Statement on Friendship with Our Jewish Brothers and Sisters

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This past November, over 1,000 Catholics and Jews of Fort Wayne, Indiana, gathered to pray together at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in a beautiful service during the visit to our community of the “Violins of Hope” — violins that were played by Jewish prisoners at concentrations camps during the Holocaust. Our praying the psalms together and listening to the violins and our communities’ choirs brought us tears of both sadness and joy — sadness at the horrors of the Holocaust, and joy at the love we share as brothers and sisters, drawn together by a common spiritual patrimony.

We recognize that the anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism of past centuries contributed to the rise of the Nazi project to exterminate Jews. Learning from the tragedy of the Holocaust, the Church deplored in her 1965 landmark document, Nostra Aetate (In Our Time), “all hatreds, persecutions, displays of antisemitism leveled at any time or from any source against the Jews.” This important statement from the Second Vatican Council also affirmed that “the Jews should not be spoken of as rejected or accursed as if this followed from holy Scripture. Consequently, all must take care, lest in catechizing or in preaching the Word of God, they teach anything which is not in accord with the truth of the Gospel message or the spirit of Christ” (NA 4).

Unfortunately, there has been a rise in recent years of anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic rhetoric in our society. Further, there have been incidents of violence incited by hateful speech about Jews. The Church has firmly condemned such rhetoric and violence. Those who speak of Jews as our enemies are mistaken. Pope St. Paul VI, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis have consistently referred to our Jewish brothers and sisters as “friends” whom we love and esteem, not as enemies or adversaries whom we reject. Language matters. Language that incites animosity is harmful. This is not to say that there are not disagreements between Christians and Jews about matters of faith, but such disagreements need not imply hostility. The only truly Christian attitude towards the Jewish people is an attitude of respect, esteem, and love. As members of God’s family, we are bound to one another in His plan of salvation.

Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches as the authentic doctrine of our faith regarding the relationship of the Church with the Jewish people:
When she delves into her own mystery, the Church, the People of God in the New Covenant, discovers her link with the Jewish people, ‘the first to hear the Word of God.’  The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is a