Catholic church affirms need to work more closely with Jews

Associated Press/October 29, 2002

Rome -- A top Vatican cardinal affirmed Monday that the Roman Catholic Church is more committed than ever to improving relations with Jews.

In a speech marking the anniversary of a major Second Vatican Council document on the issue, Cardinal Walter Kasper told a conference of prelates and rabbis that after 2,000 years of antagonism, Catholics and Jews may still disagree, but they do so as brothers.

"Maybe on some issues they will let us down or we will let them down. But fraternity is precisely this contact, where one listens to the heart of the other as if it were his own heart," said Kasper, the Vatican official in charge of relations with Jews.

The conference commemorated the 37th anniversary of the document "Nostra Aetate," Latin for "In Our Time," which was drafted during the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meeting that modernized the Roman Catholic Church.

In the document the Vatican deplored anti-Semitism in every form and repudiated the "deicide" argument that blamed Jews as a people for Christ's crucifixion. The document also affirmed that Jesus, the apostles and most of his early followers were Jews and that God has not revoked his covenant with Jews.

The anniversary was celebrated amid fresh debate over the Vatican's attitude toward Jews sparked by a recent unofficial document saying it no longer is theologically acceptable for the church to target Jews for conversion.

That document was drafted by a group of American Catholic and Jewish scholars and published on the Web site of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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