02.08.2012 14.Aw. 5772
The effort to break the silence on Jews did not begin in the 1960s, as is commonly understood. Under the shadow of Nazism, Catholics had begun working on it three decades earlier.
Fifty years ago this fall, Catholic bishops gathered in Rome for a council that would bring the church “up to date” by making it speak more directly to the modern world. After three years of deliberation, the bishops voted on and accepted statements that permitted the faithful to attend mass in their own languages, encouraged lay reading of scripture and entreated Catholics to think of other religions as sources of truth and grace. The council referred to the church as “people of God” and suggested a more democratic ordering of relations between bishops and the pope. It also passed a statement on non-Christian religions, known by its Latin title, Nostra Aetate (“In our times”). Part four of this declaration, a statement on the Jews, proved most controversial, several times almost failing because of the opposition of conservative bishops….