Letter: Vatican's Sealed Archive Hampers Christian-Jewish Understanding
Chivers, Canon Chris, The Independent (London, England)
Sir: By common consent the Roman Catholic Church has played a distinguished role following the Shoah in mending the historic breach between Christians and Jews.
The encyclical Nostra aetate (1965) emphasised the unique place for Jews as a people with whom God has made a covenant which is irrevocable. Subsequent documents have therefore invited Christians to see the anti-Judaism in the Gospels in its context as a product of sibling rivalry, and to work to avoid both the suggestion that Judaism is superseded by Christianity and the consequent tendency for religious anti-Judaism to fuel widespread anti-semitism. Furthermore, individual Roman Catholics have rightly been recognised for their courage during the Second World War. Nuncio Angelo Roncalli, later Pope John XXIII, signed countless baptismal certificates, for instance, to ensure safety for Jews facing Nazi persecution.
At a time when the need for understanding between faiths has been heightened as a result of recent terrorist violence, and when anti- semitism and faith- and race-hatred crimes more generally are on the increase across Europe, the importance of the visit made by Pope Benedict XVI to the synagogue in Cologne, so early in his pontificate, should not therefore be underestimated. …