Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why Are the Pope's Words on the Jews Important?

Jesuit Fr. James Martin, the well-known author and frequent television guest commentator, outlines the importance of the Pope's words in Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week.
So what is the value of the pope’s words?  The importance, it seems to me, is fivefold.
First, Pope Benedict’s book underlines even further the Catholic church’s belief that “the Jews” are not responsible for the death of Jesus.  That is, it is an important reminder from the pontiff, and an especially timely one, given the approach of Passover and Easter.

Second, the pope’s book elaborates these ideas in ways that may be more helpful for the average reader than Nostra Aetate, which could not delve deeply into the lengthy textual analysis of the Gospels.  (The documents of Vatican II also read like the definitive pronouncements they are, a style perhaps not as inviting to readers as the personal reflection.)  Of course many other Catholic Biblical scholars before and since Vatican II have analyzed the Gospels to conclude that, in short, the Romans and a few Jewish leaders acting together were primarily responsible for the crucifixion.  You can find careful analyses of the Gospel accounts of the Passion in hundreds of scholarly books, academic treatises and Scripture commentaries; but many are not quite as clear as the pope’s presentation, nor are some written for the non-specialist.
Read more at America Magazine online....

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