'No institutional ministry to convert Jews'

Just saw this article from the Jerusalem Post:

“Catholics should not try to convert Jews”

At the least, it might seem that there’s a difference between ‘no institutional ministry’ and ‘no one-on-one evangelization’ …

I don’t understand this. Is this coming from the Holy Spirit? What level of authority does this document carry?

1I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3“Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE.” 4But what is the divine response to him? “I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.” 5In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

  7What then? What Israel is seeking, it has not obtained, but those who were chosen obtained it, and the rest were hardened;

8just as it is written,

9And David says,


  11I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. 12Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! 13But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow countrymen and save some of them. 15For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 16If the first piece of dough is holy, the lump is also; and if the root is holy, the branches are too.

  17But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, 18do not be arrogant toward the branches; but if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you. 19You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” 20Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, but you stand by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear; 21for if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either. 22Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. 23And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 24For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

-----That is what God’s Word says. This implies to me that their eternal souls are in danger of eternal fire.

So this is something I have often wondered. Why are we not standing outside of Synagogues like the Apostles were? It is the Jewish Prophets who constantly spoke of the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ - God.

Mark 12:36
And Jesus began to say, as He taught in the temple, “How is it that the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36"David himself said in the Holy Spirit, ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I PUT YOUR ENEMIES BENEATH YOUR FEET.”’ 37"David himself calls Him ‘Lord’; so in what sense is He his son?” And the large crowd enjoyed listening to Him.

If this is not coming from the Holy Spirit, someone in the Vatican needs to take action and the Pope needs to pay close attention to this. Eternal souls are at stake.

I am actually in the process of trying to convert a Jewish man of strong faith. I am moved with compassion towards this God-fearing man, and I want him to know the Truth about the Messiah and see the glorious light of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Please pray for this intention. Ask the Holy Spirit to show him in the Scriptures. Please ask the Father to draw him to His Son.

Saint Paul himself said that only the Holy Spirit would bring conversion to Israel; maybe we will see that time, most likely not.

And as to the Jerusalem Post, remember that Israelis live in a religious tinderbox. Mass conversion efforts is the last thing they as a society need.


Only the Holy Spirit brings conversion to ANYONE, not just Israel. And if we do not try to convert them, how is He going to convert them? He has always required of us that we go and preach.

Mass conversion efforts is the first thing they need.

Do you have a family? Understand that they have children. Those children need to know Christ. Even if we have to be uncomfortable and make people uncomfortable in order to accomplish conversions.

This is the document itself, THE GIFTS AND THE CALLING OF GOD ARE IRREVOCABLE, as just published on the Holy See’s website. It is a long time in coming and is a wonderful gift as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of Nostra aetate.



That’s a good question. In another thread on this topic, I saw an article (link: asianews.it/news-en/In-50-years-of-Catholic-Jewish-dialogue,-opposition-has-given-way-to-a-‘deep-friendship’-36113.html ) which said Cardinal Koch stated that this document is a theological reflection which is “not magisterial.” That suggests that it doesn’t really have any authority.

Honestly, I don’t know what to make of the authority of a document from a “Commission” of the Holy See which is said to be “not magisterial.”


Thank you for posting that, Gorgias.

I have to wonder, however, if we shouldn’t first try to come to an agreement about the question of “converting” Protestants and Orthodox to Catholicism.

Doesn’t the Spirit act through the Church?

I used to be a heretic. I didn’t know I was a heretic. I called myself “non-denominational.”

I think we should ask this question: what does the Holy Spirit want? Does He want us to let people remain in error? Does He want us to call heresy what it is or does He want us to redefine the meaning of “charity” and “prudence” to mean “comfort” and “politically correct?”

We should start with what we have in common. But if we end there, will souls be lost in Eternity? Should we be more concerned with someone’s comfort right now, or their eternal salvation?

I think it is important to keep in mind that God loves the souls of people of other religions, and their religions do not come from God. There is only one Way to the Father, and He only started One Church. We know that. We have to act on it if we are going to truly love God and love our neighbor.

Well the document does state that Catholics individually should:

“bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews” but that they should do so in “a humble and sensitive manner, acknowledging that Jews are bearers of God’s word…”

Seems a reasonable approach to take given that the RCC really started to pull away from institutional conversion position in large part starting with Vatican II.

It is unreasonable to leave individual members of the faithful to convert an entire religion on our own. We need the backing of Holy Mother Church. We should have Faith that it is God’s will that they be converted because He wills the Salvation of all mankind. We should have trust in the Holy Spirit, that He will work through us to convert them. We should have an organization, approved by the Pope and overseen by who the Pope appoints to oversee it, that is dedicated to the conversion of the Jewish people. I believe that this is the will of God, as I believe we all should, and we should look to do His will above all else.

The Roman Catholic Church is the Church God established when He was on Earth. He built His Church on St. Peter. He wants every God-fearing person on the planet in His Church. We know this because of what the Holy Spirit revealed to the Church and because of the words of our Blessed Mother - “And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him.” His mercy. In this year of Mercy, we should do the most merciful thing we can do to those of other religions. We should love their souls, pray for the grace to convert them, and then have Faith that our Lord will give us whatever we ask for in accordance with His Holy Will.

Don’t worry, I’m well acquainted with the “traditionalist” Catholic point of view – heck, I encounter it almost every time I come to this forum, some times in small doses and sometimes in large doses.

I wonder, though, how many “traditionalists” are acquainted with Uniatism, method of union of the past, and the present search for full communion

" no institutional ministry to convert Jews"

we should try to give my people the gospel , and that requires help from the church that’s what Scripture commands , what on earth is the crafter of this document thinking .

I’m a simple man. I don’t understand complex issues. In His great Mercy, God has made His Holy Will clear on this issue. Clear enough that someone who is as easily deceived and as simple-minded and slow of heart as I am can still understand it.

He wants their conversion. Faith and prayer is what I need in order to accomplish His Holy Will in this matter. But if the Faithful are not praying for His Will to be done in this matter, will it result in the loss of souls to eternal fire? God is infinitely merciful, but His justice demands that if someone runs from His merciful Heart - they will fall into His just hands. We have to accomplish His Holy Will on Earth, which is Love and Mercy itself, in order to save souls.

That appears to be just about Greek Orthodox. They have a valid line of Apostolic Succession and therefore valid Holy Orders and therefore valid Holy Confession and a real Eucharist. God does will that they come back to the Church they are in schism against, His One Holy Catholic Church that He gave the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to when He made St. Peter the first Pope. But at least their Holy Orders are valid. I’m a simple man, once again, but if someone does not have full knowledge of the sin of schism - it can’t be mortal. From my understanding, that means they can still be saved. God wills their Salvation and they have valid Holy Orders tracing back to God on Earth.

What about all those churches who do not have valid Holy Orders that trace back to God on Earth? For instance, Episcopalians. Or Lutherans. They do not have valid Sacraments outside of Baptism. Their communion is not Holy Communion, it is just bread and wine, their “absolutions” are invalid (do not occur - the sins are retained), and their souls are in danger. God desires to have mercy on them.

What about our Jewish brothers and sisters? God wills their Salvation. He loves them. He is the lover of souls, as the Jewish Scripture states. Every Jewish prophet spoke of Christ. He fulfilled over 300 prophecies to the letter. Should we not be making a large-scale effort to convert them? God loves them and their children. How can we disregard His Holy Will for them, which is Love and Mercy itself?

Oh, Sweet Jesus! These plain, simple men!

  • A Man for All Seasons, Act II

I’m not smart. God has not given me grace to understand what you are saying. Can you help me? I can’t tell if you are thanking God for my simplicity or complaining to Jesus that I am simple or if you are making a joke that I don’t quite get. I hope it’s not the 3rd, because I would be afraid to casually take His Name like that. I would confess that as a violation of a Holy Commandment from God, but my Confessor is always telling me that I am wrong when I think I violated a Commandment.

In any case, I love you, and may the Lord bless you.


The conversion of Israel is prophesied when a sufficient number of Gentiles will have come into the Church. I’ll say this, that conversion is going to be obviously miraculous, because it will happen despite the Church’s best efforts to keep them away from their Messiah…

I don’t know how anyone can read the New Testament and believe there should be no mission to any particular group, especially the Jews.

Anyway, the document says right up front that it has zero doctrinal or magisteriual value, and is only there for discussion.

If the apostles attempted to convert the Jews to Christ, and we know they did, what right does anyone in the Vatican have to change that policy?

  1. Keep in mind that just because documents are allowed somewhere on the Vatican website, and there is a commission involved that has a connection to the Vatican, that does not mean “the Vatican” is issuing this document in an authoritative way. There have been many such documents, by ecumenical and other groups, these are really discussion starters, not determinations by the Church; sort of putting something up on a bulletin board. The media tends to equate everything posted on a Rome bulletin board as an encyclical. Instead of calling it a “Vatican document”, better to call it a document submitted to the Vatican.

  2. I am not aware of any “institutional conversion” program since WWII, for instance. Certainly the position of the Church was, and still is, that for the individual, Christianity
    is a fuller explanation of the truth than Judaism, and Catholicism is the fullest explanation of the truth within Christianity. Yes, there were individual conversions from Judaism to Christianity in 1960, and still are today. No, there weren’t brigades going out to target synagogues or Jewish neighborhoods in 1960, or today either.

Popes since Vatican II who supported Nostra Aetate also supported - in fact greatly expanded - evangelism not just by priests and nuns, but by all Catholics. In a way the Church is more pro-conversion now than before Vatican II; not targeting Jews as such.

Since the Church as a whole is called to be more evangelistic, including lay Catholics, after Vatican II - read Pope Paul and JPII - you can’t say there is a downplaying of efforts at conversion. Evangelism gets more emphasis, not less, than 50 years ago. But there also is also more emphasis on respect for gifts and wisdom of different faiths, especially that of Jewish individuals.

I wonder if “institutional conversion” would include groups like “Jews for Jesus” or Christian evangelical churches that present as if they were synagogues, near college campuses.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.