Fifty Years after Vatican II

Vatican City, October 28, (BNS-AP-AFP)–On Wednesday the Catholic Church marked the 50th anniversary of the historical Nostra Aetate [“In Our Time”] declaration which called for interfaith dialogue with a host of non-Christian religions and led to an historical change in Catholic-Jewish relations.

St. Peter’s Square Wednesday hosted an audience with the pope to remember this groundbreaking move made on October 28, 1965, when Paul VI was pope and the Church condemned anti-Semitism.

During his usual general audience, pope Francis spoke about the importance of Nostra Aetate and said it had transformed Catholic-Jewish relations from “doubt and opposition to cooperation and goodwill. … From enemies and strangers we have become friends and brothers.”

At the end of the audience the pope called upon everyone in the square “according to their own religious tradition” to join in silent prayer. “We ask God to make us brothers to one another, and to make us greater servants to our most impoverished brothers,” pope Francis prayed.

The Nostra Aetate resolution was adopted as the revolutionary Vatican II Council was coming to an end. THe resolution said the entire Jewish people could not be held responsible for the death of Jesus as had been claimed in earlier centuries. It condemned anti-Semitism, ended the idea of blood-libel and called upon Christians to end all forms of hatred against and persecution of Jews.

The document adopted by the council also attempted to build bridges with Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and members of other religions.