What is the current state of Jewish-Christian relations? And by which main church documents are these relations governed? These have been the main two questions Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś discussed during the latter fides and cultura 2020 meeting on January, 14th, 2023.
Starting from these questions, the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council, called due to its incipit Nostra Atetae, was the centerpiece of the lecture. This document, though the shortest of the 16 final documents of the Council, promulgated in October 1965 by Pope Paul VI, can be considered as a monumental declaration – bringing about a Copernican turnaround of the Church’s position towards Jews and constituting them new. From then on, Archbishop Ryś stressed out, the Jewish-Christian dialogue is not part of the interreligious, but the ecumenical one. The realignment made by Nostra Atetae can be summarized by three key statements: First, the document recognized Israel as the chosen people, thereby abandoning the replacement theology prevailing until then (point 4.3). Christians cannot think about Jews as rejected or accursed by God. Second, the document declared explicitly that the passion and death of Christ “cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today” (4.6), but rather, the sinners are held responsible. The third key statement, Archbishop Ryś formulated, was the condemnation of any form of anti-Semitism “directed against Jews at any time and by anyone” (point 4.7). Now, so concluded Archbishop Ryś, Jews and Christians are – at least corresponding to the official documents from the Vatican, no longer strangers but brothers. To sum up, we can say that according to the Church’s teaching Judaism is not a part of the history of Christianity, finished ages ago, but a present component – a component of Nostra Atetae. How vivid this element is for us Christians, is up to us.