Vatican to Catholics: Stop Trying to Convert Jews

Help them fight anti-Semitism instead: new report
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 11, 2015 10:40 AM CST
Vatican to Catholics: Stop Trying to Convert Jews
Pilgrims and faithful crowd St. Peter's Square to attend a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The Vatican is taking steps toward fixing its long-troubled history with the Jewish faith with the Thursday release of a 10,000-word document that instructs Catholics to help Jews fight anti-Semitism instead of trying to convert them, Reuters reports. The Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews explained that Catholicism and Judaism shared the same origins and that "the Church is therefore obliged to view evangelization ... to Jews … in a different manner from that to people of other religions and world views." The document continues that "while affirming salvation through an explicit or even implicit faith in Christ, the Church does not question the continued love of God for the chosen people of Israel," NPR notes.

The report also broaches the Holocaust, noting Catholics should be more sensitive to perceptions that the Vatican looked the other way, as well as help combat anti-Semitism. "A Christian can never be an anti-Semite, especially because of the Jewish roots of Christianity," it reads. The new mandate falls in line with Pope Francis' other progressive policies, including steps on homosexuality and divorce. The Jewish director of Cambridge's Woolf Institute, which conducts interfaith research, emphasized that Catholic youth shouldn't be taught Christianity had "replaced and substituted" Judaism, Reuters notes. Both sides need to "ensure the transformation in relations is not limited to the elite, but extends from the citadels of the Vatican to the pews of the Church, as well as from the offices of the chief rabbis to the floors of our synagogues," he adds. (Francis had big things to say about fossil fuel emissions on Thanksgiving Day.)

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