As 50th anniversary of historic document approaches, local Catholics and Jews celebrate, seek to deepen dialogue

| Father Erich Rutten and Steve Hunegs | May 20, 2014 | 0 Comments

This week, Pope Francis is making a historic pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The visit comes as we approach the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Church’s affirmation of kinship with the Jewish people in the document “Nostra Aetate” (“In Our Time”) promulgated at the Second Vatican Council.

We write as brothers to invite Catholics and Jews across the Twin Cities to celebrate this special moment and to deepen your engagement in interfaith dialogue.

“Nostra Aetate” inaugurated a remarkable upward trajectory of friendship between our two faith traditions. Meeting in the shadow of the Holocaust, and only 20 years after the end of World War II, “Nostra Aetate” formally established a new baseline of respect among Catholics for Judaism. Not surprisingly, the impact of this has reached Protestants and other Christians as well.

The impact of this document in the years since merit consideration: Anti-Semitism has been condemned as a sin against God; deicide — collective Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus — has been repudiated; the uninterrupted Jewish Covenantal relationship with God has been reaffirmed.

Indeed, Jews are recognized with honor as the older brothers in faith with Christians.

With increasing confidence and joy, every pope since 1965 has helped to give tangible life to the words of “Nostra Aetate.” Pope Francis is following in these papal footsteps. As cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, he presided over the annual commemoration of the Kristallnacht and authored with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who will accompany Francis to Israel, a Catholic-Jewish dialogue on theological issues. He is also well known for his personal relationships with Jewish friends in Argentina.

As pope, he continues to boldly call for friendship and dialogue among people across the globe and of all faith traditions. He is demonstrating this in his plans to meet in significant ways with Jews, Muslims and Orthodox Christians during his trip to the Holy Land.

Here in the upper Midwest, the impact of “Nostra Aetate” continues to be felt. Ongoing relationship building has borne fruit in religious, academic and neighborhood settings.

These include the founding of the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, the visit of Catholic Bishop Lee Piché to Beth El Synagogue, and the 2011 “Standing Together” interreligious event at the State Capitol, just to name a few.

In celebrating the 50th anniversary of “Nostra Aetate” and Pope Francis’ pilgrimage to Israel, we have a wonderful opportunity to give thanks for this interreligious fruit and to build for the future.

We invite you to join the Roman Catholic community of Minnesota and the Dakotas — partnering with the Jewish community (the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas and the Minnesota Rabbinical Association) — to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “Nostra Aetate” and the future of interreligious relations in the upper Midwest.

Father Rutten is the Archdiocesan officer for ecumenical and inter-religious affairs. Hunegs is the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.


Upcoming projects and programs

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, the Minnesota Rabbinical Association and the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning at the University of St. Thomas and St. John’s University are partnering on the following projects and programs:

  • The archdiocese and the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas are hosting a special banquet on Oct. 28, 2015, to mark the anniversary of the promulgation of “Nostra Aetate” and to celebrate our local relationships.
  • The Jay Phillips Center is sponsoring an academic symposium to explore the interreligious legacy of “Nostra Aetate.” Papers will be presented on a variety of subjects related to the last 50 years of dialogue among all faiths.
  • The archdiocese, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, the Minnesota Rabbinical Association and the Minnesota Council of Churches is coordinating a series of community exchanges that are anticipated to take place in the fall of 2015 between Christian and Jewish congregations.
  • The archdiocese, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas, and the Minnesota Council of Churches are encouraging communities throughout Minnesota and the Dakotas to honor this anniversary at the local level.

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