Cardinal Kurt Koch says the Nostra Aetate declaration was a landmark in relations between the Catholic Church and other faiths.

According to an interview with Vatican Radio, the President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, which is also responsible for the Church’s dialogue with the Jewish people through its Commission for Relations with the Jews, made this statement after having attended a three-day conference on 'Nostra Aetate - Celebrating 50 years of the Catholic Church's Dialogue with Jews and Muslims.'  It was held at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC and concluded yesterday.

Nostra Aetate is a formal document of the Catholic Church drafted in 1965 that declares the relation of the Church with Non-Christian religions. One aspect of it speaks of the bond between Christians and Jews and states that the Jews cannot be blamed for Jesus’ death.The declaration condemns all types of anti-Semitism and is seen as having signaled a new starting point in the Church’s relations with Judaism.

In the interview, the cardinal also discussed the status of talks between the monotheistic faiths of Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam.

While the Church has ongoing bilateral talks with Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, the prelate stated, it may be too early to engage in a “trialogue” among the three.

“We don’t have trialogue,” he noted, "and for us it is too early to make this because sometimes we speak about an Abrahamitic ecumenism – this is very clear – it is a good issue.”

“But on the other hand, we have a very, very different interpretation of Abraham and we cannot deny this issue,” he said, underscoring that in interreligious discussion, “it is very important to treat also this difference that we have in the interpretation of Abraham.”

Responding to whether Muslim and Jewish religious leaders would be open to such a dialogue and if it could lead toward improved relations among the three religions, Cardinal Koch said that he hopes that they can go in this direction, but in every religion, there is opposition.

“We have open leaders, we have open Muslim leaders, we have open Christian leaders, but we have opposition in all the three religions.”

The Swiss cardinal also pointed out that in the Catholic Church there is opposition against Nostra Aetate.  “The same groups, they are against ecumenism, against interreligious dialogue, against the religious freedom declaration.  And I think that they are minorities,” he said. 

“We must go on the basis of the Second Vatican Council with the high authority of the Catholic Church and we cannot deny this very important influence.” (D.C.L.)


On the NET:

Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews (including link to Nostra Aetate):