Friday, June 8, 2007

Martini Lays Out the Plan

" ... it is necessary that ... communion be realized in all possible ways ... towards those Jews who began to codify the Mishnah at Yavneh and redacted the Talmud at Babylon, ... we must move towards a common goal when we shall be one single people ..."

Reflections Towards Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Carlo Maria Cardinal Martini

Rome, 4th November 2004 at the Pontifical Gregorian University

[Cardinal Martini is the Archbishop of Milan emeritus.]


Bruno Forte has outlined the fundamental elements of a Christian theology of Judaism that could give a positive reading of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity, without being tempted by extremist tendencies of an exclusivist nature (according to which Christianity has nothing to do with Judaism and would do better if it simply let go of any connection with the First Testament), or of an inclusivist bent (for which Christianity implies that God’s plan favoring the people of Israel has been replaced with another plan of salvation where Israel is not considered).

The wealth of data from his lecture has indicated that the problem is extremely complex – in fact, we are most likely only at the beginning of a radical theological re-thinking [of this question], in line with the indications that have come in a special way from the Second Vatican Council. This re-thinking, or re-appraisal, takes place only slowly, and especially requires time for its assimilation by local communities ...

... Today things are changing, but we need time and energy, even because new events in the history of our times give the virus of antisemitism the opportunity to spread and to give rise to condemnatory theories and judgments. In this perspective, I would like to answer the question: how can a local Church, given the existing negative stereotypes, help people to overcome them, and how can it develop a climate of friendly collaboration, respect and reciprocal esteem, which can in its turn provide the cultural background for a healthy theological re-appraisal?

The point is thus not only for specialists to discuss of the relations between Jews and Christians, but rather to find some points of reference for a common ecclesial agenda and for a dialogue between the Christian and the Jewish peoples that provides a background for the efforts of the theologians and the exegetes. What is at stake here is not merely the greater or lesser vitality of a dialogue, but something that concerns us Christians. We must make sure that the faithful gain a renewed awareness of their link with the children of Abraham, with all the resulting consequences for the doctrine, the discipline, the liturgy and the spiritual life of the Church, as well as her mission in the world of today ...

It is necessary to acquire an understanding of post-Biblical [Talmudic/Kabbalistic] Judaism, which, until very recently, was almost totally lacking in the Catholic Church. For this reason it is necessary – and I have said it more than once – not only to know the books and the traditions that after the destruction of the Temple continued to maintain in life a [specifically] Jewish hope, but also to widen our horizons to the entire history, the customs, the artistic, scientific, literary and musical talents of the Jewish people. It is thus necessary to cultivate an attitude of esteem and of love towards this people. Simple anti-antisemitism is not enough ... To this purpose, we shall have to organize numerous cultural initiatives. First of all, in the formation of the future priests it shall be necessary to emphasize the knowledge of Biblical and post-Biblical [Talmudic/Kabbalistic] Judaism. Over the last years, a certain progress has been made in this direction, but much remains to be done, especially because up to now only few have received this type of formation ...

Christian ethics and Jewish ethics are largely identical [!?!?!?!?] and pursue the same objectives. It is for this reason that it is possible for Jews and for Christians to work together in many fields and thus to establish those conditions of mutual trust which are the main road for an interreligious, intercultural and even political dialogue ...

To vivify our Eucharists, to celebrate the liturgy with all its precious values, the Christians ought to accustom themselves more and more to understand the prayers and the spirituality of Jews ...

Indeed for us, therefore, every day is an opportunity to begin to ask God and our brothers and sisters to accept our sorrow for the evil that we have done and the good that we have forgotten to accomplish. Let us humbly approach our Jewish brothers and sisters, the history of their suffering, of their martyrdom, of the persecutions that they have undergone. Let us remove the tendentious interpretations of passages included in the New Testament and in other writings ...

In the past, Judaism produced Talmudic reflection and all its attendant treatises. Now, it has established many thriving institutes that focus on research and on dialogue, in Jerusalem as well as in many other parts of the world. The Church cannot ignore the results of this elaboration, as they are presented in the religious, juridical and philosophical texts of post-biblical Jewish literature. I am convinced that a deeper understanding of Judaism and its currents is vital for the Church, not only so as to overcome a centuries-old ignorance and to begin a fruitful dialogue, but also to deepen the understanding that the Church has of itself. In other words, I would like to emphasize the importance, for the theology of Christian praxis, of the study of the problems derived from the interruption of the contribution that the theology and the praxis of Jewish-Christians was giving to the early Christian community. It is a fact that the first great schism, that between Jews and Christians, has deprived the Church of the help it would have received from the Jewish tradition ...

... we must begin to propose shared values, so as to discover [new] aims and instruments of dialogue, knowing that in this way we are doing a service to humanity as a whole. In this dialogue the city of Jerusalem has a fundamental importance ...

The fifth stage is that of initiatives at the academic level, as well as at the level of school formation. The introduction to Jewish religiosity and culture can be fostered in a variety of ways. At the academic level, one might promote encounters and research projects, coordinating what already exists; in the schools, one might use the possibilities foreseen by the school laws and revising the textbooks. A further possibility would be the organization of re-training courses for the clergy and the catechists, and the establishment of such classes in the seminaries and the dioceses.

... the last stage, which is the creation of meeting points and of ambits of social, political and cultural collaboration. [emphasis supplied]...

If we Christians believe that we are in continuity and in communion with the patriarchs, the prophets, those exiled to Babylon and the Maccabean martyrs, it is necessary that this communion be realized in all possible ways, also towards those Jews who began to codify the Mishnah at Yavneh and redacted the Talmud at Babylon, ... we must move towards a common goal when we shall be one single people that the Lord shall bless, saying: “Blessed be Egypt, my people, Assyria, work of my hands, Israel, my inheritance” (Is 19:25).

A second objective is that of common service to the same project of covenant. Both Jews and Christians are called to carry out a service towards humanity as a whole. This service constitutes a ministry that can effectively be called priestly, a mission that can unite us without dissolving our individual identities, until the coming of the Messiah, [!!!!] whom we invoke with the words Marana-tha.

If we want to try and describe this priestly ministry of Israel [!!!!] and the Church, we can use the category of “sanctifying His name,” in other words, the decision to make the holiness of God present in ourselves, in families, in society, in creation. Judaism has developed a careful reflection on the precepts that sanctify every moment of life and on the intention of the heart that constitutes its vivifying soul.

If the Christian Church feels called, especially in Europe, to be a critical conscience of society, it shall always find the support of the profound religious and ethical teachings of Judaism. If the Church wishes to promote everywhere the dialogue of peace and to be a universal meeting place of all people in the name of Christ, in whom all things shall be recapitulated, it is especially with regard to Judaism that this dialogue and this peace are first of all to be promoted. Jews and Christians, in full respect for the diversity of the specific content of their faiths, must set out to accomplish this fraternal collaboration with intensity and depth; the more they succeed in this task, the more meaningful their presence shall be for the Europe of the third millennium and for the role that Europe has towards the rest of the world.

Full lecture:
http://www.bc.edu/research/cjl/meta-elements/texts/center/conferences/Bea_Centre_C-J_Relations_04-05/Martini.htm

1 comment:

annely said...

We all used to be monkeys, I mean apes, and Africans brought civilization to Egypt and to the British Isles.