Mary and the Dialogue With Judaism

Archbishop Gioia Highlights Common Roots of Judaism and Christianity

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ROME, JUNE 2, 2003 ( The descendants of Abraham and the followers of Christ have much in common, notes a Vatican official.

«‘Mary’ and ‘Jesus’ are expressions of the oldest Judaic biblical tradition,» said Archbishop Francesco Gioia, president of the Pilgrimages to the See of Peter. «The common roots between the descendants of Abraham and the followers of Christ are greater than the differences and divergences.»

The archbishop was addressing the role of the Blessed Virgin in the dialogue with Judaism. He deals with the issue in the book «Mary, Mother of the Word, Model of Dialogue Between Religions,» published by Città Nuova.

«If the contemporary Judaic tradition was circumscribed to Christ and immediately after, harking back to the common origins, the possibilities for agreement would be multiplied,» the archbishop says.

«The God of Jesus is the same God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, ‘the God of our fathers,'» he observes. «For this reason, the usual expression: ‘We all have the same God,’ is valid without a single reservation, both for the children of Israel as well as for the followers of Christ. Sinai is the sacred mountain and Jerusalem the holy city for one and all.»

For these reasons, «existing differences should be subordinated to the many points that unite to justify not only the dialogue, but to establish an atmosphere of friendship. Deep down, in the declaration ‘Nostra Aetate,’ Vatican Council II, after underlining Mary’s Hebrew roots, attributed a new title to her, calling her ‘Exalted Daughter of Zion’ (‘Lumen Gentium,’ 55).»

In regard to the dialogue and, specifically, the figure of Mary, Archbishop Gioia maintains that «the dialogue between Christians and Jews up to now has concentrated on the figure of the Messiah, making only a few allusions to Mary.»

«In reality, Judaism is also overcoming the controversial phase, noted in the course of history, and that of silence, which for centuries has surrounded the Hebrew woman called Myriam,» he notes. «Avital Wohlmann, for example, professor at the University of Jerusalem, ‘accepts Mary as Jewish and rejects her as Christian.'»

«It is hoped, however, that Judaism will emerge from this situation,» the archbishop says. He continues: «An interesting testimony in this respect comes from Lea Sestieri Scazzocchio, a Jewish author who sees in Mary the ‘Daughter of Israel,’ the ‘religious woman without fault,’ the ‘virtuous and consecrated woman’ who ‘sings for Israel.’

«In one of her works, Lea Sestieri concludes writing: ‘Mary, a Jewish mother therefore? Without a doubt: in the faith, in the tragic sorrow faced with the death of her son; but also in the great messianic hope.'»

Archbishop Gioia concludes: «Pointing out to the faithful the heroic example of Edith Stein, the holy Carmelite victim of Nazi ferocity in Auschwitz, John Paul II said: ‘Jews and Christians cannot forget their singular brotherhood, which sinks its roots in the providential plan of God, which accompanies their history. Mary, Daughter of Zion and Mother of the Church, pray for us!'»

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