NOSTRA AETATE Vat 2 Document
What is your take on the Vat 2 document NOSTRA AETATE, especially conerning the Jews? I am majoring in theology and right now I am taking classical Judaism. The professor seems to be pretty ignorant in Catholic teaching, but I won’t really get into that. This is one of the documents we’ve had to read and give our “opinion” on what does it mean. One thing is that she mentioned is that because of this document, any Jew who wished to convert to the Catholic Church wouldn’t really need batism because they are already the people of God. Uh:confused:
Br. JR I would especially like some feedback from you if possible. Thanks everyone!

If what she says really were the case, then I would ask why did the very first Jewish Christians of the 1st century need to be baptized?

Lol very true:thumbsup: Why didn’t I think of that? haha

Nostra Aetate didn’t, and couldn’t, undo The Council of Trent.

“If any one saith, that the sacraments of the New Law are not necessary unto salvation, but superfluous; and that, without them, or without the desire thereof, men obtain of God, through faith alone, the grace of justification;-though all (the sacraments) are not ineed necessary for every individual; let him be anathema.”

“If any one saith, that baptism is free, that is, not necessary unto salvation; let him be anathema.”

So to sum it up? Anathema sit.

Thanks for that document!

This debate is in concern of Islam and Nostra Aetate, but it might be helpful.

If not, its just a good debate. :stuck_out_tongue:

I believe that many Catholics and non-Catholics have completely missed the boat on this document. I often wonder if they missed it because they have an agenda, they can’t read, they want to continue an age old conflict with non-Catholics that has not helped to this day, or they’re simply stubborn. Of course, none of these are very good reasons for the many positions that people take on this document. This document has to be taken in context of the Church’s tradition as well as in its own context, meaning that we must read what it wants to say, not what we want to read into it.

The document tells us upfront what it’s going to deal with. It says very clearly, ** In her task of promoting unity and love among men, indeed among nations, she considers above all in this declaration what men have in common and what draws them to fellowship.**

It begins by defining one of the many tasks that faces the Church today, promoting unity and love among men. This statement in itself is continuous with the Church’s mission since here foundation. It is well grounded in Christ’s priestly prayer, that they may all be one. Then it moves on to tell us that in order to achieve this task, the Church is going to deal with what men have in common and what draws them to each other. The document begins by clearly stating that it’s not going to address the differences between Catholics and non-Christians or others. The reason should be very obvious. We already know the differences. For hundreds of years we have focused on them and have hit each other over the head with them and we’re no closer to unity than we were before.

There is a unity at the human level, at the social level and at the spiritual level. One has to proceed through all three. If one ignores any of them, one is doomed to fail. The ultimate goal is spiritual unity, which is unity of faith. But we must begin with human unity, that is recognizing our common humanity, our common needs, our common goals and most of all our common dignity. The document proceeds to address this. In its opening paragraphs the document lays out these primordial questions that every human being who uses reason asks himself, either individually or collectively.

What is man? What is the meaning, the aim of our life? What is moral good, what sin? Whence suffering and what purpose does it serve? Which is the road to true happiness? What are death, judgment and retribution after death? What, finally, is that ultimate inexpressible mystery which encompasses our existence: whence do we come, and where are we going?

This is very deliberately done to show Catholics that we do have something in common with the rest of humanity. Remember, this document was not written for non-Catholics. It was written for the Catholic hierarchy. It was not even intended to be read by the laity. This where many lay people fall apart. They approach the document and don’t find certain elements in it and they scream bloody murder. But if we remember that the Council Fathers were writing for the hierarchy and that the hierarchy is composed of men who are master theologians and very familiar with Catholic doctrine who should be able to fill in the blanks, then the document is neither ambiguous nor short. In other words, a bishop should not need a review of Theology 101. The layman may, but not a bishop. What a bishop needs is a summary statement of what the Church wants him to attend to today. This statement lays it out for the bishops.

The Church must help the Catholic man understand his common humanity with others. This is important, because the document was written at a time in history when the layman was very ignorant of these questions. These were the 1960s. People were more focused on the political developments of the post WW II era, technology, economic changes in the world, the rise of Capitalism and Communism, nuclear annihilation, civil rights, and human liberties. They did not sit around and philosophize too much. The world was a very threatening place during the decade. The Church has to help the Catholic recognize that he and his brothers and sisters on this earth are not that different from each other. We all experience the same human condition and raise the same questions about our origins, our lives and our end. The first step that the Catholic must take toward unity is accept that he shares the same fundamental questions as every other human being and that as a people, the Catholic Church asks the same questions as other faiths. The hope was that the readers would teach the faithful in their particular Churches that we are not alone and that we are neither above nor below other people of other faiths, but we have many things in common. This was important for another reason. For many centuries Catholics had isolated themselves from people of other faiths. There were many reasons for that isolation. In my opinion, the two most powerful reasons were oppression and fear of contaminatioin.

The first reason is extremely important. Catholics were persecuted in many societies as anti-clerical politics emerged, anti-Cathoicism grew exponentially. The second reason is also important. As democracies expanded, the Catholic population no longer had the protection of Catholic states from heresies and other errors. The Catholics, who did not know the answers to the challenges posed my heresies and modern society, withdrew into their own ghettos and the Church encouraged it, because it protected them from falling away from the faith.

Now the world is expanding. Catholics want to enter the world market and take their place at the table of political, economic and military power, as they had once done. But this new Catholic generation, was not ready to deal with colleagues, neighbors, fellow citizens, friends and even family members of other faiths. It was the task of the local Churches to prepare them and the hope that in so doing, Catholics and non-Catholics could work together to build society rather than destroy it.

There is a lot more in this document that cannot be put into one post; but this is the beginning of this document and this was the world for which this document was written. It was the hope of the Council that bishops would go home and teach the faithful to help them see what they have in common with other human beings, so that by understanding what they had in common, they could begin to develop healthy relationships with the rest of the world. Of course, the end of such relationships is always the salvation of souls, which is very clear in the opening paragraphs when the document raises questions about sin, death and redemption. Why else introduce those topics into the document, if you’re not interested in the subject of salvation? But the document is not going to speak about doctrine, because that’s not it purpose. It’s going to speak about something that was never addressed before, the things that unite Catholics and non-Catholics and it’s going to try to impress upon bishops the obligation that they have to help Catholics live, work, and cooperate with people of other faiths. Hopefully, this would be the first step toward unity within the Church. But don’t expect the document to repeat what had been said in the past. The Vatican did not spend millions of dollars, several years, and long discussions to repeat what the bishops already knew. That would be madness. The idea was to give them a new map to resolve an old problem.

I’m not sure what course you’re taking, but if this is ecclessiology, this document cannot be read and discussed in a few sessions. That’s the reason that people still misunderstand it. When I studied this document, this document, by itself, was a one-year course. We went through it line by line with a fine tooth comb. The only way to understand is to approach it as if you were a bishop. You have to bring to the table what a bishop should know in order to read this document. We had to go back and revisit four-years of theology to do this right. This is a fascinating, but very difficult document. Anyone who reduces it to a few simplistic ideas is missing out on a lot of theology, history and philosophy that went into this work.

Are you sure that you want to take this entire document apart on this forum? I would suggest that you take one piece of it and formulate a question about that or even one sentence. I remember when we studied this document. We took four hours per week for 32 weeks. At the end, we did not finish it. You’re very brave bringing this entire document into a forum. :smiley:

I’ll help with certain pieces of it. But I will not engage in ridiculous debates aboiut whether we’re better than Muslims or whether Trent is better than Vatican II. That’s not what this document deserves. It deserves scholarly and honest analysis of what it wants bishops to do, not what was said in the past. That’s not what it’s addressing. It assumes that the bishops know that part. If would be a fascinating discussion. It certainly is interesting to note how many bishops did not implement it or introduce it properly into catechesis. They dropped the ball on this one. I don’t think they meant to drop the ball. I think there has been too much on the table between then and now. It’s like looking at a messy desk. You’re trying to attend to too many things at one time and you can’t get it all right.

Again, try reading it as a bishop who is being given some ideas to work with. That was the target audience. If you read it as a layman, you’ll miss the message. Just look at everything I pulled out of just two sentences. I don’t know if I really want to do this again. :frowning:

If you feed me apples, I’ll do it. Apples are my favorite fruit. :stuck_out_tongue:


Br. JR, OSF :slight_smile:

Br JR thank you! This was very insightful! I can tell you one thing though, if I read this to the class and to the professor I can pretty much gurantee you she would kick me out of her class. IMHO I think she has an agenda, but what do I know. The class is THEO 172 - Intro Classical Judaism, and she is Jewish according to her.
Br. JR how do you think this pertains to the Jews other than the stated obvious? If you don’t mind sharing how do you see this document as someone who is a conver from Judaism? Thanks again

I notice you advised that this document isn’t just some simple read, but that’s exactly what the professor had us do. She asked us to read it and come back and share our own interpretation of it.
By the way when she asked if ayone attended the Latin mass I raised my hand and just gave me a look that could kill :D, reason this came up was because someone mentioned that Vatican 2 ended the latin mass LOL. But that’s not part of the discussion.

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