Friday, September 16, 2005

Happy Birthday, Dear Council

It was reported yesterday that B16 received the two Chief Rabbis of Israel in audience at Castel Gandolfo. It's become clear that the purpose of their visit was to mark the 40th anniversary of the Vatican II Decree Nostra Aetate -- the landmark document which revolutionized religious relations with Judaism.

Today, the Pope received an assembly of Scripture scholars to observe the 40th anniversary of Dei Verbum, the Conciliar decree on the Word of God. At this point, it's a safe bet that all this will find its culmination in an encyclical to be released on December 8, marking the 40th anniversary of the Council's close and plotting the program of this pontificate. The history buffs among us know it was on that day as well that Paul VI laid aside the tiara once and for all and re-emphasized the papacy's role as servant of communion, adding to the emphasis of the moment and one of this Pope's main objectives.

But back to the Rabbis.... Here's the fulltext (originally given in English), and some snips:

Nostra Aetate
has proven to be a milestone on the road towards reconciliation of Christians with the Jewish people. It makes clear 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" (N° 4).

Today, we must continue to seek ways to fulfil that responsibility of which I spoke during my recent visit to the Synagogue in Cologne: "of handing down to young people the torch of hope that God has given to Jews and to Christians, so that never again will the forces of evil come to power, and that future generations, with God's help, may be able to build a more just and peaceful world, in which all people have equal rights and are equally at home".

The eyes of the world constantly turn to the Holy Land, the Land that is considered holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Unfortunately our attention is too often drawn by acts of violence and terror, a cause of immense sorrow to everyone living there. We must continue to insist that religion and peace go together.

On this occasion my thoughts turn also to the Christian communities in the Holy Land, a living presence and witness there since the dawn of Christianity through all the vicissitudes of history. Today these brothers and sisters in the faith face new and increasing challenges. While we are pleased that diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel have led to more solid and stable forms of co-operation, we eagerly await the fulfilment of the Fundamental Agreement on issues still outstanding....

Geopolitics, interreligious dialogue and common ideals all in one package. Not bad for a six-graf greeting.

As it took a day to release the text, could it have been ad-libbed? We know he likes doing that....



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