February 19, 2002
volume 13, no. 32

A Contradiction of Divine Revelation?

Repercussions of the document "The Jewish People and Holy Scriptures in the Christian Bible"

Vatican Paper Says Jews' Wait for Messiah Not in Vain, New York Times report with CFN Commentary

by John Vennari
    Reprinted with permission of Catholic Family News, see Editor's Notes below. We have also added Gary L. Morella's comments in red to the New York Times piece below.

    The following is condensed from a Jan. 17 New York Times article entitled "Vatican Says Jews' Wait for Messiah Is Validated by the Old Testament." Because of its landmark importance, we shoe-horned this report into the latest issue of CFN just before it went to press. My commentary follows this condensed report filed by Melinda Hennenberger for the New York Times.

       The Vatican has issued what some Jewish scholars are calling an important document that explicitly says, "The Jewish wait for the Messiah is not in vain." The scholarly work was signed by the Pope's theologian, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

        The document says Jews and Christians in fact share the wait for the Messiah, though Jews are waiting for the first coming, and Christians for the second.

      (We use to pray for the conversion of the Jews in our Good Friday services. Now, we seem to be telling them that it is OK for them to wait for the Messiah. If that is the case, then what we're saying is that the Messiah hasn't come, which is heresy. How can the Catholic Church say that the Messiah has come for Catholics, and not the rest of mankind. Is the Catholic Church going to start to recognize false messiahs for every religion from Buddhism to Hinduism? This is an "I'm OK, you're OK fallacy that should never have seen the light of day theologically. It will do nothing but cause scandal to the faithful in the most confusing sense possible. What in the name of sanity is going on here?

          This is absolute LUNACY, if true. And that is a big "if" given the incredible nature of the report.

          True ecumenism as opposed to false ecumenism is giving a Catholic witness to the world, standing in contradiction to the world, to show the world the TRUE faith, and why the world should convert to it, not abiding heresy in the form of an extreme indifferentism where it's OK for Catholicism to have its Messiah, and every other false religion on the face of the planet to have theirs. What kind of a Catholic witness is that?

          I have news for the Jews and the Vatican "theologians" supposedly quoted below. The first coming of the Messiah has already occurred. If the news report below is accurate, our Church is guilty of heresy. One cannot equivocate regarding such serious matters.)

        "The difference consists in the fact that for us, He Who will come will have the same traits of that Jesus Who has already come," wrote Cardinal Ratzinger, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
      (What kind of ridiculous double-talk is this? We already know the name of Who came for all to include the Jews at the "first coming", Jesus Christ. That same Jesus Christ, not some abstract entity who will have the "same traits of that Jesus Who has already come," will come for all in glory to judge the living and the dead at the "second coming.")

        At least one Jewish scholar said the new document is a marked departure from Dominus Iesus, a study of the redemptive role of Jesus that was released last year in Cardinal Ratzinger's name and that fanned disputes between Catholic and Jewish scholars.

        The new document also says Catholics must regard the Old Testament as "retaining all of its value, not just as literature, but its moral value," said Joaquin Navarro-Valls, the Pope's spokesman. "You cannot say, 'Now that Jesus has come, it becomes a second-rate document'."

      (Since when have Catholics not done this. I've quoted the Old Testament many times in my attempts to witness for the Church over the hedonistic tide that would engulf it. No one has ever said this. Jesus Himself said I come to fulfill the Old Law, not to abolish it.)

        "The expectancy of the Messiah was in the Old Testament," he went on, "and if the Old Testament keeps its value, then it keeps that as a value, too. It says you cannot just say all the Jews are wrong and we are right."
      (You can't have your cake and eat it too. This is a violation of the principle of contradiction, a fundamental principle of first philosophy. Something can't be true, and not true, at the same time in the same place. Either THE Messiah has come, or He hasn't. For the Catholic Church now to say that for some, He hasn't is HERESY!)

        Asked whether that could be taken to mean that the Messiah mayor may not have come, Dr. Navarro-Valls said no. "It means it would be wrong for a Catholic to wait for the Messiah, but not for a Jew," he said.
      (The above is pure and simple garbage, an incredible statement coming from a Vatican representative.)

        The document, the result of years of work by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, goes on to apologize for the fact that certain New Testament passages that criticize the Pharisees, for example, had been used to justify anti-Semitism.

        Everything in the report is now considered part of official Church doctrine, Dr. Navarro-Valls said.

      (Surely he must have been misquoted here. At least I hope so because if he actually thinks it is or if, indeed, it were even considered Church doctrine, SERIOUS ERROR of the most grave matter has occurred.)

        A number of Jewish scholars and leaders said they were pleased but stunned and would have to take some time to digest fully the complicated, 210-page study, published in French and Italian. "This is something altogether new, especially compared with the earlier document from Ratzinger that was so controversial," said Rabbi Alberto Piattelli, a professor and leader of the Jewish community in Rome.

        "This latest declaration is a step forward" in closing the wounds opened by that earlier document, Rabbi Piattelli said. "It recognizes the value of the Jewish position regarding the wait for the Messiah, changes the whole exegesis of biblical studies and restores our biblical passages to their original meaning. I was surprised."

        At least initially, the only voices of dissent were on the Catholic side, where some traditionalists said they felt the Church under Pope John Paul II had done altogether too much apologizing already.

        Vittorio Messori, a Catholic writer and commentator, said he respects the pope but "his apologies leave me perplexed."

        "He's inspired and has his reasons," Mr. Messori said, "but what's dangerous in these apologies is that he seems to say the Church itself has been wrong in its teaching," rather than just some within the Church.

        The oddest thing about the document from the Jewish perspective is that it was so quietly released. It has been in bookstores in Rome since November 2001, but as a small book titled The Jewish People and the Holy Scriptures in the Christian Bible, it drew no notice until the Italian news agency ANSA, on January 16, printed a small report on it.

        Tullia Zevi, a longtime Jewish community leader and commentator in Rome, said: "The widespread opinion on the document is that it's trying to question the validity of past attitudes of the Church, and seems an attempt to move us closer together. So why was such an important document kept secret?"

        One possibility, she said, was that the Church was trying to avoid criticism within its own ranks. Vatican officials, however, say it was not announced because it was seen mainly as a theological study intended for other theologians.

CFN Commentary

    If this report is true, we have reached the apex of ecumenical apostasy.

    This new document goes far beyond exonerating the Jews for the death of Jesus. It exonerates them from belief in Jesus. In effect, the Vatican now says that the Jews are free to reject Christ and to live their lives as if He doesn't exist. How is it otherwise possible that Jews are justified in waiting for the Messiah's "first coming" without them rejecting the Christ Who has already come?

    Contrary to Navarro-Valls' claim, the new document cannot be considered "Church doctrine," because it contradicts Sacred Scripture and Church dogma, especially the thrice-defined dogma that outside the Church, there is no salvation.

    It is Biblical and Church teaching that Jesus Christ put an end to the Old Covenant of the Judaic law and superseded it with the New Covenant, which is His ecclesia, the Catholic Church. The Acts of the Apostles recounts that Saint Peter, on the first Pentecost, preached to those in Jerusalem that there was only one way they could save their souls, and that was to abandon the religion of the synagogue and be Baptized into the one true Church which Christ established. [Acts 2]

    It must be emphasized that Peter did not speak these words to men of no religion at all. He was speaking to pious Jews who were faithfully practicing their religion. Saint Peter did not tell these Jews that they were free to reject Christ and await the "First Coming" of a future Messiah. No, he told them the religion of the synagogue could not save their souls, because, as St. Paul writes, Christ's New Covenant "has made obsolete the former one" [Hebrews 8: 13].

    The Church was faithful to this Scriptural teaching up until Vatican II. For example, Pope Pius XI's 1926 "Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus" contained the following invocation to Our Lord for the conversion of the Jews: "Turn Thine eyes of mercy toward the children of that race, once Thy chosen people. Of old they called down Thy blood upon themselves the Blood of the Savior. May it now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life." And Pius promulgated this as a liturgical prayer to be recited worldwide in public Church ritual. Likewise, Sacred Scripture bristles with condemnation against anyone who claims that Jesus is not the Christ, or who rejects Him.

    Saint John the Baptist warned, "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has life everlasting; he who is unbelieving towards the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him" [John. 3: 36].

    Our Lord Himself proclaimed, "I am the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but through Me" [John 14: 6]. And He upbraided the Jews of His own day for their unbelief: "You search the Scriptures because in them you think that you have life everlasting. And it is they that bear witness to Me, yet you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life" [John 5: 9-10].

    Finally, Saint John, the Apostle of Love, employs the strongest language of all: "Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is the Antichrist who denies the Father and the Son" [1 John 1: 22].

    Sorry Dr. Navarro-VaIls, sorry Cardinal Ratzinger, and with respect, sorry Holy Father, you do not have the authority to trash Sacred Scripture to promote your new ecumenical religion. You do not have the power to stamp an expiration date on Christ's mandate to "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" [Mark 16: 15]. He who believes and is Baptized shall be saved, but he who does not believe shall be condemned" [Mark 16: 16].

    EDITOR'S NOTES: We have received the gracious permission of John Vennari, editor of Catholic Family News to reprint various articles that have appeared in his publication that would be of interest to our readers. We urge you to subscribe to John's excellent monthly publication for only $20 a year by calling 1-905-871-6292 or e-mail them at CFN.

February 19, 2002
volume 13, no. 32
FOCUS on the Story of the Day
Return to Current Issue