The Chief Rabbinates of world Jewry apparently want to partner with the Vatican to combat radical Islam. In a recent letter, they proposed a formal alliance between Judaism and Catholicism, calling “upon the [Catholic] Church to join us in deepening our combat against our generation’s new barbarism, namely the radical offshoots of Islam.”
This extraordinary alliance would unite Orthodox Jewry and the Holy See against their common enemy, jihadist Islam. The Rabbinates’ letter identifies “the very real danger facing many Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere as they are persecuted and menaced by violence and death at the hands of those who invoke God’s Name in vain through violence and terror.”
The authors of this missive to Pope Francis — the Chief Rabbinate of Israel (CRI), the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) — represent the vast majority of the world’s Orthodox Jews. Representatives of Judaism’s Conservative and Reform wings did not sign the letter. Seemingly, any successful efforts by the Orthodox community to elicit the support of Conservative and Reform Jewish leaders would further strengthen the initiative’s standing in the Vatican.
The Rabbinates chose the 50th anniversary of the Vatican’s publication of the Papal Encyclical “Nostra Aetate” (“In Our Time”) to launch their appeal. This document revolutionized relations between the Catholic Church and Judaism, as it formally absolved the Jewish people of any responsibility for Christ’s crucifixion. Promulgated by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965 during the Second Vatican Council, the encyclical declared:
“His (Jesus’) passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures.”
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