May 6, 2002
volume 13, no. 86

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The Biblical Commission on the Jews: Changes in Doctrine and New Anathemas    Part VII

By Atila Sinke Guimarães

Translated and edited by Marian Therese Horvat, Ph.D.

    Following is the SEVENTH INSTALLMENT and final of a seven-part treatise and critique of the Pontifical Biblical Commission's document The Hebrew People and its Holy Scriptures in the Christian Bible. This is a comprehensive response by Atila Sinke Guimarães to the entire document. Atila reviewed the original Italian work by the PBC titled "Il populo ebraico e le sue Sacre Scritture nella Bibbia cristiana," Preface by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2001, 213 pp. which we sent to him. He then wrote his review and translated the excerpts he used from Italian to Portuguese. Dr. Marian has worked closely with him in translating and editing his critique from Portuguese into English. Atila and Marian have graciously accepted our request to critique the book while all in the United States still wait for the English translation. The response is too important to delay because what is contained in the Vatican document will truly alarm you.
    For installments thus far, see Archive below

VII. Ratzinger's Preface

    The fact that the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is also the president of the PBC and an active member of it signifies his approval of the theses I criticized above. His Preface for The Hebrew People intends to accentuate his support. These facts, in themselves, are motive for most serious concern with regard to the general orientation that Cardinal Ratzinger is giving to the important Dicastery that he directs. Contrary to the "conservative" saga being spread about his "conversion," in this Preface Ratzinger shows that he continues to sustain almost the same progressivist ideas that before the Council placed him on the list of theologians under suspicion of heresy. Thus, the highly touted change of orientation of Ratzinger would be nothing more than a propaganda bluff. Why?

    First, because the Cardinal sustains the presuppositions of the condemned historical method that I described in Part One. His relativist and evolutionist criteria, which depend upon the "historic conscience" that would be formed in each epoch, become clear when he describes the changes that would have taken place in the Old Testament exegesis.

    He states: "This synthesis [of the Church Fathers], fundamental to the Christian Faith, should become problematic, however, at the moment when the historical conscience developed a criteria of interpretation which would make the Fathers seem to lack a historical basis, and, therefore, become objectively unsustainable" (p. 9).

    He turns to the same criterion of analysis when he affirms: "According to Harnack [a principal Protestant representative of the historic method] …. it was perfectly logical to depart from an exegesis in which the texts of the past can have …. only that sense that the respective authors wanted to give them in their own historical moment. To the modern historical conscience, however, it seems more than improbable that the authors of the centuries prior to Christ who express themselves in the books of the Old Testament had the intention of alluding in advance to Christ and to the faith of the New Testament. In this sense, with the victory of the historical-critical exegesis, the Christian interpretation of the Old Testament departing from the New Testament would frequently seem to be off course" (pp. 9-10).

    If one were seriously to consider that the interpretation of Scriptures would be dependant on the "historical conscience" of each epoch, as Cardinal Ratzinger assumes in his Preface, then every text of the Bible is, or at least can be, relativized. This means that the revealed texts would not have an objective value, that neither the Old nor New Testament would be divinely revealed, that there would be no more value recognized in the two-thousand-year constant interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures by the Catholic Church. Instead, one should accept the unstable criteria of an evolutionist method that relies on the historical conscience of each different time and situation.

    Second, Ratzinger's "conversion" can hardly be taken seriously after he qualified the fact that the Catholic Church wants to keep the same interpretation that she always had of the texts of the Old Testament as "pretentious" and "presumptuous."

    After alluding to the difficulties that the PBC had in "defending" the new "Christian position," Ratzinger places himself within the parameters of the "political theology" of Metz (see Part Two) with regard to the death of so many Jews under the German Nazi regime. He asks: "In its work the Biblical Commission could not ignore the context of our times, in which the drama of the shoah ["holocaust"] places every question under another light …. After all that happened, can Christians still tranquilly sustain the pretension of being the legitimate heirs of the Bible of Israel? Can they remain with the Christian interpretation of this Bible, or, on the contrary, shouldn't they respectfully and humbly renounce such a pretension, which in the light of what has taken place seems 'presumptuous?'" (p. 11).

    The implicit response of Ratzinger is negative: No, Christians can no longer remain with the same interpretation of Scriptures. What, then, should they do?

    Third, Ratzinger responds to this question and reveals his progressivist colors by counseling the faithful to follow the Jewish interpretations that have come from the Synagogue in the last 2000 years.

    He affirms: "What should follow the events that took place [in World War II with the Jews] is a renewed respect for the Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament …. It should be added that Christians can benefit greatly from the Jewish exegesis practiced for 2000 years …. I think that these analyses will be useful not only for the progress of the Jewish-Christian dialogue, but also for the interior formation of the Christian conscience" (p. 12).

    This closes my analysis of what Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote in his Preface.

VIII. Conclusion

    What can be concluded from the astounding fact that this book was published by the Pontifical Biblical Commission with the official endorsement of the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? How can a serious judgment be made on this official opening of the doors of the Catholic Church to the Jewish influence?

    I respond by transcribing some of the perennial teaching of the Church.

Contrary to the position of Ratzinger and the PBC, the Council of Trent officially stated this against the Protestants: "In order to curb impudent clever persons, the synod decrees that no one who relies on his own judgment in matters of Faith and Morals, which pertain to the structure of Christian doctrine, and that no one who distorts the Sacred Scripture according to his own opinions, shall dare to interpret the said Sacred Scripture contrary to that sense which is held by Holy Mother Church, whose duty it is to judge regarding the true sense and interpretation of Holy Scriptures, or even [shall dare to interpret it] contrary to the unanimous consent of the Fathers, even if interpretations of this kind were never intended to be brought to light" (Council of Trent, Session 4, n. 786).

First Vatican Council taught against the liberals: "Indeed, these books of the Old and New Testament, whole with all their parts, just as they were enumerated in the decree of the same Council, are contained in the older Vulgate edition, and are to be accepted as sacred and canonical. But the Church holds these books as sacred and canonical, not because, having been put together by man alone, they were then approved by her authority; nor because they contain Revelation without error; but because, having been written by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, they have God as their author and, as such, they have been handed down to the Church herself" (Vatican Council I, Constitution De Ecclesia, n. 1787).

St. Pius X taught against the Modernists: "Now, then, we think that it is clear of what sort of method the modernists employ in the field of history. The philosopher goes ahead; the historian succeeds him; right behind, in order, comes criticism, both internal and textual. And since it is characteristic of the first cause to communicate its power to its consequences, it becomes evident that such criticism is not criticism at all; that it is rightly called agnostic, immanentist, and evolutionist; and that being so, he who professes it and uses it, professes the errors implicit in the same and opposes Catholic doctrine (Pascendi Dominici gregis, n. 34).

Pius XII taught against the Progressivists: "For some go so far as to pervert the sense of [First] Vatican Council's definition that God is the author of Holy Scripture, and they put forward the opinion, already often condemned, which asserts that immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters …. In interpreting Scripture, they take no account of the analogy of Faith and the Tradition of the Church. Thus they say that the doctrine of the Fathers and of the Magisterium of the Church has to be judged by the norm of Holy Scripture explained by the purely human reason of exegetes, instead of explaining Holy Scripture according to the mind of the Church, which Christ Our Lord has appointed guardian and interpreter of the whole deposit of divinely revealed truth" (Humani generis, n. 22).

    If this teaching that reflects the unanimous mind of the Church in the last 400 years before Vatican II is true, which it is, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and the Pontifical Biblical Commission, by virtue of the theses that they defend in The Hebrew People, should be considered to have adopted a false method of interpretation of Holy Scriptures, a method that was condemned by prior Popes and Councils as Protestant, Liberal, Modernist, and Progressivist. Insofar as it is Modernist, it also incurs condemnation as agnostic, immanentist, and evolutionist.

    And why did they adopt this method? In order to officially offer the Jewish religion an honorific place and an invitation to orient the teaching of Holy Scriptures within the sacred flock of the Catholic Church.

This position was also condemned by the Third Ecumenical Lateran Council (1179), which pronounced an anathema on those who, "preferring the Jews to the Christians, would receive the testimony of Jews against Christians and not that of Christians against Jews" (Decree 2, 20, 21).[27]
[ 27. Apud F. Vernet, entry Juifs et chrétiens, Dictionnaire apologétique de la Foi Catholique, Paris: Beauchesne, 1924, vol. 2, col. 1744.]

    Whosoever has eyes to see, let him see what this represents in the ensemble of the History of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.

*    *     *

List of Members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission
Preface by Cardinal Ratzinger
Part One: Historical-Doctrinal Presuppositions
Part Two: An Extreme of Historicism
Part Three: Grave Errors and Tendentious Relativizations
Part Four: An Extreme of Historicism
Part Five: Denying the Objectivity of the Jewish Crimes Against Our Lord and the Nascent Church
Part Six: Anathemas

Monday, May 6, 2002
volume 13, no. 86
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