34–35). Neuner had spent many decades in India, and was a member of a body of twentieth-century Catholic theologians in India who came to be known collectively as the “Calcutta School.” They were predominantly Jesuits belonging to the Belgian Vicariate, centered in Calcutta. These Catholic theologians undertook serious study of the classical and modern traditions of Hindu religion, and based their theological assessments of Hinduism on exacting phenomenological study. Although more a theologian than an expert in Indian religions, Neuner did his doctorate

14

CATHOLIC TEACHING ON HINDUISM IN NOSTRA AETATE …

295

on the “Idea of sacrifice in the Bhagavad G¯ıt¯ a,” and continued thereafter to produce comparative studies of Christianity and Hinduism as well as Christian theological reflection about Hinduism. The short passage on Hinduism in Nostra Aetate is not intended to be an exhaustive account of Hinduism, but rather to outline aspects of the way Hindus over the centuries have answered the common questions posed by all human beings, as part of what people have in common and what draws them into fellowship, as the opening paragraph of Nostra Aetate states. The short passage on Hinduism is a masterpiece, managing in a few words to allude to the most important features of Hinduism. The passage is an example of phenomenology of religion, and good phenomenology at that. In this passage, Hindus are said to “seek release from the trials of the present life by ascetical practices, profound meditation and recourse to God in confidence and love (per refugium ad Deum cum amore et confidentia).” (NA 2, Gioia, 1997, 38). These words are carefully chosen, and allude precisely to central concepts and attitudes within Hindu theistic traditions. Indeed, all the features of the statement on Hinduism echo important features of Hindu theism: the search for freedom from the anguish of the human condition; the contemplation of the divine mystery through the riches of mythology and philosophical enquiry, and the search for release from the trials of life by the use of ascetic practices and mediation. These statements also could apply to nontheistic traditions in Hinduism, but they certainly allude to what characterizes the theistic traditions. Although the inclusion of Hinduism was a new feature in the document, the scene for its inclusion had been set a few months before in statements made by Pope Paul VI, both in his encyclical Ecclesiam Suam (1964) and shortly afterward in an address given during his visit to India for the Eucharistic Congress held in Mumbai in 1964. In Ecclesiam Suam, the Pope speaks of the Catholic Church’s relations and dialogue with the world in terms of a number of concentric circles, each of which specifies a group closer and closer to the Catholic Church: the first and outermost is that of humanity taken as a whole, the second is that of those “who above all adore the one, supreme God whom we too adore,” a circle which includes the Jews, the Muslims, and “the followers of the great Afro-Asiatic religions”3 (Ecclesiam Suam (ES) 17, Gioia, 1997, 78). Here we have an intriguing mention of “monotheism”

296

M. GANERI

as a mark of other religions, and as something that manifests in Hinduism a closer bond with Christianity. As the Pope puts it: We refer to the children worthy of our affection and respect, of the Hebrew people, faithful to the religion which we call the Old Testament. Then to the adorers of God according to the conception of monotheism (qui Deum adorant religionis forma, quae monotheismus dicitur), the Muslim religion especially, deserving of our admiration for all that is true and good in their worship of God. And also to the followers of the great Afro-Asiatic religions. (ES 17, Goia, 1997, 78)

This statement is intriguing, because it is not clear if in the text the term “monotheism” is meant to describe Muslim belief in God only, or also to recognize that monotheism may be present elsewhere. At the least, the presence of theistic traditions within Hinduism is alluded to, and this is the phenomenological basis for the theological statement that this creates a certain closeness between Hindus and the Church, one that overlaps with that shared with Jews and Muslims. Neuner was involved in the preparation of the Papal visit to India for the Eucharistic Congress. As he states in his autobiography: At that time, various bishops planned to go to Mumbai for the Congress and asked for some information which kept me busy. Once someone – totally unknown to me- addressed me in the Aula and spoke about the Pope – it was Paul VI at the time – planning to go to Mumbai. He would also meet some leading Hindus. What should he tell them…So, I thought and gave him some ideas which struck me. Then he asked for me to write them down. Next day he came again and I gave him some text – it became the speech of the Pope in India, literally addressing Hinduism. (Neuner, 2003, 36)

In his Mumbai address, Pope Paul explicitly refers to the search for God in Hinduism and draws upon a passage from one of the Upanis.ads, a body of ancient sacred texts of immense importance for very many Hindus. As the Pope states: This visit to India is the fulfillment of a long-cherished desire. Yours is a land of ancient culture, the cradle of great religions, the home of a nation that has sought God with relentless desire, in deep mediation and silence, and in hymns of fervent prayer. Rarely has this longing for God been

14

CATHOLIC TEACHING ON HINDUISM IN NOSTRA AETATE …

297

expressed with words so full of the spirit of Advent as in the words written in your sacred books many centuries before Christ: “From the unreal lead me to the real; from darkness lead me to light; from death lead me to immortality.” (BAU 1.3.28) (To Representatives of the Various Religions of India, Mumbai, 3 December 1964: Gioia, 1997, 12)

The final quotation is from the Br.had¯ aran.yaka Upanis.ad, one of the oldest and longest of the Upanis.ads. As with any sacred text of any religion, this text has to be understood within the wider text and tradition in which it is located. Taken as a whole, the Upanis.ads represent one of the most important witness to monotheism for those who belong to Hindu theistic traditions. Therefore, in Nostra Aetate and these other documents, phenomenology of religions serves as a basis for theological statements about the fellowship that exists between members of different religions, about the true and holy present in other religions, and about the spiritual affinity between Christianity and other religions. We see a phenomenology of Hinduism that identifies the presence of theistic traditions within Hinduism as providing a basis for fellowship. At the same time, the crucial question of whether Hindu theism is monotheistic is left in the air and in need of further clarification, though monotheism is implicit in what is said. Let me now turn to Hindu theism in more detail, and to the manifestation of monotheism within it, before reflecting on the challenges and theological consequences of its recognition by Christians.

Hindu Theism As I have said, Hinduism is not one religion, but a civilization that contains many different religions. There are many different Hindu theistic religions. These different theistic groups have been designated by Hindus as belonging to one of three greater traditions: Vais.n.avism, centered on ´ the worship of the male deity Vis.n.u, Saivism, centered on the male deity ´Siva, and S¯ ´ akta religion centered on the worship of Sakti, ´ the divine in female form. Within these theist religions, sophisticated traditions of theological reflection have developed, using the riches of myth and searching philosophical enquiry to articulate what the sacred texts are understood to teach, what is to be believed about the nature of God, and what account is to be given of the presence of the other theistic religions.

298

M. GANERI

As with describing Hinduism as a whole, so with Hindu theism—the more general the account, the less useful it becomes as a true insight into what Hindu theists believe and how they understand their own tradition. Instead, I will look at a particular tradition and at how individual Hindus view it. Fortunately, there are many scholarly accounts by modern Hindu scholars belonging to particular traditions, scholars who also are aware of Western and Christian attitudes to Hinduism and who respond to them. I will outline what one such scholar, Srinivasa Chari (1922–2008), says about his own tradition, the Vas.n.ava tradition, and in particular a form of ´ ı Vais.n.avism, which developed in the Vais.n.avism, otherwise known as Sr¯ South of India, but which has also influenced other forms of Vais.n.avism in Hinduism over the centuries. ´ ı Vais.n.ava tradition is a Ved¯antic tradition, one that regards as The Sr¯ foundational texts both the Upanis.ads, the sacred texts which Pope Paul VI mentions, and the Bhagavad G¯ıt¯ a, that well-known Hindu theistic text, in which Vis.n.u, as Kr.s.n.a, teaches his companion, Arjuna, about the nature of God and the path to reach Him. A third key text for any Ved¯antic tradition is the Brahma S¯ utras, a text that is considered to set ´ ı Vais.n.avism out the fundamental teaching of the Ved¯antic tradition. Sr¯ is also a tradition whose great teachers have over the centuries produced philosophical works that are parallel in approach and sophistication to ´ ı Vais.n.avism, the greatest scholastic theology in the West. Within Sr¯ teacher is R¯am¯anuja (traditional dates 1017–1137 C.E). Srinivasa Chari is both a traditional and a modern scholar. He knows ´ ı Vais.n.ava theism in great the sacred texts and philosophical works of Sr¯ depth, and draws on them for his account of Vais.n.ava theism, but he also knows Western and Christian accounts of Hinduism, and so is able to give an informed and robust response to Western and other non-Hindu perspectives on Hindu theism. In response to the common Western depiction of Hinduism as polytheistic, Chari argues that Hinduism contains a number of theistic traditions, each of which gives exclusive worship to one deity as the Supreme Reality. These traditions are monotheistic religions (Chari, 1994, 3–7, 49). A Vais.n.ava is able to acknowledge that ´ other Hindu religions, like Saivism, are also monotheistic in character and have value, but a Vais.n.ava still regards Vais.n.avism as containing a truer account of God than these other religions. Vais.n.avism understands the mention of other gods in the sacred texts as being what Chari calls “functional appellations” of Vis.n.u, regarding these gods either as finite beings created by Vis.n.u and endowed with power to carry out creative functions

14

CATHOLIC TEACHING ON HINDUISM IN NOSTRA AETATE …

299

for Vis.n.u, or as merely names for Vis.n.u when carrying out particular functions (Chari, 1994, 131–151). In looking at how Vais.n.avism has read the sacred texts of the Upanis.ads, Chari outlines the fundamental Vais.n.ava conception of God. God is the one and omnipotent creator, sustainer and destroyer of the entire world. As an important passage from the Taittir¯ıya Upanis.ad puts it, God is “That from which all these beings are born, and that by which when born they live, and unto which, when departing, they enter.” (Taittir¯ıya Upanis.ad 3.1) (Chari, 1994, 50) This God is immanent in the world, which is His body. As its inner controller, He rules and guides the world at all times, yet remains transcendent. The Br.had¯ aran.ya Upanis.ad states: He who dwells in the earth, yet is within the earth, whom the earth does not know, whose body the earth is, who controls the earth from within, He is yourself, the inner controller, the immortal. (Br.had¯ aran.yaka Upanis.ad 5.7.2) (Chari, 1994, 58–59)

God’s essential nature is described in the Upanis.ads as “being, consciousness, infinite,” and as “bliss.” God as “being” is infinite and immutable existence, and as “consciousness” is unlimited and immutable intelligence. God is free from any kind of imperfection (Chari, 1994, 49–63). Considering how his Vais.n.ava tradition has read the other sacred text of the Bhagavad G¯ıt¯ a, Chari goes on to outline the relationship between God and humanity. God makes himself accessible to human beings in order to be known and obtained by them. God is full of compassion and tender love toward human beings, wanting to rescue them from the bondage of ignorance and the confines of human life as it is experienced. The human response to this is that of bhakti, a term which has come to describe Hindu theism more generally. Hindu theism is often called “bhakti religion.” Bhakti means a relationship of devotion to God or communion with God, and within the Vais.n.ava tradition of Chari, it is further characterized as a form of loving knowledge—both an intense love for God, which arises when a human being realizes that obtaining God is the ultimate goal of human life, and full knowledge of God, which a human being cultivates through meditation on the teaching of sacred texts and through worship of God. As this knowledge deepens, the intensity of that love increases. The devotee or bhakta of God is reliant

300

M. GANERI

on God’s grace to come to the fullness of that knowledge, which God willingly gives in response to human love for God (Chari, 1994, 99–117). The G¯ıt¯ a is taken to teach that the relationship between God and human beings is one of mutual love. In a passage at the end of the G¯ıt¯ a and of immense importance to Vais.n.ava theology and religious practice, Kr.s.n.a teaches the doctrine of mutual love to the hero Arjuna, who is the archetypal devotee of God: With strong desire I [Kr.s.n.a] have desired thee [Arjuna]; therefore shall I tell thee thy salvation. Think of Me, worship Me, sacrifice to Me, pay Me homage: so shalt thou come to Me. I promise thee truly, for I love thee well. Give up all things of the law, turn to Me only as thy refuge. I will deliver thee from all evil; have no care. (Bhagavad G¯ıt¯ a 18: 64–66, Dhavamony, 2002, 45)

This passage mentions making God a “refuge.” This refers to another key term for the right response of human beings to God: prapatti, or ´ ı Vais.n.avism, the sure path to God is to surrender self-surrender. For Sr¯ oneself to God, recognizing that humans are helpless in gaining release from bondage and obtaining God, but must instead rely on the grace of God for salvation. Self-surrender to God, humanity’s one refuge, is characterized by an intense love for God and by complete trust in God (Chari, 1994, 260–282). We can now see what it is that Nostra Aetate is talking about when it says that: “They seek release from the trials of the present life by ascetical practices, profound meditation and recourse to God in confidence and love (per refugium ad Deum cum amore et confidentia).” (NA 2, Gioia, 1997, 38). It alludes precisely to the idea of bhakti and “recourse” or refugium as well as that of prapatti, or self-surrender, the central dynamic ´ ı Vais.n.ava understanding of how human beings should respond in the Sr¯ to God. This is‚ then‚ how one modern Hindu scholar describes his own Vais.n.ava tradition. For Chari, Hindu theism is monotheistic, the mutual love of God and human beings. If I examined other Vais.n.ava traditions or other Hindu theistic religions, there would be variants and differences. However, the account that Chari gives and the tradition he belongs to is representative of a wider presence of monotheism within Hinduism as a whole, monotheism characterized by love. It is not merely Chari’s tradition that contains this understanding of God.

14

CATHOLIC TEACHING ON HINDUISM IN NOSTRA AETATE …

301

Phenomenology of Religion and Its Theological Consequences In returning to the question of what theological consequences arise from phenomenological study of Hinduism, I will look at some of the theological statements of modern Catholic scholars of Hinduism, and how they have come to recognize the common ground that Hindu theism has with Christianity. In an article on the Bhagavad Gita and its relation to Christianity, Neuner comments: [One] should, when reading the lofty passages of [the] G¯ıt¯a, feel an intimate closeness to all those who love God. Those who are able to pray in the words of the G¯ıt¯a are certainly touched by the grace of God and have set out, in deep earnestness and resolve, on the path of the greatest deed man can do, his surrender to God. (Neuner, 1996, 290)

As mentioned, Neuner was a member of the “Calcutta school” of Catholic theologians, Western missionary scholars working in India in the course of the twentieth century. The other members of this school also engaged in the study of Hindu theism, and developed a theological appraisal of it. In a general study of Hindu bhakti religion, of the devotional traditions of which the Vais.n.avism of Srinivasa Chari is one example, the Belgian Jesuit Pierre Fallon (1912–1986) comments: Hindu bhakti must have led many souls to God because of the humble and loving surrender, the deep yearning and prayer, the confident reliance upon God’s grace, of the true bhaktas. (Fallon, 1996, 312)

Another Jesuit, the Indian Catholic theologian Mariasusai Dhavamony (1925–), characterizes the different Hindu bhakti traditions, centered on the mutual love of God and humanity, as Hinduism’s “religion of love” (Dhavamony, 2002, 36). Dhavamony is representative of Indian Catholic scholars whose personal as well as academic familiarity with Hindu theism has led them to recognize that there is a close spiritual affinity between this kind of Hindu theism and Christian theism. Dhavamony states: Bhakti, which means love and surrender to God, involves the idea of God as the Supreme Person. Of all Hindu experiences, bhakti experience comes nearest to Christian experience, for in this experience we come across the necessity of repentance and of a purified heart before God’s grace can

302

M. GANERI

become effective, the need for realizing fellowship with God in union with Him, and the profound sense of dependence on Him alone and of loyal service and surrender to him. (Dhavamony, 2002, 47)

Dhavamony suggests that bhakti experience represents communion with the living God of love, an experience marked by the presence of divine grace. It is this experience that for Dhavamony, is a real meeting point between Christianity and Hinduism. These theologians do not assert that Christian and Hindu theisms are the same. In the work of Neuner, Fallon, and Dhavamony there is a clear sense of the differences between these traditions. Dhavamony balances his affirmation of affinity and of a meeting point between the two religions with a clear sense that as historical religions, with developed beliefs and practices, they are very different. Neither is he advancing an account of religions as different and equal manifestations of a common experience, as many pluralist accounts of religions might. Dhavamony remains committed to the particular claims of Christianity, but he also recognizes significant common ground between the two religious traditions. The work of these theologians‚ then‚ represents a wider context in which we can locate the teaching found in Nostra Aetate and other official church teaching of the period. Subsequent official teaching‚ for its part‚ has tended to continue the type of comments and approach found in these earlier documents. During Pope John Paul II’s first visit to South India in 1986, he drew attention to one of the Tamil saints, Pattinattar, a representative of the many South Indian poets who promoted devotional or bhakti theism: Because we believe in man, in his value and in his innate excellence, we love him and serve him and seek to relive his sufferings. As the sage of Tamilnadu, Pattinattar, puts it: ‘Believe in the One above. Believe that God is. Know that all other wealth is naught. Feed the hungry, know that righteousness and good company are beneficial; be content that God’s will be done. A sermon this unto you, O heart!’ (Gioia, 1997, 508)

Here, Pope John Paul II points to another important aspect of Hindu bhakti religion: that love of God is aligned with love of other human beings and to a positive social ethic. If we follow, then, the kind of account given by Hindu scholars such as Chari and by Catholic theologians who have studied Hinduism

14

CATHOLIC TEACHING ON HINDUISM IN NOSTRA AETATE …

303

and if phenomenology of religion causes us to recognize the presence of monotheism in Hinduism, as well as the particular presence of a monotheism of love, this does have consequences both for an adequate Christian theology of Hinduism and indeed for theological paradigms of how Christianity relates to different religions in general, whether these are found in the work of Catholic theologians or in the language of interreligious dialogue. So‚ I would like to finish this chapter by returning to two challenges that Hindu monotheism poses. The first challenge is the fact itself of Hindu monotheism. The recognition that there are monotheistic traditions within Hinduism challenges the idea that only Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are monotheistic religions. To say that this is wrong is simply a matter of correct phenomenology. It also has significant theological consequences. Monotheism is one way in which religions answer the fundamental questions that Nostra Aetate presents at the beginning of the document. Monotheism creates a theological common ground, a meeting point, a fellowship; it is important because it is the right answer to the question of the “ultimate inexpressive mystery, beyond human explanation, which embraces our entire existence, from which we take our origin and towards which we tend” (NA 1, Gioia, 1997, 38). To be a monotheist is to understand God as God is and to be right according to both revelation and reason. This creates a theological closeness between religions recognized as monotheistic. The presence of monotheism in Hinduism is the presence of the true in Hinduism, and it draws Hindus into the fellowship of a common and true recognition of God as One only, as the source of all that there is, the goal of all that there is. The recognition of monotheism in Hinduism is a challenge to reocognize the problems in the common language of “the three monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam,” leading to expansion of this paradigm, which is both phenomenal and theological, to include at least some of the religions of the East. The second challenge has to do with the recognition that Hinduism contains not just monotheistic religions, but also that such monotheism is a religion of love. Christian monotheism is a religion of love. Christianity emphasizes love as the fundamental relationship between God and humanity, and as the fundamental response that human beings should show to God and other human beings. Central to the Christian understanding of God is talk of the Holy Spirit as the love of God and hence of love bring at the very heart of God’s being‚ something also present as grace in human beings‚ transforming them into sharing in God’s

304

M. GANERI

own love of Himself. There is a particular form of fellowship when the common ground between religions is a monotheism of love. This should perhaps also make us wary about too simplistically turning another area of common ground between Judaism, Christianity and Islam into something that excludes Hinduism. I meant here the assertion of a fellowship that arises from common possession of elements of the historical revelation contained in the Bible. This certainly does create a particular fellowship between the three religions. Yet along side this and in some tension with this is that fellowship which is present when there is a common concept and experience of God‚ however that is derived.

Conclusion Theological accounts of the religions of the East need further exploration if they are to encompass the richness as well as the diversity of these religions. I have indicated in this chapter how important it is to examine phenomenology in the case of Hindu theism, and how Hinduism can share fellowship with the Roman Catholic Church and other religions, as first outlined in Nostra Aetate.

Notes 1. Latin Text: Religiones vero cum progressu culturae connexae subtilioribus notionibus et lingua magis exculta ad easdem quaestiones respondere satagunt. Ita in Hinduismo homines mysterium divinum scrutantur et exprimunt inexhausta fecunditate mythorum et acutis conatibus philosophiae, atque liberationem quaerunt ab angustiis nostrae condicionis vel per formas vitae asceticae vel per profundam meditationem vel per refugium ad Deum cum amore et confidential (Nostra Aetate 2). 2. I would like to acknowledge that the following statements about Neuner’s work in the Council and the Papal address during the visit to India in 1964 are indebted to the research carried out by Dr. John Borelli, Georgetown University. I am very grateful for his help. 3. Latin Text: Circa nos deinde circulum itidem amplissimum prospectamus, qui a nobis est minus longinquus. Eo imprimis homines comprehenduntur, qui Deum unum et summum adorant, quem nos quoque colimus. Mentionem scilicet inicimus de filiis gentis Iudaeae, reverentea et amore nostro sane dignis, qui eam retinent religionem, quam Veteris Testamenti propriam esse dicimus; deinde de iis, qui Deum adorant religionis forma, quae monotheismus dicitur, maxime ea qua Mahometani sunt astricti, quos propter ea

14

CATHOLIC TEACHING ON HINDUISM IN NOSTRA AETATE …

305

quae in eorum cultu vera sunt et probanda, merito admiramur; ac demum de sectatoribus amplarum religionem Africanarum et Asiaticarum. Liquet nos variis hisce religiosi cultus rationibus non posse assentiri, neque esse neglegentes et incuriosos quasi cunctae, suo quaeque modo, sint eodem loco habendae et quasi ii qui illas profitentur, sinantur non inquirere, num Deus modum ab omni errore immunem ac certum ipse revelaverit, quo cognosci velit, amari, ministrari. Quin immo, sinceritatis officio ducti, ea quae nos credimus, oportet manifestemus, videlicet veram religionem esse unam eamque esse christianam, atque spem habeamus fore ut ab omnibus, qui Deum quaerant et adorent, ut talis agnoscatur (Ecclesiam Suam 107).

Bibliography Chari, S.M. Srinivasa (1994) Vais.n.avism: Its Philosophy, Theology and Religious Discipline. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Dhavamony, M. SJ (2002) Hindu-Christian Dialogue: Theological Soundings and Perspectives. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi. Fallon, P. SJ (1996) ‘Doctrinal Background of the Bhakti Spirituality’, in R. De Smet and J. Neuner (eds) Religious Hinduism. Bangalore: Pauline Press, pp. 303–313. Neuner, J. SJ (1996) ‘The Bhagavadg¯ıt¯a’, in R. De Smet and J. Neuner (eds) Religious Hinduism. Bangalore: Pauline Press, pp. 279–291. Neuner, J. SJ (2003) Memoirs of my life. Pune: Pune Jesuit Society. Nostra Aetate (1997) F. Gioia (ed) Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. Interreligious Dialogue: The Official Teaching of the Catholic Church (1963– 1995), English Edition. Boston: Pauline Books and Media. Von Stietenchron, H. (2001) ‘Hinduism: On the Proper Use of a Deceptive Term’, in G.-D. Sontheimer and H. Kulke (eds) Hinduism Reconsidered. Delhi: Manohar, pp. 31–54.

CHAPTER 15

Catholic–Buddhist Relations Since the Close of the Second Vatican Council James L. Fredericks

By any measure, the promulgation of Nostra Aetate in 1965 was a milestone in Buddhist–Christian relations. The Declaration has had a lasting impact on the work of the Catholic Church. In fact, Nostra Aetate may be said to have inaugurated what is today recognized as a new ministry in the church: the work of interreligious dialogue. The aim of this chapter is to reflect on the reception of Nostra Aetate by the Catholic Church in selected parts of the world and to assay the impact of the Declaration on Buddhist–Christian relations. Given the global extent of the church’s dialogue with Buddhists, this topic is enormously complicated and resistant to generalization. The reception of Nostra Aetate and its impact on Buddhist–Christian relations varies considerably by geographic location. Its reception has been shaped by political, economic, social, theological, and cultural circumstances. Therefore, I propose to reflect on only three issues that have been important in the past and will continue to be important in the

J. L. Fredericks (B) Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA, USA e-mail: [email protected] © The Author(s) 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1_15

307

308

J. L. FREDERICKS

future. First, the shift from Nostra Aetate’s emphasis on the similarities that religions have in common with Christian faith to new appreciation of the value of religious differences for Christian theological reflection, as demonstrated by Buddhist–Christian relations in Japan. Second, reflections on the unavoidably political implications of the Declaration. This issue will be discussed in light of the rejection of Nostra Aetate in China. Third, problems attending the embrace of Buddhist meditation methods by Christians responding to Nostra Aetate’s invitation to engage in dialogue with Buddhists. Christian spiritual encounter with Buddhists, one of the great legacies of Nostra Aetate, cannot be confined to any one part of the world.

Nostra Aetate and the Theological Value of Religious Differences In its opening paragraph, Nostra Aetate observes that, as part of “[the Church’s] task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship” (NA1). Much of the Roman Catholic Church’s outreach to those who follow other religious paths, after the promulgation of Nostra Aetate, has been based on the premise that what will draw human beings to fellowship is “what men have in common.” The Declaration goes on to enumerate several issues, which “stir the hearts of men.” These include the meaning of our humanity and the aim of life, the nature of goodness and sin, and the purpose of suffering. Questions such as these are not restricted to the hearts of Christians alone. They are universal. The Declaration presumes that the existence of all human beings is encompassed by an “ultimate inexpressible mystery” and that the religions of the world should be appreciated in light of this fact. In effect, Nostra Aetate begins with what may be called a “preferential option for similarity.” The similarities that unite religious believers, not the differences that distinguish them, are what must be sought in building solidarity among religious believers in the world and engaging them in dialogue. One of the unforeseen legacies of the Catholic Church’s ministry of dialogue since the promulgation of Nostra Aetate has been the discovery that religious differences, not simply the

15

CATHOLIC–BUDDHIST RELATIONS SINCE THE CLOSE …

309

similarities that religions share with one another, can form a basis for solidarity and an opportunity for fruitful theological reflection. The Church’s dialogue with Buddhists in Japan richly illustrates this point. In Japan, religious beliefs and practices have not been viewed in general as a matter of personal affiliation or identity. Many families are connected to Buddhist temples, but this is more part of the funeral business than a self-chosen religious affiliation with a particular Buddhist sect or organization. Relatively few Japanese people look on religion in terms of personal conversion and membership in a community. There are significant exceptions to this rule, which have had an impact on Buddhist–Christian relations as well as on the reception of Nostra Aetate in Japan. Starting in the last century, several large Buddhist movements in Japan, whose members look on their faith as a chosen affiliation, have become prominent. One important example is the Rissh¯ o K¯osei Kai, a lay-oriented Buddhist renewal movement founded in 1938 by Nikky¯ o Niwano and My¯ok¯o Nanuma.1 Under the leadership of Niwano, the Rissh¯o K¯osei Kai has placed great stress on interfaith dialogue and cooperation. Niwano had a private audience with Pope Paul VI while he was attending the Second Vatican Council in 1965 as an official Buddhist guest of Cardinal Bea and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. He was deeply impressed with the Council’s efforts to make a statement on the Church’s relations with other religious communities. Today, Rissh¯ o K¯osei Kai has close ties with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, as well as Catholic lay organizations like the Focolare and San Egidio communities, which, like Rissh¯ o K¯osei Kai, are lay-oriented renewal movements with commitments to interfaith cooperation and enrichment.2 The work of these organizations constitutes an important part of Nostra Aetate’s reception in Japan. Relations among Buddhists and Christians have not always been irenic in Japan. The reception of Nostra Aetate in Japan today takes place against a troubled history. After the arrival of the Jesuits in the sixteenth century, communication between Buddhists and Christians was hampered by deep misunderstandings due to language difficulties and the enormous doctrinal differences between the two religions. Better understanding led to polemics, not mutual esteem. A persecution of Christians, abetted to an extent by the Buddhist monastic establishment, began in the seventeenth century. After Christianity was made legal again in the midnineteenth century, tensions remained between Buddhists and Christians

310

J. L. FREDERICKS

until roughly 1895, when the rise of Shinto nationalism became a threat to both religions.3 Since World War II, Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and mainline Protestants have maintained generally cooperative relations with Buddhist organizations. The legacy of Nostra Aetate in Japan can be seen in the fact that Cardinal Peter Shirayanagi (1928–2009), as archbishop of Tokyo, served as president of the Japanese Association of Religious Organizations. He was also asked to serve as director of the World Conference of Religions for Peace, a move strongly supported by the Rissh¯ o K¯osei Kai community. Nostra Aetate’s preferential option for “what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship” has contributed significantly to improved relations between Buddhists and Christians in Japan. The work of organizations like Rissh¯o K¯osei Kai, Sant Egidio, and Focolare in Japan and other parts of the world testify to this. However, the complexities of Buddhist–Christian relations in Japan can be seen in the contributions of two major Japanese intellectuals of the twentieth century: Nishida Kitar¯o and End¯o Sh¯usaku. Nishida Kitar¯o (1870–1945) began to teach philosophy at the University of Kyoto in 1911. He had an ambitious goal: to develop a philosophy that reflected the cultural traditions of East Asia. If the philosophy of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Kant, and Hegel can be understood as articulations of the cultural presuppositions of the West, Nishida was searching for the philosophers who articulated the cultural presuppositions of East Asia. What makes his work significant for understanding Buddhist–Christian relations in Japan is that he turned to Buddhism, especially Zen, in pursuit of his goal. At the heart of East Asian civilization, according to Nishida, lies the Buddhist principle of “emptiness” or what Nishida called “Absolute Nothingness.” In Buddhist teaching, ultimate reality is not found beyond this world or within its ontological foundation, as the Greeks taught. Ultimate reality lies in the here and now, just as it is, in its “true suchness” and “original naturalness.” According to Hisamatsu Shin’ichi, one of Nishida’s disciples, the suchness of all things overcomes the transcendence of the God of Christian faith.4 Zen, and by extension, Buddhism itself, knows of no Creator-God that lies beyond this world. There is no transcendent “Thou” that commanded Abraham to set off into the desert in hope of a promised future. In fact, there is no “future” in the properly eschatological sense of this word as understood in Christian faith.5

15

CATHOLIC–BUDDHIST RELATIONS SINCE THE CLOSE …

311

Nishida’s philosophy has been of great value in clarifying fundamental differences which distinguish Buddhism from Christianity. Nishida’s successors in Japan, figures such as Nishitani Keiji and Abe Masao, have had a major impact on academic exchanges between Buddhists and Christians. In addition, the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture, a research center within a Catholic university in Nagoya, has won international recognition for its translations of Nishida’s philosophical works and the promotion of dialogues among Christian theologians and Buddhist thinkers.6 End¯o Sh¯usaku (1923–1996) is one of the great novelists of the twentieth century. He was both Japanese and a Roman Catholic Christian. These two facts go to the core of his achievements as a novelist. He said of himself that his Christian faith hung on him like a ready-made suit of clothes that needed to be altered. End¯ o was never quite comfortable being Japanese either. This discomfort sheds light on the relationship between Christianity and Buddhism in Japan. His greatest novel, Silence, explores Christianity’s failure to set down lasting roots in Japan.7 The novel takes place during the Tokugawa persecution of Christianity in the eighteenth century. A Jesuit priest is smuggled into Japan in order to serve the religious needs of the hidden Christians. Eventually he is caught and, in horrifying circumstances, forced to step on a fumie, the bronze image of Jesus on the cross. In this moment of despair, the priest hears the voice of Christ speaking to him from what can only be called the “beyond” of the transcendence of Christian faith. Christ speaks from beyond this world and even beyond the priest’s own faith. “Trample me,” the desecrated image of Christ says to the priest, “for this is why I have come.” End¯o’s novel can be placed beside the work of Nishida for reflection. The “emptiness” that lies at the heart of the Buddhist view of reality cannot be reconciled with the “beyond” of the voice of Christ calling out to the priest in Endo’s novel. In the novel’s most quoted passage, Endo likens Japan to a “swamp” that will never sustain the roots of Christian faith.8 Reading End¯o in light of Nishida’s philosophical appropriation of Buddhism to articulate the cultural logic of Japan, we can see both End¯o and Nishida as testimonies to the strangeness of Buddhism and Christianity to one another. Such a reading also allows us to see that the vibrant dialogue between Christians and Japanese Buddhists has led us far beyond Nostra Aetate’s preferential option for similarity as a basis for entering into dialogue with other religious believers and building new

312

J. L. FREDERICKS

forms of social solidarity with them. As organizations such as Focolare, San Egidio, and Rissh¯o K¯osei Kai have shown, Buddhists and Catholics, in Japan and other parts of the world, have a great deal in common, including common values that provide a basis for cooperating for the common good. Engaging with Nostra Aetate in Japan, however, requires us to ask if the embrace of religious differences, not simply the affirmation of similarity, can also serve as a basis for dialogue and solidarity among Buddhists and Christians. Certainly, the intent of Nostra Aetate’s counsel to begin with similarity is irenic. However, as the dialogue with Buddhists in Japan has demonstrated, this irenicism is not without its pitfalls and ambiguities. By emphasizing what we have in common, we risk domesticating the strangeness of the Other in service of our own religious aims and self-understanding. The privileging of similarity protects us from not only the threat that the Other poses to our sense of self and our worldview; it also cuts us off from the power of the Other to transform and even beatify. The destabilizing power of other religions is rendered harmless by reducing it to what David Tracy calls “more of the same.”9 This emphasis on similarity also means that Nostra Aetate’s appeal to what we have in common with other religious communities must be seen in relation to Catholic debates about the theology of religions that preceded Nostra Aetate as part of the theological ferment that preceded the Council. In the years before the opening of Vatican II, Jean Daniélou was engaged in a retrieval of Patristic teachings about other religions as a preparatio evangelii. Karl Rahner was beginning to publish his influential essay on the notion of the “anonymous Christian.” Both theologians were developing theologies of religions that emphasized the fundamental compatibility of the other religious paths with Christianity. Section one of Nostra Aetate must also be read in light of the dramatic development of Roman Catholic teachings regarding the meaning and status of other religions in the thought of John Paul II after the Council. John Paul shaped the church’s implementation of Nostra Aetate by contextualizing the Declaration within a theology of religions that appealed to the universal activity of the Holy Spirit within not only every human act of transcendence, but in the rituals and teachings of the other religions themselves. In Redemptoris Missio 5, this pope argues that other religions can be thought of as “participated forms of mediation” in which Buddhists, for example, participate in the one saving grace mediated by Jesus Christ.10 Here, again, similarity is privileged, while the possible theological significance of religious difference goes unremarked. Without

15

CATHOLIC–BUDDHIST RELATIONS SINCE THE CLOSE …

313

doubt, the theological work on the meaning and status of religions, both before and after the Council, must be recognized as a genuine achievement. However, the dialogue with Buddhism, in its various forms and locations around the world, especially in Japan, requires us, perhaps more than our dialogues with other religions, to recognize the importance of honoring difference as a way of receiving Nostra Aetate.11

Nostra Aetate and Its Political Consequences In section two of the Declaration, the church exhorts us to “recognize, preserve and promote the good things” and the “socio-cultural values” of the many peoples of the world. We are to do this “through dialogue and collaboration [per colloquia et collaborationem] with the followers of other religions.” This is to be done with “prudence and love,” and also “in witness to the Christian faith.” This language requires us to recognize the possibility that the Church’s implementation of Nostra Aetate might, in certain parts of the world, may have political repercussions. That Nostra Aetate has political ramifications is amply confirmed by the history of the Declaration’s troubled and controverted redaction at the Council. The origins of the document lie in John XXIII’s assurance to Jules Issac, a French Jew and Holocaust survivor, that the Council would make a statement on the Catholic Church’s relations with the Jewish people. Arab bishops feared the responses of their governments if any positive statement on the Jewish people should be promulgated and lobbied against the idea. Arab governments feared that the text would promote the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the State of Israel. Jews and the Israeli government were lobbying both Cardinal Bea and the Secretariat as well as the Vatican Secretary of State. Bea was forced to withdraw the schema after the first session. According to Thomas Stransky, a member of Bea’s staff at the Council, the Cardinal wrote the Pope arguing that the withdrawal was due to “some infelicitous political circumstances” and the text “in no way will acknowledge the recognition of the state of Israel by the Holy See.” In fact, it was “a purely theological treatise.”12 On February 4, 2019, Pope Francis traveled to Abu Dhabi to sign a joint statement with Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of AlAzhar University in Cairo. The “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” is the result of years of difficult diplomatic negotiations buffeted by gusting political winds in the Arab

314

J. L. FREDERICKS

world, especially Egypt, and in Europe, including the Vatican itself. The substance of the Document on Human Fraternity is decidedly political in character. In addition to supporting generic values such as “peace,” “freedom,” and “justice based on mercy,” the Document also commits the signatories to “the protection of places of worship,” “full citizenship,” and “the rights of women.” It calls Muslims and Christians to reject the financing of terrorism and the use of media to justify terrorism. Moreover, the agreement notes that Muslims and Christians should engage in dialogues that avoid “unproductive discussions.”13 The political ramifications of the Church’s ministry of dialogue, however, cannot be restricted to the Middle East. Nostra Aetate has political implications in China as well. This helps to account for the lack of reception of Nostra Aetate in the People’s Republic, in contrast to the Chinese diaspora in such places as Taiwan and Hong Kong. Exchanges between Buddhists and Christians in mainland China came to a halt with the establishment of the People’s Republic by the Chinese Communist Party in 1949. Prior to this time, however, creative exchanges between certain Christian missionaries, all Protestant, and selected Buddhist monks provide a basis for thinking about the future of Buddhist–Christian relations in China and the reception of Nostra Aetate there. Timothy Richard (1845–1919), a Protestant missionary, met and befriended Yang Wen-hui (1837–1911), a Buddhist lay person. They worked together to translate Buddhist scriptures into English. Richard’s real aim, however, was to reconcile Buddhism to Christianity by interpreting it using categories familiar to Christian theology. Karl Ludvig Reichelt (1877–1952), another Protestant missionary, took a different approach. He became an accomplished student of Buddhism in the belief that Buddhist teachings would lead to a deepening of Christian faith. Both theologians were visionary in their own ways. With Notto Normann Thelle, Reichelt established a “Christian monastery” where Buddhist monks were welcome to visit. In doing so, this Protestant anticipated Buddhist–Catholic monastic exchanges today. Eventually, this center was moved to Hong Kong.14 Catholic thinking about Buddhism was shaped largely by the approach of the early Jesuit missionary, Matteo Ricci (1522–1610). After an initial interest in the Dharma (the nature of reality regarded as a universal truth taught by the Buddha), Ricci rejected Buddhism as an idolatrous and polytheistic competitor to Christianity in China, and proposed that the Catholic Church adopt Confucianism as

15

CATHOLIC–BUDDHIST RELATIONS SINCE THE CLOSE …

315

a nontheistic natural law ethics to serve as a foundation for articulating Christian doctrine.15 The social ferment that followed the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912 allowed Buddhist intellectuals to engage in their own experiments in renewal and outreach to Christians. The monk Taixu (1890–1947) called for monastic reform and the better training of novices. He also established social service programs based in temples. He strongly encouraged the preaching of the Dharma to the laity in promoting what he called “humanistic Buddhism.” After traveling extensively in Europe, he came to see that Christianity had its own gifts to contribute to the revitalization of Chinese civilization. He even recognized Christ as a “remarkable bodhisattva.”16 Taixu’s engagement with Christianity, however, was confined to practical matters related to the reform of Buddhism in China, and did not include doctrinal explorations. After 1949, interreligious dialogue on matters of doctrine, let alone collaboration among religious groups, was perceived as incompatible with official state atheism. Today, interreligious dialogue is generally seen as a threat to the security of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) devastated Buddhism in China. Monasteries and educational programs were destroyed. Books were burned. Monks were either forced to marry or placed in labor camps. Christianity suffered as well. It was condemned as a foreign religion associated with imperialism.17 Currently, the Chinese government recognizes five religions: Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Protestantism, and Catholicism.18 The CCP controls religious practices through “patriotic associations.” Organizations outside of the purview of these associations are illegal. In addition to certain Muslim groups, these include numerous Protestant “house churches” and the “underground” Catholic Church in China. Given this political environment, we cannot speak of Nostra Aetate’ s reception in the People’s Republic of China. Rather we must speak of its rejection. Any implementation of Nostra Aetate will be difficult at best in the foreseeable future. Moreover, the current aim of the Vatican is not focused on interreligious dialogue, let alone on collaboration among Chinese religious believers in regard to social concerns. It seeks to establish diplomatic relations with Beijing and to reconcile the Patriotic Catholic Church with the underground church.

316

J. L. FREDERICKS

The history of Buddhist–Christian relations and the reception of Nostra Aetate in Hong Kong and Taiwan is considerably different. In Hong Kong, the pioneering work of Karl Ludvig Reichelt continues in the Tao Fong Shan Christian Center. This is but one of several Christian organizations and study centers committed to Buddhist–Christian dialogue in the Special Administrative Region. Prominent among these groups is the “Colloquium of the Six Religious Leaders,” which includes representatives of the Catholic, Protestant, and Buddhist communities of Hong Kong. In its origins, this Colloquium was convened as part of a political process for recommending a chief executive for the Special Administrative Region to Beijing.19 Thus, the focus of the Colloquium, not surprisingly, has been practical, not doctrinal. This is especially the case now that civil unrest began to spread in the Special Administrative Region in 2019.20 Roman Catholic participation in the Colloquium, of course, is guided by Nostra Aetate. Buddhism is flourishing in Taiwan as a result of prosperity and increased opportunity for education. During the period of Japanese colonialism, Buddhism in Taiwan was an instrument of colonial administration and modeled on Japan’s peculiar sectarian structure. In the postwar period, charismatic Buddhist leaders started renewal movements in Taiwan that have reformed and modernized Buddhism with the aim of bringing the Dharma to ordinary people. The influence of the humanistic Buddhism of Taixu was brought to Taiwan by the monk Yin Shun (1906– 2005) and has become widely influential. For humanistic Buddhists, dialogue and cooperation, as expressed in Nostra Aetate, are important values. For example, the promotion of good relations among religious communities is an important priority for Dharma Master Hsing Yun, the founder of the Fo Guang Shan organization. Dharma Master Shin Dao, founder of the Ling Jiao Shan movement, has built the Museum of the World’s Religions in Taipei. The mission of the museum is to educate visitors about the various religious traditions of the world, and also to provide a venue for creative exchanges among religious believers.21 In addition, the Tzu Chi Foundation, which is heavily focused on providing social services, has a record of cooperation with various Christian organizations. The Mateo Ricci Institute and Fu Jen University in Taipei are Catholic institutions which are implementing Nostra Aetate by regularly sponsoring exchanges between the two religions. The liberalization of the Chinese economy, starting in the 1980s, has led to the flourishing of Buddhism. Dialogues between Christians and

15

CATHOLIC–BUDDHIST RELATIONS SINCE THE CLOSE …

317

Buddhists, however, have been restricted to the academic realm. The first formal academic exchange between Buddhists and Christians since the founding of the People’s Republic took place only in 2003. Professor Wu Yansheng (Shaanxi Normal University), Professor Wang Xiaochao (Centre for the Study of Morality and Religion, Tsinghua University, Beijing), and Professor Lai Pan-chu (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) organized a meeting in Xi’an. Subsequent meetings have taken place in Hong Kong (2006), Hangzhou (2009), and Beijing (2014). Dialogues between Buddhists and Christians beyond academic exchanges generally have been considered as too sensitive by the authorities. Moreover, in recent years, with the dramatic increase in religious practices in the People’s Republic, the Chinese government insists more and more that religious organizations demonstrate how they contribute to a “harmonious society” and are compatible with Chinese culture. As a legal test, “compatibility with Chinese culture” raises fundamental concerns about the freedom of religion in China today. In 2018, the State Administration for Religious Affairs was formally absorbed into the United Front Work Department which has begun to promote a policy of “Sinicizing religions.” Although this policy is largely directed against Muslims in China, especially the Uighurs in Xinjiang Provence, it also is having an impact on Buddhists in Tibet and Christians throughout the People’s Republic. The fate of Nostra Aetate in China has been more of a refusal than a reception. In Hong Kong and Taiwan, in contrast, Nostra Aetate has been instrumental in shaping Buddhist–Christian relations. In regard to the future of Nostra Aetate in China, I will mention only two issues that will complicate an already difficult situation: Pope Francis’ understanding of interreligious dialogue as a “dialogue of fraternity” and the relationship of Nostra Aetate to Dignitatis Humanae, the Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom. As noted above, in its second section, Nostra Aetate calls the Church to both dialogue and collaboration (per colloquia et collaborationem). In regard to Buddhist–Christian relations over the last fifty years, certainly in the USA and Europe, most of the attention has been directed toward Nostra Aetate’s call to dialogue. Pope Francis, in contrast, is stressing collaboration. In keeping with his emphases on social action to promote the common good and the “preferential option for the poor,” Francis is implementing Nostra Aetate with a call to a “dialogue of fraternity.”22 The meaning of the term, “fraternity” for Pope Francis is clearly discernable in his 2014 Message for the World Day of Peace.23 Francis

318

J. L. FREDERICKS

reminds us of the “ever-increasing number of interconnections and communications in today’s world” which makes us “powerfully aware of the unity and common destiny of the nations.” This language is reminiscent of Nostra Aetate’s opening words: “In our time, when day by day mankind is being drawn closer together, and the ties between different peoples are becoming stronger…” This theme is also taken up by John Paul II in his encyclical Solicidudo Rei Socialis, where he also writes of our “common destiny” as a way to comment on our growing awareness of “a radical interdependence.” In Solicitudo Rei Socialis 26e, John Paul II goes on to assert that when we look on the brute fact of our interdependence as an opportunity to promote the common good, we are practicing the “virtue of solidarity.” In the 2014 Message, Francis claims that in this emergent awareness of interdependence “we see the seeds of a vocation to form a community composed of brothers and sisters who accept and care for one another.” Like solidarity for John Paul II, fraternity for Pope Francis is a virtue that brings people together in a collaborative spirit for working for the common good. If “fraternity” should be understood in terms of what John Paul II called “solidarity” in his social ethics, then when Francis calls us to a “dialogue of fraternity,” he is not simply acknowledging, however tacitly, the political implications of Nostra Aetate. He is emphasizing these implications. The political implications of Nostra Aetate can also be seen by reading it in connection with another Council document, Dignitatis Humanae, the Declaration on Religious Freedom. There is an historical connection between these two declarations. At the Council, Nostra Aetate was shepherded through a politically fraught redaction and approval process by Cardinal Augustine Bea and the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. As Nostra Aetate was being drafted, Bea and his staff were also crafting Dignitatis Humanae.24 My claim is that Nostra Aetate cannot be read successfully apart from Dignitatis Humanae, and that this intertextuality will inevitably have an impact on the reception of Nostra Aetate in China. In the final section of Nostra Aetate, the Council affirms the Church’s commitment to human rights by declaring that there is “no foundation” for discriminating against individuals or peoples in regard to the “human dignity and the rights flowing from it are concerned.” This includes discrimination or harassment based on “race, color, condition of life, or religion” (NA5). Similarly, Dignitatis Humanae appeals to the notion of human dignity in affirming that “the right to religious freedom

15

CATHOLIC–BUDDHIST RELATIONS SINCE THE CLOSE …

319

has its foundation in the very dignity of the human person as this dignity is known through the revealed word of God and by reason itself” (DH9). To summarize, Nostra Aetate’s call for dialogue and collaboration among religious believers comes with significant political implications for the future of Buddhist–Christian relations in China, and, of course, other parts of the world as well.25 This can be seen in Nostra Aetate’s historical relationship with Dignitatis Humanae. In its current reception, this can be seen in Pope Francis’ emphasis on collaboration among religious communities for the common good and a “dialogue of fraternity.” Therefore, discerning the meaning of Nostra Aetate for Buddhist–Christian relations in the world today must take into account the political character of the Church’s ministry of dialogue and collaboration. This point is especially salient for the church’s work in the People’s Republic of China.

Nostra Aetate and the Dialogue of Religious Experience The prominence of exchanges between Buddhists and Christians led by academically trained religious practitioners like Dennis Hirota, David Matsumoto, Abe Masao, John Cobb, David Tracy, Leo Lefebure, and Rosemary Radford Reuther, as well as the proceedings of the Society for Buddhist–Christian Studies have given some the impression that the reception of Nostra Aetate in Asia has been driven largely by what is sometimes called “the dialogue of theological exchange.” Theological reflection on Buddhist and Christian teachings has certainly been important. Equally important has been the flourishing of exchanges in which Buddhists and Christians share the spiritual riches of their religious traditions.26 Spiritual exchanges among Buddhists and Christians, of course, predate Nostra Aetate. Thomas Merton, for example, began to correspond with D.T. Suzuki starting in 1959, six years before the Declaration’s promulgation.27 Merton also had extensive conversations with the Dalai Lama in Dharmasala over the course of eight days in 1968, shortly before his death in Bangkok. Less well known are the reflections of Henri de Lubac S.J. on what he called the “spiritual fact” of Buddhism.28 In his earliest days on the theological faculty at the University of Lyon, de Lubac had come to see Buddhism as “among the greatest human achievements” and pursued the study of the Dharma because of “its spiritual profundity.”29 In his writings on Buddhism, de Lubac placed the spiritual masters of

320

J. L. FREDERICKS

Christian tradition, such as Fenelon and Therese of Lisieux, in conversation with Buddhist masters of the Japanese Pure Land tradition such as H¯onen and Shinran.30 In 1977, the Benedictine Order established the Monastic Interreligious Dialogue (MID) with the explicit intention of implementing Nostra Aetate.31 This organization has been largely devoted to exchanges with Buddhists. In keeping with the monastic tradition (Buddhist and Christian) of hospitality, MID facilitates Buddhist monks living in Catholic monasteries. Methods of prayer and meditation as well as the social responsibility of the contemplative are matters of discussion.32 In 1996, the Dalai Lama called for a major meeting of Buddhist and Christian monks at Gethsemane Abbey, the monastery of Thomas Merton. The themes addressed at this conference included ultimate reality and the spiritual life, prayer and meditation, growth in the spiritual life, community and guidance, spirituality and society.33 Spiritual exchanges between Catholics and Zen Buddhists have been especially prominent in Japan. Rev. Franco Sottocornola and Sr. Maria de Giorgi, in the spirit of Nostra Aetate, are the animateurs of Shinmeizan, a Catholic retreat center supporting dialogue with Buddhists in Japan. For many years, Shinmeizan has been linked with Seimeizan, a Zen Buddhist monastery established by Ven. Tairyu Furukawa, who was a pioneer in Buddhist–Christian spiritual exchanges. The Sanb¯o Ky¯odan, a Zen Buddhist organization, was founded by Haku’un Yasutani in 1954, with a strong commitment to supporting Zen meditation for lay Buddhists and eventually non-Buddhists interested in the Zen tradition. Sanb¯o Ky¯odan’s influence on the spiritual encounter of Christians with Buddhism is extraordinary. Its membership includes several important teachers in the USA, including Philip Kapleau, Taizan Maezumi, Robert Aitken and Roman Catholics like Robert Kennedy S.J., Maria Reis Habito, and Ruben Habito.34 Also in Japan, William Johnston, a Jesuit who taught for many years in Tokyo, has published multiple books on Christian mysticism in dialogue with Buddhist tradition.35 Today, in addition to Zen, Christians show interest in Vipassana meditation, various Hindu practices like yoga and, increasingly, Tibetan and Sufi meditation traditions. Prominent Buddhists, like Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama, have also made contributions to the dialogue of religious experience.36 On October 27, 1986, in Assisi, Pope John Paul II gathered with representatives of various Christian churches. These Christian notables were joined by prominent Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, practitioners

15

CATHOLIC–BUDDHIST RELATIONS SINCE THE CLOSE …

321

of African Traditional Religions, and Buddhists. Some two hundred in all gathered with John Paul II that day for what became an historic “Day of Prayer for Peace.” The Assisi meeting may have been ground-breaking, but it had not come out of nowhere. Starting in his first encyclical, John Paul II began to move the reception of Nostra Aetate in the direction of a dialogue of religious experience. In Redemptor Hominis (1979), he said that the Spirit operates outside the visible confines of the church. In support of this view, he quoted Gaudium et Spes 22 to make clear that Christians are by no means the only ones to have been conformed to the likeness of Christ by the Spirit. According to Gaudium et Spes, this conformity can be seen by “all individuals of good will in whose hearts grace is active invisibly.” John Paul II’s theology of the Holy Spirit was the foundation of his deep commitment to interreligious dialogue. Therefore, his implementation of Nostra Aetate cannot be seen as merely a matter of diplomacy. According to Redemptoris Missio, another of his encyclicals, interreligious dialogue is “demanded by the deep respect for everything that has been brought about in human beings by the Spirit who blows where he will.” Impelled by this pneumatology, John Paul visited Buddhists in many lands and received them in Rome. The Second Vatican Council made clear that the grace of the Holy Spirit is at work in the hearts of other believers. Nostra Aetate takes what may be called a tentative step in holding open the possibility that the Spirit touches the hearts of religious believers through their religious practices, not despite them. In section two, the Declaration famously proclaims that “The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy” in other religions. In fact, the Church “regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men” (NA2). Where Nostra Aetate was merely suggestive, John Paul was explicit. The spirit, he taught, was at work in every genuine human act of transcendence. These acts of transcendence, moreover, cannot be separated from the material and social life of the human person. Therefore, the Spirit is at work in “human initiatives” he wrote in Redemptoris Missio, “including religious ones…” This means that those who follow other religious paths enjoy “a mysterious relationship to the Church,” although they are not Christians in any formal sense. What then of the religions as such? The

322

J. L. FREDERICKS

one, universal mediation of grace, which is Christ, does not preclude “participated forms of mediation” in which other religious communities share, in various ways but always by means of the Holy Spirit, in the one saving mediation of grace which is Christ. In light of this pneumatological theology of religions, what can we say of the Assisi meeting, and, by extension, what can we say of Christians, responding to Nostra Aetate, who gather with Buddhist friends and teachers to practice meditation? John Paul II was confident in gathering with the leaders of the religions at Assisi because he believed that the Holy Spirit is at work not only invisibly, in the hearts of his guests, but also visibly, in their religions. The church’s work of dialogue, therefore, is based on the fact that the other religious paths cannot be dismissed as merely the products of human genius or as admirable cultural achievements. The religious paths have a supernatural depth imparted to them by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the religious belief and practice of Buddhists, to give but one example, cannot be sharply segregated from the Spiritfilled faith of a Christian. Buddhists are touched by the Spirit by their practice of the dharma, not despite this practice. Not everyone was pleased with the prayers offered at Assisi. Followers of then Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre distributed flyers outside the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi denouncing the Pope as an apostate. Two years later, when Lefebvre went into schism, he said he was acting to protect Catholicism from the perfidies of Vatican II, but also “the spirit of Assisi.” Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, although he did not attend the event, was quoted in the Austrian press as saying that “This [Assisi] cannot be the model” of interreligious dialogue. In 1989, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then under Ratzinger’s direction, published a letter addressed to the bishops of the world on “Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” (Orationis Formas ).37 The letter seeks to provide criteria for evaluating the usefulness of meditation techniques such as Zen, in supporting Christian prayer. It reminds Catholics who seek to integrate such meditation practices into their own spiritual lives of the centrality of the Christian scriptures in animating the intimacies of prayer and that authentic Christian prayer is always “a personal, intimate and profound dialogue between man and God” (OF#3). The letter also mentions certain doctrinal problems that can accompany the practice of non-Christian forms of meditation. In section 12, for example, the letter laments those who

15

CATHOLIC–BUDDHIST RELATIONS SINCE THE CLOSE …

323

“place that absolute without image or concepts, which is proper to Buddhist theory, on the same level as the majesty of God revealed in Christ, which towers above finite reality.” The footnote to this sentence directs the reader to a comment about the Buddhist doctrine of Nirvana. In section 14, commenting on the theology of divinization as found in the Greek Fathers, the letter warns against those who would argue that the distinction between the self and God can be utterly overcome. The letter reminds the reader that the human person remains eternally a creature, even in the highest mystical realizations because “otherness” is part of the Trinitarian structure of divine love itself. The letter goes on to stress the need for discernment in Christian meditation. Physical sensations of peace and tranquility are not necessarily signs of the consolations of the spirit, nor is acedia necessarily an indication of the Holy Spirit’s absence. The CDF’s Letter generated a good deal of criticism in the popular press when it was published in 1989. Perhaps the best criticism of the letter came from Christians who have incorporated Buddhist meditation methods into their own spiritual practices. Many commented on the letter as a missed opportunity for moving the dialogue with our Buddhist friends forward. The text makes, at times, sweeping statements about Buddhist doctrine and practice cloaked in the technical language of Christian theology. These pronouncements might better have been formulated as questions for approaching our Buddhist dialogue partners.38 In fairness, the letter raises numerous practical matters of benefit to any Christian engaged in a dialogue of religious experience. At the least, the letter quotes NA2 to the effect that, since “the Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy” in other religions, these religions should not “be rejected out of hand simply because they are not Christian.” In fact, “one can take from them what is useful so long as the Christian conception of prayer, its logic and requirements are never obscured” (Section 16). Christian experimentation with Buddhist forms of meditation opens up a host of interesting questions, both for our dialogue with Buddhists and for the dialogue within Christianity between the practice of spirituality and systematic theology. What is the relationship between the Christian eschatological hope and the Buddhist doctrine of “emptiness”? What is the relationship between Buddhist meditation and Christian contemplation? In the practice of zazen, is a Roman Catholic finding union with God? Is zazen a way for cultivating what Christian spiritual tradition calls the “practice of the presence of God”? And quite as importantly, what

324

J. L. FREDERICKS

might Buddhist practitioners say about the answers Christians give to these questions? These are not rhetorical questions. These questions are very worth pursuing, and I have no doubt that Christians will be enriched by their Buddhist teachers in asking these questions. I also recognize that this is a very sensitive issue for many Roman Catholics who practice Buddhist meditation, and for some Buddhists as well. Let me state clearly that my purpose in raising this question is not to discourage Roman Catholic experimentation with Buddhist meditation. Rather, my hope is to promote a much deeper level of dialogue as a way of continuing the reception of Nostra Aetate and strengthening Buddhist–Christian relations. The fact that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith felt constrained to send a “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Mediation” reveals much about the enthusiastic reception of Nostra Aetate by Catholics throughout the world and about Buddhist–Christian relations after Nostra Aetate. There are Catholics who have engaged Buddhist practices in depth in a way that has been transformative of their faith. These same Catholics have no quarrel with the notion that this transformation of faith requires both ongoing discernment and rigorous theological reflection. Of course, there are some exceptions to this rule, but on the whole, Catholic experimentation with Buddhist forms of meditation has been careful, serious, theologically informed, and ecclesiologically grounded.

Conclusion Nostra Aetate was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965. In little more than fifty years, the Declaration has had a remarkable impact on the church in many, but not all, parts of the world. As I hope this chapter has demonstrated, the hermeneutics of context and intertextuality are essential for interpreting the Declaration and assessing its impact on Buddhist–Christian relations. Nostra Aetate has a different history of reception in Japan, China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, Europe, and the USA. (This chapter does not address Nostra Aetate’s reception in places such as Myanmar, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, or Christian relations with diaspora Buddhist communities in places like Peru and Brazil.) Even so, I think that from the perspective of the history of the ecumenical councils, Nostra Aetate is a remarkable achievement. In addition, this history leads me to expect that Nostra Aetate’s impact on the

15

CATHOLIC–BUDDHIST RELATIONS SINCE THE CLOSE …

325

Church’s relations with other religious communities, including Buddhist communities, is far from complete. This conclusion seems prudent not only because the uncertainty of the Church’s position in the People’s Republic of China, but also because current Vatican leadership is encouraging the Church to place more emphasis on interreligious collaboration for promoting the common good. That Pope Francis’ “dialogue of fraternity” will eclipse dialogue of theological exchange and of religious experience seems unlikely as of now. Perhaps these dialogues will come to be enriched by rooting themselves in collaboration directed toward promoting the common good. Time will tell. At the very least, we must say that this shortest of all the documents from the Second Vatican Council, which came close to falling into oblivion before it was promulgated, will continue to be a blessing to the Church and to the Church’s Buddhist friends.

Notes 1. For an authoritative overview of this group’s teachings, see Nikky¯ o Niwano, Buddhism for Today: A Modern Interpretation of the Threefold Lotus Sutra (Tokyo: K¯ osei Publishing Co., 1976). 2. Jaquelin Stone, “Nichiren’s Activist Heirs: Soka Gakkai, Rissho Koseikai, Nipponzan Myohoji,” in Christopher Queen et al. (eds.), Action Dharma, New Studies in Engaged Buddhism (Routledge Curzon, 2003), pp. 63–94. 3. Whalen Lai and Michael von Bruch, Christianity and Buddhism: A Multicultural History of Their Dialogue (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2001), pp. 104–151 and Notto R. Thelle, “Christianity Encounters Buddhism in Japan: A Historical Perspective,” in J. Breen and M. Williams (eds.), Japan and Christianity (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1996), pp. 94–106. 4. Hisamatsu Shin’ichi, “Zen as the Negation of Holiness,” in The Buddha Eye: An Anthology of the Kyoto School (New York: Crossroad, 1982), pp. 169–178. 5. For Nishida’s final thoughts about Christianity and Buddhism, see Nishida Kitar¯ o, Last Writings: Nothingness and the Religious Worldview, David Dilworth, trans. (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1993. 6. For a general introduction to Nishida’s thought and the work of his followers, see James Heisig, Philosophers of Nothingness: An Essay on the Kyoto School (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2001). Among Nishida’s disciples, Masao Abe has by far promoted the dialogue between Christianity and Zen. Among his many publications, see his lead essay in The Emptying God: A Buddhist-Jewish-Christian Conversation, John Cobb and Christopher Ives, eds. (New York: Orbis Books, 1996).

326

J. L. FREDERICKS

7. Shusaku Endo, Silence (London: Peter Owens Publishers, 2007). 8. For a discussion of Endo by a Japanese Buddhist, see Dennis Hirota, “Discerning the Marshland of This World: Silence from a Japanese Buddhist Perspective,” in Mark W. Dennis and Darren J.N. Middleton (eds.), Approaching Silence: New Perspective on Shusaku Endo’s Classic Novel (New York: Bloomsbury, 2015), pp. 139–158. 9. David Tracy, On Naming the Present: Reflections on God, Hermeneutics and the Church (New York: Orbis books, 1994), p. 16 and Plurality and Ambiguity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), pp. 15, 65, 84. For the importance of religious differences for comparative theology and interreligious dialogue, see James L. Fredericks, Faith Among Faiths: Christian Theology and the Non-Christian Religions (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1999). 10. The wording of the text is labored and no doubt the result of a convoluted redaction process in the preparation of the encyclical. The full sentence reads, “Although participated forms of mediation of different kinds and degrees are not excluded, they acquire meaning and value only from Christ’s own mediation, and they cannot be understood as parallel or complementary to his (Si non exclusae sunt mediationes participatae diversi generis et ordinis, hae attamen significationem trahunt et vim a mediatione Christi, nec pares haberi possunt nec perfectivae).” Some interpreters, hostile to even the possibility of the church’s ministry of interreligious dialogue as it was expounded in Nostra Aetate and as it has unfolded since the Council, interpret this passage in Redemptoris Missio, bizarrely, as a reference to the Blessed Virgin Mary. 11. James L. Fredericks, “The Catholic Church and the Other Religious Paths: Rejecting Nothing That Is True and Holy,” in Theological Studies, Vol. 64 (2003), pp. 225–254. 12. Thomas Stransky, “The Genesis of Nostra Aetate,” in America Magazine, Vol. 193, No. 12 (October 24, 2005). 13. The “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” is available on the Vatican website: http://w2.vatican.va/con tent/francesco/en/travels/2019/outside/documents/papa-francesco_ 20190204_documento-fratellanza-umana.html. 14. For a comprehensive discussion of these historical events, see Lai Panchiu, Buddhist-Christian Encounter in Modern China (Hong Kong: Logos & Pneuma Press), 2003. Also see Whalen Lai and Michael von Bruch, Christianity and Buddhism: A Multicultural History of Their Dialogue (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2001), pp. 68–103. 15. On Ricci, see Jacques Gernet, China and the Christian Impact: A Conflict of Cultures (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981) and R. Po-

15

16. 17.

18.

19.

20.

21. 22.

23.

24. 25.

26.

27. 28.

CATHOLIC–BUDDHIST RELATIONS SINCE THE CLOSE …

327

Chia Hsia, A Jesuit in the Forbidden City: Matteo Ricci 1552–1610 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010). Don A. Pittman, Toward a Modern Chinese Buddhism: Taixu’s Reforms (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2001). Lizhu Fan and Na Chen, “The Revival of Indigenous Religion in China,” (PDF), in China Watch (Fudan University, Fudan-UC Center for China Studies, 2013). Confucianism is looked on by the CCP with increasing reverence, as an ethical system useful for promoting social cohesion and, by extension, compliance with government initiatives. For the establishment of this organization after Hong Kong’s transfer to rule from Beijing in 1997, see “Institutionalizing the Representation of Religious Minorities in Post-1997 Hong Kong,” by Lida Nidilsky, in Marginalization in China: Recasting Minority Politics, by Sin Keung Cheung, Joseph Tse-Hei Lee and Lida V. Nedilsky (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan, 2009), pp. 211–235. For a comprehensive view of interreligious relations in Hong Kong, see Peter K.H. Lee, “The Way of Interreligious Dialogue: The Hong Kong Experience,” in Interreligio, Vol. 34 (Winter, 1998), pp. 2–15. Maria Reis Habito, “The Taipei, Taiwan, Museum of World Religions,” in Buddhist-Christian Studies, Vol. 22 (2002), pp. 203–205. James L. Fredericks, “The Dialogue of Fraternity: Pope Francis’ Approach to Interreligious Engagement,” in Commonweal (24 March, 2017), pp. 10–11. Available on the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/content/france sco/en/messages/peace/documents/papa-francesco_20131208_messag gio-xlvii-giornata-mondiale-pace-2014.html. Regis Moreau, Les Documents du Dialogue: Unitatis Redintegratio, Ad Gentes, Dignitatis Humanae, Nostra Aetate (Perpignan: Artège, 2016). See for example the collaborations of Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan S.J. chronicled in Charles R. Strain, The Prophet and the Bodhisattva, Daniel Berrigan, Thich Nhat Hanh, and the Ethics of Peace and Justice (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2014). In “Dialogue and Proclamation,” the Pontifical Dialogue distinguishes the “dialogue of life,” the “dialogue of action,” the “dialogue of theological exchange,” and the “dialogue of religious experience.” Available on the Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_c ouncils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_19051991_dialogueand-proclamatio_en.html. Thomas Merton, Zen and the Birds of Appetite (New York: New Directions, 1968). Henri de Lubac, Mémoire sur l’occasion de mes écrits (Namur: Culture et Vérité, 1989), p. 95.

328

J. L. FREDERICKS

29. Henri de Lubac, Mémoire sur l’occasion de mes écrits (Namur: Culture et Vérité, 1989), p. 30. 30. For an overview of de Lubac’s decades long study of Buddhism, see Jérôme Ducor, “Les Écrites d’Henri de Lubac sur le Bouddhisme,” in Les Cahiers Bouddiques, Vol. 5, No. 5 (2007–2008), pp. 81–110. For an analysis of de Lubac’s work as an example of the “dialogue of religious experience,” see James L. Fredericks, “A Hermeneutics of Grace: Henri de Lubac’s Reception of H¯ onen and Shinran,” in Eastern Buddhist, Vol. 48, No. 1 (2017), pp. 159–175. 31. www.monasticdialog.com/. 32. William Skudlarik, “The Monastic Expression of Interreligious Dialogue,” in Benedictines, Vol. 68, No. 2 (Fall–Winter 2015), pp. 6–14. See also, Purity of Heart and Contemplation: A Monastic Dialogue Between Christian and Asian Traditions, Bruno Barnhart and Joseph Wong, eds. (New York: Continuum, 2001) and William Skudlarek, Demythologizing Celibacy: Practical Wisdom from Christian and Buddhist Monasticism (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1989). 33. The Gethsemane Encounter: A Dialogue on the Spiritual Life by Buddhist and Christian Monastics, James Wiseman and Donald Mitchell, eds. (New York: Continuum, 1999). 34. See for example, Robert Kennedy, Zen Gifts to Christians (New York: Continuum, 2004) and Ruben Habito, Healing Breath: Zen for Christians and Buddhists in a Wounded World (Somerville, MA: Wisdom, 2006). 35. William Johnston, The Still Point: Reflections on Zen and Christian Mysticism (Bronx, NY: Fordham University Press, 1970). See also Paul Mommaers and Jan van Bragt, Mysticism: Buddhist and Christian (New York: Crossroad, 1995). 36. Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ (New York: Riverside Books, 1995). The Dalai Lama, The Good Heart: A Buddhist Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1996). 37. “Letter to Catholic Bishops on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation,” Vatican website: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfa ith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19891015_meditazione-cristiaNostr aAetate_en.html. 38. For engaging Christian and Buddhist responses to the letter “Some Aspects of Christian Meditation” and the controversy attending its publication, see John Borelli, “Reflections on ‘Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation’,” in BuddhistChristian Studies, Vol. 11 (1991), pp. 139–147 and a companion essay by Victoria Urubshurow, “Love Is God: A Buddhist Interreligious Response to the Vatican Instruction on ‘Some Aspects of Christian Meditation’,” in Buddhist-Christian Studies, Vol. 11 (1991), pp. 149–172.

Index

A Abraham, 17, 45, 47, 49, 52–54, 79, 99, 100, 107, 116, 121, 123, 125, 129, 132, 143, 145, 146, 151, 178, 179, 188, 192, 227–229, 233, 251–253, 255, 256, 272, 293, 310 Algeria, 122, 126–128, 139–142, 149, 152–155 al-Ghazz¯al¯ı (d.1111), 172 Anawati, Georges, 19, 122, 146, 189, 190, 195 Anglican Communion, 226, 227, 230 Antisemitism, 10, 19, 24, 27, 38, 92, 237 Armenian Genocide, 206 Armenians, 166–168 Assisi meeting, 321, 322 Augustin Bea, SJ, 10–12, 90, 95, 130, 318 Azzam, Fateh, 139

B Badaliya sodality, 124, 190 Baum, Gregory, 13, 14, 18, 40, 94 Benedict XV, 37, 39, 193, 194 Benedict XVI, 36, 43, 50–55, 70, 71, 76, 81, 143, 201, 202, 215 Ben-Meir, Alon, 163 Boormans, Maurice, 190 Buddhist-Christian relations, 307, 309, 310, 314, 316, 317, 319, 324

C Catechism of the Catholic Church, 70, 76 Catholic Church, 4, 11, 15, 20, 25, 29, 37, 41, 43–47, 75, 78, 82, 89, 92, 95, 99–101, 104, 108, 140, 141, 143, 145, 181, 182, 188, 189, 197, 201, 202, 205, 211–215, 217, 220, 231, 238, 246–250, 252, 253, 256,

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2021 K. C. Ellis (ed.), Nostra Aetate, Non-Christian Religions, and Interfaith Relations, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-54008-1

329

330

INDEX

266, 267, 269, 276, 277, 279, 280, 291, 295, 304, 307, 308, 313–315, 321, 323, 324 Catholic-Orthodox relations, 102, 104, 212, 214, 215 Catholic Teaching on Hinduism, 291–304 Chalala, Elie, 115 Chenu, Marie-Dominique, OP, 194 China, 174, 203, 308, 314, 315, 317–319, 324, 325 Christian–Muslim dialogue, 47, 54, 55, 164 Christians of the Eastern Patriarchates, 165 Church and Islam Theology in Middle East, 258 Church and Jewish people, 258 Church and Non-Christian religions, 1, 67, 83, 145, 197, 200, 211, 292 Church of England, 225–227, 230, 233, 237 Claverie, Pierre, 126, 133, 140, 149–155 Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, 69, 71, 90, 105, 107, 276 Comparative theology, 121, 178 Constantinople, Turkish conquest of 1453, 166, 170 Copts, 166–168, 199 Council of Florence (1438-1445), 166 Crusades, 144, 165, 166, 170, 174 D De Chergé, Christian, 115, 122, 126–133 De Foucauld, Charles (1858-1916), 129, 133, 139–145, 147–149, 153–155

dhimmi/protected people, 167 Dialogue and collaboration, 2, 116, 254, 257, 313, 317, 319 Dignitatis Humanae, 140, 153, 154, 317–319 Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies (Cairo), 15, 195 Dreyfus affair, 93 E Eastern Orthodoxy, 4, 181, 217 Ecclesiam Suam, 18, 20, 41, 43, 44, 46, 116, 178, 192, 295 Ecumenism, 4, 11, 19–21, 41, 44, 91, 102, 104, 152, 174, 197, 199–201, 213, 246, 266, 267, 269 Endo, Shusaku, 326 F Fakhr ad-D¯ın ar-Raz¯ı (1149-1209), 172 First World War, 37, 141, 193 Francis, Pope, 4, 72, 126, 132, 202, 203, 215, 220, 280, 313, 317–319, 325 Fraternity, 53, 70, 105, 125, 142, 144, 147, 180, 218, 313, 314, 317–319, 325 French Catholic thought, 140, 154 G Gardet, Louis, 124, 190, 191 George Khodr, Greek Orthodox bishop, 257 Griffith, Sidney, 9 H Hinduism, 1, 24, 115, 145, 189, 200, 292–298, 300–304

INDEX

Hitler, Adolf, 36, 38, 91

I Institut des Belles-Lettres Arabes in Tunis, 191 Interreligious Dialogue and ministry, 307 Isaac, Jules, 10, 12, 30, 68, 90, 94, 116, 188, 255 Israel, 3, 11, 14, 16, 18, 23, 40, 45, 48, 49, 52, 53, 69, 72, 73, 75, 76, 78–83, 93, 95, 97, 98, 101–103, 107, 145, 174, 196, 197, 199, 203, 204, 246, 248, 251–253, 255, 256, 259, 267, 270–276, 278–280, 313 Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 83

J Jacobites, 166–170, 180 Japan, 24, 308–313, 316, 320, 324 Jean Danielou, SJ, 95, 159, 190, 312 Jean Mohammed al-Jalil, 190 Jesuits of Syria, 2 Jewish-Catholic relations, 67 Jewish question, 10, 83, 94, 97

K Kahil, Mary, 124, 144, 190, 191 Kasper, Walther, 74, 101, 103, 104, 238

L Lambeth Conferences, 226, 227, 231

M Maronite Church, 251 Maronites, 166, 167, 174

331

Massignon, Louis, 13, 17, 46, 115, 122, 129, 132, 133, 139, 140, 190, 229, 254, 256 Maximos IV (Melkite Patriarch of Antioch), 27, 122, 196, 246, 248 Meditation, 294, 295, 299, 300, 308, 320, 322–324 Middle Eastern Christians, 196, 245, 246, 248, 249, 253, 258 Monotheism, 17, 49, 146, 178, 179, 192, 255, 292, 293, 295–297, 300, 303 Moubarac, Youakim, 190, 191, 254–256 Muslim-Christian understanding, 15, 47, 55, 115, 118, 146

N Nazism, 1, 38, 49, 90–92, 108, 228 Nestorians, 166–168, 170, 180 Nishida, Kitar¯o, 310 Nostra Aetate and reception, 226, 246, 307, 309, 314, 315, 318, 319, 321, 324 politics, 1, 28, 40, 197, 198, 275, 276 religious differences, 308, 312 religious similarities, 308, 309 Significance for Theology in the Middle East, 258

O Oesterreicher, John M., 14, 18, 39–42, 94, 97, 108, 236 Orthodox Presbyterian Church (United State of America)/PUC (USA), 268

332

INDEX

P Palestine, 81, 82, 141, 168, 169, 174, 196, 204, 251, 259, 271, 273, 275, 280 Phenomenology of religion, 291–293, 295, 297, 301 Pius XI, 37, 38, 92, 193, 194 Pius XII, 37, 38, 95 Pope John Paul II, 36, 43, 47–50, 55, 69, 70, 84, 101, 103, 105, 130, 181, 201, 252, 279, 302, 312, 318, 320, 321, 322 Pope John XXIII, 10–12, 16, 17, 19, 89, 90, 116, 188, 195, 197, 246 Protestant-Catholic relations, 91 Protestant missionaries, 167

R Religious experience, 72, 78, 107, 120, 276, 319–321, 323, 325 Religious freedom, 4, 50, 55, 140, 153–155, 213, 214, 317, 318

S Sabbah, Michel (Patriarch), 82 Second Vatican Council, 1, 35, 37, 81, 89, 96, 139, 140, 145, 148, 163, 187, 190, 192, 195, 201, 203, 204, 211, 212, 214, 220,

231, 237, 247, 255, 269, 291, 293, 307, 309, 321, 325 Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, 10, 13, 16, 17, 28, 90, 189, 197, 200, 309, 318 Shoah, 10, 36, 49, 53, 68, 96, 101, 106, 116, 228, 234, 235, 279 State of Israel, theological significance, 77 Supersessionism, 266, 271, 276, 279 Syrian Civil War, 2 Syrians, 166 T Theology of Religion, 230, 257, 292, 293, 312, 322 Thomas F. Stransky, C.S.P., 10, 11, 30, 32, 101, 110 V Villanova University, xi W Williams, Rowan, 231, 232 Z Zionism, 78, 82, 93, 196, 198, 247, 253, 279, 280