The Vatican has given a “recognitio” to a change in the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults which clarifies Catholic teaching about the Jews’ covenant with God, the U.S. bishops said.
The first version of the catechism, in its discussion of God’s covenant with the Jews, said “Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them.”
The revision reads “To the Jewish people, whom God first chose to hear his Word, ‘belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ.’”
Romans 9 and paragraph 839 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church are cited in the revised passage.
The Vatican’s “recognitio” is a statement that a document is in keeping with Catholic teaching. The change was approved at the U.S. bishops’ 2008 June meeting in Orlando, Florida.
“The clarification is not a change in the Church’s teaching,” a press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said.
“The clarification reflects the teaching of the Church that all previous covenants that God made with the Jewish people are fulfilled in Jesus Christ through the new covenant established through his sacrificial death on the cross. Catholics believe that the Jewish people continue to live within the truth of the covenant God made with Abraham, and that God continues to be faithful to them.”
The USCCB press release cited a passage from the Second Vatican Council document Lumen Gentium, which taught that the Jewish people “remain most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts he makes nor of the calls he issues.”
In June the U.S. bishops also clarified a 2002 document “Covenant and Mission,” saying the document mistakenly downplayed the importance of sharing the Gospel.
That change led major Jewish groups and rabbis from the three largest branches of American Judaism to say that their relationship with Catholic leaders was at risk, the Associated Press reports.
On Thursday rabbis from the Orthodox, Conservative and Reform movements joined the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee in saying that the document was “antithetical” to the essence of the interfaith dialogue. In their view, such dialogue becomes “untenable” if the Christian participants’ goal is to persuade Jews to accept Christ.
Bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut William Lori commented on the revision in June, saying:
“While the Catholic Church does not proselytize the Jewish people, neither does she fail to witness to them her faith in Christ, nor to welcome them to share in that same faith whenever appropriate.”