and “Significant Silence”
Pope Benedict’s latest statements on Jews and Conversion
By John Vennari
The overall thrust of Cardinal
Ratzinger/Pope Benedict’s writings over the years is that Catholics should not
necessarily try to convert Jews, but rather, Jews and Christian should be a
common witness “to the one God, Who cannot be adored apart from the unity of
love of God and neighbor, they should open the door into the world for this
Not Pursue Conversion of Jews, Pope Says”. This was the headline of a recent National Catholic Reporter story on the
Pope’s new book, Jesus of Nazareth Part
II: Holy Week. 
The Pope’s latest tome, which is the sequel to his earlier work Jesus of Nazareth Part I, has been hailed by the Vatican’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet as “an extraordinarily ecumenical book”  This is not surprising, as Pope Benedict is primarily an ecumenical theologian whose thought regarding members of non-Catholic religions is structured according to the new orientation of Vatican II.
Pope Benedict’s latest statements concerning the Jews are consistent with what appears in his books over the years, four of which we will spotlight, wherein he claims that today’s Jews and Christians share a “common mission” to bring God to the world.
His comments are consistent with his acts as Pope, such as changing the Old Liturgy’s Good Friday Prayer for the conversion of the Jews because it is “offensive to them”, and in his visiting three synagogues in the past six years.
His statements are consistent with what Thomistic theologian Father Edward Hanahoe warned was an inherent weakness in ecumenical theologians. In 1962, Father Hanahoe explained that the writings of ecumenical theologians often suffer from “significant silence” on key points of Catholic doctrine that interfere with their ecumenical designs. 
Benedict’s statements are consistent with what is implicit in the new teachings of Vatican II, made explicit by Pope John Paul II, and promoted in a 1985 Vatican document about the Jews.
Benedict’s words are also in line with the outcome of a little-known secret meeting between Jews and Vatican envoy Father Yves Congar during Vatican II, in which the Jews asked to be “completely rehabilitated” and “considered as brothers, partners in equal dignity,” even though Jews would maintain their rejection of Christ. As a result of this meeting, says Jewish writer Lazare Landau, “the Council granted our wishes.”
All of these points will be explained as we proceed.
The “Time of the Gentiles”
Pope Benedict’s words on the conversion of
the Jews are contained in the book’s Chapter 2, “Jesus’ Eschatological
Discourse”. It is his commentary on Our Lord’s prediction of the destruction of
the Temple and the end of the world, as recorded in Matthew 23-24 and Mark 13.
It is first necessary to take a brief look at Benedict’s statement regarding the “time of the Gentiles” to understand his position on the conversion of the Jews.
Benedict speaks of the “Time of the Gentiles” as a key concept for understanding the Church’s relationship with the Jews, and places great emphasis on Our Lord’s words: “And the Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached throughout the whole world, as a testimony to all nations; and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:14), and “The gospel must be first preached to all nations.” (Mark 13:10).
This span between Our Lord’s death and the preaching of the Gospel to the entire world, Benedict notes, will be followed by the conversion of Jews at the end of time. Here, he quotes St. Paul, “A hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved.”
Stating his belief that the early Church “was unable to access the chronological duration of these Times of the Gentiles”, he says there was the general conviction that this time period would be relatively short.
He then makes the curious statement that the zealous journeys of St. Paul were not so much for the conversion of individual souls, but for the Gospel to be preached to the entire world. Benedict writes, “The restlessness with which Paul journeyed to the nations, so as to bring the message to all and, if possible, to fulfill the mission within his own lifetime – this restlessness can only be explained if one is aware of the historical and eschatological significance of his explanation: ‘Necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel’ (I Cor. 9:16).”
Benedict then goes on to make the novel claim, “In this sense, the urgency of evangelization in the apostolic era was predicated not so much for each individual to acquire knowledge of the Gospel in order to attain salvation, but rather on this grand conception of history: if the world was to arrive at its destiny, the Gospel had to be brought to all nations.” 
It must be remembered that in these books, as he noted in Volume I of Jesus of Nazareth, the Pope is speaking as a private theologian and not authoritatively as head of the Church. His comments do not bind the faithful in any way. His statements and his outlook can be mistaken, especially if they conflict with the perennial magisterium of the centuries – which is the only measuring rod that counts.
Benedict’s claim that St. Paul did not spend himself primarily for the salvation of individual souls is open to grave doubt. We have Our Lord’s words in which He commanded his apostles, “Go ye into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” (Mark 16: 15-16). Conversion of souls is clearly the emphasis.
Likewise, St. Peter on Pentecost morning passionately urged the Jews in
On a similar note, Blessed Abbot Marmion, the great master of the Spiritual life, notes that it was the love of Christ and zeal for souls that impelled St. Paul to suffer untold hardships and suffering for his mission: “The charity of Christ presseth us. Therefore will I spend myself willingly without reserve, without counting the cost; I will consume myself for the souls won by Him (II Cor. 12:15).” 
These words indicate St. Paul’s primary motivation to be the salvation of individual souls, and not an eschatological vision of bringing about the fulfillment of the “time of the Gentiles” in his lifetime.
Thus one is puzzled to read Benedict’s words that Paul’s ardor and restlessness “can only be explained” by Paul’s zeal to fulfill an eschatological vision first, and the salvation of souls secondarily. Here, however, Benedict speaks more according to the pattern of an ecumenist, since ecumenical theologians seldom speak of the need for conversion of non-Catholics to the Catholic Church, but rather of a grand, yet-unspecified, ecumenical vision.
“The Church must not concern herself with the conversion of the Jews”
Torquemada, the great theologian of the Council of Florence, explained: “Thus
it is that
This brings us
to Benedict’s statements concerning the Jews, in which he says, “Here I should
like to recall the advice given by Bernard of Clairvaux to his pupil Pope
Eugene III on this matter. He reminds the Pope that his duty of care extends
not only to Christians, but ‘You also have obligations toward unbelievers,
whether Jew, Greek or Gentile.’ Then he immediately corrects himself and
observes more accurately: ‘Granted, with regard to the Jews, times excuses you;
for them a determined point in time has been fixed, which cannot be
anticipated. The full number of the Gentiles must come in first…’
He continues, “Hildegard Brem comments on this passage as follows: ‘In the light of Romans 11:25, the Church must not concern herself with the conversion of the Jews, since she must wait for the time fixed for this by God ‘until the full number of the Gentiles come in ‘ (Rom. 11:25). On the contrary, the Jews themselves are a living homily to which the Church must draw attention, since they call to mind the Lord’s suffering…” 
At this point, Benedict drops the topic of the conversion of the Jews, leaving Catholics to argue about what he really means. Does he mean the Church should not try to convert Jews at all, since they are not “rejected by God” and are bound to accept Christ at the end of time after the “time of the Gentiles”? Or does he mean that modern Jews still need to formally accept Christ and His Church for salvation, but the Church should not here and now launch a specific missionary enterprise for their conversion?
There are some who conclude that Benedict means the Church should not now commence a special crusade to convert Jews, and this is likely the context in which Hildegard Brem spoke. We know, for example, that during
Reading Joseph Ratzinger’s other writings on this topic, however, prevent us from arriving at such a benign conclusion. The writings of Joseph Ratzinger indicate that he sees no real need to try to convert Jews, and their salvation is not endangered by their rejection of Christ and by their adherence to modern Judaism.
Rather, he sees the conversion of the Jews at the end of time as somehow excusing us from trying to convert Jews here and now, and that today’s Jews have their own legitimate fidelity to God. In the spirit of Vatican II’s new interreligious orientation, he states that Jews and Christians must share a “common mission” to “be a witness to the one God” so as to “open the door into the world for this God…” 
This is the conclusion we are forced to when we read Pope Benedict’s Jesus of Nazareth in light of his previous books, Light of the World (2010), God and the World (2002) and Many Religions–One Covenant (1998).
The New Good Friday Prayer
of the World, released in late 2010, Pope Benedict explains that he
purposely changed the Old Liturgy’s Good Friday Prayer because Jews found it
offensive. He also invokes the fact, as he does in Jesus of Nazareth Part II, that the Jews are destined to convert
after the “Time of the Gentiles”.
When the interviewer asks Benedict why in February 2008 he changed the Old Good Friday prayer, he answers:
“…in the old liturgy this point seemed to me to require a modification. The old formulation really was offensive to Jews and failed to express the positively overall intrinsic unity between the Old and New Testament. I believed that a modification of this passage of the old liturgy was necessary, especially, as I have already said, out of consideration for our relation with our Jewish friends. I altered the text in such a way as to express our faith that Christ is the Savior for all, that there are not two channels of salvation, so that Christ is also the redeemer of the Jews, and not just of the Gentiles. But the new formulation also shifts the focus from a direct petition for the conversion of the Jews in a missionary sense to a plea that the Lord might bring about the hour in history when we may all be united.” 
Here we see the major points in Benedict’s thinking:
1) The ancient prayer of the Church for the conversion of Jews was not theologically correct and needed modification, as it failed to consider the “positive intrinsic unity” of the Old and New Testaments;
2) The prayer should be changed because it is “offensive to Jews”;
3) The focus of the Good Friday prayer is shifted from praying for the conversion “in a missionary sense” here and now, to “hasten the day” when the time of the Gentiles will be complete, “the hour in history” for the conversion of the Jews “when all may be united”; which is the same line he propounds in his latest book, Jesus of Nazareth, Part II;
4) There are not two channels of salvation, but one: Christ, who is ultimately the redeemer of Jew and Gentile alike.
This last point
on the centrality of Christ should not be viewed as some sort of
reestablishment of traditional teaching, since it is more in line with the new
approach to interreligious dialogue that even the arch-modernist Father Jacques
In 2003, at the interreligous conference in Fatima that I attended, I heard Jacques Dupuis state that the purpose of interreligious dialogue is to “make a Buddhist a better Buddhist, a Hindu a better Hindu”. Dupuis denounced the Council of Florence’s infallible statement on “outside the Church there is no salvation” as a “horrible text”.
But even Dupuis insisted that the salvation of the “others” (non-Catholics) ultimately comes through Christ and not by means of their own religion. Thus, when we look at the complete package of Benedict’s teaching on the centrality of Christ regarding Jews (whom he never says need to convert for salvation), we see it is more in line with the modernist Jacques Dupuis than with the Catholic magisterium of the centuries. Christ is their Ssavior, but there is no immediate need for these non-Catholics to convert to Christ’s one true Church to be saved.
We will observe the same line followed in the other books by Cardinal Ratzinger.
“They Are Not Excluded from Salvation”
In the 2002
book God and the World, the
interviewer asks if God has retracted his word to the Chosen People,
then-Cardinal Ratzinger responds that God has not retracted His word, and “as
Christians, we believe they will in the end be together with us in
Christ. But they are not simply done with and left out of God’s plans; rather,
they still stand with the faithful covenant of God.” Thus we return to the
Jews’ conversion at the end of time as his focal point.
While reiterating the Catholic “belief” that Jews should accept Christ, the Cardinal never mentions consequences of the Jews’ disbelief, never states that their salvation is in the slightest jeopardy. He reiterates that Christ is the Messiah of the Jews as well.
When the interviewer quotes St. Paul’s statement on the Jews’ “hardness of heart” and St. Paul’s statement that Jews are both “enemies of the Gospel” and “beloved of God”, Cardinal Ratzinger responds:
“On the one hand, their No to Christ brings the Israelites into conflict with the subsequent acts of God, but at the same time we know they are assured of the faithfulness of God. They are not excluded from salvation, but they serve salvation in a particular way, and thereby they stand within the patience of God, in which we, too, place our trust.” 
Thus we see the same themes as in Jesus of Nazareth Part II. Today’s Jews reject Christ, but they are not excluded from salvation,  and we take comfort in the fact that “they will in the end be together with us in Christ.” Again, no mention of the need for today’s Jews to convert for salvation.
arrive at Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1998 Many
Religions – One Covenant: Israel, the
Church and the World. Here we read the Cardinal discussing the relationship
between today’s Christians and Jews.
The Cardinal lays emphasis on Our Lord’s mission of “unification” and “reconciliation”, that the “mission of Jesus is to unite Jews and pagans into a single People of God in which the universalist promises of the Scriptures are fulfilled that speak again and again of the nations worshipping the God of Israel.” 
This means that “all nations, without abolishment of the special mission of Israel, become brothers and receivers of the promises of the Chosen People; they become People of God with Israel through adherence to the will of God and through acceptance of the Davidic Kingdom”. 
One would like to think this is a roundabout way of Cardinal Ratzinger stating that the unification and reconciliation of Christ is that Jews would abandon their false religion and adhere to the one true Church of God, but again, the Cardinal’s own words prevent us from accepting this interpretation.
The Cardinal goes on to say that the “present responsibility of Jews and Christians in the modern world” consists in “representing the truth of the one will of God before the world and thus placing man before his inner truth…” The Cardinal continues to speak of Jews and Christians as having a common religious mission: “Jews and Christians must bear witness to the one God, to the creator of heaven and earth.”
He closes his chapter by intensifying his position regarding the “large question of the common mission of Jews and Christians in the modern world.” He says, “Jews and Christian should accept each other in profound inner reconciliation, neither in disregard of their faith nor in denying it, but out of the depth of faith itself. In their mutual reconciliation, they should become a force for peace in and for the world. Through their witness to the one God, who cannot be adored apart from the unity of love of God and neither in disregard of their faith, nor in denying it, but out of the depth of faith itself. In their mutual recognition, they should become a force for peace in and for the world… , they should open the door into the world for this God so that His will may be done…” 
By all appearances, we cannot help but conclude that Benedict sees Jews and Christians having a common mission to bring God to mankind and peace to the world. We never see any mention of the need of Jews to convert to the Church for salvation. Rather, we are left to draw the opposite conclusion.
How contrary are Cardinal Ratzinger’s words to the teaching of Pope Pius VII, who in his Encyclical Letter Post tam diuturnas, denounced the new concept of religious liberty: “By the fact that the indiscriminate freedom of all forms of worship is proclaimed, truth is confused with error, and the Holy and Immaculate Spouse of Christ is placed on the same level as heretical sects and even as Jewish perfidy [faithlessness]”. 
Pius VII as every Pope prior to Vatican II, would have condemned the notion that Christian and Jews have a “common mission” to bring God to the world, which places the “spotless bride of Christ on the same level as Jewish faithlessness”; and would have condemned the notion that we should quietly abandon any mention of the need that Jews convert to the Catholic Church.
Yet the new idea that Jews and Christians have a “common mission” and are “partners of equal dignity” in leading the world to God harkens back to the little-known meeting between Jews and Vatican envoy Congar that occurred at the time of Vatican II.
Rome’s Secret Accord with Jewish Leaders
During Vatican II, Father Yves
Congar, acting as official Vatican envoy, met with Jews in France to ask
them what they wanted. The Jews answered they wanted considered as “brothers,
partners equal in dignity”. Lazare Landau writes, “the Council granted our wishes”. Since
then, two new concepts have emerged in the Church’s relations with Jews; the
notion of “praying to the same Lord”,
and that of a “common mission” to bring God to the world.
early days of the Second Vatican Council, a secret meeting took place between
the Holy See and a group of Jews. It was a kind of “Vatican-Moscow” agreement
applied to the Synagogue. The Vatican-Moscow agreement was a secret pact
between Vatican and the Kremlin made in 1962 wherein in exchange for Russian
Orthodox observers to be present at the Council, John XXIII guaranteed that
Vatican II would contain no condemnation of Communism. 
News of the pact between Moscow and the Vatican is now widely publicized. The Vatican’s secret accord with Jewish leaders is not so well known.
The meeting concerning the Jews took place around 1962-63, and was recounted by the Jewish writer Lazare Landau in the French journal Tribune Juive (number 903), dated January 17-23, 1986. Pope John XXIII had entrusted these negotiations to Cardinal Bea, who at the time was the Pope’s point man for ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.
Landau writes of Bea: “He sent secret emissaries to the Jewish communities to find out what they wanted. Thus, the Jews of Strasbourg received the Reverend Father Congar, OP, who came, shrouded in mystery, to the synagogue, where he listened for two hours as the community leaders explained their grievances.”
This was the origin of the “new perspective” that would be imposed on Catholic doctrine, which was, as Jean Madiran notes, that “we must no longer speak of the infidelity of
Lazare Landau went into much more detail about this meeting in number 1001 of Tribune Juive, dated December 25-31, 1987. Landau reveals:
a misty, freezing winter’s evening in 1962-1963, I went to the Centre
communautaire de le Paix [Peace Community Center] at Strasbourg in response to
an extraordinary invitation. The Jewish leaders were holding a secret meeting
in the basement with the envoy of the Pope. At the conclusion of the Sabbath, a
dozen of us were there to welcome a white-robed Dominican, the Reverend Yves
Congar, whom Cardinal Bea, in the name of John XXIII had charged with asking
us, on the eve of the Council, what we expected from the Church...
“The Jews, kept apart from Christian society for nearly twenty centuries, and often treated as underdogs, enemies and deicides, asked to be completely rehabilitated. As descendants in the direct lineage from the monotheistic stock of Abraham, where Christianity arose, they asked to be considered as brothers, partners equal in dignity, of the Christian Church…
“The white messenger, divested of any symbol or adornment, returned to Rome taking with him innumerable petitions in harmony with our own. After difficult debate … the Council granted our wishes.
“Homilies and catechisms changed in a few short years. In France, the flower of this renewed doctrine was presented by the Editions du Centurion under the name: The Faith of Catholics. The French episcopate, in the person of L.A. Elchinger, Bishop of Strasbourg, played a decisive part in the presenting of the contemporary ‘Jewish Question’ at the Council. The clergy readily adopted the conciliar decisions. This attitude found powerful backing in the ‘Pastoral Orientations’ of the Episcopal committee for relations with Judaism, published by the French Episcopal Conference on April 16, 1973.
“In the Vatican itself, this current of thought received endorsement from a most eminent quarter. On October 4, 1983, in front of Pope John Paul II and the World Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Etchegaray, the minister of the Holy See, made a ringing declaration that resolved all the Jewish ‘problems’ in two points:
A total definitive reconciliation with
Judaism and the Jews;
2. Repentance and pardon to be sought for the wrongs committed in the past.
“Since the secret visit from Father Congar in a concealed part of the synagogue, on a cold winter’s night, the Church’s doctrine has indeed undergone a total change.” 
Jean Madiran noted that Father Congar would never confirm or deny that this meeting took place. What is most important, however, is that we see the consequences of Landau’s report unfolding from the time of the Council to the present.
Vatican II, John Paul II
We saw the
beginning of this “total change” in Vatican II’s Nostrae Aetate, wherein we read in the Fourth Chapter: “Given the
great spiritual heritage common to Christians and Jews, it is the wish of this
Sacred Council to foster and recommend a mutual knowledge and esteem … the Jews should not be presented as rejected
by God or accursed, as though this followed from Scripture.”
Pope John Paul II, in his first address said that he considered it his “primary duty” to “favor the development of Conciliar attitudes”, so that “what was ‘implicit’” in the Council “should be made explicit”. True to his word, he took the Council’s teaching on the Jews to its logical conclusion, making explicit what was implicit.  Space only permits us to note a few of many examples, not the least of which his being the first Pope to visit a Synagogue as an ecumenical gesture, not as a mission for conversion.
At a 1982 meeting in
He continued, “Our common spiritual inheritance [Christians and Jews] is particularly significant at the level of our faith in a single God, one, good and merciful, who loves them and leads them to love Him, the master of history and of the destiny of mankind, who is our Father and who chose Israel, the cultivated olive-tree onto which has been grafted the wild-olive branch of the Gentiles.” 
Commenting on this speech, French writer Jean Madiran noted, “We have two new ideas, then: those of the same God, and of close collaboration, two ideas which seem to derive from the logic of the Council, though the Council text did not go so far as spelling them out so clearly.” 
It is a case where John Paul II made explicit what was implicit in the Council.
Our Churchmen’s new attitude toward the Jews was made even more explicit in the 1985 Notes for a Correct Presentation of Jews and Judaism in the preaching and Catechesis of the Catholic Church”, a Vatican document approved by John Paul II who “ratified it as being in line with his own thinking in his speech of October 28, 1985.” 
Though much could be said about this document, a key quotation reveals the fuller import of the notion of the “same God” and “close collaboration”. The Notes say:
“Attentive to the same God who has spoken, hanging on the same word, we have to witness to one same memory and one common hope in Him who is the master of history. We must also accept our responsibility to prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah by working together for social justice, respect for the rights of persons and nations and for social and international reconciliation. To this we are driven, Jews and Christians, by the command to love our neighbor, by a common hope for the Kingdom of God and by the great heritage of the Prophets. Transmitted soon enough by catechesis, such a conception would teach young Christians in a practical way to cooperate with Jews, going beyond simple dialogue.” 
Here we see in
the 1985 Vatican Notes the emergence
of notion of “common mission” between Jews and Catholics to a worldly goal that
could be propounded by the Masonic Lodge or the United Nations: “working
together for social justice, respect for the rights of persons and nations and
for social and international reconciliation.” We are also stunned at the idea that the
document puts on the same level those who have accepted the true Messiah, and
those who have rejected the true Messiah, claiming that we should jointly
“prepare the world for the coming of the Messiah”.
This document as well as the ecumenical orientation behind it passes over in “significant silence” the very words of Our Lord who said to the Jews of his day:
• “You are from beneath, I am from above. You are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you, that you shall die in your sins. For if you do not believe that I am He [the Son of God], you will die in your sins.” (John 8:23-24).
• “If God were your Father, you would indeed love Me. For from God I proceeded, and came; for I came not of Myself, but He sent Me.” (John 8:42)
• “He who honereth not the Son, honerteh not the Father, who hath sent Him” (John 5:23) )(Thus, Jews and Christians do not worship the same God).
Cardinal Ratzinger was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith when these Notes were published, and there is no record he offered any such correction to this document. Rather, as his books indicate, we see the thought-pattern in the Notes emerge as his own thinking regarding the Church’s new relationship with the Jews.
New Catechism, Synagogue Visits
As we proceed quickly through the years – a detailed
history of which would require a book-length treatment – we see the new
attitude towards the Jews reflected in the 1993 Roman Catechism,  and in Pope Benedict’s visits to three
At the Rome synagogue in 2010, Pope Benedict said, “Christians and Jews share to a great extent a common spiritual patrimony, they pray to the same Lord,  they have the same roots, and yet they often remain unknown to each other. It is our duty, in response to God’s call, to strive to keep open the space for dialogue, for reciprocal respect, for growth in friendship, for a common witness in the face of the challenges of our time, which invite us to cooperate for the good of humanity in this world created by God, the Omnipotent and Merciful.”
Again we confront the points of “praying to the same God”, of “common mission”, and of Jews and Christians, in the words of Landau, “considered as brothers, partners in equal dignity,”
Thus we better understand Pope Benedict’s latest statements concerning the conversion of the Jews. As noted in the beginning of this article, the new approach to the Jews was inaugurated at Vatican II, in response to the secret meeting wherein Jews asked that they be “completely rehabilitated” (and “the Council granted our wishes”). We see the implicit teaching of Vatican II made explicit by Pope John Paul II in his words, his actions and in the 1985 Notes on the Jewish people published with his full approval.
We likewise see the consistent thought of Benedict XVI regarding Jews and Catholics having a “common mission” to bring God to the world, with no need to try to convert Jews since they are destined to convert after the “time of the Gentiles”. This is reflected in Pope Benedict’s 2008 Good Friday prayer for the Tridentine Mass wherein we do not pray that God may “remove the blindness” that prevents Jews from formally accepting Christ, but that God may “propitiously grant that as the fullness of the Gentiles enters Thy Church, all Israel be saved.”
This is the thinking manifest in the Pope’s Jesus of Nazareth, Part II. His thought pattern is based primarily on the ecumenical orientation of Vatican II and its subsequent developments.
Ecumenism and “Significant Silence”
In 1962, the
eminent Thomistic theologian Father Edward Hanahoe warned against the new
ecumenical theologians who place ecumenism as the final goal of theological
reasoning, rather than the true ecclesiology taught by the Church for
centuries. In other words, for the ecumenists, theology is not meant to serve
the traditional Church teaching, but to serve the new ecumenical orientation
and whatever favors it.
Among many aspects of this problem, Father Hanahoe speaks of a common flaw found in ecumenical theologians, wherein they engage in “significant silence” on those points of Catholic doctrine that may put a crimp in their ecumenical designs.
Father Hanahoe also notes that these ecumenical theologians will often act as if the magisterium has not spoken definitively on these crucial points of doctrine. He quotes Leo XIII’s warning in his Letter against Americanism: “Far be it, then, for anyone to diminish or for any reason whatever to pass over anything of this divinely delivered doctrine.” 
As much as we would wish the contrary, we see Pope Benedict engaging in “significant silence” and passing over crucial points of “divinely delivered doctrine” in order to cling to the new Conciliar position regarding our alleged “common mission” with Jews that plays down their need to convert.
We are struck by Pope Benedict’s “significant silence” concerning the following points of doctrine:
• Outside the Church there is
no salvation: The Council of Florence teaches infallibly "The Most Holy Roman Church firmly
believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the
Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, heretics, and schismatic can ever be partakers of eternal life, but
that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil and
his angels,’ (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her…” ;
This doctrine has been infallibly define three times and taught continually throughout the centuries by the ordinary magisterium, such as the repeated papal condemnations of religious indifferentism in the 19th Century, and by Pius XII’s Humani Generis. There is nothing cruel or “anti-semitic” about this dogma, as it has been taught by the Church since the time of Christ and flows from the words of Our Lord Himself: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved: but he that believeth not shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:16).
• Catholic Doctrine Cannot Change: It is the very nature of reality itself that objective truth cannot change. Thus what the Council of Florence defined is infallibly true for all time. Even a Pope cannot alter it.  And Vatican II, which is only a pastoral Council that formally defined nothing, cannot change doctrine at all.  Further, Vatican I formally stamped out any idea of an “evolution of doctrine” when it taught that we are bound to believe Catholic doctrine “in the same meaning and in the same explanation” of what the Church always taught without change. Vatican I further taught infallibly, “The meaning of Sacred Dogmas, which must always be preserved, is that which our Holy Mother the Church has determined. Never is it permissible to depart from this in the name of a deeper understanding.” 
• The Old Covenant is Superseded by the New: Thus one can no longer speak of Jews as having their own covenant with God, or exercising some sort of fidelity in light of the fact of their once-held status as the Chosen People. 
The eminent theologian Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton explains the perennial Catholic teaching on this matter that the word “Church” has one meaning. It is the Kingdom of God on earth; the people of the Divine Covenant, the true Israel of God, the one social unit outside of which salvation cannot be found. Prior to the coming of Christ, this ecclesia, this people of the Divine Covenant had been the people of Israel. But when they rejected Our Lord Jesus Christ, they lost their status as the true Israel of God. Modern-day Jews cannot truly be considered sons of Abraham, since they have forsaken the Faith of Abraham in regard to Jesus Christ our Redeemer. 
Thus, to speak as if today’s Jews have no need to convert is contrary to Scripture, contrary to the infallible Catholic doctrine of the centuries, and a supreme lack of charity. Jews, as well as all non-Catholics, need to be told in Christ-like charity, and with no bitterness, that it is crucial for them to accept Christ and His Catholic Church as the one and only means established by God for salvation.
In doing this, one can readily adopt the gentle wording of the moral theologian Father Francis Connell who said in 1944 that Catholics need to be instructed to tell non-Catholics when asked that “we consider them deprived of the ordinary means of salvation, no matter how excellent their intentions.” 
• The Doctrine of the Two Kingdoms: Our Catholic Faith has always taught that all of mankind is divided into two Kingdoms. As Leo XIII teaches in Humanum Genus, from the time of Adam, mankind “separated into two diverse and opposite parts,” the one that holds steadfastly for truth, and the other of those that are contrary to virtue and to truth. “The one is the kingdom of God on earth, namely, the true Church of Jesus Christ; and those who desire from their heart to be united with it, so as to gain salvation … The other is the kingdom of Satan, in whose possession and control are all whosoever follow the fatal example of their leader and of our first parents, those who refuse to obey the divine and eternal law…” 
Every man on earth is part of one of these two kingdoms. There is no third alternative.
Unfortunately – speaking in the objective order — all who are separated from the Church are part of the Kingdom of Satan, whether they recognize it or not. They are outside the reality of sanctifying grace, and membership in our Lord’s ecclesia.
Msgr. Fenton explains, “In rejecting the Redeemer Himself, the social unit [the old Jewish religious commonwealth] had automatically rejected the teaching God had given about Him. The rejection of this message constituted an abandonment of the Divine Faith itself. By manifesting this rejecting of the faith, the Jewish religious unit fell from its position as the company of the chosen people. It was no longer God’s ecclesia, His supernatural kingdom on earth. It became part of the kingdom of Satan.” 
Fenton continues, “At the moment of Our Lord’s death on Calvary, the moment when the old dispensation was ended and the Jewish religious association ceased to be the supernatural kingdom of God on earth, this recently organized society of Our Lord’s disciples began to be the supernatural Kingdom of God on earth, this recently organized society of Our Lord’s disciples began to exist as the ecclesia, or the kingdom.” 
Pretending modern-day Jews enjoy some of third alternative of fidelity to God is a rupture with the teaching of the Sacred Scripture and with Catholic doctrine of all time. The true doctrine of the Catholic Church throughout the centuries cannot be denounced as being somehow cruel or “anti-Semitic”, for to accuse God and His beautiful Divine Revelation as cruel is a manifestation of blasphemy.
We must continue to pray for Pope Benedict that he may no longer maintain “significant silence” on these crucial points of Catholic truth for the sake of a new ecumenical construct, but state them openly as the duty of his office demands. And we pray that God may soon send us a Pope who will return to the traditional teachings reiterated above that one no longer hears from today’s Church leaders.
the meantime, Catholics faithful to Tradition must remain steadfast to true
Catholic doctrine even if those in the highest places have cashed in the
genuine Catholic coin for the counterfeit currency of ecumenical theology.
In resisting these novel teachings, we display ourselves as faithful Catholics, following the command of the Athanasian Creed to “keep the Catholic Faith whole and inviolate” We also follow the instruction of Pope Innocent III who taught that if even a Pope departs from the universal teaching and customs of the Church, “he need not be followed” on these points.  Saint Robert Bellarmine adds that such a Pope must also be respectfully resisted. 
Let us heed the directive of Our Lady of Fatima to “pray a great deal for the Holy Father”.
And let us pray daily the Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart of Jesus promulgated by Pope Pius XI for the Feast of Christ the King, in which we beseech Our Lord to “Turn Thine eyes of mercy towards the children of that race, once Thy chosen people: of old they called down upon themselves the Blood of the Savior; may it now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life.”
1. “Church Should
Not Pursue Conversion of Jews, Pope Says”, John Allen, National Catholic Reporter, March 10, 2010. Ibid. 22. Ibid., p. 5.
2. “Cardinal Affirms Ecumenical Nature of Pope’s Book”, Zenit, March 11, 2011.
3. In this presentation I am only going as far as Father Hanahoe; pointing out weaknesses and grave flaws in the ecumenical framework and among ecumenical theologians that lead to disastrous consequences. I am not accusing anyone of formal heresy. I am not a sedevacantist, and this piece should not be interpreted as an attempt to advance a sedevacantist position. I also repeat the strong words of Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton who said that a man who has sworn the Oath Against Modernism, and then advances Modernism himself, or allows Modernism to be advance “would mark himself not only as a sinner against the Catholic Faith but also as a common perjurer. "Sacrorum Antistitum and the Background of the Oath Against Modernism," Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, The American Ecclesiastical Review, October, 1960, pp. 259-260. Msgr. Fenton describes a key aspect of Modernism being the belief in “some transformation of the dogmatic message of the Church throughout the course of the centuries.” See “the Components of Liberal Catholicism”, Msgr. Fenton, American Ecclesiastical Review, July, 1958.
4. Jesus of
5. Christ in His Mysteries, Abbot Columba Marmion, [London: Sands & Co., 1939] p. 364.
6. Jesus of Nazareth Part II, Holy Week, pp. 44-45.
7. The Kingship of Christ and the Conversion of the Jewish Nation, Father Denis Fahey, C.S.Sp. [Originally published in 1953. Republished by Christian Book Club of
8. Many Religions – One Covenant, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1998], p. 45-46.
9. Light of the World, Benedict XVI, [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010] pp. 106-107.
10. See “Fatima to Become and Interfaith Shrine: An Account from One who was There”, John Vennari, Catholic Family News, December 2003. [Reprint #890 available from CFN for $3.00 postpaid This report and a number of reports about the interfaith activity at
11. God and the World, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger [San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2002], pp. 150-151. Emphasis added.
12. Whether or not an individual Jew by an extraordinary grace of God will convert at the last millli-second of his life is not what we are talking about (St .John Vianney mentions such an occurrence), nor are we suggesting the impossibility of Jews converting to Catholicism, which would be absurd. Rather, the ecumenical context in which the Cardinal makes his statement cannot help but give the impression he means the Jew need not convert to Christ’s one true Church for salvation.
13. Many Religions – One Covenant, p. 26.
14. Ibid., pp. 27-28.
15. Ibid., pp. 45-46
16. Pope Pius VII, Letter, Post tam diurturnas, quoted from The Kingship of Christ and Organized Naturalism, Father Denis Fahey, [Originally published in 1943. Republished by Christian Book Club of
17. Vatican-Moscow Agreement, Jean Madiran. The Fatima Crusader, No. 16. Sept.-Oct., 1984
18. Quoted directly form “Rome’s Secret Accord with Jewish Leaders”, Jean Madiran, Originally published in the Autumn 1990 issue of Madiran’s French journal Intineraires, published in English by Anthony Fraser’s Apropos, Supplement to Apropos No. 9 (not dated), pp. 4-6.. Emphasis added.
19. Pope John Paul II saw his primary task to further the progressivist agenda of Vatican II. On October 17, 1978, the newly- elected John Paul II said: “We consider it our primary duty to be that of promoting, with prudent but encouraging action, the most exact fulfillment of the norms and directives of the Council. Above all we must favor the development of Conciliar attitudes. First one must be in harmony with the Council. One must put into effect what was started in its documents; and what was ‘implicit’ should be made explicit in the light of the experiments that followed and in the light of new and emerging circumstances.” Quoted from Peter Hebblethwaite, “Pope John Paul II,” from a collection of essays entitled Modern Catholicism, Vatican II and After, edited by Adrian Hastings, (London: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 447. Emphasis added.
20. Quoted from “The Jewish Question in the Church”, Jean Madiran. Published in the French journal Itineraires, March 1986. Published in English by Hamish Fraser’s Approaches, “Supplement to Approaches No. 93, [not dated], p.4.
23. Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in Preaching and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church, 1985. Published by the
24. The 1993 Catechism says, “And when one considers the future, God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.” [#840]. The Catechism thus places on the same level those who accepted the true Messiah and those who rejected Him, claiming that awaiting Our Lord’s final coming at the end of time are similar goals. This is a monstrous ambiguity that causes tremendous confusion. On a similar note, Cardinal Ratzinger in Many Religions— One Covenant employs various sections of the New Catechism as a means of explaining the Church’s new relationship with Jews.
25. The first two were in Germany, August 19, 2005; and New York City, April 18, 2006. The third was the visit to the Rome Synagogue on January 17, 2010. Rabbi David Rosen, director of the American Jewish Committee’s Interreligious Affairs enthused, “With the visit to the synagogue Pope Benedict is institutionalizing revolutions. By visiting the Roman synagogue, Pope Benedict is making it difficult for subsequence Popes not to pay such a visit. John Paul’s  visit could a have been a one-off, but now with Benedict XVI’s visit, there is a sense of continuity.” “Pope to Make Symbolic Visit to
26. Speaking on the modernist notion that various religions worship the same God, the eminent theologian Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange explained that such a tenet denies the principle of non-contradiction, which is the most fundamental principle of reason. Father Garrigou-Lagrange explains, “It is injurious to say that God would consider with equanimity all religions while one teaches truth and one teachers error, when one promises the good and one promises the evil. To say this would be to affirm that God would be indifferent to good and evil, to what is honest and shameful.” De Revelatione, Father Garrigou-Lagrange, [Paris: Galbalda, 1921], Tome 2, p. 437. Quotes from “Christians, Muslims and Jews: Do we all Have the Same God?”, Father François Knittel, Christendom, November, December, 2007.
27. “Papal Address at Synagogue in Rome: ‘May These Wounds Be Healed Forever’”, Pope Benedict XVI, Zenit, Jan. 17, 2010.
28. “Ecclesiology and Ecumenism”, Part II, Father Edward Hanahoe, S.A., American Ecclesiastical Review, November, 1962.
29. The full quote reads: "The Most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews, heretics, and schismatics can ever be partakers of eternal life, but that they are to go into the eternal fire ‘which was prepared for the devil and his angels,’ (Mt. 25:41) unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this Ecclesiastical Body, that only those remaining within this unity can profit from the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and that they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, almsdeeds, and other works of Christian piety and duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved unless they abide within the bosom and unity of the Catholic Church."- Pope Eugene IV, Council of Florence, Feb. 4, 1442.
30. The dogmatic Vatican I proclaimed de fide, that not even a Pope may preach a new doctrine. Defining Papal Infallibility, Vatican I taught: “The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successor of Peter that by the revelation of the Holy Spirit they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the Apostles and the deposit of Faith, and might faithfully set it forth.”
31. The fact that Vatican II is inferior to a Dogmatic council is confirmed by the testimony of the Council Father, Bishop Thomas Morris. Now at his own request, this testimony was not unsealed until after his death: ”I was relieved when we were told that this Council was not aiming at defining or giving final statements on doctrine, because a statement on doctrine has to be very carefully formulated and I would have regarded the Council documents as tentative and liable to be reformed." [Interview of Bishop Morris by Kiernon Wood, Catholic World News, Sept. 27, 1997.] Then there is the important testimony from the Council's Secretary, Archbishop (later Cardinal) Pericle Felici. At the close of Vatican II, the bishops asked Archbishop Felici for that which the theologians call the "theological note" of the Council. That is, the doctrinal "weight" of Vatican II's teachings. Felici replied: "We have to distinguish according to the schemas and the chapters those which have already been the subject of dogmatic definitions in the past; as for the decelerations which have a novel character, we have to make reservations."[Open Letter to Confused Catholics, Archbishop Lefebvre, Kansas City, Angelus Press, 1992), p. 107].
32. Vatican I, Session III, Chap. IV, Dei Filius / Vatican I’s Dei Filius also teaches infallibly “let therefore the understanding, the knowledge and the wisdom of individual men, and of all men, of one man, and of the entire Church, grow and advance greatly and powerfully, over the course of the years and the ages, but only in its own class, in the same dogma, with the same meaning and in the same explanation.” The Oath Against Modernism brings out the same truth. The man who takes this Oath makes the following promise, “I sincerely receive the doctrine of faith handed down to us from the Apostles through the orthodox Fathers, with the same meaning and the same explanation; and consequently I completely reject the heretical fiction of an evolution of dogma, changing from one meaning to another, different from that which the Church first held.” Translation from “Two Statements About the Necessity of the Catholic Church for the Attainment of Eternal Salvation,” Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, American Ecclesiastical Review, June 1962, p. 408.
33. It should be noted that in Many Religions— One Covenant, Cardinal Ratzinger actually says that “the Sinai Covenant is indeed superseded” (p. 70), but then goes on to change the emphasis and thus refuses to draw the implications from this supersession in the manner that the Catholic Church has taught throughout the centuries. For example, he never draws the realistic conclusion as Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton explains it.
34. American theologian Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton explains, “The new organized or visible society [of Christ] continued its profession of the divine faith when the other social unit, the old Jewishh religious commonwealth, abandoned that faith in repudiating the divine Redeemer. Thus the older social unite lost its status as the ecclesia or kingdom of God on earth while the new organization, the faithful remnant of Israel, went on to be the ecclesia in a much more compete and perfect sense than the other had ever been.” Quoted from “The Meaning of the Word ‘Church’”, Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton, American Ecclesiastical Review, October, 1954.
35. “Communication with Non-Catholics in Sacred Rites,” Father Francis Connell, C.Ss.R., American Ecclesiastical Review, September, 1944.
36. Humanum Genus, On Freemasonry, Pope Leo XIII, April 20, 1884.
37. The Catholic Church and Salvation, Msgr. Joseph Clifford Fenton [Westiminster: Newman Press, 1958] pp. 138-139.
38. Ibid. p. 139.
39. Juan Cardinal de Torquemada (1388-1468) was a revered medieval theologian responsible for the formulation of the doctrines that were defined at the Council of Florence. Cardinal Torquemada teaches: “Were the Pope to command anything against Holy Scriptures, or the articles of faith, or the truth of the sacraments, or the commands of the natural or divine law, he ought not to be obeyed, but in such commands he is to be disregarded. Citing the doctrine of Pope Innocent III, Cardinal Torquemada further teaches: “Thus it is that Pope Innocent III states (De Consuetudine) that it is necessary to obey the Pope in all things as long as he, himself, does not go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, he need not be followed ...” Sources: Summa de ecclesia (Venice: M. Tranmezium, 1561). Lib. II, c. 49, p. 163B. The English translation of this statement of Juan de Torquemada is found in Patrick Granfield, The Papacy in Transition (New York: Doubleday, 1980), p. 171. And in Father Paul Kramer, A Theological Vindication of Roman Catholic Traditionalism, 2nd ed. (Kerala, India), p. 29.
40. Saint Robert Bellarmine, the great champion of the Counter-Reformation, teaches: : "Just as it is licit to resist the Pontiff that aggresses the body, it is also licit to resist the one who aggresses the souls or who disturbs civil order, or, above all, who attempts to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and preventing his will from being executed; it is not licit, however, to judge, punish or depose him, since these are acts proper to a superior." De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, chap. 29, in Opera omnia, Neapoli/Panormi/Paris: Pedone Lauriel, 1871, vol. I, p. 418
22. Ibid., p. 5.
March 28, 2011
taken from the forthcoming April 2011 edition of
Catholic Family News
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