The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Bishops apologize to Jewish leaders for “feelings of hurt”

After a few months of simmering tension, the Catholic bishops have offered Jewish leaders an olive branch

U.S. Catholic bishops have tried to reassure Jewish leaders that interfaith dialogue will never be used as a means of proselytism or a “disguised invitation to baptism,” after months of interfaith tension.

The overture from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops comes more than three months after the bishops angered Jewish leaders by seeming to imply that Jews would be targets of evangelism and conversion.

In two letters sent Friday (Oct. 2) and released Tuesday, the bishops said an attempt to clear up an “insufficiently precise and potentially misleading” statement from 2002 had actually created more problems.


“We remain deeply committed to dialogue and friendship with the Jewish people, who are, in the words of Pope John Paul II, ‘our elder brothers and sisters in the faith,'” Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, the president of the bishops conference, wrote in a letter signed by four other bishops.

George, whose letter was signed by the chairmen of his interfaith relations and doctrine committees, said the “gift” of faith in Jesus Christ is one that “can never be coerced.”

“Jewish-Catholic dialogue… has never been, and will never be, used by the Catholic Church as a means of proselytism, nor is it intended as a disguised invitation to baptism.”

The letter to the Jewish groups is the latest wrinkle in several months of back-and-forth exchanges that had left both sides uncomfortable. It was also an uncommon about-face for the bishops who rarely, if ever, backtrack on previous statements or positions.


The bishops said they had deleted two troublesome sentences from a statement they issued in June that said, in part, that Catholic partners in interfaith dialogue are “always giving witness to the following of Christ, to which all are invited.”

George also issued a six-point “statement of principles” on Jewish-Catholic dialogue that apologized for the “misunderstandings and feelings of hurt” that had resulted from their June statement.

“Because we are dialogue partners, this hurt is ours as well,” the statement said.

There’s more at the link.  And the USCCB statement is right here.

Comments read comments(6)
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posted October 6, 2009 at 11:55 pm

didn’t the bishops recently re-issue the ‘revised’ Adult Catechism for the United States with these offensive statements in them?
Good Grief, Charlie Brown!

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posted October 7, 2009 at 8:53 am

God forbid that the Bishops would engage in evangelism! My goodness the temerity of proclaiming that Jesus is the only way, what nerve!
We all know that Jews don’t need Jesus, neither Buddhists or Muslims or Native Americans, or liberal nuns, or episcopal homesxuals or any one who is offended by His name.
And the horrible suggestion that we need to pray for the conversion of any one, specially Jews, wow, Good Grief indeed Charlie Brown.
Any one know of a Church with grit to proclaim the gospel? No, I did not think so.

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posted October 7, 2009 at 1:52 pm

I’m happy that the first Apostles evangelized within the Jewish community. They didn’t even feel a need to disguise the invitation to Baptism.

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posted October 8, 2009 at 1:44 am

I guess the apostles should have sent a letter to Jesus condeming him when he said I am the way, the truth, and the life. did he not realize that he was insulting Jews? He seemed to often attack Jews that I suspect would have been like those of today offended that The Catholic Church is trying to bring them to the fullness of our faith. What would He have said if the apostles had hesitated to bring Jewish converts to the way, the truth, and the life because they did not want to offend?

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Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

posted October 8, 2009 at 7:17 am

I do not think that insult or derision would be useful tools for evangelizing, but of course I could be wrong.

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Your Name

posted October 8, 2009 at 7:55 am

AmChurch Apostates.
The floor of Hell is paved with the skulls of rotten bishops as St. John Crysostom would say.

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