Is the Catholic church changing its stand on actively proselytizing Jews?

Since finding this site, I have followed a number of links which were posted, to websites by Catholics of Jewish origin who seek to convert Jews to Catholicism. While their activity is limited or negligible, I do have one concern.

For 30 years I have been actively involved in both countermissionary efforts designed to educate Jews about evangelical Protestant efforts to convert them (who often do it via deception, such as posing as Jews.) But I have also been involved in Jewish-Christian ecumenical relations efforts, to gain better understanding between the Jewish and Christian faiths (most of our work has been with the Catholic church.)

This work has been relatively easy, for one major reason: for the past 40 years or so, the official Catholic church has been more moderate than they were before Vatican II, as far as the Jews is concerned. The church does not advocate actively singling out Jews for conversion, but believes in evangelizing all people, without targeting any one group as evangelicals often do.

Some of the sites I visited by Catholics of Jewish origin, say that they try to “stay under the radar of the antimissionaries” by not actively proselytizing Jews, but waiting until Jews come to them. (This is because they recognize that we only concern ourselves with Christians groups that actively target Jews for conversion.)

However, some of the other sites do seem to actively proselytize, and many in the Jewish community wonder if this new sea change in the Catholic church (becoming more conservative, more traditional) will also signal a change in Jewish-Catholic relations, including concerning their current stance on not singling out Jews for conversion.

So in brief, do you think the current changes going on toward a much more conservative church (under this new Pope) may signal problems for Jewish-Catholic relations?

First, I think you need to be careful about using words like “conservative.” The Pope is Catholic with everything that implies. And you’re talking about a pope who has visited synagogues, including on his visit to the United States. You’re talking about a pope who changed the Good Friday prayer so that it wouldn’t offend Jews. You’re talking about a pope who has been clear that the Jews are our ancestors in faith.

What actions has he taken that would lead you to see problems?

Actually, the Good Friday prayer was changed a long time ago to reflect some Jewish sensitivities, and this current Pope, from all reports, has changed it back. Or did something else happen since then that I’m not aware of?

Has anything else happened since this was published in March?,1518,542872,00.html

Personally I never saw what all the fuss was about it from the Jewish side…its only a prayer, and its only said on one day of the year (Tridentine Latin Rite), the one day the church does not have a Mass (Good Friday). And what Jews even hear it being said anyway?

And as a Jew, I know God will not answer such a prayer anyway, so…where’s the problem from the Jewish point of view?

(sorry, that’s a personal vent that I’ve expressed to other Jews as well, so don’t think its only you!)

My true concern is: if, as some on this forum say, the church is headed back toward a very traditional outlook as in before V2 (under this new Pope who is seen as very traditional), does that signal also a change in the attitude toward Jewish-Catholic relations and perhaps a new support of Catholic conversionary efforts directed at Jews (as it was before V2)?

I think relations may not be as warm as they were. But in reality, will this make a real difference to Jews? To the extent that antisemetism is on the rise, I don’t see it being caused by Catholics. In the U.S., it is my perception that the groups that hate jews generally have no love for Catholics either. I’m not sure if that is the same situatin in Europe. For example, are the large instances of violence toward Jews in France being attributed to catholics?

The prayer that was changed a long time ago concerned the prayer in the Novus Ordo Mass, now known as the ordinary form, and is still in use. Pope Benedict altered the Good Friday prayer in the Tridentine Mass, now known as the EF, which until that point still used the prayer which Jews found offensive. The new prayer still calls for conversion, but uses “softer” language.

I’m concerned not only with direct hatred, but with conversionary efforts toward Jews by the Catholic religion.

For the past 40 years, since Vatican II, the position of the church has been that no one group (including Jews) should be targeted for conversion. The church believes in universal evangelization, which means they evangelize all people, without singling out any one group (as evangelical Protestants tend to do, with their “missions to the Jews”, “missions to the Haitians” and so on.)

I am wondering if this will change, if the church goes back to being similar to the way they were prior to Vatican II. Before V2, the church even had a religious order of nuns designed to work for the conversion of Jews (Notre Dame de Sion)…after V2 their mission, as I understand it, was changed to pray and work for Jewish-Catholic relations instead.

Can you name some of those “other sites”? It might help me understand better what you are referring to…

By "the Catholic religion? Or by some groups of practicing Catholics? It may be slightly different, you know!

One footnote about that word “conversion”. It usually refers to turning away from a sinful life to embrace the ways of the Lord God, in the way Catholics would use it most often. It doesn’t necessarily involve a switch of religions, although at times it can.
The conversion that is essential is the one toward God Himself, at any rate, and this one is not optional to us Christians nor is it to religious Jews! (I meant to say just "Jews, but maybe atheist Jews would resent that?) Actually it should not be optional to anyone who wants to end up in true Happiness and Peace in the afterlife…

No, it will not shift back. There are lots of reasons for this, some theological, some more worldly.

Honestly, the conversion of the Jews is a minor blip on the radar. We need to focus on keeping Catholics Catholic, and evangelizing the world.

Personally, I pray for Jews to convert. I want an end to secular Judaism. All Jews should be more than genetic Jews.

Remnant of Israel is one, run by Mark and Elasah Drogin. The group was founded by the late Fr Arthur Klyber, a Catholic of Jewish origin who did believe in actively proselytizing Jews (I actually met Klyber back in 1978 when I first got involved in countermissionary work.)

There were a few others, I know Marty Barrack’s group claims they do not actively proselytize (only passively, in order to avoid the countermissionaries.)

I also pray for Jews to do teshuvah (repentance), and return to Torah Judaism. Until that happens, the Messiah will not come!

I also want an end to secular Judaism, but I want them to return to their true heritage and faith.

BTW I notice that Catholics speak of the “conversion” of Jews. Evangelicals (who have studied the Jews more, because they try to convert us more), know better than to say that to a Jew.

To a Christian, “conversion” means turning from sin. To a Jew, “conversion” means turning from his people to a false religion, becoming a traitor and going shmad (apostate.) It does not mean the same to a Jew as it does to a Christian, and evangelicals long ago recongized this, which is one reason why they started the “messianic” thing, to make Jews think they could “accept Jesus” (excuse me, Yeshua), and still be Jewish.

Evangelizing and proselytizing are they the same thing? Even when you are “targeting”? I want to see the distinction clearly…

This thread is nothing more than another bashing and misinformation from Hashem…don’t take the bait…

Well, I am using the Catholic Term, as I am Catholic. If they want to become Catholic, ok, but I want them all to turn from sin.:thumbsup:

Btw, FYI and “Did You Know” that on the Jewish side, it was Abraham Joshua Heshel who was instrumental in meeting with the Pope and having the liturgy changed to drop the “perfidous Jews” language…

“During the Second Vatican Council in Rome (1962-1965), Heschel met Pope Paul VI and helped pave the way for the historic “Nostra Aetate” Declaration that forever changed Catholic-Jewish relations. It was Heschel who persuaded the pope to delete a proposed paragraph that referred to converting Jews to Christianity.”

I didn’t know that! Thanks for posting about it, I was unaware.

What I find sad sometimes, is that Catholic leaders had to be asked to drop these kinds of things. Why didn’t they think to do it on their own?

I’ve mentioned the Jewish Renewal Movement before, which I recently discovered. One reason why I went in search of a movement like them, is because they appeal to both tradiitonal and non-traditional Jews, but they do not include in their liturgy anything that might offend non-Jews.

For example, they have changed any references mentioning Jews as God’s chosen people which make it sound as if we are above nonJews, to include a blessing for nonJews as well. The new blessing reads, “Blessed are You, O Lord our God, who has chosen us with love and favor”. And another version they use reads, “…who has chosen us alongside all other peoples.”

That is something I was looking for in a Jewish prayergroup, because I was never comfortable with any prayer that made it sound as if we are somehow “better than” nonJews.

I took the initiative and went looking for a Jewish group like that. Many Jews have done the same. We are willing to change something in our prayers that we felt was not worded properly.

Yet there are Catholics who don’t think they should do the same, with parts of their liturgies that present other faiths in a poor light.

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