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Its fourth article presents the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people in a new theological framework. The following reflections aim at looking back with gratitude on all that has been achieved over the last decades in the Jewish—Catholic relationship, providing at the same time a new stimulus for the future.
This document presents Catholic reflections on these questions, placing them in a theological context, in order that their significance may be deepened for members of both faith traditions. The text is not a magisterial document or doctrinal teaching of the Catholic Church, but is a reflection prepared by the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews on current theological questions that have developed since the Second Vatican Council.
It is intended to be a starting point for further theological thought with a view to enriching and intensifying the theological dimension of Jewish—Catholic dialogue. A brief history of the impact of "Nostra aetate" No.
This shift in the relations of the Church with the Jewish people and Judaism becomes apparent only when we recall that there were previously great reservations on both sides, in part because the history of Christianity has been seen to be discriminatory against Jews, even including attempts at forced conversion cf.
The background of this complex connection consists inter alia in an asymmetrical relationship: The dark and terrible shadow of the Shoah over Europe during the Nazi period led the Church to reflect anew on her bond with the Jewish people. The fundamental esteem for Judaism expressed in "Nostra aetate" No.
Therefore, the fourth article of "Nostra aetate" is recognised as the solid foundation for improving the relationship between Catholics and Jews.
For the practical implementation of "Nostra aetate" No. From a theological perspective it also makes good sense to link this Commission with the Council for Promoting Christian Unity, since the separation between Synagogue and Church may be viewed as the first and most far-reaching breach among the chosen people.
The crucial and new concern of this document consists in becoming acquainted with Judaism as it defines itself, giving expression to the high esteem in which Christianity holds Judaism and stressing the great significance for the Catholic Church of dialogue with the Jews, as stated in the words of the document: Reference is made in the text to the roots of Christian liturgy in its Jewish matrix, new possibilities are outlined for rapprochement in the spheres of teaching, education and training, and finally suggestions are made for joint social action.
With regard to the "land of the forefathers" the document emphasizes: A third document of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews was presented to the public on 16 March It deals with the Shoah under the title "We remember.
A reflection on the Shoah". This text delivers the harsh but accurate judgement that the balance of the —year relationship between Jews and Christians is regrettably negative.
It recalls the attitude of Christians towards the anti-Semitism of the National Socialists and focuses on the duty of Christians to remember the human catastrophe of the Shoah. In a letter at the beginning of this declaration Saint Pope John Paul II expresses his hope that this document will truly "help to heal the wounds of past misunderstandings and injustices.
May it enable memory to play its necessary part in the process of shaping a future in which the unspeakable iniquity of the Shoah will never again be possible. In the series of documents issued by the Holy See, reference must be made to the text published by the Pontifical Biblical Commission on 24 Maywhich deals explicitly with Jewish-Catholic dialogue: This represents the most significant exegetical and theological document of the Jewish-Catholic dialogue and is a treasure-trove of common issues which have their basis in the Scriptures of Judaism and Christianity.
The Sacred Scriptures of the Jewish people are considered a "fundamental component of the Christian Bible", the fundamental themes of the Holy Scripture of the Jewish people and their adoption into the faith in Christ are discussed, and the manner in which Jews are represented in the New Testament is illustrated in detail.
Texts and documents, as important as they are, cannot replace personal encounters and face—to—face dialogues. He was the first pope to visit the former concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau to pray for the victims of the Shoah, and he visited the Roman Synagogue to express his solidarity with the Jewish community.
In the context of an historical pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he was also a guest of the state of Israel where he participated in interreligious encounters, paid a visit to both Chief Rabbis and prayed at the Western Wall. Again and again he met with Jewish groups, whether in the Vatican or during his numerous apostolic journeys.
So too Benedict XVI, even before his election to the papacy, engaged in Jewish-Catholic dialogue by offering in a series of lectures important theological reflections on the relationship between the Old and the New Covenant, and the Synagogue and the Church.
Following his election and in the footsteps of Saint Pope John Paul II he fostered this dialogue in his own way by reinforcing the same gestures and giving expression to his esteem for Judaism through the power of his words.
Now as Pope he continues, at the international level, to intensify dialogue with Judaism through many friendly encounters. One of his first such encounters was in May in Israel, where he met with the two Chief Rabbis, visited the Western Wall, and prayed for the victims of the Shoah in Yad Vashem.
Since Judaism is multi-facetted and not constituted as an organisational unity, the Catholic Church was faced with the challenge of determining with whom to engage, because it was not possible to conduct individual and independent bilateral dialogues with all Jewish groupings and organisations which had declared their readiness to dialogue.
To resolve this problem the Jewish organisations took up the suggestion of the Catholic Church to establish a single organisation for this dialogue. In Februaryonce more in Paris, the ILC was able to look back with gratitude on 40 years of institutional dialogue.
Much has developed over the past 40 years; the former confrontation has turned into successful cooperation, the previous potential for conflict has become positive conflict management, and the past co—existence marked by tension has been replaced by resilient and fruitful mutuality.
The bonds of friendship forged in the meantime have proved to be stable, so that it has become possible to address even controversial subjects together without the danger of permanent damage being done to the dialogue. This was all the more necessary because over the past decades the dialogue had not always been free of tensions.
In general, however, one can observe with appreciation that in Jewish-Catholic dialogue since the new millennium above all, intensive efforts have been made to deal openly and positively with any arising differences of opinion and conflicts, in such a way that mutual relations have become stronger.
The first meeting was organised in June in Jerusalem, and since then such meetings have been conducted annually, taking place in Rome and Jerusalem alternately. The two delegations are relatively small so that a very personal and intensive discussion on various subjects is possible, such as on the sanctity of life, the status of the family, the significance of the Sacred Scriptures for life in society, religious freedom, the ethical foundations of human behaviour, the ecological challenge, the relationship of secular and religious authority and the essential qualities of religious leadership in secular society.
The fact that the Catholic representatives taking part in the meetings are bishops and priests and the Jewish representatives almost exclusively rabbis permits individual topics to be examined from a religious perspective as well.
The dialogue with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel has to that extent enabled more open relations between Orthodox Judaism and the Catholic Church at a global level.The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses writing resources and instructional material, and we provide these as a free service of the Writing Lab at Purdue.
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