“The Law does not give life, it does not offer the fulfillment of the promise, because it is not in the condition of being able to realize it. The Law is a path that leads to the encounter. ” This sentence uttered by Pope Francis surprised more than one Jewish official. On August 11, the Pope thus commented on Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, around which Catholics and Jews are accustomed to debate and controversy.
A little earlier, the Sovereign Pontiff also explained that the Torah, the sacred Jewish book composed of five books of the Hebrew Bible found in the Old Testament, could not be associated in any way. “Indissoluble” in the New Testament because this law was given to the Jews 430 years after Abraham. “God had offered the Torah, the Law, for [que le peuple juif] can understand his will and live righteously. Let us think that at that time there was a need for such a Law. ” The Letter to the Galatians divides Catholics and Jews, especially around the question of circumcision, “Which has no value” according to Saint Paul.
“Distress” and “concerns” of the Jewish authorities
These thoughts of the Pope did not go unnoticed, especially among those responsible for Jewish worship. In a letter to Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity (which includes a commission for dialogue with the Jews), Rabbi Ratzon Arusi, president of the Chief Rabbinate’s Commission for Dialogue with the Holy See, shared its “Concerns”.
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Reuters news agency was able to view the letter sent to the Vatican, requesting clarifications following his comments. Ratzon Arusi notably asks Cardinal Koch to “Relay his distress” with the pope and “Ensure that any derogatory conclusion drawn from this homily is clearly repudiated”.
“In his homily, the Pope presents the Christian faith not only as supplanting the Torah, but further asserts that the latter no longer gives life, which implies that the practice of the Jewish religion at the present time would be rendered obsolete., he is alarmed. This is indeed an integral part of the “teaching of contempt” towards the Jews and Judaism which we believed to have been fully repudiated by the Church. “
Reconciled after Vatican II
Relations between Jewish and Catholic authorities relaxed after 1965, when the Second Vatican Council refuted the guilt of the Jews in the death of Jesus, thus ushering in several decades of fruitful interfaith dialogue. Contacted by Reuters, Cardinal Koch’s office said it was considering the missive “Very seriously” and that he “Was thinking about an answer”. Several other influential rabbis also emphasized the character “Dangerous” words of the Pope, insinuating that catechesis could have been “ written by collaborators ” and wouldn’t have been “Correctly verified”.