Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Healing old wounds and restoring ancient partnerships

Bishop Richard J. Sklba in the "Herald of Hope" column in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, November 13, 2008, was then recently back from the three day plenary meeting of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. The ICCJ's 1947 meeting produced An Address to the Churches, called "The Seelisberg Theses" after the city where this "international emergency conference on anti-Semitism" was held.

The status of the ICCJ and whether attendees are there in an official capacity within their religious bodies is unstated.

Bishop Sklba gave one of the keynote addresses, which were followed by discussion.
Something that struck me early on was the insight that there are powerful contrasts between the first century of our common era and this new 21st century of ours. Then the tragedy of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem spawned councils of division; now the unspeakable horror of the gas chambers produced councils of reconciliation such as Vatican II.

He doesn't specify the "councils of division". The Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15, Galatians 2:1-10) is generally dated before the destruction of the Second Temple in A.D. 70. It appears the Council of Jamnia is hypothetical. If the 20th Century's thirty years war was part of the impetus for Second Vatican Council, the genocide of European Jews was a part of that. That's not the same as claiming reaction to this genocide produced the Council, which seems an overstatement.
In that vein I also pointed out that we Catholics remain committed both to the belief that God's covenant with Israel remains eternally valid (Romans 11:29) ... and that Christ's universal redemption embraced the entire world. Precisely how those Catholic convictions are interrelated remains a mystery which still awaits adequate expression.

I might note (parenthetically!) that bit of proof-texting by Bishop Sklba. In this context, one might also consider the expression found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 839 and 840.

The first sentence of the first document of the Second Vatican Council says one of its aims is "to strengthen whatever can help to call the whole of mankind into the household of the Church." Bishop Sklba says,
we are convinced that organized efforts to convert Jews to Christianity seem contrary to the will of God for this time in history.

By "we" he might mean the ICCJ participants, or that he is interpreting Nostra Aetate. Either way, he does qualify even this assessment with that word "seem".

P.S. Bishop Sklba's December 11, 2008 column is on a related topic Shared hopes for God's future: Judaism and Christianity as Advent partners again. Diogenes at Off the record reviewed it in If it ain't broke, let's bust it.

(via Dad29)


  1. Anonymous7:40 PM

    Why isn't Sklba in jail?

  2. "Why isn't Sklba in jail?"

    Another one for the Rhetorical Question Box.

    A. In the first place, because he has not even been accused of criminal wrongdoing, in the sense of someone bringing an accusation and pertinent facts to the attention of law enforcement officials.