Francia 09/1975The following statement by Meyer Jais, Chief Rabbi of Paris, appeared in a supplement to Information Juive, septembre 1975. It was published in collaboration with the Consistoire israelite of Paris. We present here a translation of the first part of the text, the second section to be printed in a subsequent issue of SIDIC.
For many years the Church has been trying to draw closer to the Synagogue. She desires to reach a real turning point in the history of Jewish-Christian relations and would like to end the age-long confrontations. Because she believes that these stem from ignorance and contempt, she feels that regular contact could not fail to create an atmosphere of mutual understanding and renewed esteem.
The Congresses of Seelisberg and New Delhi, the Vatican Council declaration Nostra Aetate, the Pastoral Orientations of the French episcopal committee of April 1973 and the Roman document of January 1975 [Guidelines and Suggestions] witness to her perseverance in pursuing this aim. Such movements as Amitie judeo-chretienne, the Fraternite d'Abraham, Silo and reviews like Rencontre, Vav and Sens have the same aim.
This aim was forcibly stated in the 1965 Council declaration on the Jews. Starting from the principle that there exists a great spiritual heritage common to Jews and Christians, the Church declares that she is naturally concerned to acquire a better knowledge of her origins; but at the same time she wishes to acquaint us with her beliefs. She feels that to multiply meetings in which Jews and Christians together devote themselves to biblical and theological studies would lead to the abolition of old prejudices. Such meetings would contribute to deeper mutual knowledge and consequently to appreciation and reconciliation. No more misunderstandings, hence no more contempt.
Such statements were warmly welcomed by us, some of them, according to certain Christian milieux, too warmly. This enthusiasm can be explained partly by lack of familiarity with the theological vocabularyof the Church, partly by insufficient knowledge of the nature of the problems involved and partly, it must be said, by a certain unconscious desire, if not to be lost in the crowd, at least to be no longer only a confession like the others. Some of us saw in these new attitudes a certain guarantee against the increasingly probable recurrence of anti-Semitism.
It is therefore not superfluous to examine this new Christian theology in regard to Judaism. In our analysis we shall deal with two texts: that of the French episcopal committee and that of the pontifical commission, since they, with the schema, though not to the same extent, can be taken as expressions of the fundamental thought of the Church. Considering the complexity of the subject and the multiplicity of the problems raised it seems to us best to deal successively with:
a) the area in which change has been more apparent than real;
b) that in which one can truthfully speak of a radical change;
c) finally, that in which — and this is the most fundamental — there has not been the slightest change.
Thus the only area where, in our opinion, dialogue is possible and should be established, will be automatically and very precisely delineated.
THE QUESTION OF DEICIDE
Contrary to what one could have expected, the Roman document was not, with regard to anti-Semitism, a decisive step. It is true that the Church does not look upon herself as a complete stranger to the « persecution and massacre of Jews which took place in Europe just before and during the Second World War ». The Roman document goes beyond the Council document which, finally, limited itself to « deploring » Auschwitz. It did not feel it could go farther because, for it, there had been no «sin against the Spirit ». There was no question of heresies, only of crimes and sins. This time, the pontifical commission, whose stand has certainly less force than that of the Council but which has more power than an episcopal committee, took a forward step. It did not hesitate to call to mind that « the spiritual bonds and historical links binding the Church to Judaism condemn (as opposed to the very spirit of Christianity) all forms of anti-Semitism and discrimination, which in any case the dignity of the human person alone would suffice to condemn ».
The Pastoral Orientations had already cleared the way. They had stigmatized the « defamatory allusions ... still current today, either overt or masked ... a heritage from the pagan world .. increased in Christian times ... It is in ... love that we have perhaps failed the Jew the most, and here the Christian conscience is the most culpable. » Although it does no more than suggest, credit should be given for this new language. It is all the more valuable in that the aim of the Roman document is to communicate it « at all levels of Christian instruction and education ... (through) textbooks ... the mass-media ... formation of instructors and educators in training schools, seminaries and universities ». However, it is certainly not a lack of gratitude to remark that at the bottom of the hatred that has surrounded us for twenty centuries there are, as the Pastoral Orientations themselves recognize, not only pseudo-theological arguments, but also the sources of these arguments: tales whose historicity is far from impressive. If we begin by admitting with the Council declaration that « the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ », it follows that the horror aroused in a Christian by such a statement remains unchanged in spite of the restriction marked by the adverbial qualification « without distinction ».
It is indubitable that if, with regard to responsibility, « what happened in his passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today », on the other hand, with regard to solidarity, the guilt of Israel remains total. Above all, if, as we are ceaselessly told, the crime of the Jewish people consists as much in murdering Jesus as in refusing to recognize him afterwards.
How then can the evil be efficaciously opposed if it is not first attacked at its root; and this root, it must be said, is the way in which the passion is recounted in the gospels. The best historians, Catholic, Protestant and agnostic, recognize that they were written much later than the events they describe, and that they are tendentious. H. Hatzfeld wrote in Foi et Vie: «To conciliate the authorities on which her existence depended, the primitive Church, which was increasingly composed of pagan elements, had no other choice than to make a show of its loyalty and to excuse the Roman executioners. It is precisely this loyalty and perspective which distorts the accounts of Jesus' trial; Pilate is effectively in such a position that he can be made to appear innocent at the expense of the Jewish participants ... This perspective also determined a tendentious development of the account of the passion ... The myth of the deicide Jew was the issue of a reconstruction of the passion story in the atmosphere of Jewish-Christian polemic of the first century. » M. Goguel also writes in Foi et Vie: «From the year 70, Christianity and Judaism have been in opposition like two irreconcilable parties. The Church looks upon herself as the heir of the religious tradition of Israel; to her, the Jews are no other than the Synagogue of Satan, according to the Apocalypse (Book of Revelation 2: 9-3: 9). This conception of Jews as unfaithful to the vocation which they have received from God and as rebels against truth naturally affects the gospel presentation of history, especially the account of the passion where its effect is to place on the Jews the whole responsibility for the death of Jesus. »
GRAVITY OF THE QUESTION
Thus is confirmed proposition nineteen of Jules Isaac expressed thus: « To establish the responsibility of the Jewish people in the Roman trial, the Roman death sentence, and the Roman penalty, we must ascribe to certain passages in the Gospels an historical validity which is particularly dubious; we must overlook their discrepancies, their improbabilities, and give them an interpretation which is no less biased and arbitrary for being traditional. » There is in fact no general agreement either on the date or the identity of the high priest. He is merely an incumbent, the secular power performing mighty deeds. According to the synoptics, the Sanhedrin, contrary to the strictest religious laws, held a sitting at night — a Friday night — on the eve of the Passover. The sentence was pronounced during the same session. Trial and sentence were repeated on the following morning, which was the day of the Passover and a Sabbath! All is clearly planned to place the entire responsibility for Jesus' death on the high priest. The texts even go so far as to put into his mouth the question, absolutely preposterous for the conscience of a Jew: « I adjure you to tell me if you are the Son of God! » in the sense that St. Paul was to give to the expression much later. This development from the messianic idea to that of divinity, the substitution of the Last Supper for the Seder, the institution of the Eucharist are proof that all these accounts could have been written only at a time and in a milieu where there was no longer even the- slightest knowledge of Judaism. To continue to use them as a foundation and to imagine that they can be rendered inoffensive by declaring that « the Jewish people cannot be indiscriminately considered culpable », or that « the Jewish people cannot be accused of deicide because they did not know that he whom they were sending to his death was a God », or finally, that « the sins of all men were the cause of Jesus' death », is to refuse to see that the Jewish myth is one of blood, deeply rooted in the sensibility, the imagination and the subconscious of the Christian world. Nothing shows more clearly that all the palliatives are completely ineffectual than the homily given by Pope Paul at Easter 1965 immediately after the Council. In it he said: « The Jewish people, predestined to receive the Messiah whom they had awaited for thousands of years, was absorbed by the certainty of this hope. Yet, at the very time when Jesus came, spoke, manifested himself, not only did they fail to recognize him, but they fought, calumniated, abused and finally killed him. » Thus it is clear that the only way to prevent more innocent blood being spilt is to show greater respect for historical truth and to be very reserved with regard to the texts which are at the origin of the calumny.
THE CHURCH AND THE STATE OF ISRAEL
The other point on which the attitude of the Church seems to have shown no real change is the State of Israel. We are unanimous in interpreting the complete silence of the Council declaration and of the Roman document on the historical and religious bonds between the Jewish people and the Holy Land, as proof of the total absence of any significant change in the Church's new outlook on Judaism. Here also the episcopal committee has taken up a position which, though extremely cautious, necessitated a certain amount of courage. The language used deserves to be quoted verbatim.
After having shown that « today it is more difficult than ever before to make a calm theological judgment on the movement of return of the Jewish people to `its' land », and that Christians « cannot forget that in the past God gave to the people of Israel a land », the committee adds that « the universal conscience cannot deny the Jewish people, who in the course of history has suffered such vicissitudes, the right to its own political existence among the nations ». It concludes: « Christians as well as Jews are faced with the essential question: will the ingathering of the dispersed Jews effected under the constraint of persecution and the interplay of political forces be finally, in spite of so many dramas, one of the channels of God's justice for the Jewish people, and at the same time, for all the peoples of the earth, or will it not? »
It will be observed that there is question of a political existence only. Apparently, on the strictly dogmatic level, this would be no problem for the Church. In fact Cardinal Danielou himself, in a dialogued conference at the Theatre des Ambassadeurs, said: « There is a sense in which Israel represents an aspect of the complex face of humanity, and here it goes without saying that she has an absolute right to existence and, I would add, to permanent existence, as do other religious cultures. I stress this point because there are certain aspects of permanence that Christians could be inclined to contest, but these aspects in no way include the permanence of the Jewish people, the Jewish race, the Jewish land, the Jewish culture, the Jewish religious genius; to the end of time these deserve to form part of the total riches of humanity. No Christian, it must be said, contests this. There is no question of absorbing Israel into something that would cause her to be unfaithful to the grandeur of her national, cultural and even her religious tradition, understood as her religious genius.» This, it must be stressed, is not on the same plane as faith as understood by the Church. However, neither the Council nor the pontifical commission felt they could go thus far. Was this so as not to upset the Arab and Islamic countries, or from lack of confidence in the future of the State of Israel? The fact remains that the Church persists in ignoring it even as a temporal state. How much the more so would this be, had she to consider it in its true light, in its deepest reality, which is essentially messianic.
THE NEW VIEW
Happily the next question to be considered is less disappointing: the way in which the Church now looks upon Judaism as a religion. The time seems to be completely over when the synagogue was, to use John's expression, no other than the Synagogue of Satan, and when all Jewish values were the object of systematic disparagement. Works such as those of Travers Herford, Father Bonsirven, Fr. Demann played no small part in this evolution. The Church has the right to speak of a new outlook, and she is perfectly sincere. The Roman document is another proof of this. She has experienced a profound change in this respect. Certainly, here again, there is question only of guidelines, of suggestions for the application of the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate. Hence these have no binding force whatever. By definition they presuppose, at the level of implementation, the option of giving or withholding fundamental adherence. However, they are put out by a special pontifical commission for relations with Judaism, formed in 1974, attached to the Secretariat for Christian Unity, and finally destined to be a link between Rome and the organs of all the episcopal conferences in charge of these questions. For this reason they have the infinitely valuable advantage of involving in a certain measure the hierarchy. They are destined for the whole Catholic world and they give us very exact information on the importance accorded by the Vatican to the values of Judaism, considered as a religion, an idea which, once again, must not be confused with faith. Already on this point the Roman document shows a much greater openness of mind than the Council declaration. Influenced by the initiatives of certain countries during the last nine years it is much more sensitive to all the riches of Judaism. It no longer, as formerly, reduces the message of Judaism to the Written Law. It speaks of « the basic components of the religious tradition of Judaism ». It recognizes that « in the time of ... the Apostles (it) was a complex reality », and what is more, it contains a recommendation « to learn by what essential traits the Jews define themselves in the light of their own religious experience ». It denounces the famous opposition between the religion of fear and that of love, and it recognizes that « the Old Testament retains its own perpetual value, since that has not been cancelled by the later interpretation of the New Testament ».
CONFIRMATION OF THIS NEW OUTLOOK
It is evident that the Roman document adopts most of the assertions of the [French] episcopal text. One notices the same will to real change both on the level of human relations and on that of religion. The vigor with which the episcopal committee reacted against all the calumnies piled up during centuries to disfigure Judaism must be remembered. It was no longer to be considered a legalistic and fossilized religion whose entire mission was to be only the figure, the shadow, the promise of Christianity, but a living faith. The artificially created antagonism between law and grace, faith and works, spirit and letter, ritualism and interior life, particularism and universality was unmasked. The recognition due to the Jewish people was no longer prompted solely by the fact that Judaism had taught humanity monotheism, revelation, the transcendence of God, his attributes of justice and mercy, the great virtues of repentance and forgiveness. When the question was raised: have Christians of today no longer anything to learn from Jewish spirituality, it was found that the Talmud, so discredited before, was resuming its place as an integral part of revelation. The whole work of the Pharisees was recovering its holiness and its prophetic role. The Torah taken in its widest sense had a right to general veneration no longer only for what it gave in the past but also for the progress that it is capable of promoting today. Now at last our unfailing attachment to it was no longer blind and perverse obstinacy, but « a sign of God's fidelity to his people ». How, in consequence, can one fail to recognize that the permanence and the « sacerdotal mission » of our « particular vocation » were to be considered as « the sanctification of the Name » and as making « the prayer of the Jewish people a blessing for all the nations of the earth ».
Many theologians have protested against this kind of appreciation of Judaism. But the Roman document asks the whole Catholic world to strive to understand « the difficulties which arise for the Jewish soul — rightly imbued with an extremely high, pure notion of the divine transcendence — when faced with the mystery of the incarnate Word ». In practice, this amounts to a guarantee, and we can therefore speak of a capital innovation.
REACTIONS OF THE COMMUNITY
It is therefore not to be wondered at that this justice rendered to Judaism has provoked a great surge of gratitude, the effects of which have been to read into these texts infinitely more than they really say. Thus, after the publication of the Pastoral Orientations there were those who rashly attributed to the Church the idea that she was to abandon the intention of converting the Jewish community, since she « recognizes herself in the quest for a living link with it ». The answer was not long in coming. Father Laurentin — writing in Le Figaro on April 18, 1973, the day after the publication of the Pastoral Orientations — put the statement in focus as follows: « It is said that the document of the episcopal committee renounces the idea of conversion. This is somewhat of an over-simplification. To be more precise, the document rejects the intention of dishonestly drawing a person away from his community. It finds the motive for this not only in respect for others but also in the affirmation that Christianity does not aim at the disappearance of the Jewish community since this community is the object of an eternal covenant. The truth is that conversion comes from God ... The episcopal document aims at helping to promote this common pursuit without however minimizing the importance of the truth, the power of witness, or putting limits to the liberty of God who converts the heart ».
There is no need to say that here the truth is that of the Church. The witness is the obligation for every Christian to proclaim Jesus, leaving the rest to grace. We have just been informed that it is God — that is to say Jesus — who is at the source of the movement which urges a person to believe in him. Conversion has its beginning not in the initiative of the proselyte but in the intervention of God who, through Jesus, calls to himself whom he wills.
This is clear, and yet, with a precipitation arising either from ignorance or from unawareness, one knows not which, one of our writers, not lacking in talent, makes this comment on the Roman document in a Jewish publication: « The principal point — it cannot be sufficiently stressed — is the de facto recognition, by Rome, of Judaism as a full religious entity, an effective and saving religion. There is no question here of one of those formal administrative or judicial concessions which consist in admitting that Judaism figures on the official list of confessional categories ... It is a deep, fundamental recognition. »
RELATIVE VALUE OF JUDAISM
Such a misinterpretation of the fundamental thought of the Church is all the more surprising because the Council declaration, the episcopal Orientations and the Roman document make no secret of the preoccupation of Christianity and its very raison d'être; for this they deserve credit. They leave no room for doubt that the value accorded to Judaism is entirely relative. It can be said that all possible precautions have been taken to forestall any misunderstanding. There is no dearth of expressions that can put us on the right road. For, to be honest, what in the last analysis is set down to our credit? Our collective fidelity to the only God, our zeal in the study of Scripture, our concern to keep our identity, our effort to gather ourselves together in a reunited community, our perseverance in giving glory to God and in observing rites which ceaselessly recall the lordship of God to those wEo practise them. Such merits are certainly not negligible and it is good that they are at last recognized. However, and here we touch a capital point, these manifestations of ourreligious vitality, the moral principles and religious truths that we have revealed to the world, even our familiarity with the interior meaning of the Law, of which it is stated that neither the Pharisees nor the doctors of the Talmud were ignorant, would not suffice to procure the one thing necessary. All these virtues are fundamentally incapable of enabling us to solve the only problem that counts: that of the future destiny of our souls. They are just about sufficient for this world. In the eyes of the Church the whole power of the Synagogue can do no more than « offer all human action to God ». The commandments of the Torah are efficacious only as means « to sanctify 5uman acts ». Judaism is a way of « building time ». The sole aim of Scripture study is « to find, in the light of revelation, the meaning of human life ».
Hence, the qualities developed by Judaism relate to morality only. They are concerned only with time passed in this world. It is precisely this that Pope Paul VI stressed in his opening discourse at the third session of the Council on October 1, 1963. Speaking of non-Christian religions he agreed « that they worship God by acts of sincere piety, and that beliefs and practices are based on the values of moral and of social life ». For all that concerns the fate of the soul after death, they are, of themselves, ineffectual.
Thus the Church is not inconsistent in showing herself aware of the positive elements that Judaism may have conserved. TEire is not the slightest doubt that she feels driven to this by a concern for justice, but she also wonders if the systematic disdain for all that is Jewish so far displayed has not proved itself the surest way of making us still more refractory, still more impervious to the gospel message. This is why at one and the same time she professes a certain esteem for our values and urges us to follow out to the end what she considers to be our true vocation.
THE ONENESS OF ISRAEL
In the eyes of the Church Israel has indeed a place apart, by no means only because of what humanity owes to her religious genius. As Cardinal Danielou declared in his dialogued conference at the Theatre des Ambassadeurs: « This genius is great, but the religious genius of other peoples is also great: that of Greece, of India. However, these are of merely human creation. Israel is unique because she has been the object of divine actions such as the choice of Abraham, the liberation from Egypt, the Covenant, prophecy. One of these prophecies foretold that God would intervene again at the end of time for the definitive establishment of his kingdom, but, when this prophecy was fulfilled by the incarnation of the Word in the womb of the Virgin Mary, the Jews refused to believe that the final intervention had been accomplished in Jesus Christ ».
This is why Nostra Aetate states that the Church announces Jesus and is obliged to announce him without ceasing, because in him can be found the fullness of religious life and in him God has reconciled all men to himself. The Pastoral Orientations say the same thing: « the Old Testament can be fully understood only in the light of the New ». This is reaffirmed by the Roman document: « Jesus ... the Messiah and Son of God, the bearer of the new Gospel message » is in himself « the fulfilment and perfection of the earlier Revelation. »
Now if Jesus is the Savior, the mediator through whom it is essential to pass, Adam, our first ancestor, bore in himself — according to Christianity — two images of God: one, natural, imprinted in our souls and in our faculties, constitutes the essence of our human condition and makes us moral beings, intelligent, free, and able to resist evil; the other, which was supernatural and spiritual, disappeared after the fall of Adam. By the infusion of grace it produced holiness in him and gave him access to the intimacy and to the very life of God. But the effect of the fault he committed, original sin, was to destroy this image completely in himself and in all his descendants. Its consequences were literally catastrophic. Indeed, according to the Church, since this lapse every human soul is born already stained, tainted, fallen. No matter how much good will we may have to efface this blemish and to regenerate ourselves, we are powerless to do these things. Nothing, absolutely nothing, not even morality practised in God's name, can re-establish us in our state of primal innocence. The most heroic efforts could not restore to us this supernatural likeness on which our salvation and our happiness after death depend. « It is useless to hope to attain faith and salvation by our own action, » St. Paul says in the letter to the Ephesians (5:8) and he adds: « All Adam's children are sons of wrath. »
Rejected by God, excluded from eternal happiness, nothing could be more atrocious than the lot of man had not Jesus, Son of God and himself God, come to expiate on the cross the two-fold curse that has burdened the human race for six thousand years. Henceforth one factor alone conditions the restoration of a human being, his rehabilitation, his resurrection to a new life and his admission to heaven with the blessed: faith, that is to say, belief in the divinity of Jesus and in the saving power of his passion; and this very faith is the fruit of grace over which man has no power at all. His whole concern in this world is to have this faith, for it alone, according to the Church, can save.
Such is the truth to which the Church wants to lead us. She sets about this with a zeal that is all the more ardent because, according_ to her, this story of a God taking a human form and dying for the sins of the world constitutes the very essence of the message in whose perspective Israel has been chosen. She has not the slightest doubt of this: « God, the inspirer and author of the books of both Testaments, wisely arranged that the New Testament be hidden in the Old and the Old be made manifest in the New. In Vetere Testamento novum Testamentum latet. In Novo, vetus patet.» Abraham himself believed this. He was not mistaken over the meaning of the promise that he had received from God. He knew that the divine blessing which was to make of him a source of blessing for all the peoples of the earth would be fulfilled only by the death of Jesus on the cross, the one sacrifice capable of appeasing the wrath of God and of reconciling him to the human race.
« Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad » (John 8:56). Following this interpretation of the vocation of Abraham, Francois Mauriac was to write in his Bloc-Notes of March 30, 1970: « Israel gave to the world Abraham and the promise incarnated in him. Israel did not believe in this promise even though it was fulfilled before her eyes, even though it continues to be fulfilled. It is at this level that the destiny of this small nation must be envisaged. It does not know, it does not see why it is great. »
THE AIM OF DIALOGUE
If then the Church seeks dialogue it is to open our eyes to the light so that we shall at last discover the deep meaning of our own Torah which, according to her, remains a closed book to us. The Roman document makes no secret of the fact that « in virtue of ... her very nature, the Church must preach Jesus Christ to the world ». She must not allow this to appear to us Jews as « an attitude of aggression » [official English translation: « Lest the witness of Catholics to Jesus Christ should give offence to Jews. » Ed.], and she must show « the strictest respect for religious liberty ». It is a duty of loyalty for us, declared Pope Paul VI in 1964, to manifest our conviction that Christianity is the one true religion, and to foster the hope that it will be recognized as such by aT those who seek and adore God. The first number of Sens, the new title of the bulletin of the Amitie judeo-chretienne, quite recently said: « The desire of Christians always to witness to Jesus is essential to Christianity. Christians even believe that, according to the words of Jesus himself, the Jews have a right of priority to benefit from his message. He called on his followers to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judaea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Paul went first to the Jews, and only afterwards to non-Jews. To ask Christians to disregard all this is to ask them to abandon their Christianity. However, the Amide judeo-chretienne of France does not ask them to do this ... (still less) because to become a Christian is not the result of any proselytizing activity but of God's personal intervention, to which man responds if he wishes. »
What is to be hoped for is, in the words of Daniel Louys in the November 1972 number of Vav, that « free from the diaspora complex of mistrust and hardening of ideological positions, the Jewish people ... will recover Jesus and become aware of the fact that New Testament literature is really part of Jewish literature ». To succeed in convincing us that the gospel reveals the deepest truth of the Torah and that God's true plan for creation has been totally achieved in Jesus, true God and true man, the one and only Savior, is the aim tirelessly pursued by the Church. Pope Paul VI has reminded us of it in these terms: « It is right to bear in mind that the union of the Jewish people with the Church is part of Christian hope. Indeed, the Church, following the teaching of the apostle Paul (Rom. 11) with undying faith and great desire, gives to the Jewish people access to the Fullness of the people of God as constituted by Jesus. » This is plain and clear. Only those are deceived who wish to be deceived.
Bishop Pezeril, one of the authors of the episcopal Orientations, in his desire to forestall any misinterpretation wrote in Le Monde April 27, 1973: « It would be impious, dishonest and useless at the end of this analysis of the Pastoral Orientations to minimize our fundamental and persistent disagreement on the person and the mission of Jesus which makes Christians what they are. Not to stress this point would be to participate in the silence of those who are ashamed, stigmatized by Saint Paul. » Cardinal Danielou in Le Figaro of April 28-29, 1973 stressed: « The dialogue between Jews and Christians is a serious thing. It touches on the fundamental questions of human existence. In this world where everything to do with these questions is devalued and where opportunism masks the real problems, please let us preserve the depth of this dialogue. Let us eliminate all the inflamatory elements which during the centuries have disfigured it, but let us also eliminate all that for the sake of peace would empty it of its content. Frankness is healthy only when it is ac-companied by respect and love. Dialogue between Jews and Christians has everything to gain from this. »
We can only agree with such recommendations. Superficial minds will consider them punctilious and hampering, but to neglect them is not a proof of intelligence and generosity; it can only create a confusion from which nothing good can come. Frankness and clarity are proofs of honesty and they alone are productive. For the participants to agree on the objects of disagreement and on its reasons is already a mark of esteem, respect and sympathy transcending all that separates. It is then a duty of honesty for us to state as clearly as possible that since all dialogue must bear on Jesus — true man and true God in the theological and historical senses of the formula — for us, dialogue can be no more than dialogue between the deaf. We would be doing wrong to encourage the idea that a christological interpretation of the Torah could, in spite of everything, be finally introduced into Judaism. All rapprochement with the Church on this point is absolutely inconceivable. There is clearly nothing in common between the reasons that prompt our attitude and those attributed to us by the Church.
THE CHURCH'S IDEA OF THE REASONS FOR OUR REFUSAL
According to one of her greatest theologians, our refusal arises from the consideration that « the Jewish people was for two thousand years chosen for the accomplishment of a mission; but this choice was provisional in the sense that it was not to be guarded jealously as an exclusive privilege, but to be shared with all peoples ... (However,) the elder son would not share with the prodigal » (Le Figaro, April 28-29, 1973). Thus from pure selfishness, from vain attachment to these rights as elder brother and the privileges entailed, we rejected the idea that all men, without distinction of race, language or condition, should regain the favor of their heavenly Father. Blinding ourselves to the true nature of our mission we deliberately turned our backs on him.
One of the basic texts that support this argument is obviously the end of chapter three of the Epistle to the Galatians where the apostle Paul states: « For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. » In addition, John says: « The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him » (John 3:35).
May I take the liberty of saying that we comprehend absolutely nothing of this language. It is understood that if we touch upon such a subject here it is only because there are those who persist in ascribing to the Torah such a philosophy of history. We have gone our way without paying any attention to the development of Christianity simply because the questions she is supposed to be able to solve are, to the Jew, irrelevant. Our reason for not recognizing Jesus is not because by dying he was supposed to have put an end to the enmity between God and the Gentiles, and thus caused us to forfeit all the privileges of the election, but simply because, for us, there has never been a rupture between God and the human race. This idea of a God so at enmity with man that he pursues him with implacable hatred, and with anger that cannot be appeased except by the sacrifice of his only son, is the product of pagan thought. It has no roots in Judaism. According to Judaism the effect of the disobedience of Adam, which is supposed to have been the cause of the rupture, was not to break the harmony between God and man but between man and nature. Man's task is to re-establish this harmony, and a little later on we shall see how, with all due respect to Racine and to the tradition that produced him, « the cruel, avenging God » is not the God of the Jews, and the curse which is supposed to have weighed on humanity from the beginning of time is not part of our tradition. On the very day he sinned, Adam did penance, was judged by God and pardoned, says a midrash of our rabbis, and this is not a pure invention. Things must have happened in this way; if not, the whole Torah becomes incomprehensible. What meaning could otherwise be found in the blessing given to our first parents outside the garden of Eden, the covenant made with them, the covenant to be madewith the whole of humanity in the person of Noah, according to Scripture itself the only just man of his generation. We shall see that this covenant was not annulled either by the pact with Abraham or by that of Sinai with the whole people of Israel. In the last analysis, the sole aim of both is to strengthen the covenant and to lead mankind to observe it scrupulously.
FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE AND AIM OF JUDAISM
[God's covenant with our first parents has never been abrogated. The covenants with Noah and Abraham were intended only to reinforce it and to lead all men to observe it more scrupulously.]
For this reason, God, according to the Torah, has never disassociated himself from any of his creatures. Not only does he receive favorably, according to the prophet Malachi, « the pure incense burnt everywhere in his honor », but he stoops with immense mercy to all who have gone astray, desiring their repentance that they may live. The entire book of Jonah, unique in religious literature, is concerned with this truth. What is it about? Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, Israel's mortal enemy, and yet God forces Jonah to go and preach repentance there. The people listen to his appeal. They stop using force and their ideal is no longer one of violence. They at last understand the purpose of a human destiny and immediately God pardons them.
Affirmations such as these are endlessly repeated in the Torah. They show clearly enough what it is possible to think of that argument of Christian theology which lays our resistance to the new religion at the door of our treacherous desire to keep all God's favors for ourselves, and of our will to deny them to all the Gentiles, as if, according to the Torah, the unity of the human race were not indestructible; as if Abraham and all his posterity had not been chosen by God « to be a source of blessing for all the peoples of the earth ».
No, if the Gospel drew almost all its followers from among the pagans and made absolutely no impression on the Jewish milieu, this was because it is in no way in the tradition of the Torah. The fundamental beliefs that characterize it come not from Judaism but from elsewhere. All the distortions inflicted on the sacred text can never make of it a scriptural basis for these beliefs. Such a conception of God, of man, of the relationship is completely foreign to Judaism. The fact is that the very object of the religious life is fundamentally opposed to the essential principles of the Torah. It is a question not of the accomplishment, the completion of the Covenant of Sinai, but rather of a radical change of direction, except perhaps in what concerns morality. This is, in itself, the morality of Judaism, but shorn of all the precepts relating to social life, and quite seriously relativized by the very fact that it has been grafted onto a system of beliefs which, it must be said, are related to the mystery cults.
The spiritual universe into which the Torah leads us is completely different. We are riveted to it not from a vain hankering after superiority but from a concern for our identity; and our Christian friends will willing agree that we alone know who we are. Jean-Paul Sartre's definition that man is not what he is, and he is what he is not, can have no validity for the people of Israel. Still today the Church tries to convince us that it is by ceasing to be ourselves, by becoming Christians, that we shall come to our full self-realization as people of God; in such an event we would cease to exist as a people, and the authentic truths of Judaism, truths which constitute the great good fortune of our tottering world would die away.
The Torah has no other aim than to form a perfect society capable, by its influence, of leading all nations to seek the justification of their right to live in their contribution to the upbuilding of a world in which the eminent dignity of the human person is effectively held to be the supreme virtue. This dignity is established by the Torah from the outset. Every man, simply because he is man, just man, bears in himself the image of God. This is the greatest favour that God could bestow on us. It is indelible, unalterable, unsurpassable. It is denied to none and it suffices for all. We need no other gift to fulfil our destiny. In it we possess all the interior resources we need to accomplish our task, which is to perfect this world. We shall see later how this is to be done. God has left the world incomplete so that we can have our own special part in the work of creation. Before forming man God formed creatures, but when he came to man he created a creator, a being completely free, capable of becoming his associate, his collaborator, his partner in the fullest sense of the word, that is to say, capable of becoming his organ or his obstacle —what the Torah calls an Ezer-kenegdo — God has willed it so. It was the greatest proof of love that he could give man; but it was also the only way open to man to come out of the isolation in which he was enclosed and to reach the fullness of this self-realization. For God desires to be present in this world. For him, the praise of the angels who cannot help glorifying him holds no interest. This is why he has shattered his own transcendence. He has drawn out of nothing the world where his presence is already made manifest by the laws which regulate the universe. It is manifested more clearly by his miracles and yet more clearly by the immanent justice that regularly ensures the triumph of good over the forces of evil. However, it is when he reigns over free wills, when the love of man responds to his own love, that he is at the summit of his glory, and love is love only when in man's yes there can be detected the possibility of a no.
THE UNIMPAIRED DIGNITY OF MAN
Such was the original plan, and the failure of Adam has in no way changed it. Judaism is what it is precisely because for it neither our power of initiative nor our moral dynamism have been in any way impaired. Since Adam's sin man has not been degraded to the status of an artifact. He is defined by his power of recreating himself spiritually at every moment and in every part of his being. Salvation then can be only the fruit of our own efforts. God can intervene only afterwards and simply to increase our strength. No one can substitute for us, not even God, without distorting everything. « Im en ani mi If I do not take myself in hand, who can do it for me? » said Hillel. The concept of grace, according to which God himself is the originator of the desire that draws me to him, and the concept of imputation are totally absent from Judaism. Everything is in God's hands except our love for him; thus the first words we say every morning are: « My God, the soul you have given me is pure. You made it, formed it and breathed it into me. As long as it is in me I shall give you thanks. » The soul, therefore, has retained all its integrity, all its dynamism. It must be so; otherwise the Torah would become the most ridiculous of books, because the aim it proposes is none other than to become holy as God himself is holy, and it shows us how to achieve this.
THE WAGER OF GOD AND THE FAITH OF ABRAHAM
Thus, for Judaism religion is an affair not of redemption but of education. It is a question of actualizing the infinite spiritual resources which man possesses by the very fact of being man. It has meaning only if the dialogue with God is a dialogue of free agents, in absolute equality of freedom and rigorous reciprocity of relationship. Commenting on the word Tamati, « my all-pure one » — the shepherdess of the Song of Songs who symbolizes the community of Israel — our sages enjoin us to read Teoumati, « my twin sister », and make God say: « I am no greater than she is and she is no greater than I am. »
Judaism is therefore poles apart from all doctrine professing that « from before our birth, without our conscious will having to manifest itself, there was an essentially mysterious drama which would have condemned us to perdition had not a power from on high graciously come to snatch us away from such a fate ». For us, what is at the origin of history is not a sin of a supernatural order which can be explained only at a level superior to our free-will, but a wager — the wager of God who has pushed his love for us to the point of betting on us, to placing all his trust and all his hope in us, that we may fulfil his highest aspirations. This wager is always on. Thus, our future happiness is far from being bestowed on us by an external power, mysterious and somewhat arbitrary, without our being able to do anything at all by ourselves for ourselves. The fate of God himself depends essentially on our good will in so far as he is involved in this extraordinary adventure into which he has thrown himself by calling the world into existence; he relies on us to complete it and to make of it his Kingdom. The problem of grace is thus inverted. All the initiative necessarily starts from us. We act; God simply cooperates. He needs us, says the Midrash, in the same way that the lamp needs oil to give light. If either fails there is nothing but darkness in the world. The only difference — and it is obviously enormous — is that we owe him absolutely everything except our way of using the liberty which he has conferred on us. He owes us absolutely nothing beyond the incarnation of his will in history where it can be inscribed by man alone, as God himself decided out of love for us. With reference to the verse of Isaiah: « 'You are my witnesses' says the Lord », the Midrash adds in his Name: « If you witness, I am; if you do not witness, I am not. » For the Torah, God is, but he exists in the full meaning of the word only through us. On the level of transcendence he is fully himself, but he wants to be present in this world and he seeks the most perfect and also the most difficult mode of immanence: this consists in reigning through wills that are absolutely free. I believe that Judaism could be quite faithfully expressed thus: God has become an absence of being — the famous ximzum of the Kabbalah — so that man may be and so that through men he may himself exist in the meaning conferred on this term by contemporary philosophy.
Merleau-Ponty, in his inaugural lecture to the College de France, spoke of this paradox already hinted at in the Midrash: « of the total Being who, in advance, is all that we can be and do, and who, nevertheless, would not be all this without us; who needs to enrich himself by our very being. We have a dual relationship with him: in the first we are his and in the second he is ours. Between us and the total Being there is a relationship that always remains reciprocal. »
What does God ask of man? For what end did he thus create him? What mission has he confided to him? In short, what, according to Judaism, is the fundamental object of religion? We have already some idea from the seven Noachide commandments destined for the whole human race. Only the first, on which the others are based, relates to God; the others relate to the neighbor. They are concerned with the most elementary demands of what Bergson calls static morality. They are, therefore, negative commandments, telling us not to harm our fellow beings. For the Gentiles they suffice to merit the title of Just and to be saved. Our sages call those who observe them « the Just among the nations, who have a right to the life to come ».
However, to gain an idea, at the same time precise and complete, of the essence of religion according to Judaism, we must go to our first patriarch. In a certain sense, the Torah is only the explicitation of the faith of Abraham, the real meaning of which has absolutely nothing in common with what the Church, since Paul, has persisted in attributing to it.
Let me make clear at once that if, in this indistinct mass of humanity of which he is part, the great figure of our patriarch stands out, it is certainly not because of any act of his that is even slightly arbitrary. All preference is odious, above all if it is on the part of the God of the Torah, defined from its first page as Creator of the world and Father of the human race. According to Judaism, God chooses only those who have already chosen him. Every vocation is essentially an answer of God to the call of man, not an answer of man to the call of God. The Torah does well to begin the story of the life of Abraham in an abrupt way. He was an unknown person and suddenly he receives the promise that he will become the father of many nations and a source of blessing for all the peoples of the earth. But let us make no mistake: all that is said of him afterwards, the ten trials to which he is submitted, terminating in the sacrifice of Isaac, his only son, offer to all the proof that nobody more than himself deserved to become the herald of God.
It goes without saying that if God decided to test Abraham, Abraham himself had begun by seeking God. He had succeeded by himself in discovering God's essence, and consequently in discovering how he is to be adored. The son of a maker of idols, himself an idolator, he was three years old when, after coming out of the cave in which he had taken refuge from king Nimrod who was seeking his life, he laid the foundation of the religion of Israel. He saw the sun and took it for God. Night came, the moon replaced the sun and disappeared in its turn; so he concluded that God cannot be confused with anything that he has made. The incorporality of God, his quality of being pure spirit, dates from that day, and the Torah returns ceaselessly to this characteristic of the God of Israel. It will be asserted with absolutely exceptional solemnity in the Decalogue where the second commandment forbids all representation of God in corporal form by means of anything in heaven, on earth or in the waters under the earth, and after the scene on Sinai the first preoccupation of Moses will be to make our ancestors understand that they saw nothing; they merely heard a voice.
JUSTICE AND CHARITY: THE ONLY WAYS OF REACHING GOD
Following Abraham's example, Judaism refuses to go farther in all that pertains to the metaphysical nature of God. This is why the Torah and the Talmud, though they speak to us incessantly of God, contain no coherent and systematic expose of theodicy. 'While the other confessions that have their roots in the Bible live on theology and subsist only by means of it, Judaism has none — if by theology is meant preoccupation with divine or supra-sensible reality considered in itself and not in its relationship to the religious life of man. For us, God as he is in himself, in his pure transcendence, completely evades our understanding. He goes infinitelybeyond us. His essence resists all description since description can only distort it. All we know of him is that he is, that he alone is, that all flows from him; but our intelligence cannot seize him. He is the Totally-Other. All that we can say of his deep reality is literally absurd. It can provide no food for metaphysical speculation. Not reason, intuition or contemplation can pierce the mystery of his Being and give us any idea of what he is in himself. Judaism always insists on the answer that he himself gave Moses: « I am who I am. » My essence is what it is. It is not within reach of your mind.
No matter how hard we may try we can never attain to a positive knowledge of the divinity by way of the intellect. The ultimate truth to which the intellect leads us is knowledge of what God is not. Our reason can succeed in approaching him only by way of negative attributes. Even the unity of God, that pivot of the Torah, cannot escape this rule. Chief Rabbi J. Weill says: « The One God of Judaism is not an abstract unity, simply an empty concept or unity of substance outside of which there is no life. He is the Unique; but this notion is primarily negative and exclusive. The religion of the Unique excludes all polytheism — adoration of several powers — all paganism, all divinization of any one thing or of a fixed being. It excludes dualism, trinitarian monotheism and all the pantheistic forms of monism. »
However, we recognize willingly that, important as it is for man to know that God is not corporeal, multiple, non-conscious, non-omniscient, non-omnipotent, Abraham's discovery would be reduced to very little, to a simple deism, had it stopped there. The decisive step that religious consciousness owes him and which brings it about that henceforth humanity will have no other choice than to follow him or to contradict him, without even being able to invent anything new whatsoever in the domain of the spiritual life, lies in this second approach: of the infinity of attributes which are the riches of the divine nature Abraham understands that only two can be apprehended by man — those of justice and of charity. It is by these God defines himself for man. The God of Judaism is a God who has a relationship with the moral conscience. In face of the mystery of God which envelopes us on every side and which has inspired men with the strangest and sometimes the most aberrant and monstrous of practices, the genius of Abraham reveals this truth: that morality is the highest manifestation of the divine. It is the royal road that leads infallibly to God. This and none other is the faith of Abraham. Judaism is not limited like other confessions to having a morality. It is the religion of morality. It professes the cult of morality. It has been said of the Torah that it is the compass of the moral values. The mission of the people of Israel is to sanctify morality, and God recognizes himself so well in Abraham's conception of the spiritual life he wishes to make himself known through him to the whole of humanity. For the father of the faithful the road to God consists in practising what is just and what is good.
The whole message of the Torah lies in these two words. This message will be taken up endlessly. All our prophets never tire of repeating it. « He has showed you, 0 man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? » proclaimed the prophet Micah (6:8). Much later, in the year 50 before our era, Hillel gave this reply in answer to a pagan who had asked him to resume the Torah in one sentence: « Do not do to another what you would not like him to do to you. That is the whole Torah; the rest is but commentary. »
It follows from this that, for Judaism, the knowledge of God comes not from metaphysical speculation, intuition, or contemplation, but from action. Since he is essentially middat hadin and middat harahamim, justice and charity, the only way of knowing him positively is to imitate him in all his ways by making these two principles concrete at all levels and on all planes of reality. Thus when his will acts, not in us but by us, when our will coincides with his and translates it freely into daily life, we are in him, we are introduced into the most intimate part of his Being, and he is in us.
Thus, if, for Judaism, morality is the supreme value because it is, as we have just seen, the essence of the divine, it necessarily follows that there is no human creature who cannot have a claim on God and belong to his people. It suffices to practise in his Name the seven commandments of the Noachide law which are within the reach of everybody without distinction.
This why our sages tell us that whoever renounces idolatry and the immoral practices that go with it is considered to be a Hebrew, and in the same way a text of Tanna de-Vei Eliyahu assures us «that there is neither Jew nor pagan, neither man nor woman, neither master nor slave, for the holy Spirit rests upon anyone who does good works».
It follows also from this that the problems of man's liberation and of his salvation make no sense for Judaism. I accomplish my salvation by contributing to the liberation of man. God's cause is not on one side and that of man on the other. Man's cause is the cause of God himself, and man is not for this reason deified. Far from it: we know that we are nothing but vain futility. However, our effort to raise another as an end in himself, that is not nothingness (Ps. 14). By this effort we put the seal of eternity on the evanescent moments of our ephemeral existence.
This is the limitless meaning of Jewish universalism. It completely identifies the spiritual or supernatural life with the moral life; consequently it deprives absolutely no human being, regardless of geographical or philosophical horizons, of his power to fulfil himself spiritually in the very conditions in which he lives, without ever ceasing to be himself.
THE ROLE OF ISRAEL IN THE HUMAN FAMILY
One can therefore ask: Why Israel? Israel has a special position as heir to the vocation of Abraham. As a people, Israel has in its turn placed itself at the service of God to watch over the common good of humanity. Its mission is to assure the triumph of that conception of religious life which consists in identifying the kingdom of God with the reign of morality, in substituting in every domain of reality the moral order for the law of the jungle. This particularism is in no way opposed to universalism; it is its condition. Moral values can shine forth only if there are individuals who consecrate their whole existence to them, who make of them the great affair of their lives, their sole raison d'être.
So it is with Israel. The sacerdotal order it constitutes not only imposes upon it a dynamic attitude by creating for itself duties that are even more exacting. It is obliged also to observe all the purely religious commandments that devolve upon Israel alone. All the ceremonial laws have as their essential aim to oblige Israel to keep constantly in mind the engagement entered into at Sinai, to introduce the demands of morality into all spheres of reality, whether they are concerned with interpersonal or international relations, with political, economic or social life. For Judaism, the spiritual life is real only if it spiritualizes all the temporal, that is to say if it moralizes it.
Such is the precise meaning of the Election of Israel. To tell us, therefore, that we have not wanted to share it is nonsense. A vocation, by definition, cannot be distributed; it claims. Only an unclaimed object belongs to anybody who wants it, and conversely if one is not attracted to a vocation, one does not fail on that account. The essential thing is for everybody to accomplish his task well, in his own particular position. Israel is the people first-born to an authentic national life. It is, according to the expression of the prophet Jeremiah, the first-fruits of God's harvest. It is there only to forward the birth of other sons and to activate the ripening of other harvests. It impatiently awaits the time when the whole of humanity will make the Noachide law an absolute and reach complete self-fulfilment. God will then be able to exclaim: « Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and [coming only in third place] Israel my heritage » (Is. 19:25).
JUDAISM: NOT A UNIVERSAL BUT A UNIVERSALIST RELIGION
Judaism then, has no ambition to become a universal religion, which implies a certain spirit of totalitarianism. Israel is a people of priests and has no pretention to impose on all, I will not say its dogmas which are no other than the truths of natural religion, but its rites and practices. Judaism is universalist, which is quite different. It concedes to everybody the right of differing even on the subject of dogma. It considers that the only universal values are moral values. Utterly transparent to the conscience, imposing themselves upon it without constraint and without violence, they have the right to exact respect from all, because they are the necessary and sufficient condition for the cohabitation of all men in the same universe. If we are animated by such a generous ideal, how can we be accused of exclusivism; this can be comprehended only if one understands that by inviting us to go beyond our particularism, which, as we have already seen, is not the opposite of universalism but its condition, the Church is in reality threatening our will to persevere in being what we are and in being indomitably ourselves, the better to serve others. Its constant objective is to make the Jewish people adopt its credo. All means to this end seem good, from assuming the identity of that people — verus Israel — to the re-adoption, augmented by a metaphysical dimension, of the old Greco-Roman myth of the Jew, enemy of humanity.
Consequently, the infinite distance separating Judaism from Christianity is measured as soon as one attempts discussion on the dogmatic level. While the one tries to convert the whole human race to the ideal of morality, the aim of the other is to convert it to a truth that presents itself as a mystery. This ineradicable difference has been admirably understood -By Fr. Dupuy who has himself expressed some very clear reservations on the possibility of dialogue at the level of exegesis. He remarks with extreme justice and depth that « Christianity has become an essentially dogmatic religion while Judaism is mainly an ethical religion. Christian exegesis is consistently dogmatic. When we Christians approach ethical questions we still dogmatize. On the contrary, when Jews approach dogmatic questions they return to ethics. » These remarks of Fr. Dupuy are extremely precious. They go to the very heart of the problem that divides Judaism and Christianity. What really separates us is not only the passage from the idea of messiah-hood to that of divinity, the lack of attentiveness to the rigorous unity and the pure spirituality of God, and all that economy of salvation conditioned by baptism, the sacraments and the Eucharist. If all these beliefs were not presented as constituting the authentic message of the Torah, and if there was no effort, direct or indirect, to make us share them, we would heed them no more or no less than we heed the beliefs of other confessions. But what has so far rendered the dialogue in fact impossible is the repercussion in the Church of any dogmatic construction on morality itself.
Far be it from me to think of denying the progress that the human race owes to Christianity. Our greatest thinkers have raised the question as to whether Christianity and Islam have not played a providential role in bringing the pagan world closer to the essential objective of the Torah. This in no way alters the fact that to deny to morality, even morality practised in the name of God, the power of procuring salvation to non-Christians, has unfortunately very appreciably contributed to distort consciences and to relativize the unconditional and absolute respect due to the eminent dignity of the human person. Whether we like it or not, as soon as the unity of the human race, the immeasurable value of the human person and universal brotherhood no longer flow exclusively from the divine image which each man bears within himself from the very fact that he is man, but depends on adherence toa credo which excludes those who refuse it from the company of God, the worst crimes against man become possible. Thus, unfortunately, the primacy of the theological virtues over the moral virtues, the subordination of ethics to strictly dogmatic truths, constitutes still today one of the chief obstacles to the establishment of a universal republic.
Jacques Maritain has said: « The human creature can be respected only in his link with Jesus in so far as he owes everything to him and is rehabilitated in him. » Pope Paul VI in Gaudium et Spes reminds us that « it is only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word that the mystery of man finds its true light », and he adds: « If we are not united to Jesus we have no reason to call men our brothers, no motive for sacrificing ourselves for them nor any reason for seeing in every human face the image of the face of Christ. If we do not possess faith, hope and charity, the three theological virtues, we are blind and compelled to be slaves of the earth. » St. John says that « no man can come to God except through Jesus », and Cardinal Renard explains in his book La vie et la Foi published in 1973 that « Christian morality proceeds entirely from faith in Jesus and contains nothing but the demands of this faith. In order to be brothers we must be members of Jesus, saved, sanctified, divinized by him, in him, being incorporated by the sacraments, above all by the Eucharist. »
THE ONLY SOLUTION
To be frank, such a position creates an unbridgeable gulf between consciences, making all communication impossible. Let us understand each other. There is no question of asking the Church to modify her dogmas. They are what they are, and she has a perfect right to profess the beliefs . that to her express the truth. Never will we allow ourselves to pass the least judgment on them, and never will we do anything to turn a Christian away from his faith. The only thing that concerns us is that both sides abide by the same set of values, and above all, that both grant to morality, practised in the name of God, a determining role in the salvation of every man, whoever he may be. It is perfectly acceptable that each confession should, in addition, demand of its followers adherence to a specific credo. Thus, Judaism asks nothing more of the Gentiles than observance of the seven Noachide laws expressing the most elementary demands of static morality. Of its own faithful it requires infinitely more. They must not only satisfy the demands of dynamic morality, but in addition obey a mass of strictly religious prescriptions.
If the Church and Islam could adopt a similar attitude, the so-called biblical religions might be able to combine their efforts effectively and become a true spiritual force. They would then be able to have a powerful influence on the course of history. They would be ready to lead the world toward its highest destiny, for the greater happiness of men and the greater glory of God.
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