Beliefnet
Dissident Catholic theologian Hans Kung recounts, in the present tense, what happened in autumn 1964, when a Vatican II committee hammered out a statement [read Chapter 4 of Nostra Aetate] on the Roman Catholic Church's attitude towards other religions. Reprinted from My Struggle for Freedom with permission of Eerdmans Publishing.

[A] highly explosive question is linked with the theme of religious freedom: the question of the relationship between the church and the Jews. It seems too much to many traditional Catholics - especially in the Roman Curia - to ask for a new attitude to Judaism. As early as 23 February 1964 my friend Gregory Baum (Toronto), who with the distinguished Monsignor John Oesterreicher (Seton Hall University) is the decisive champion of a declaration of the Jews in the Secretariat for Unity (he likewise has a Jewish background), had written to me: `The opposition to Chapter IV on the Jews is quite great: the bishops of Arab countries fear unpleasantnesses and those from the mission countries are militating against preferential treatment for the Jews. But many bishops have also reacted positively. Remarkably, not a single German bishop has written to the Secretariat about Chapter IV. I personally think that a scandal.' Gregory Baum had had to emigrate as a child with his parents from Berlin in the 1930s.After the painful curial delaying actions of the second session, the Declarationon the Jews had again been on the agenda for the third session in 1964. On 23 September, Cardinal Augustin Bea presents the report on the `Declaration on the Jews and the Non-Christians' in a calm and measured way - there is demonstrative applause at the beginning of his speech and even more at the end. Happily, the German bishops had previously made a statement supporting the planned Council document and at the same time recalling the crimes perpetrated on the Jews in the name of the German people. Indeed this is the first ecumenical council after Auschwitz. And the world pricks up its ears when it perceives that after long centuries of an open or concealed anti-Judaism within the church, the Catholic Church wants to correct deeply-rooted religious prejudices against Israel, God's old people: the Jews are not God's murderers nor are they accursed by God. However, there is no will to adopt a standpoint on political questions, in other words on the state of Israel. But the curial obstruction had continued even after the conclusion of the Council discussion, which is very positive - only a few negative voices can be heard alongside that of Cardinal Ruffini. On Friday 9 October 1964, towards the evening, our group of French and American bishops and theologians in the Villanova receive news from Cardinal Bea's Secretariat for Unity that Papa Montini has yielded to political pressure outside and inside the church and decided to block the declarations on the Jews and on religious freedom in the Council and submit them to bodies dominated by the Curia for further checking. Speed is of the essence.
Immediately we organize the resistance. On Saturday morning Bishop Elchinger mobilizes the French Cardinals Lienart and Joseph Lefebvre (Bourges) and the Americans cardinals Meyer and Ritter. I myself telephone Joseph Ratzinger in the Anima so that he can immediately put Cardinal Frings in thePicture, and Karl Rahner, so that he can make contact with Cardinals Konig and Dopfner. The cardinals mentioned meet in the Anima as early as Sunday, at the invitation of Cardinal Frings; Alfrink, Silva Henriquez and Leger are also there (Suenens is in Belgium for the elections). They compose a protest letter to the Pope with the opening words `magno cum dolore - with great pain'; it finally goes to the pope with the signatures of thirteen important cardinals.At the same time I take personal responsibility for breaching the secrecy imposed on us and putting the public in the picture. On Saturday I telephone the correspondents of the Roman Messagero, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitnng(Schmitz van Vorst) and Le Mande (Henri Fesquet), all known to me, who are quite unsuspecting, and brief them on the scandalous machinations against the two declarations, the main figure behind which is General Secretary Felici (as can be ascertained afterwards). The result early on Monday morning is major reports on the front pages of these newspapers and an indescribable storm in the international press. Unfortunately, however, the director of the Latin American information center, Antonio Cruzat, loses his job because he is responsible for handing on the letter by the thirteen cardinals to the press. Personal interventions by Cardinal Bea and Frings with the pope follow. The result is that both schemata remain on the Council agenda. And in the basic vote that is at long last allowed on 20 November 1964, 1770 bishops will vote for the draft of the decree on the Jews and only 185 against. So resistance resolutely organized can achieve something with this pope.
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