New Book Examines Catholic-Jewish Relations in Our Time

News Story:

FAIRFIELD, Conn.— A new book, Examining Nostra Aetate After 40 Years, Catholic-Jewish Relations in Our Time, from Sacred Heart University Press, explores Christian-Jewish relations, pre- and post-Nostra Aetatethrough essays by prominent leaders in the field of interreligious studies.

Nostra Aetate, a short and controversial document of Vatican II released in 1965, addressed the relationship of the Catholic Church to non-Christian religions, especially Jews. It encouraged dialogue and mutual understanding between Christians and Jews by way of “biblical and theological enquiry and friendly discussion.”

In this new collection of essays, edited by Sacred Heart University President Anthony J. Cernera, Ph.D., leaders in the field of interfaith studies collectively present a volume intended to be a testament of and contribution to that continuing effort.

In addition to editing the book, Dr. Cernera contributed an essay discussing Sacred Heart University’s Center for Christian-Jewish Understanding and its fostering of dialogue and mutual understanding.

“We are living in extraordinary times and are blessed because people of good will have reached out in trust and friendship,” Cernera said. “The essays in this volume describe the past, present, and future of the Nostra Aetate story. It calls attention to the pioneers and pivotal events that have paved the way, assessing from various points of view where we are now, and sketching in detail what needs to be done as we move ahead to turn the vision of Nostra Aetate into a lasting reality.”

Among the contributors to the book are Rabbi Mordecai Waxman (deceased August 2002), once recognized by the Vatican as the official Jewish representative in international Christian-Jewish relations; award-winning author Judith Hershcopf Banki, one of the pioneers of organized inter-religious dialogue; and Frans Jozef Van Beeck, a Jesuit priest and author of two books on ecclesiology and the Catholic Church’s relationship with contemporary Judaism.

Each essay examines Christian-Jewish relations from various contexts, including personal, historical, social, political and theological.

The volume begins with an introduction titled Nostra Aetate Revisited, in which Edward Idris Cardinal Cassidy describes that document as the Catholic Church’s “binding and irreversible commitment to turn away from almost 2,000 years of hostility towards the Jewish people, and set out on a new journey of mutual trust and understanding.” Cardinal Cassidy is President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity within the Vatican, and he headed the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews.

John T. Pawlikowski, a Servite priest and director of Catholic-Jewish Studies at the Cardinal Bernadin Center at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, highlights ways in which Nostra Aetate may also enrich Catholics’ understanding of their own faith.

Banki concludes her essay with a reminder that although Christian-Jewish relations have improved greatly since Nostra Aetate, “We still have much work to do together.”

About the Book:
TITLE: Examining Nostra Aetate After 40 Years: Catholic-Jewish Relations in Our Time
EDITOR: Anthony J. Cernera, Ph.D.
PUB DATE: December 2007
PRICE: $24.95
PAGES: 224
ISBN: 978-1-888112-15-3
Copyright 2007 Sacred Heart University Press