Chicago Studies Spring/Summer 2022

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chicago studies

Catholics Re ect on Judaism

Editor’s Corner

Fr. David M. Neuhaus, S.J. Salvation and the Jews

Fr. Andrew Liaugminus

“To Proclaim the Cross of Christ as the Sign of God’s All-Embracing Love”: A Response to David Neuhaus on “Salvation and the Jews”

Fr. David M. Neuhaus, S.J.

The People of Israel, the Land of Israel, and the State of Israel

Fr. John T. Pawlikowski

“The People of Israel, the Land of Israel and the State of Israel”: A Constructive Response

Fr. Emery de Gaál

Funeral Homily for the Very Reverend Thomas A. Baima

Author’s Page

Background photo: cristina-gottardi-unsplash

Chicago Studies

Editorial Board

Melanie Barrett Lawrence Hennessey Paul Hilliard John Lodge

Kevin Magas Patricia Pintado Juliana Vazquez Ray Webb Martin Zielinski

Founding Editor

George Dyer

CHICAGO STUDIES is edited by members of the faculty of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary for the continuing theological development of priests, deacons, and lay ecclesial ministers. The editors welcome articles and letters likely to be of interest to our readers. Views expressed in the articles are those of the respective authors and not necessarily those of the editorial board. All communications regarding articles and editorial policy should be addressed to Indexed in The Catholic Periodical & Literature Index and New Testament Abstracts.

Cover Design by Thomas Gaida.

Copyright © 2023 Civitas Dei Foundation

ISSN 0009-3718

Catholics Reflect on Judaism

Editors’ Corner – Spring/Summer 2022

We dedicate this issue of Chicago Studies to the memory of the Very Reverend Thomas A. Baima, who formerly authored this Editor’s Corner. Fr. Baima was a beloved member not only of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary faculty, but also of the JewishCatholic Scholars’ Dialogue in Chicago. Fr. Baima contributed to interreligious dialogues (both formal and informal) with many other faith communities as well, throughout his priestly and academic career, which sadly ended in 2022 after a battle with cancer.

Prior to his death, Fr. Baima organized the 2021 Albert Cardinal Meyer lecture series at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, and he invited the various participants. The papers presented at that event are included in this issue.

The Reverend David M. Neuhaus, S.J., who served as the official Cardinal Meyer lecturer for 2021, offers two essays: “Salvation and the Jews,” and “The People of Israel, the Land of Israel, and the State of Israel.” Reverend Andrew Liaugminas, a dogmatic theologian, responds to Fr. Neuhaus’ first essay. Reverend John T. Pawlikowski, O.S.M., engages Fr. Neuhaus’ second essay from the perspective of historical relations between Catholics and Jews, and official Catholic Church statements on the topic Consistent with our dedication, this issue concludes with the text of the funeral homily for Fr. Baima preached by Fr. Emery de Gaál, his faculty colleague and longtime friend

Cognizant of the fact that centuries of Christian antisemitism contributed to the large-scale destruction of European Jewry in the 1930s and 40s particularly when coupled with secular racist theories beginning in the late nineteenth century Catholic theological reflection in the postVatican II era properly endeavors to be extraordinarily sensitive when discussing Judaism, and always to treat our Jewish brothers and sisters with the utmost respect and reverence. To best ensure that we avoid returning to a past mired in prejudice and misunderstanding, we know that we must remain committed to interreligious dialogue and to frequently reassess what and how we understand one another.

The 2021 Meyer lecture series endeavored to further Catholic theological reflection on Jews and Judaism from the perspective of Catholic theology. In some sense, the event was an “inhouse” discussion which allowed Catholics to explore certain doctrinal points within the context of shared theological presuppositions. As is our custom, these lectures and the responses to them are reproduced here in their entirety to continue the conversation that we began at that time, rooted in the Catholic theological tradition. We hope that these essays promote robust theological reflection on our deeply valued relationship with the Jewish people, both within and beyond the scope of the Catholic theological community.

Salvation and the Jews

In Jesus’s exchange with the Samaritan woman in the Gospel of John, he tells her that “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). Scripture affirms that indeed “

σάρκα” (from them is the Christ according to the flesh) (Romans 9:5). The teaching of the Church since the Second Vatican Council insists that the relationship with Jesus’s people, the Jewish people, the constant reference to the Scriptures of Israel (known by Christians as the Old Testament) and familiarity with Israel’s traditions are essential elements in order to get to know Jesus, recognized by Christians as the Christ-Messiah, Son of God, and savior of the world. 1 However, whereas the Church indeed affirms that our salvation is from the Jews, where is salvation for the Jews from according to Church teaching?

Born out of the womb of Israel, grafted onto the domesticated olive tree that is Israel, too often members of the Church have been dismissive of their Jewish roots and their debt to the Jewish people. At the Second Vatican Council, the Church resolved to rethink her relationship with the Jews. After two thousand years, a reflection on the history of Jewish-Catholic relations challenges the traditional conceptual language and strategies of the past. Taking seriously this often-traumatic history also obliges Catholics to rethink Christian mission to the Jews. Is it, as some suggest, rendered both futile and obsolete because of the historical teaching of contempt for Jews and Judaism, now clearly an object of regret, and because of the methods sometimes used to coerce Jews to become Christians? Perhaps even more importantly, the Council restated what the Apostle Paul had said in his Epistle to the Romans, namely that “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). This astonishing theological claim recognizes the fidelity of God to God’s promises and to the election of Israel. 2 Whatever the human failings of the Jews, God is always faithful, and that is good news for Christians, who most certainly share in these same failings.

The Second Vatican Council document Nostra aetate affirmed, “Indeed, (the Church) proclaims, and ever must proclaim Christ “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), in whom men may find the fullness of religious life, in whom God has reconciled all things to Himself.”

Fifty years later, in 2015, the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews reaffirmed this principle of Christian mission in a document entitled, The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable. However, it also recognized the complexity of this task with regard to the Jews, asking “the highly complex theological question of how Christian belief in the universal salvific significance of Jesus Christ can be combined in a coherent way with the equally clear statement of faith in the never-revoked covenant of God with Israel. It is the belief of the Church that

Christ is the Savior for all. There cannot be two ways of salvation.”


The affirmation that there cannot be two ways of salvation because Christ is the unique Savior makes many Jews uncomfortable, so uncomfortable that the great twentieth-century Jewish American thinker, Abraham Joshua Heschel, commented, “If I were asked either to convert or to die in Auschwitz, I’d rather go to Auschwitz.” 4 Many Jews reject anything that smacks of mission. Rabbi David Rosen, a prominent Orthodox Jew in the dialogue between the Church and the Jews, demanded clarification on mission to the Jews in his address at the Vatican commemoration of the 40th anniversary of Nostra aetate in October 2005:

It appears to me that there is a pressing need for a clear reaffirmation of the Magisterium in this regard. Without such, there will remain not only an unhealthy

ἐξ ὧν ὁ Χριστὸς τὸ κατὰ

ambiguity in our relationship, but we will continue to have to deal with unfortunate and unnecessary tensions regarding motives, including the presence and role of specific personalities in the Church whose background is particularly pertinent to this relationship. 5

Rosen’s remarks pointed to the refusal of the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo di Segni, to participate in the event because the Holy See had invited Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, to be a main speaker at the celebration. 6 These dramatic reactions oblige Catholics to reflect on the tension between a Christian commitment to preaching Christ as Savior of all and the Church’s attitude of respect for the Jews, dialogue and collaboration with them.

The 1974 guidelines for the implementation of Nostra aetate insisted, “In virtue of her divine mission, and her very nature, the Church must preach Jesus Christ to the world.” However, the document, sensitive to the historical context in which the Church encounters Jews, continued,

Lest the witness of Catholics to Jesus Christ should give offence to Jews, they must take care to live and spread their Christian faith while maintaining the strictest respect for religious liberty in line with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. They will likewise 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. 7

In response to Jewish concerns about mission, some have suggested distinguishing “mission” (often conceived as active proselytization) from “bearing witness ” Walter Kasper, eminent Catholic theologian and one-time head of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, has explained,

Because as Christians we know that God’s covenant with Israel by God’s faithfulness is not broken, mission – understood as call to conversion from idolatry to the living and true God – does not apply and cannot be applied to Jews. They confess the living true God, who gave and gives them support, hope, confidence and strength in many difficult situations of their history. There cannot be the same kind of behavior towards Jews as there exists towards Gentiles. This is not a merely abstract theological affirmation, but an affirmation that has concrete and tangible consequences: namely, that there is no organized Catholic missionary activity towards Jews as there is for all other non–Christian religions. 8

Dialogue with Jews leads Catholics to discover the Jewish reality in all its vibrance and diversity. They need to know that religious Jews already see themselves within a dynamic relationship with God, Creator and Redeemer, the God whom Christians identify as Father of Jesus Christ. Most Jews reject the messianic claims of Jesus of Nazareth. However, they do share with Christians a profound understanding of an ordered creation, the involvement of God in the history of salvation and an eschatological restoration. At best, Jews who are not believers in Jesus might see him as a Torah faithful Jew, as great as, if not greater than, any other in the Jewish tradition. 9

In the face of Jewish unbelief in Jesus as Messiah, Cardinal Kasper went as far as to say, “This does not mean that Jews in order to be saved have to become Christians; if they follow their own

conscience and believe in God’s promises as they understand them in their religious tradition they are in line with God’s plan, which for us comes to its historical completion in Jesus Christ.” 10 Nonetheless, the question remains: does the Church continue to teach that Jews ultimately should recognize Jesus as Christ? If the answer is affirmative, does that imply that in the view of the Church, the best Jew is a baptized Jew? It is perhaps revealing to examine how the Church prays for the Jews. Once a year, the prayer for the Jews is recited formally in the Great Litany of Good Friday. Prior to Vatican II, the traditional Good Friday prayer for the Jews read,

Let us also pray for the perfidious (unbelieving) Jews: that our God and Lord will remove the veils from their hearts, so that they too may acknowledge our Lord Jesus Christ. Almighty, eternal God, who does not withhold thy mercy even from Jewish unbelief, heed the prayers that we offer for the blindness of that people, that they may acknowledge the light of thy truth, which is Christ, and be delivered from their darkness, through Christ our Lord. 11

Pope John XXIII officially annulled the Good Friday prayer’s reference to “the perfidious Jews” even before the Council commenced. 12 However, in light of the Council, the prayer was completely rewritten to read:

Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of His name and in faithfulness to His covenant. Almighty and eternal God, long ago you gave your promise to Abraham and his posterity. Listen to your Church as we pray that the people you first made your own may arrive at the fullness of redemption. 13

Of course, the fullness of redemption can be understood in various ways, but most Christians would view Jesus Christ as that fullness.

Jews might well insist that if God does not revoke the covenant, as Catholics affirm today, then surely Jews only need to be always more faithful to the Torah that God has given to them in order to be on the right track. Some Jews have suggested that consistent with this affirmation of the fidelity of God, theologically the Church should develop the understanding of Jesus as unique savior for the Gentiles whereas, in a parallel fashion, God calls the Jews to live Torah. Jesus and Torah are then two parallel ways of salvation according to this view. 14 Some Christian theologians have been proposing a “two-covenant theology,” Judaism for the Jews, Christianity for the nations. 15 However, in remaining faithful to Scripture and Tradition, the Catholic Church cannot affirm such a position and must continue to maintain that ultimately Christ is the way, the truth and the light for all.

In dialogue with the Jews, it is important to realize that the question of salvation is a very Christian one; Jews tend not to debate the question “who is saved?” Nonetheless, for Christians engaged in the relationship with the Jewish people, the soteriological issue remains a significant even if ambiguous one. The Church, having rediscovered the Jewishness of Jesus and the heritage it shares with the Jewish people, continues to insist that both Jews and Gentiles depend on the same savior for salvation. However, this reflection on salvation from the Jews and salvation for the Jews not only must be consistent with Christology and ecclesiology; it also must consider the millennial relationship with Jews and Judaism.

In the time of Jesus and his first disciples (all Jews), those who believed in him understood the Jewish tradition as finding its fulfillment in the sequela Christi (the following of Christ). This was at the heart of the Christian dynamic that understood the Old Testament’s fulfillment in the New. However, parallel to the development of the early Church, the fundamental transformation of the Jewish tradition after the destruction of the Second Temple, leading to the production of the Talmud and its extensive commentaries, rendered the relationship between Judaism and Christianity much more complex. The learned rabbis of the centuries after the destruction of the Temple proposed a fundamentally different dynamic with regard to the Scriptures of ancient Israel, seeing an unbreakable link between a written Torah (mostly parallel to the Christian Old Testament) and an oral one (the Talmud). In relating to the ancient Scriptures of Israel, the Christian coupling of new and old constituted only one possibility, a Christian one, of reflecting on the actualization of these ancient Scriptures. Rabbinic Jews proposed a very different coupling, that of written and oral. Traditional Christian thinking often has posited that the rabbinic teaching, deriving from the tradition of Israel in the Talmud and subsequent Jewish writings, constituted nothing more than an obstacle to Jews coming to see Jesus as the promised Christ, who fulfills the Scriptures of Israel. This reached tragic dimensions when the Talmud was burned repeatedly in the Middle Ages.

Traditional Church teaching understood the Jews as the people of the Old Testament. Israel was supposed to be only a part of the preparation for the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Church. For the most part, Church teaching refused to see the Jews as a permanent fixture in the history of salvation. Rather, Christians looked forward to a time when, as the Apostle Paul says, “There is no longer Jew nor Greek, there is no longer slave nor free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Nostra aetate (no. 4) does explicitly speak of a future eschatological time when Jews and Christians will be one: “In company with the Prophets and the same Apostle, the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and ‘serve him shoulder to shoulder’ (Zephaniah 3:9) ”

Noteworthy however, in the Council’s formulation of this messianic future vision of unity, there is no explicit reference to the Jews embracing belief in Christ in the Church. 16 Furthermore, the Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) teaches, “The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant.” 17 However, it also speaks of an eventual convergence of unrealized Jewish Messianic expectations with the Christian expectancy of the return of Jesus Christ in the end times. The 2015 document, The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable, cited Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who proposed already in the Middle Ages that for the Jews “a determined point in time has been fixed which cannot be anticipated.” 18

The reflection on salvation for the Jews as a future eschatological reality is rooted in chapters 9 to 11 of Paul’s epistle to the Romans, the same chapters that provided the Council with the source for its reflection on the fidelity of God. Paul, already in his time, had to confront the arrogance of Gentile believers who were looking down on Jews because they did not believe in Jesus. Using the evocative imagery of two olive trees, one wild and one domesticated, Paul writes, “They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand only through faith. So do not become proud but stand in awe. For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you” (Romans 11:20-21). In strongly rejecting arrogance, Paul posits the “disbelief” of Israel as a “mystery” (Romans 11:25) of God’s design whereby Israel’s refusal of the Gospel enables the preaching of the Gospel to the nations, who do believe. Moreover, expressing his conviction that God’s faithfulness ultimately would bring all of Israel into the new covenant, he points to the future

working out of God’s fidelity in the re-grafting of the Jews onto the domesticated olive tree. “For if you have been cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree” (Romans 11:24).

However, it is not enough to push the issue of the Jewish encounter with Christ into an unknown future, where Jews and Christians might converge. A 2018 article published by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, which provoked perplexity among some Jews and strong criticism from some Catholics, 19 renewed the debate about Christian mission and the fidelity of God to the Jews. Whereas Benedict insists that God’s covenant with the Jews is unrevoked indeed, from a human point of view the covenant is “codetermined by the whole drama of human error,” 20 a reference to the Jews’ rejection of faith in Christ. According to Benedict, one cannot ignore this drama and thus he insists that the task of the Church remains the call to greater fidelity, a fidelity that finds its perfection in Jesus Christ. Indeed, Jews and Christians together share in this “drama of human error” in their sinful humanity and yet together with all others they are called to walk the way towards the Kingdom. Eschewing all arrogance, today, the Church teaches with insistence that Christians too often have failed in their witness because they themselves have not yet been conformed to the image and likeness of Christ, a reality that also is manifest in the traditional teaching of contempt for Jews and Judaism and in their forgetfulness of God’s faithfulness. Christians proclaim not only the Torah fidelity of Jesus the Jew but also the newness of the restored filial relationship with God in Jesus the Christ, fulfillment of God’s Word in history. Whereas Christians witness to a Jesus Christ who brings the fullness of salvation, they are called to recognize also how dismally they have failed to live up to his call for discipleship. Thus, their witness only can be coherent in recognizing that Jews who seek to live Torah are “not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34). It was these words that Jesus himself addressed to a scribe who professed his Torah fidelity. Christians who seek to take up their Cross and follow Jesus daily can only hope that they too are not far off. God’s fidelity to a Jewish people who has not always lived in fidelity to the Torah is the basis for the hope of God’s fidelity to Christians who have not always lived in fidelity to the Torah Incarnate in Jesus. As Jews and Christians consider the future, the Catechism of the Catholic Church formulates the issue with wisdom and respect: “God's People of the Old Covenant and the new People of God tend towards similar goals: expectation of the coming (or the return) of the Messiah. But, one awaits the return of the Messiah who died and rose from the dead and is recognized as Lord and Son of God; the other awaits the coming of a Messiah, whose features remain hidden till the end of time; and the latter waiting is accompanied by the drama of not knowing or of misunderstanding Christ Jesus.” 21 This conviction that Jews and Christians will converge in recognizing that Torah, that teaching incarnate in the One who is to come on the final Day of the Lord, is fundamental to Christian hope.

1 See D. Neuhaus, “‘Ebrei’ ed ‘Ebraismo’ nell’Insegnamento cattolico: una rivoluzione nell’interpretazione,” Civiltà cattolica, 2019 (4055, 1.6.2019), 417-431.

2 Romans 11:29 was not only quoited in Nostra aetate, n. 4 but also in Lumen Gentium, n. 16.

3 Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable” (Rom 11:29): A Reflection on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic-Jewish Relations on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of “Nostra ætate” (No. 4) (2015), 37. /commissione-per-i-rapporti-religiosi-con-l-ebraismo/commissione-per-i-rapporti-religiosi-con-l-ebraismocrre/documenti-della-commissione/en.html

4 See P. Gamberini, “The Legacy of Abraham Joshua Heschel,” America (14.10.2015), 23-25.

5 D. Rosen, “Nostra Aetate: 40 Years after Vatican II,” website of Center for Christian-Jewish Learning:

6 See S. Goldberg, Jewish-Christian Difference and Modern Jewish Identity (Lanham, Lexington Books, 2015), 67-68.

7 Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, “Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate (n. 4)” (1974).

8 W. Kasper, “The Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews: A Crucial Endeavor of the Catholic Church,” an address on November 6, 2002 at Boston College

9 Contemporary Jewish scholars have launched a rediscovery of Jesus from within the Jewish people. For early examples, see J. Klausner, Jesus of Nazareth: His Life, Times and Teaching (New York, Macmillan, 1925), D. Flusser, Jesus (Jerusalem, Magnes Press, 1998).

10 W. Kasper, “The Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews: A Crucial Endeavor of the Catholic Church,” an address on 6.11.2002 at Boston College, reprinted on the Vatican website:

11 Missal of Pius V reformed by John XXIII in 1962.

12 Pope Pius XII already had introduced a change in the form of this prayer after the Second World War. Whereas until that time Catholics knelt for all the other Good Friday prayers, for the Jews Catholic stood, indicating a certain distrust with regard to the Jewish people. Pius XII instructed Catholics to kneel. John XXIII interrupted the Good Friday liturgy in 1963 insisting that the prayer be read without the traditional adjective “perfidious” being used to describe the Jews.

13 Missal of Paul VI (1969).

14 See for example I. Greenberg, For the Sake of Heaven and Earth: The New Encounter between Judaism and Christianity (Philadelphia, JPS, 2004).

15 See for example P. Van Buren, A Christian Theology of the People of Israel (New York, Seabury, 1983) and F. Marquadt, Theological Audacities (Eugene, Wipf and Stock, 2010). A Sacred Obligation: Rethinking Christian Faith in Relation to Judaism and the Jewish People (2002), composed by Catholic and Protestant theologians in the United States, also raised this possibility: “If Jews, who do not share our faith in Christ, are in a saving covenant with God, then Christians need new ways of understanding the universal significance of Christ ” See also M. Boys (ed), Seeing Judaism Anew: Christianity’s Sacred Obligation (Lanham, Sheed and Ward, 2005).

16 See note 19 in W. Abbott (ed), The Documents of Vatican II (New York, Guild Press, 1966) 665: “A reference to ‘conversion’ of the Jews was removed from an earlier version of this Declaration because many Council Fathers felt it was not appropriate in a document striving to establish common goals and interests first.” A decisive factor in this was the meeting between Pope Paul VI and Abraham Joshua Heschel. See J. Miller (ed), Vatican II: An Interfaith Appraisal: International Theological Conference (Notre Dame, University of Notre Dame Press, 1966), 373). His daughter Susannah recalled, in an interview in America: “My father met with Pope Paul VI to make his objection clear, and he said many times that he was told after the meeting that the pope took his pen and crossed out the sentence” (America, June 18-25, 2007, 12).

17 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 839.

18 Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable, 36 (2015). Benedict XVI quotes in this same regard Bernard of Clairvaux at greater length in Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week (San Francisco, Ignatius Press, 2011), 44-45.

19 J. Ratzinger – Benedict XVI, “Gnade und Berufung ohne Reue: Anmerkungen zum Traktat “De Iudaeis,” Communio 45/1 (2018) 163-184. See also E. Guerriero (ed), Benedetto XVI in dialogo con il rabbino Arie Folger: Ebrei e Cristiani (Rome, San Paolo Edizioni, 2019). For a highly critical note, see C. Rutishauser, “Benedikt XVI. ruft den Juden zu: An Christus führt kein Weg vorbei,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung (8.7.2018).

20 Op. Cit. 181.

21 Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 840.

“To Proclaim the Cross of Christ as the Sign of God’s All-Embracing Love” 1: A Response to David Neuhaus on “Salvation

and the Jews”

When it comes to the topic of “Salvation and the Jews,” one could pursue various avenues of inquiry, ranging from the soteriological self-understanding of the Jews to the unique and fundamental role the Jewish people play in the Christian understanding of salvation. Yet, our focus here lies in neither of these topics per se, but in how a Christian should understand the relationship of Israel outside the Church to the salvation that comes from Christ and his Church. Stated succinctly, Neuhaus asks, “Whereas the Church indeed affirms that our salvation is from the Jews, where is salvation for the Jews from according to Church teaching?”

In his lecture, “Salvation and the Jews,” Neuhaus discusses various significant elements for answering this question, including God’s faithfulness to the covenant he made with Abraham (Romans 11:29), the rediscovery of the Jewishness of Jesus, respect for our Jewish brothers and sisters, and hope for a final, eschatological convergence of the Jewish expectation for the Messiah and the Christian hope in the Second Coming of Christ (Romans 11:26). In the meantime, Neuhaus suggests that the proper posture of the Church vis-à-vis the Jewish people is to witness “to a Jesus Christ who brings the fullness of salvation,” for “Jews who seek to live Torah are ‘not far from the Kingdom of God’ (Mark 12:34).”

In my remarks, I would like to engage a few of these points in particular and then extend the dialogue on how these elements might come together to form a Catholic response to the question regarding where salvation for the Jews is from according to Church teaching. First, I will discuss the place of the Church in connection with the universal centrality of Christ for salvation. Second, I will engage how we are to understand the soteriological import of God’s fidelity vis-àvis Israel. Third, I will consider the place of fidelity to the commandments of the Torah in relationship to the salvation that Christ has won for us. Fourth, I will explore briefly the centrality of the Paschal Mystery and the agency of the Holy Spirit in the participation of those outside the Church in the mystery of salvation. This will lead me, finally, to raise a point about mission, witness, and the role of the Church today. The primary theological framework in which I will engage these points from a doctrinal perspective will be the texts of the Second Vatican Council.

The Place of Christ and the Church in Salvation

Among the elements Neuhaus discusses in relationship to this topic, he affirms multiple times the salvific universality of Christ and rejects any theory that would propose a separate path of salvation for Jews and Christians. 2 Indeed, this is a fundamental point and I will return to it shortly, but prior to considering the essential place of Christ in our redemption, I would like to address the soteriological implications of the revelatory dimension of the Incarnation for God’s relationship with the Jewish people.

In the Incarnation, God reveals himself fully in Jesus Christ. 3 The One who says, “whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9; cf. 1:18), who is the perfect self-expression of God to man is himself in the flesh a son of David (i.e., Matthew 22:41-46; cf. Psalms 89:3-4, and 2 Samuel 7:1-16). 4 As the Christological article of Gaudium et Spes (no. 22) makes clear, Christ also “fully reveals man to himself and makes his supreme calling clear.” 5 The perfect and definitive

nature of the twofold revelation of God and of man in Jesus Christ not only results in the greatest possible affirmation of God’s Covenant with Israel for the Beloved Son of God has himself become, as man, a member of God’s beloved Chosen People 6 but the permanent and universal importance of the particularities of his humanity for that revelation highlights what Karl Rahner has dubbed the “eternal significance of the humanity of Jesus for our relationship with God.” 7

Understanding the Jewishness of Jesus, thus, not only aids us in understanding the humanity of the Savior, but also helps us to understand the specific and permanent context that God has chosen for the perfect revelation of God and man. 8 The interrelationship of these points means that the same datum of revelation that requires Christians to understand the Jewishness of Jesus (i.e., to understand God’s perfect self-revelation in the flesh) invites the Jewish people to see in Christ the embodied fulfillment of all God’s promises to them, the “living Torah of God,” 9 and the One in whom God has “pitched his tent” (ἐσκήνωσεν, Jn. 1:14b), evoking the image of God’s presence with the Israelites in the Exodus (cf. Exodus 33:7-11, 40:34-38, etc.), but with a sense of abiding presence that is infinitely more intimate and profound. 10

After considering the enduring significance the flesh of Christ for God’s relationship with the Chosen People, we can turn to the soteriological question. Neuhaus rightly acknowledges the unique mediatorship and salvific universality of Jesus Christ. He is the eschatological Messiah, and the One whose high priestly offering of himself brings about the New Covenant, not just for Israel, but for the world accomplishing in himself the universal scope of redemption envisioned by the Hebrew prophets such as Isaiah (e.g., 2:1-4, 19:16-25, 25:6ff., 66:18–23, etc.) and Tobit (e.g., 14:5-7). 11 Indeed, these Christological and soteriological themes form the core kerygmatic conviction of the various speeches of Acts, where Peter, Stephen, and Paul unveil how God has fulfilled his Covenant with Israel in Christ, and how “salvation is found in no one else” but in him, as Peter affirms before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:12). 12

Along with the necessity of Christ, the Second Vatican Council, in Lumen Gentium no.14 affirms the salvific necessity of the Church since Christ the sole Mediator of salvation is “present to us in His Body, which is the Church” and does not work apart from it. 13 The necessity of the Church for salvation does not mean that salvation is limited to those who are visible members of the Church. 14 It does mean, however, that all those who are saved, are saved through a grace that bears a connection to Christ’s Church. 15

Still, not all have been satisfied with this solution. For example, Jürgen Moltmann in The Coming of God (1993) posed an alternative vision that advocated a specific “salvific calling” for Israel that is “parallel to the church of the Gentiles.” 16 For Moltmann, “all Israel” would be saved (cf. Romans 11:26) when Israel beholds her glorious and long-awaited Messiah face-to-face in the parousia. This means that Israel will be saved through sight and directly by “Christ of the parousia,” and not through faith and by virtue of the Church. 17 However, this solution fails to recognize the integral and organic identification between Christ and the Church, such that the latter can be identified as Christ’s own body. 18 It is through that body we obtain a real participation in Christ’s Paschal Mystery (Romans 6:8-18; cf. Galatians 2:20), and hence, it has a permanent and integral part in our salvation (i.e., Romans 12:4-5, Ephesians 5:32, etc.).

Yet, granting the necessity of the Church raises certain questions. While it is clear how this dispensation of saving grace occurs in the ordinary sense for those who are visible members of the Church, it is less clear at first sight how those outside the Church benefit from the salvation that comes from Christ and his Church. Specifically, in this space, we can inquire about Jewish people who following the dictates of their conscience have not arrived at the knowledge of

Christ as Messiah, and who continue to seek God through adherence to the Torah. How are we to understand the path of salvation for them?

God’s Fidelity and Israel’s Enduring Call

In approaching this question, Neuhaus grants a central place to the beloved status of the Jewish people in the sight of God (see Romans 11:28; cf. 9:4-5) and to God’s faithfulness to the covenant he made with Abraham, for “the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (v. 29). 19 These statements are certainly true, but how to interpret their soteriological import is more difficult. Should we, for example, interpret God’s enduring election of Israel as indicative of a special dispensation of mercy that would encompass all Jewish people?

Karl Barth poses an interpretation along these lines in Church Dogmatics, where he argues in favor of the collective salvation of the Jewish people in light of this verse. 20 His exegesis hinges on a Reformed understanding of covenant, election, and divine mercy vis-à-vis human agency, and an eschatological reading of the salvation of “all Israel” in verse 26. However, Barth’s reading of Romans 11 is difficult to harmonize with the Old Testament, which correlates promise with command (i.e., Leviticus 18:5), and thereby places concrete individual and communal conditions on sharing God’s life, such as fidelity to Torah and observance of the mitzvot. 21 Such a reading of Romans 11 also is difficult to harmonize with Paul, for whom all the constitutive elements of right relation with God are now to be found only in Christ, and for whom reconciliation with God for Jew and Gentile alike occurs only by entering his Paschal Mystery. 22

Perhaps, instead, the election of Israel that Paul refers to in Romans 11:29 should be understood as a “calling” (κλῆσις) to participate in the salvation that has been effected in Christ: a salvation that the Gentiles now are receiving, but which in the fullness of time the Jews are called to receive as well. 23 Joseph Fitzmeyer proposes such a reading of the chapter, arguing that the call originally given to Abraham now “must also include God’s summons of Israel by the gospel.” 24

N.T. Wright similarly has offered a convincing argument in favor of this reading in his landmark work, Paul and the Faithfulness of God (2013), where he contends that Romans 11 must be read in light of Paul’s argument in chapter 10 that salvation comes from Christ Jesus a salvation that all are called to participate in by faith in him. 25 When read in this light, Romans 11 speaks not of a special mode of salvation for the Jewish people apart from faith in Christ for, as Paul says in Romans 10:12, “there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all and is generous to all who call on him” but the chapter emerges as an exhortation to Gentile Christians to understand that despite Israel’s current unbelief, God does not abandon his people but continues to call them to salvation: now present in fullness in Christ Jesus. 26

Indeed, Israel has a place in God’s plan, and as Douglas Moo has noted on this chapter that place is in Christ; for Paul, “there is only one tree, and one becomes attached to this tree by faith” that is “inextricably tied to Jesus and his resurrection victory (10:9), and it is this faith that brings salvation to Gentile and Jew alike (10:10–13).” 27 In the meantime, in his providence and mercy, God uses the present moment in salvation history to include the Gentiles in that fullness promised to Israel, and which Israel will one day obtain “the one community made up of those who believe in Jesus Christ.” 28 However, this eschatological hope does not resolve the soteriological status of Jews before the Parousia. From the Christian perspective, then, the question becomes, how do the Jewish people at present relate to the fullness of God’s fidelity in Christ?

Israel’s Fidelity: Observance of Torah and the Means of Salvation

One way to approach this question would be to begin with the blueprint given by the Law and the Prophets. Neuhaus states that “Jews who seek to live Torah are ‘not far from the Kingdom of God’ (Mk. 12:34).” Certainly, observance of the Torah does bring one close to the Kingdom, but further nuance may be needed to understand the full soteriological meaning of this affirmation. Just two chapters before this verse, in Mark 10:17ff., a rich man asks Jesus about what he must do to enter the Kingdom. After having established that the man had indeed obeyed the commandments since his youth, Jesus tells the man to “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor…Then come, follow me” (Mark 10:21). When the man, who is blameless in terms of the commandments, departs from Jesus on account of his “great wealth,” Jesus teaches his disciples “how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God” (vv. 21-22). 29 While this dialogue occurs in the context of an individual encounter between Jesus and that man, the universal teachings Jesus gives in light of it should move us to understand that, for Jesus in Mark’s gospel, adherence to the commandments may bring one close to the Kingdom, but more is required to enter in. 30 Moreover, it is not by following the Law itself that one is saved. We find this not only as a theme in Paul’s writings, but also in the Mishnah Sanhedrin, where it lists certain types of people who have fulfilled mitzvot but “who have no share in the World-to-Come.” 31 We find a similar theme in an aggadah of Abba ben Joseph bar Hama (‘Rava’) of the Shabbat tractate of the Talmud, where the Babylonian rabbi envisions what will occur in judgment:

After departing from this world, when a person is brought to judgment for the life he lived in this world, they say to him…Did you conduct business faithfully? Did you designate times for Torah study?...Did you await salvation? Did you engage in the dialectics of wisdom…? And, nevertheless, beyond all these, if the fear of the Lord is his treasure, yes, he is worthy, and if not, no…[For] Torah and mitzvot without the fear of God are of no value. 32

Hence, according to Rava, “the fear of the Lord” must be the motivation and context in which one undertakes Torah observance in order to be saved. If fidelity to the Covenant entails adherence to the Law along with a salutary “fear of the Lord,” then perhaps Rava’s set of criteria is well-attuned to keeping alive the hope for the Messiah, training in righteousness, and preparation for encountering and recognizing Christ, the “shoot…from the stump of Jesse” upon whom rests the “spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:1-3). While this recognition occurs instantly for some such as the Apostle Andrew in John 1:41 and faithful Simeon in Luke 2:30 the ultimate horizon for a wider recognition of this by Israel as a whole may be eschatological, where finally the Jewish hope for the Messiah will converge with the Christian expectation of Christ’s return in glory. 33 But it is already an eschatology reconfigured around the Passion, death, and Resurrection of Christ.

The Paschal Mystery, the Holy Spirit, and the Means of Salvation

As we enter more deeply into the question, both from the Catholic dogmatic side and from the Jewish self-understanding (as we see in Rava’s aggadah), we move into a more nuanced consideration of salvation that cannot be conducted in purely categorical and collective terms, but must be assessed in light of the intricate interplay of divine and human freedom. Recognizing this,

the Church’s teaching on the dynamics of salvation always retains an absolute final regard for the individual level, where the question of salvation is ultimately “worked out” (cf. Philippians 2:1213). 34

Lumen Gentium no. 14, foreshadowing Dignitatis Humanae’s appreciation for the realm of individual conscience, 35 affirms the necessity of baptism for the salvation of those whose conscience tells them “that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ.” 36 For Lumen Gentium, this is connected with the necessity of the Church, discussed above. Those who recognize Jesus as the Messiah of Israel, profess faith in him, and receive Baptism follow the ordinary path of salvation. 37 This formulation fully respects the fact that this awareness is not present to all individuals. 38

Accordingly, two paragraphs later, Lumen Gentium no. 16 says, “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience those too may attain eternal salvation” (LG , no. 16). This affirms the presence of grace beyond the visible boundaries of the Church, even in those who do not manifest explicit faith in Christ. 39 By this, Scripture and Tradition do not affirm a plurality of paths to salvation 40; those outside the Church who do receive grace, do so by virtue of Christ and his Church, even if it is mysterious and they are unaware of it. Yet, how are those outside the visible boundaries of the Church connected to Christ and thus able to receive his salvation?

For this, we turn to Gaudium et Spes no. 22 and its clarification of how those outside the visible boundaries of the Church participate in the salvation Christ won for us: “All this holds true not only for Christians, but for all men of good will in whose hearts grace works in an unseen way. For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery.” That is, the invitation to salvation would come by virtue of the Holy Spirit offering to the individual “the possibility of being associated with [Christ’s] Paschal Mystery.” 41 While this occurs “in a manner known only to God,” we are given to know that it involves an association with the Church, which “modo Deo cognito” mediates a connection to the Passion of Christ, by which we are saved (i.e., Romans 4:25). 42 While this does not formally make one a member of the Church, 43 it can lead to a real association with the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53-54), by whose wounds we are healed (1 Peter 2:24; cf. Isaiah 53:5), and union with the Church, which is identified with Christ’s sufferings on earth (i.e., Colossians 1:24, Acts 9:4, etc.).

While this may seem to be the most difficult point for a non-believer to attain, the examples of conversions old and new affirm the logic of Gaudiem et Spes 22 at work. This is visible in the stories of such converts as the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-40, who came to faith through Philip’s explanation of Isaiah 53:7-8. It also is visible in the modern convert, Eugenio Zolli, former chief Rabbi of Rome, who first wondered as a youth whether the crucified Christ might be the “the ‘Servant of God’ whose canticles we read at school.” 44 This can amount to implicit faith, which where it is present is possible by virtue of the grace of the Holy Spirit, and which suggests already a connection to the mystery of Christ. 45 Where it progresses from implicit to explicit faith, as we see in the Ethiopian in Acts 8, one would seek baptism. Where, however, it remains as an implicit faith, the Holy Office wrote in 1949, “God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God.” 46

The Role of the Church in Regard to the Jewish People

From this analysis, we can conclude that salvation is in Christ, working through his saving grace, which bears a connection to the Church, and is extended to each individual by the Holy Spirit, who makes possible in a mysterious way a connection to the Paschal Mystery. 47 Indeed, insofar as we recognize the presence of a grace that is operative beyond the visible boundaries of the Church, but bears a mysterious connection to it, we can acknowledge how already the Church is part of the causality of how God is working his salvation in people’s lives, even beyond what is visible and knowable to us. What, then, is the Church to do?

The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration of the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate no. 4 affirms the importance of “mutual understanding and respect” (NA no. 4). Neuhaus affirms that the role of the Church is to focus on witness, and that this witness must involve a greater conformity to Christ on the part of Christians; as Pope Benedict XVI said, “An attitude of respect, esteem and love for the Jewish people is the only truly Christian attitude in the present situation, which is a mysterious part of God’s wholly positive plan.” 48

We might ask, is there anything else the Church could do to cooperate with God’s plan?

Nostra Aetate no. 4 does suggest one more task: “It is, therefore, the burden of the Church’s preaching to proclaim the cross of Christ as the sign of God's all-embracing love and as the fountain from which every grace flows.” 49 Notably, the decree highlights the importance of staurocentric preaching that seeks to illuminate how the Cross is the perfect revelation of God’s love and the source of all graces. Yet, we do this with respect for the conscience of each, and with that respect, we offer this message as a word of hope, so that those who “have been united with him in a death like his,” may be “united with him in a resurrection like his” (Romans 6:5).

In this, Nostra Aetate no. 4 harmonizes with what Vatican II’s Decree on Missionary Activity, Ad Gentes no. 5, says about the Church’s task to all: Christ established the Church as a “sacrament of salvation” 50 and she fulfills her mission, which is a share in Christ’s own mission, “by the example of her life and by her preaching, by the sacraments and other means of grace,” by which she offers to all people a “full participation in the mystery of Christ.” 51 Until then, as Nostra Aetate states, as “the Church awaits that day, known to God alone, on which all peoples will address the Lord in a single voice and ‘serve him shoulder to shoulder’ (Zephaniah 3:9),” we turn together in prayer, giving thanks for that common olive tree (cf. Romans 11:17ff.) God has cultivated for our salvation.

1 “To Proclaim the Cross of Christ as the Sign of God's All-Embracing Love” is a direct quotation from paragraph 4 of the Vatican II document, Nostra Aetate.

2 See Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, “The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29): A Reflection on Theological Questions Pertaining to Catholic-Jewish Relations on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Nostra Aetate (No. 4) (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2015), no. 35: “There cannot be different paths or approaches to God’s salvation. The theory that there may be two different paths to salvation, the Jewish path without Christ and the path with the Christ, whom Christians believe is Jesus of Nazareth, would in fact endanger the foundations of Christian faith. Confessing the universal and therefore also exclusive mediation of salvation through Jesus Christ belongs to the core of Christian faith.” See also nos. 25 and 37.

3 Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum (1965), no. 4. See also Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus (2000), no. 5.

4 For an exploration of this point in Jewish-Christian dialogue, in light of Dominus Iesus, see Philip A Cunningham, “Implications for Catholic Magisterial Teaching on Jews and Judaism,” in Sic et Non: Encountering Dominus Iesus, ed. Stephen J. Pope and Charles Hefling (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002), 149.

5 Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes (1965), no. 22. See also Amaury Begasse de Dhaem, S.J., “Christologie et Sotériologie de ‘Gaudium et spes’ 22: Un modèle de théologie unifiée,” Gregorianum 95, no. 1 (2014): 5-21 [8].

6 See Second Council of Constantinople (553), Anathema 2 (DH 422). For a thorough study of Jesus in his Judeo-Palestinian context, see John P. Meier, A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus, Vol. 1: The Roots of the Problem and the Person, The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1991).

7 See Karl Rahner, “The Eternal Significance of the Humanity of Jesus for our Relationship with God,” in Theological Investigations, vol. 3: The Theology of the Spiritual Life (Baltimore: Helicon, 1967), 35-46

8 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus (2000), no. 5-8.

9 Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, “The Gifts and the Call” (2015), no. 26.

10 George R. Beasley-Murray, John, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 36 (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1999), 14.

11 On Jesus’ priesthood in relationship to the priesthood of the Old Testament see Albert Vanhoye, S.J., Old Testament Priests and the New Priest: According to the New Testament, revised ed. (Leominster: Gracewing, 2009); and Vanhoye, The Letter to the Hebrews: A New Commentary, trans. Leo Arnold (New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2015).

12 For a complete study of these themes in their Old Testament background, see Matthew Levering, Christ’s Fulfillment of Torah and Temple: Salvation According to Thomas Aquinas (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 2002).

13 Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium (1964), no. 14; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus (2000), no. 20.

14 Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium no. 16. See also Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, “Letter to the Archbishop of Boston” (1949), DH 3868-3870: “Not only did the Savior command that all nations should enter the Church, but he also decreed the Church to be the means of salvation, without which no one can enter the kingdom of heavenly glory. In his infinite mercy God has willed that the effects, necessary for one to be saved…can also be obtained in certain circumstances when [those helps] are employed only through desire and longing…The same in its own degree must be asserted of the Church…[I]n order that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing.” See also Pope Pius XII, Encyclical Mystici Corporis (1943), DH 3821-22.

15 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus (2000), nos. 16 and 20.

16 Jürgen Moltmann, The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology (London: SCM, 1993), 197. See also Steven D. Aguzzi, Israel, the Church, and Millenarianism: A Way beyond Replacement Theology, Routledge New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology, and Biblical Studies (Oxon, England; New York: Routledge, 2018), 268.

17 Jürgen Moltmann, The Coming of God, 198.

18 e.g., 1 Cor. 6:15, 10:17, 12:12; Rom. 12:5; Eph. 1:23, 5:30; Col. 1:18.24, etc. See also Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium (1964), no. 9.

19 For a history of the interpretation of this verse, see Joseph Sievers, “A History of the Interpretation of Romans 11:29,” Annali di storia dell’esegesi 14, no. 2 (1997): 381–442.

20 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics: The Doctrine of God, Part 2 , vol. 2, trans. Geoffrey William Bromiley and Thomas F. Torrance (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2004), 303-305.

21 In God in Search of Man, Abraham Heschel suggests that the concept of mitzvah plays a similar role in Jewish piety as the concept of salvation plays in Christian piety (see Abraham Joshua Heschel, God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism [New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1955], 361) Since mitzvah is, “next to Torah, the basic term of Judaism” (ibid.), observance thereof would seem to be a necessary condition for salvation within Judaism.

22 See E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (London: S.C.M. Press, 1977), 463ff.

23 Indeed, κλῆσις in Rom. 11:29 is better translated as “calling,” and is “always God who calls in Christ” (Karl Ludwig Schmidt, “Καλέω, Κλῆσις, Κλητός,” in Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, vol. 3 [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-], 492). See also Gary S. Shogren, “Election: New Testament,” in David Noel Freedman, ed., The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 2:442-43.

24 Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J., Romans: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, Anchor Yale Bible, vol. 33 (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 626 [see also 623].

25 N. T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 4 (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013), 1157-1258.

26 N. T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, 1252.

27 Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1996), 725-726.

28 Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, 725.

29 See Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2053.

30 See Mk. 1:15, 10:14. There was something in the second man (i.e., the man of 12:34) which was missing in the first (i.e., the man of 10:17ff). In fact, Mark provides such a clue in 12:34 when Jesus affirms the spiritual disposition of the latter man (e.g., “he answered wisely”). Perhaps by recognizing the importance of “deeds of love,” which in the tripartite formula of R. Simeon the Just, has a place alongside the Torah and temple worship in sustaining the world (see m.‘Abot 1:2). Yet, as R. T. France highlights, how the scribe’s response in 12:33 subordinates temple worship to deeds of love was “remarkable” for one “whose professional concern focused around sacrificial regulations” (France, The Gospel of Mark: A Commentary on the Greek Text, New International Greek Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2002], 481).

31 mSanh, 10:1, The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren Noé Talmud,,

32 BTalmud, Shabbat 31a:11 (on Is. 33:6), The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren Noé Talmud,,

33 See Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 674: “The glorious Messiah’s coming is suspended at every moment of history until his recognition by ‘all Israel’…The ‘full inclusion’ of the Jews in the Messiah’s salvation, in the wake of ‘the full number of the Gentiles,’ will enable the People of God to achieve ‘the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,’ in which ‘God may be all in all.’”

34 See Council of Trent, Session 6, Decree on Justification (1547), ch.5, 8.

35 See Second Vatican Council, Dignitatis Humanae (1965), no. 3.

36 Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium (1964), no. 14. See also Second Vatican Council, Ad Gentes (1965), nos. 5-7, and Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1257.

37 Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium (1964), no. 14. See also Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, III, q. 68, a. 2, resp.; Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptoris Missio (1990), no. 55. While all those baptized into Christ form only one body (Eph. 2:11-22), Jewish members of Christ’s body retain a special identity and vocation See the discussion in Matthew Levering, “Aquinas and Supersessionism One More Time: A Response to Matthew A. Tapie’s Aquinas on Israel and the Church,” Pro Ecclesia 25, no. 4: 395-412.

38 See Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptoris Missio (1990), no. 10.

39 See Pope Clement XI, Bull Unigenitus Dei Filius (8 Sept. 1713), DH 2426, 2429. See also Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, “Letter to the Archbishop of Boston” (1949): “In order that one may obtain eternal salvation, it is not always required that he be incorporated into the Church actually as a member, but it is necessary that at least he be united to her by desire and longing. However, this desire need not always be explicit…when a person suffers from invincible ignorance, God accepts also an implicit desire, so called because it is included in that good disposition of soul whereby a person wishes his will to be conformed to the will of God.”

40 On the question of the salvific value of the ritual precepts of old after the coming of Christ, see William B. Goldin, “St. Thomas Aquinas and Supersessionism: A Contextual Study and Doctrinal Application” (S.T.D. diss., Pontifica Studiorum Universitas a S. Thoma Aq. in Urbe, 2017)

41 Amaury Begasse de Dhaem, S.J., “Christologie et Sotériologie de ‘Gaudium et spes’ 22,” 16-17.

42 A. Begasse de Dhaem, S.J., “Christologie et Sotériologie de ‘Gaudium et spes’ 22,” 13-17.

43 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dominus Iesus (2000), no. 20.

44 See Eugenio Zolli, Before the Dawn: Autobiographical Reflections by Eugenio Zolli, Former Chief Rabbi of Rome (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008 [original: New York: Sheed and Ward, 1954]), 47-49.

45 Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 106, a. 1, ad 3: “No man ever had the grace of the Holy Ghost except through faith in Christ either explicit or implicit: and by faith in Christ man belongs to the New Testament. Consequently, whoever had the law of grace instilled into them belonged to the New Testament.”

46 Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, “Letter to the Archbishop of Boston” (1949).

47 Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptoris Missio (1990), no. 10: “[For those who] do not have an opportunity to come to know or accept the gospel revelation or to enter the Church…salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which, while having a mysterious relationship to the Church, does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. This grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit. It enables each person to

attain salvation through his or her free cooperation” (emphasis added). See also Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, III, q. 68, a. 2, resp.

48 Pope Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini (2010), no. 43, quoting the Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible (24 May 2001), 87.

49 Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate (1965), no. 4. Emphasis added.

50 See Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium (1964), no. 1; and Catechism of the Catholic Church, 774776, 780.

51 In an article entitled, “Covenant and Mission,” Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J. argued, “Once we grant that there are some persons for whom it is not important to acknowledge Christ…we raise questions about our own religious life. If we are convinced that baptism incorporates us into the body of Christ and that the Eucharist nourishes us with his flesh and blood, we will be eager to share these gifts as widely as possible” (America 187, no. 12 [Oct. 21, 2002]: 11).

The People of Israel, the Land of Israel, and the State of Israel

In 1994, the Holy See signed an agreement with the State of Israel, establishing diplomatic relations. What is the position of the Catholic Church regarding a state that defines itself as Jewish and sees itself in direct continuity with the polities of ancient Israel in the Scriptures that the Church also regards as sacred? Setting aside a “teaching of contempt,” the Church has sought to develop a “teaching of respect” for Jews and Judaism that takes seriously how Jews see themselves How does the attitude to Israel, people, land and state, relate to this teaching? 1

The rethinking of the relationship with the Jews has opened the eyes of many Catholics to the living reality of the Jewish people, their identity and aspirations. A 1974 document insisted that “Christians must…strive to acquire a better knowledge of the basic components of the religious tradition of Judaism; they must strive to learn by what essential traits the Jews define themselves in the light of their own religious experience.” 2 In the post-Vatican II era, listening to Jews, Catholics become more and more aware that many Jews today define themselves more as a people than as a religion and as such many lay claim to a land they call “the land of Israel” and identify with a state, “the State of Israel,” which exists since 1948. In 2000, Jews from various religious denominations published an eight-point document, encouraging relationship with Christians, entitled Dabru Emet (Speak the Truth). The third point of the document stated, “The most important event for Jews since the Holocaust has been the reestablishment of a Jewish state in the Promised Land. As members of a biblically based religion, Christians appreciate that Israel was promised and given to Jews as the physical center of the covenant between them and God. Many Christians support the State of Israel for reasons far more profound than mere politics.” 3

According to Dabru Emet, because Jews and Christians share a language, based on the Scriptures of Israel, they also can share an understanding that the land of Israel was promised and given to the Jews. From a theological point of view, God’s election of Israel and the gift of the land are indeed central themes in the Old Testament. However, Christians understand the Old Testament in reference to the New and this is particularly true of themes like the election of a people and the gift of land. Faith in Jesus distinguishes the Christian reading of the Bible from that of the Jewish one and in the ongoing dialogue with Jews, it is important to enunciate how this affects the Christian understanding of land, and in particular, the question of boundaries.

In the Old Testament narrative, God promised the land to Abraham and his descendants. Eventually, God led Joshua to conquer the land as the place where Israel would live out the covenantal relationship with God in observing the Torah. At the center of the land was Jerusalem, Holy Zion, and at the center of Jerusalem, the Temple, dwelling place of the enduring divine presence. It should not be forgotten, however, that the land, although given to Israel in the Old Testament, always belonged ultimately to God (cf. Leviticus 25:23), a place where Israel would be the “light to the Gentiles” (cf. Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), attracting all nations to Jerusalem, coming to learn the Torah (cf. Isaiah 2:3). According to the language of Scripture, in particular the books of the Deuteronomist tradition, the land was lost because of the sins of Israel. Yet by grace, an affirmation of God’s fidelity, God brought the people back at the time of Cyrus King of Persia. Exile gave way to return, death to resurrection. The Jewish canon of the ancient Scriptures of Israel ends with the words of Cyrus, addressed to the exiles, “Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him! Let him go up (to Zion)” (2 Chronicles 36:23).

The Church has organized the Scriptures differently, placing 2 Chronicles in the midst of Israel’s saga in the Old Testament. Cyrus’s epistle is one more event that moves the narrative towards the promise at the end of the Old Testament, the coming of the Day of the Lord in the Book of Malachi with the figure of Elijah. In the New Testament, John heralds that Day and points to the appearance of Jesus from Nazareth, who will transfigure borders between peoples and lands, ultimately leading to the dissolution of these borders. Clearly, the Christian understanding of the land changes in the passage from the Old to the New. A 2001 document of the Pontifical Biblical Commission points out: “One of the beatitudes transforms the geographical and historical meaning into a more open-ended one, ‘the meek shall possess the land’ (Matthew 5:5); ‘the land’ is equivalent here to ‘the kingdom of heaven’ (5:3,10) in an eschatological horizon that is both present and future.” 4 At first glance, the land seems almost to have disappeared in the writings of the New Testament, with Christians seeing their homeland as heaven (cf. Hebrews 11:13-16). However, the land is not absent but rather is transfigured by the resurrected Christ, for the borders that separate one land from another, one people from another, progressively dissolve as the gospel spreads. The continuing expansion of land is evident as the gospel is preached in place after place, documented in the Acts of the Apostles, from Jerusalem to the ends of the earth. Land is no longer exclusively the land of Israel but expands to include every land where the Gospel is preached and lived. Bringing down borders is a central aspect of Christ’s mission:

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So, he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father (Ephesians 2:14-18).

Although Jews and Catholics indeed share a common language derived from Scripture, they do not always share a common theological understanding of that language and its implications, rooted as they are in two distinct religious understandings. In fact, many Christians would be hesitant to use Old Testament texts to justify twentieth-century ideologies and politics in the Middle East today. After 1948, the Catholic Church proceeded slowly and cautiously when it came to dealing with the state of Israel, partly because of the traumatic circumstances in which the state was established. After decades of hesitation, the Holy See inaugurated full diplomatic relations with this state in 1994, a time when peace between Israelis and Palestinians seemed imminent. Yet, despite the diplomatic recognition of the state, some Jews have continued to lament the Church’s continued reluctance to affirm the theological significance of the Jewish claim to the land and the existence of the state. Invited to speak alongside Cardinal Kurt Koch, head of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, at the presentation of the 2015 document celebrating the 50th anniversary of Nostra aetate’s paragraph 4, Rabbi David Rosen commented on this issue: “Perhaps then I may be permitted…to point out that to fully respect Jewish selfunderstanding, it is also necessary to appreciate the centrality that the land of Israel plays in the historic and contemporary religious life of the Jewish people and that appears to be missing.” 5

Whereas the 1965 document made no mention of Israel, land or state, the 2015 text did mention the state of Israel twice. The first time it quoted the 1985 document of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews:

Christians are invited to understand this (Jewish) religious attachment (to the land) which finds its roots in Biblical tradition, without however making their own any particular religious interpretation of this relationship (cf. Declaration of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, November 20, 1975). The existence of the State of Israel and its political options should be envisaged not in a perspective which is in itself religious, but in their reference to the common principles of international law. 6

The second time was with regard to justice and peace: “In Jewish-Christian dialogue the situation of Christian communities in the state of Israel is of great relevance, since there – as nowhere else in the world – a Christian minority faces a Jewish majority. Peace in the Holy Land – lacking and constantly prayed for – plays a major role in dialogue between Jews and Christians.” 7 Some Catholics however are lobbying to promote a Catholic affirmation of the theological significance of the Jewish claim on the land and the state. 8

Although today the Church treads carefully, Jews are justified to retort that the Church has not always acted so hesitantly. The imperial ideology that developed once Christians had acceded to earthly power contradicted the New Testament understanding of land, at least from the time of the Emperor Constantine in the fourth century onward. Christian empire promoted an enthusiasm for borders that needed defending and territories that awaited conquest in the constant attempt to expand those borders. In the Middle Ages, a militarized Christendom went to war to “liberate” Jerusalem from the Muslims, whom for some represented a resurrected form of Judaism. 9 The teaching of contempt for Muslims has been parallel to the teaching of contempt for Jews. For many during the Crusades, the war was twofold: against the enemy within (the Jews) and the enemy without (the Muslims). The Crusaders, inspired by the Bible, saw themselves as divinely led warriors, and echoes of a Crusader mentality resound throughout the long history of European colonialism. Explorers and conquerors paved the way for missionaries and preachers. As opposed to victorious Christians, confirmed by God in their victories, Jews were depicted as defeated and subjugated, having lost the land of their forefathers because of their perfidy. Had not even Jesus supposedly prophesied this? 10 They were seen as condemned to be a wandering people. 11

The realization that Jews have suffered because of Christian empowerment, often based upon the unethical reading of Biblical texts, is fundamental to post-Vatican II rethinking of JewishChristian relations. The mechanisms that link Christian empowerment with Jewish marginalization must be uncovered and transformed and the supposed theological principles at the basis of these mechanisms must be uprooted. Catholics have begun the important work of reformulating attitudes to the Jews, a blessing of our age; however, an equally important challenge is to ensure that the reformulation of a Christian theology, purified of anti-Judaism, and imbued with the new language of Jewish-Christian dialogue and collaboration, does not legitimate new mechanisms of empowerment and exclusion in its turn. Any Catholic reflection on the land and the state of Israel must consider the political, social, economic and cultural context in Israel/Palestine. This includes a careful examination of how Jewish claims and Israeli policies relate to the well-being of the indigenous Christian and Muslim communities, the aspirations of the Palestinian people, as well as the protection of the Holy Places of Christianity and Islam.

Whereas the Church’s concern for the Holy Places and the faith communities seems natural enough, the Church’s concern for justice and peace is not simply a political or diplomatic issue but rather is an integral part of the Church’s mission. Vatican II’s Gaudium et Spes specified:

The Church, for her part, founded on the love of the Redeemer, contributes toward the reign of justice and charity within the borders of a nation and between nations. By preaching the truths of the Gospel, and bringing to bear on all fields of human endeavor the light of her doctrine and of a Christian witness, she respects and fosters the political freedom and responsibility of citizens. 12

The Church formulates its position on the present situation of conflict in Israel/Palestine with a sense of moral responsibility and not restricting its discourse to Biblical formulae or theological speculation.

Over the past decades, stretching back to the beginning of the present conflict, in the period after the First World War, the Church has developed a sophisticated discourse about the land of Israel/Palestine, its peoples, and its structures of governance. This language brings together Scripture, tradition, concern for the Christian communities, a commitment to dialogue with Jews and Muslims and a particular insistence on promoting justice and peace for Israelis and Palestinians. This multi-layered discourse is not an exercise in diplomacy but a dynamic project to speak the truth in a situation of division, conflict, and violence. 13 Furthermore, the universal Church cannot promote an abstract spiritual or theological discourse about a land in which the members of the local Church confront the daily realities of discrimination and occupation, which affect Christian Palestinians as they affect all Palestinians and Jews living in the area. The local Church’s attempts to deal with these realities have a very important impact on thinking about the questions of land and state in the universal Church. Jewish claims to the land that appeal both to Biblical authority and Jewish suffering in history also must be seen in the light of the exile of the Palestinian people from their homeland and their experiences of discrimination and occupation in the territories that Israel rules today. Patriarch Michel Sabbah, head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Holy Land for more than twenty years, posed the burning theological question in his 1993 pastoral letter: “Could we (Palestinians) be victims of our own salvation history, which seems to favor the Jewish people and condemn us? Is that truly the Will of God to which we must inexorably bow down, demanding that we deprive ourselves in favor of another people, with no possibility of appeal or discussion?” 14

According to the teaching of the Church today, the Jewish people, like all peoples, has a right to express itself in its own terms as a people. Marginalized for centuries, Jewish nationalism, Zionism, rejected that marginalization and struggled for empowerment. The Church understands the Jewish historical, religious and emotional link to the land, rejecting today the centuries of traditional teaching that condemned the Jews to a perpetual state of exile as punishment for their refusal to accept Christ. However, the Church’s recognition of the ongoing specificity of the Jewish people and its respect for the Jewish attachment to the land of Israel should not be understood as legitimation for the political and ideological determination to exclusively rule the land. The Church is suspicious of a language of exclusive rights particularly when it supplants the rights of others. Instead, the Church recognizes the authority of “international law” that establishes criteria for promoting justice, equality and peace in any given context. 15

Furthermore, it should be noted that there is no unanimity among Jews themselves with regard to the state of Israel. Zionism has met with suspicion and even hostility from some Jews

and many other Jews have been critical of the political options that the Zionist leadership adopted, especially with regard to the Palestinian people. 16 Martin Buber, renowned Jewish thinker, wrote as early as May 1948, in the midst of the war that accompanied the establishment of the state of Israel: “Fifty years ago. When I joined the Zionist movement for the rebirth of Israel, my heart was whole. Today it is torn. The war being waged for a political structure risks becoming a war of national survival at any moment… I cannot even be joyful in anticipating victory, for I fear lest the significance of Jewish victory be the downfall of Zionism ” 17 His was a voice of anguish raised as he saw the genesis of Israeli militarism and feared it would lead to the dearth of his form of Zionist humanism. His anguish deepened as the Israeli authorities refused to relate to the Palestinian refugees and instituted military rule on the Arabs who had not fled from the territory that became the state of Israel (a situation that only ended in 1966, some months after Buber’s death). He did not live to see the imposition of military occupation on the territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 War. Also prophetic in her incisive analysis of the darker side of Zionism, was the Jewish philosopher Hannah Arendt. Steeped in the study of totalitarianism in its modern forms, Arendt warned of the perils of Zionism for the Jewish people. In a 1945 article, Arendt wrote, “The Zionists, if they continue to ignore the Mediterranean peoples and watch out only for the big faraway powers will appear only as their tools, the agents of foreign and hostile interests. Jews who know their own history should be aware that such a state of affairs will inevitably lead to a new wave of Jew-hatred ” 18 Most Jews, however, do see in the state of Israel something more than just another state.

The teaching about the exile of the Jews as divine punishment indeed must be rejected as it is a betrayal of the Gospel of God’s fidelity. However, the alternative is not the theological affirmation of Jewish nationalism but rather the rejection of all forms of teaching of contempt that affirm exclusive rights for some and exclusion for others. Zionist insistence on national sovereignty, defined as Jewish, is in sharp tension with the recognition of the rights of all citizens in the State of Israel, including those who are not Jewish. The reality of more than seventy years of Israeli statehood is manifest in the experience of those citizens who encounter manifold forms of discrimination, marginalization, and exclusion because they are “non-Jews” in the Jewish state. They too must have a voice not only in the political arena but in theological conversation about the land and the state of Israel. Whatever the framework set for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, whether two states living side by side or one unique state for all, the ultimate principle for a lasting resolution is the dignity of the human person and equality in rights and duties. A 2019 statement of the Catholic Bishops in the Holy Land underlined this principle:

We promote a vision according to which everyone in this Holy Land has full equality, the equality befitting all men and women created equal in God’s own image and likeness. We believe that equality, whatever political solutions might be adopted, is a fundamental condition for a just and lasting peace. We have lived together in this land in the past, why should we not live together in the future too?

This is our vision for Jerusalem and the whole land, called Israel and Palestine, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. 19

As Jews and Catholics gaze towards the land and its inhabitants, they might not be united in a common vision, but they certainly can be united in a common prayer for peace and for the wellbeing of all who live there.

1 See D. Neuhaus, “Popolo di Israele, Terra di Israele, stato di Israele”, Civiltà cattolica, 2020 (4086, 19.9.2020), 491-502.

2 Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, Orientations and Suggestions for the Application of the Council Declaration Nostra Aetate, Preamble (1974).

3 National Jewish Scholars Project, Dabru Emet (2000). See

4 Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish People and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible (2001), 57. See also the classic study of W.D. Davies, The Gospel and the Land: Early Christianity and Jewish Territorial Doctrine (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1974).

5 Quoted in G. D’Costa, Catholic Doctrines on the Jewish People after Vatican II (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2019), 65. See also R. Langer, “Theologies of the Land and State of Israel The Role of the Secular in Christian and Jewish Understandings” Studies in Jewish-Christian Relations, 3 (2008), 1-17.

6 Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, Notes on the correct way to present Jews and Judaism in preaching and catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church (1985), VI, 1 quoted in The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable, n. 5 (2015).

7 Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable, n. 46 (2015).

8 See P. Lenhardt, “La fin du sionisme,” Sens 3/2004, 99-138, M. Remaud, Echos d’Israël (Jerusalem, Elkana 2010), R. Lux, The Jewish People, the Holy Land and the State of Israel: A Catholic View (Mahwa, Paulist Press, 2010), and G. D’Costa, Catholic Doctrines on the Jewish People after Vatican II (Oxford, Oxford University Press).

9 Some referred to Islam as a new, powerful form of heretical Christianity mixed with Talmudic Judaism. They tended to pair Talmud and Quran as sources of error (cf. the writings of Petrus Alfonsi, the Cluniac Corpus Toletanum, Ricoldus de Montecrucis and others).

10 Jesus, weeping over Jerusalem in Luke’s Gospel, said, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God” (Luke 19:41-44).

11 Church Fathers like Tertullian compared Christian landedness with Jewish exile as he characteristically wrote, “Scattered, wandering about, deprived of land and sky of their own, they roam the earth without man or God as king, a race to whom there is not accorded the right granted to foreigners to set foot upon and greet one land as home.” Tertullian, “Apology” in Apologetic Works (Washington DC, 1962), 7.

12 Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) (1965), n. 76.

13 For a Catholic reflection on these themes, see A. Marchadour and D. Neuhaus, The Land, the Bible and History (New York, Fordham University Press, 2007).

14 M. Sabbah, Reading the Bible in the Land of the Bible Today, (1993), para 7.

15 “International law becomes the guarantor of the international order, that is of coexistence among political communities that seek individually to promote the common good of their citizens and strive collectively to guarantee that of all peoples, aware that the common good of a nation cannot be separated from the good of the entire human family.” Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 434, pendio-dott-soc_en.html.

16 One classic collection of Jewish opposition to Zionism is M. Selzer (ed), Zionism Reconsidered: The Rejection of Jewish Normalcy (New York. Macmillan, 1970).

17 M. Buber, “Zionism and Zionism,” in P. Mendes-Flohr (ed), Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 198.

18 H. Arendt, “Zionism Reconsidered,” in M. Selzer (ed), Op. cit., 216.

19 Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land, Righteousness and Peace Will Kiss Each Other, (20.5.2019).

The People of Israel, the Land of Israel and the State of Israel: A Constructive Response

It is indeed a personal pleasure to respond to Fr. Neuhaus’ excellent lecture; our acquaintance goes back many years. I always have appreciated the clear and direct presentation of the major issues involved in Christian-Jewish relations in the setting of his longtime and very sensitive ministry in Jerusalem and the wider Middle East context. His work is marked both by honesty and by a spirit of reconciliation, and that is truly admirable.

I find little in his presentation this morning with which to disagree. His perspectives are very much ones that coincide with my own. So my words today will take the form of expanded commentary on the views he has presented as well as some views on what I have termed the search for a “theology of belonging,” which has appeared in the new volume Enabling Dialogue About the Land, a collection of essays by Western and Palestinian, Jewish and Muslim scholars. 1 I hope thereby to stimulate further productive discussion on the complicated and sometimes contested issues raised by Fr. Neuhaus in his lecture.

In the beginning of his presentation, Fr. Neuhaus quoted from the 1974 statement from the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. Its point that the vast number of Jews today regard the continued existence of the State of Israel as integral to their self-identity even if they have no desire to live there personally is central for any dialogue with Jews. The subsequent quotation by Fr. Neuhaus from the Jewish document on Christianity, Dabru Emet (Speak the Truth), 2 emphasizes that Jews largely regard themselves as a peoplehood rather than only as a religious community. This is crucial if we are to take seriously the Vatican injunction that Christians must come to understand Jews as they define themselves. This is the necessary starting point for authentic Christian-Jewish dialogue. This sense of a fundamental linkage to Israel, although expressed in a variety of religious and secular ways, is something that Catholic Christians need to comprehend if they are to engage in productive conversations with members of the Jewish community.

The second major point made by Fr. Neuhaus concerns the issue of the Jewish land tradition in the New Testament. As scholars such as the late John Townsend who taught at the Episcopal Seminary at Harvard (as well as the university itself) argued within the discussions of the ecumenical Christian Study Group on Jews and Judaism (of which both he and I were members), the New Testament itself hardly mentions the Jewish land tradition. It neither rejects nor affirms it.

The discussion of the basic silence of the New Testament on the Jewish land tradition, however, cannot be ended there. How we understand its continued presence in Christianity depends in large measure on how we view the role of the First or Old Testament in Christian selfidentity. Historically, in better moments we have said that the Old Testament contains religious perspectives that were further developed within Christianity. In our worst moments we argued that the views found in the pre-Christian Jewish tradition were basically shallow in contrast to Christian perspectives, and the only purpose of the Jewish tradition is to illustrate the superiority of Christianity. Part of this classical outlook within the church was to argue that only Christian scholars could interpret the Old Testament authentically. An example of the continued presence of this viewpoint is found in the publication The Bridge, an annual on Christianity and Judaism launched well before Vatican II by Msgr. John Osterreicher, who played a central role in the

formulation of the fourth chapter of Nostra Aetate that significantly redefined the relationship between Catholics and Jews. The volumes published prior to the Council lacked any contributions by Jewish scholars because of this persistent mindset. Only Christian interpreters could properly understand Jewish biblical texts which must be read through the lens of the Christian faith. Only in the volume of The Bridge that appeared after Vatican II do we find articles by Jewish authors. This same perspective is found in Christian visual presentations such as the one on the façade of the cathedral in Strasbourg, France, which presents Judaism and Christianity in the guise of two people, the one bedraggled, bent over and blind holding a broken Torah, and the other a bright, vivacious young woman proudly holding the New Testament.

A second illustration of this prevalent attitude towards the Hebrew Scriptures came home to me when I was part of an international conference at the Jesuit Center in Vienna. In the rooms at the Center there was placed a copy of “the Bible.” But it only contained the New Testament. Clearly this sent a message to which I publicly objected, much to the discomfort of the center’s director. On this view, the Old Testament has at best marginal value for Christians; in the end, only the New Testament counts. The classical outlook certainly affects our interpretation of the church’s understanding of the Jewish land tradition.

Modern biblical scholarship has presented a significant challenge to the classical Christian understanding. Jesus now is seen as working in a thoroughly Jewish context, drawing upon the richness of the Pharisaic tradition, as the statement from the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews stated in its 1985 document celebrating the twentieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate 3 Contemporary scholarship places Jesus and his teachings squarely within the Jewish context of his day. Pope John Paul II, in his speech in Mainz, Germany, said this somewhat more poetically when he insisted that when we look at Christianity, we find Judaism at its heart. 4 There was no “Old Testament” for Jesus and his early followers. There were only “the Scriptures” which constituted an integral part of their religious identity within a Jewish tent at the time which had room for a great variety of views, including conflictual ones.

So while the exact understanding of the Jewish land tradition on the part of Jesus and the early church may remain somewhat clouded, it is clear that there exists no basis for arguing that it was completely rejected by early Christianity. And as we newly appreciate the continuing validity of the Hebrew Scriptures as positive revelation within the church, we must affirm that there is no basis for its outright rejection from a theological perspective. Unfortunately, this was not the understanding that emerged among many of the Church Fathers. Many of the Patristic writers, such as Tertullian, Justin and especially Augustine, created what is often termed the Adversus Judaios (“Against the Jews”) perspective. This theological outlook argued that as part of their punishment for rejecting Jesus as the promised Jewish Messiah, Jews will never have a state of their own. They were relegated to being perpetual wanderers among the nations of the world, living miserably and at the margins of Christian societies. This viewpoint even became implanted in Western Christian culture, with the naming of a plant called “the wandering Jews.” I have sometimes heard people ask, “Why do Jews theologize Israel rather than seeing it merely as one of the multiplicity of nation states?” We need to respond to such arguments by reminding people that it was Christianity that in many ways theologized the land question relative to the Jews.

In recent decades, several important statements have moved away from this classical Christian perspective on Jews and the land. Pope John Paul II, in his 1984 statement Redemptions Anno, 5 wrote the following: “For the Jewish People who live in the State of Israel, and who preserve in that land such precious testimonies of their history and their faith, we must ask for the

desired security and the tranquility that is the prerogative of every nation and condition of life and of progress of every society.”

A critical turn in the Catholic perspective on Israel took place on December 30, 1993, when the Holy See and the State of Israel signed what is called the Fundamental Agreement. 6 This agreement was basically a political document that established regulations between the two entities on a variety of particular issues. But it also had a wider significance. It constituted the final nail in the longstanding Catholic theology of Jewish wandering. This agreement represented an evolution of Catholic thinking on the Jewish land question over several decades. Pope John Paul II gave this effort considerable personal support, and from all indications had strongly favored such a change in official Catholic policy for some time prior to its actual realization in late 1993. Concern for the status of small Catholic communities in various Muslim majority countries kept formal diplomatic recognition of the State of Israel on hold. Only when Israel negotiated peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan did the Vatican Secretariat of State feel that it now was possible to move toward formal diplomatic recognition of Israel.

This action on the part of the Holy See declared that the notion of perpetual Jewish wandering as a punishment for rejecting Jesus as the promised Messiah developed by Augustine and his fellow patristic authors no longer could be regarded as authentic Catholic teaching. In an interesting and important exchange of letters between Rabbi Eugene Borowitz, a leading Jewish scholar and early participant in the new dialogue generated by Nostra Aetate, and Vatican II theologian Karl Rahner, S.J., Rabbi Borowitz, who served as editor of the Jewish magazine Sh’ma, posed the question directly: Are there any remaining theological objections to Jews having a homeland of their own after Vatican II? Fr. Rahner’s response was succinct and very clear: No, such classical theological objections no longer hold after the Council. Rabbi Borowitz published Fr. Rahner’s response in the magazine that he edited.

The Fundamental Agreement repudiated not only the original perpetual wandering theology in Catholicism regarding the Jews but also later theological perspectives in the period of the Crusades, which were given new impetus by powerful sermons by preachers who urged the recapture of Jerusalem as a central Catholic responsibility. While the immediate goal was purging Jerusalem of Muslim control, Jews also were targeted for murder lest they try to recapture control of the city at some future date.

Fr. Neuhaus has it right when he argues that the Crusader mentality, rooted in significant part in the Catholic wandering theology of the Jews, not only led to the actual murder of Jews and Muslims, in what was presented as a divinely mandated responsibility, but also opened the door for a merger of this theology with colonialist efforts throughout European Catholicism. As he puts it, “Explorers and conquerors paved the way for missionaries and preachers.” The Patristic wandering theology of the Jews eventually led to the later linking of the flag and the cross in the church. It provided a basis for a theological validation of colonial appropriation of land. The right to possess land was seen as requiring correct belief which Catholics alone possessed.

The Fundamental Agreement also undercut the theological view that had been advanced by Pope Pius X, when Jews began to develop political strategies for the re-establishment of a Jewish homeland. When Theodore Herzl, considered the founder of this new Jewish effort, paid a visit to Pope Pius X in Rome on January 25, 1904, to ask for Vatican support for this effort, Herzel clearly was rebuked in his appeal. The Pope stated that while the Vatican could not block the Jewish return to Palestine, it also could not give it support. Pope Pius X indicated to Herzl that Catholic missionaries would be present as Jews arrived in the Holy Land. The Pope’s response was clearly conditioned by the Classical Catholic outlook rooted in Augustine: The Jews have not

accepted Jesus, hence the church cannot validate the Jewish return to Palestine with the intention of restoring Jewish nationhood in that region. So this initial negative papal response had to be overcome in order to allow the church to sign the Fundamental Agreement. Vatican II’s affirmation of the continuity of the Jewish covenantal relationship with God after the Christ Event was crucial for this process. For, if Jews remained in a covenantal relationship after the coming of Christ, then there was no basis for the traditional notion of Jewish territorial exclusion. The view of Karl Rahner mentioned above added strength for this major theological turnabout. The late Canadian theologian Gregory Baum, who had a hand in the composition of Nostra Aetate, argued that the change in Catholic thinking on the continuity of Jewish covenantal inclusion represented perhaps the most significant change in the ordinary magisterium of the church to emerge from Vatican II. 7

This fundamental alteration of the Catholic view of the Jewish land tradition also was buttressed by the work of Christian scholars, particularly those involved with biblical studies. Charlotte Klein, Bruce Williams, OP, and Kurt Hruby were among the first to address this. More recently W.D. Davies, Robert Wilken, Walter Brueggemann, and Richard Lux have further advanced the discussion. The views of Davies and Brueggemann in particular have generated considerable discussion in scholarly circles.

To highlight the views of Davies and Brueggemann: Both emphasize the importance of the Jewish land tradition for Christian thought, although each has a somewhat different focus. For Brueggemann, the significance of the land tradition in Judaism remains a bedrock of Christian faith understanding. Tied as we Christians are to the Jewish land tradition through Jesus means that the church cannot be regarded as a totally heavenly reality but rather as one deeply embedded in human history and the earth it inhabits. While some of Brueggemann’s views on current realities in the Israel-Palestine conflict remain controversial, there is little question about his firm commitment to the continuing significance of the land tradition in Judaism that is central to the covenantal tradition and which the church shares with the Jewish People. This significance takes on greater importance, I would add, in this time when Christians are being called by Pope Francis to a heightened sense of ecological responsibility. Brueggemann joins W.D. Davies and the late Episcopal scholar John Townsend in recognizing some ambiguity in the New Testament regarding the land tradition despite their personal commitment to its importance. 8

Davies believes that the New Testament leaves us with a twofold witness relative to its inheritance of the land tradition from Judaism. On the one hand, Christianity cannot avoid grappling with the significance of the land tradition in Judaism for its own self-understanding. On the other hand, belief in Christ universalized that inherited land tradition. While Jerusalem and its surroundings remain a significant motive for authentic Christian belief, there is a need to recognize that the universal presence of Christ renders land everywhere as sacred. I would basically agree with Davies on this issue. As Christians, we share with our Jewish sisters and brothers an understanding of land through the Jewish proclamation of the sacredness of Jerusalem. But we also view the Christ Event as having expanded the boundaries of the original land tradition, while we appreciate the continued focus by Jews on the particular significance of Jerusalem. From Davies’ and my perspective, it is not an either-or but a both-and. The Christ Event did not wipe out Judaism’s special focus on the sacredness of Jerusalem. As Christians, however, we need to maintain that as a fundamental theological principle, Chicago, Buenos Ares, Rome, Dublin, and so on share in the biblical tradition of the sacredness of the land. 9

Towards the end of his lecture, Fr. Neuhaus raises questions relative to the contemporary tensions in Israel/Palestine. I fully concur with his perspective that the land tradition discussion cannot be totally isolated from these realties. The present-day rights of both Jews and Palestinians

and their territorial expression must be integrated into the more theological and theoretical discussion. The most recent proposal to advance peace put forth by the recent U.S. presidential administration, while making some important advances in Israeli-Arab relations, is totally inadequate in terms of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The Catholic-Jewish dialogue needs to put these issues front and center on the dialogical table. As Professor Yehezel Landau, a longtime colleague in Jewish-Christian relations, has put it to me: however valid the land claims emanating from the Jewish tradition, they must be integrated with the just claims to rights and national expression of others residing in the area today.

Finally, let me add a word about a project that has occupied my attention in the context of the theology committee of the International Council of Christians and Jews. It has to do with the development of what I term a “theology of belonging” in terms of the original land tradition. A theology of belonging searches for texts in the respective religious traditions for grounding the presence of the other on the same land. In the case of Israel-Palestine, this would involve Jews, Christians, and Muslims. For further exposition of my developing view on this, one can consult my essay in the new volume, Enabling Dialogue About the Land, mentioned previously. 10

In closing, let me once more express my sincere thanks to Fr. Neuhaus for his important reflections rooted in his lived presence in Israel/Palestine. Hopefully I have added some additional perspectives to the discussion that will generate further discussion.

1 See Enabling Dialogue About the Land, eds Philip A. Cunningham, Ruth Langer and Jesper Svartvik (New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 2020).

2 For the text of Dabru Emet, see For the text of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, issued for the 10th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, Vatican Council II’s Declaration on the Catholic Church’s Relationship with Non-Christians, see Bridges: Documents of the ChristianJewish Dialogue, ed. Franklin Sherman (New York/Mahwah, NJ: Paulist, 2011).

3 For the text of the Holy See’s 1985 statement celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the original Vatican II Declaration, see Bridges: Documents of the Christian-Jewish Dialogue.

4 For the text of Pope John Paul’s Address at Mainz, Germany, see Bridges: Documents of the ChristianJewish Dialogue.

5 For the text of Pope John Paul II’s Redemptoris Anno, see Bridges: Documents of the Christian-Jewish Dialogue

6 For further reflection on the significance of the Fundamental Agreement, see A Challenge Long Delayed: The Diplomatic Exchange Between the Holy See and the State of Israel, eds. Eugene J. Fisher and Rabbi Leon Klenicki (New York: Anti-Defamation League, 1996).

7 Gregory Baum, “The Social Context of American Catholic Theology,” Proceedings of the Catholic Theological Society of America (1996), 41.

8 Walter Brueggemann, The Land (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1977).

9 W.D. Davies, The Gospel and the Land (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974).

10 John T. Pawlikowski, “Towards a Theology of Belonging: A Catholic Christian Perspective, ” in Enabling Dialogue About the Land, eds. Philip A Cunningham, Ruth Langer and Jesper Svartvik, 262-281.

Funeral Homily for The Very Reverend Thomas A. Baima

(Scripture Readings: Revelation 21: 1-5a, 6b-7 / 1 Cor 15:20-23, 24b-28 / Mt 25:14-30)

Your Eminence, Your Excellency, Father Rector, Dear Mrs. Judy Sassetti and Mr. Robert Sassetti Dear Mr. Chris Sassetti and Mr. Steve Sassetti, Dear Relatives and Friends of Father Baima, Dear Christian, Jewish and Interreligious Friends of Father Baima, Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In this Chapel dedicated to the Immaculate Conception, Father Thomas Baima often presided as priest and preached. Here we entrust in gratitude the noble soul of your brother, brother-in-law, uncle, granduncle, our fellow priest, friend, and colleague Father Baima to God’s mercy. He was a vital vir ecclesiasticus, as Father Baima’s friend Monsignor Robert Dempsey so well put it. Father Dennis Spies observed he consistently strove for unity in the Archdiocese of Chicago, Mundelein Seminary, and throughout the City of Chicago, which he so much liked He and his address book were crucial resources for the Archdiocese of Chicago and the University. His address book is a “who’s who” of Chicagoland He contributed to fellowship and unity among fellow Christians, with the Jewish community, and the world religions. It is no exaggeration to say: Father Baima was one of the most resourceful institutional memories of Mundelein Seminary.

In a personal conversation, the Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, expressed to me how much he values Father Baima’s theological expertise and admires his diplomatic acumen: often on display in high level, sometimes delicate ecumenical discussions in the Vatican.

Today, the deacon of the Word proclaimed the parable of the entrusted talents. The Matthean pericope is one of the Basileia parables. It both announces and describes the Kingdom of God. When monks in Eastern Christendom call the monastic community to prayer, they beat a wooden board called Symandron with a hammer and call “Ta Talanta, Ta Talanta.” (cf. Matthew 25:14-3). The repetitive beating and calling Ta Talanta accelerate to a crescendo and come to a sudden halt These words mean: “Talents, hurry, hurry, make use of your talents and praise the triune God in liturgy.”

This call Father Baima heard throughout his life, and he responded to God’s call generously and wholeheartedly by bringing his talents to bear in order to build up the Kingdom of God. As Father Baima’s life on earth is complete and he enters everlasting life, we may imagine Our Lord welcoming Father Baima: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your Master” (verse 21).

This gospel text has an antithetical structure – contrasting good and bad The gospel reading relates the parable of the three slaves. Could Jesus not have chosen experienced bankers? The bank keepers, the trapezitai in Greek, or mensularii in Latin, were experts in changing foreign currencies, depositing funds, and investing monies. The Jewish bankers, schulchanim in Hebrew, were much trusted in the Roman Empire. But Jesus chooses lowly douloi, slaves, nota bene not diakonoi, servants, wholly inexperienced in matters financial for his parable. Why?

Slaves possess no property. In addition, they have no legal rights. Paradoxically, Jesus gives no concrete order or commission regarding what to do with the talents entrusted. Rather,

Jesus gives them the freedom to dispose of the enormous amounts at their discretion. They do not own the profit achieved. Jesus Christ is the one who entrusts the riches of his kingdom to his disciples; it seems he is rather foolhardy and careless. He does not tell them how to work with his graces. He entrusts us the salvation of people. He never overtaxes, but trusts everyone according to his or her abilities.

The amounts we hear are quite enormous. 5 Greek Attican talents equal 30,000 Denars. One Denar is the equivalent of a day’s wage The first two men work with unimaginably huge sums, and they miraculously double the amounts. Josephus Flavius in the Antiquities (18. 157) relates how a released slave of Queen Berenice, Protos, lends King Herod Agrippa I 17,500 Drachmas and achieves a sensational return of 2,500 Drachmas, a 14.2% interest.

The two good slaves achieve a far better return than anyone else in the ancient world ever did Of such unimaginable magnitude are the rewards in the kingdom of God.

They had made clever use of their talents. Again, God does not deny freedom, but invites us to make free use of our God-given gifts. We discover that freedom is far from puerile, selfdetermined autonomy. Freedom is not a state as much as a relationship. Not accidentally is there a linguistic link in both Latin and English between responsibility and response. From eternity human existence is essentially and constitutively “called freedom.” The human being is posited inescapably into a relationality with God. Jesus calls us to make use of the talents entrusted to us, as a free answer to God’s preceding, unmerited charity Thus, the human person discovers that he is called to cherish eternal charity, the Blessed Trinity.

This Father Baima discovered while still a high school student and subsequently as a student of pharmacology. St. John Henry Newman memorably formulates: Cor ad Cor loquitur.

The divine heart speaks to the human heart and vice-versa.

Our Savior responds, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master” (verse 23) Human charity is always “lagging behind” divine charity. In the thrilling surprise of discovering that God entrusts to us a large treasure, we stammer with unspeakable joy in response. Only in the strength of the Holy Spirit can human beings articulate a response.

This means that we should not compare our achievements with those of other human beings, but rather should allow God to be the sovereign yardstick of our labors. In the strength of the Holy Spirit, we become mindful that we are unworthy slaves. Everything belongs to Our Lord Jesus Christ. We possess nothing. We are his possession. Human beings who are self-willed and independent from the Divine actually bury their God-given talents.

Ta talanta, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your Master.”

The priest Father Baima, as a carer of souls, strove to gently remind us to organize all of our efforts, thinking, labors, and leisure in such a way that they contribute to the Kingdom of God. We become truly Catholic by universalizing God’s kingdom - and not burying it. This was the inner movens, the inner motivation for Father Baima to engage people of all occupations and different Christian denominations and people of different religions. Ultimately, he hoped all people would not act like the third slave: “So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you” (verse 25). Au contraire, the risk, the stake, must be dared.

Father Baima did not impose Christianity upon his dialogue partners, but he did take to heart the words from the Book of Proverbs: “Give instruction to the wise, and they will become wiser still; teach the righteous and they will gain in learning” (Proverbs 9:9). We are entrusted responsibility for the Church and the world. Christians cannot simply bide their time on earth and

ignore the call to follow Christ and the need to grow in acts of charity, especially in service to others.

Whoever follows Jesus Christ, whoever hears his word and acts accordingly, can count on the gifts of God to sustain him. The gift is the Holy Spirit. This Spirit urges us to feed the physically and spiritually hungry The promises of the Sermon on the Mount and the joy of resurrection permeate the Gospel. The Lord is not obliged to pay, to reward our efforts, but grants a generous share in his own being

The Church Fathers, such as John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, Theophylactus, and Augustine, recognize in the slaves of today’s parable not people of low social standing, but ecclesiastical officeholders: bishops, priests, and consecrated men and women with spiritual gifts, who deliberately cast off all personal ambitions and property to serve undividedly Our Lord and Master Commenting on St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Polycarp of Smyrna observed in the second century, “He became good by serving a good master.”

Father Baima was an accomplished scholar in his own right. After studying pharmacology, he earned a licentiate from Mundelein Seminary summa cum laude, and a doctoral degree in sacred theology from the Pontifical Angelicum in Rome, again summa cum laude. He also studied at Oxford, the Kellogg School of Management, and Templeton/The Theological College of the Bahamas, where he earned a master’s degree in business administration.

Father Baima wrote or edited at least fourteen books and contributed over 60 scholarly articles. He delivered countless lectures in the United States as well as in the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Rome, and the Holy Land.

As a professor of theology, Father Baima was most interested in the areas of ecclesiology, ecumenism, and interreligious dialogue. He discovered in the French Dominican and peritus at the Second Vatican Council, Yves Congar, an important interlocutor. In the words of Avery Dulles,

For Congar, tradition (the ongoing life of the Church) is a real, living selfcommunication of God. Its content is the whole Christian reality disclosed in Jesus Christ…The Holy Spirit is the transcendent subject of tradition; the whole Church is its bearer. Thus, tradition is an essentially social and ecclesial reality; its locus is the Church as a communion. It is transmitted not only by written and spoken words but equally by prayer, sacramental worship, and participation in the Church’s life

Frequently the question is posed to which school a theologian might belong. Father Baima resolutely refused belonging to a particular school, such as Neo-Scholasticism or Transcendental Thomism. The vivacity of the Blessed Trinity is too overwhelming for a theologian to be pressed into a school, he argued. He was a systematician, but he deliberately eschewed a particular system. Father Baima belonged instead to a broad current of thought called Ressourcement, a movement that integrates Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, the Church Fathers and the Victorines, Bonaventure and Newman, Balthasar, Ratzinger and Lonergan, John Courtney Murray and Avery Dulles.

As academic dean of Mundelein Seminary, Father Baima encouraged the faculty to theologize with meditation and prayer as its gravitational center. He considered these crucial for both serious theological scholarship and effective teaching. He was personally interested in every single colleague. He encouraged the teaching faculty to be speculative and often engaged them in spirited discussions. He promoted their attending retreats and scholarly conferences and delivering

academic papers. Annually, the publication of their academic books was joyfully, if not frolicsomely celebrated.

As vicar for ecumenical and interreligious affairs for the Archdiocese of Chicago, he was a valued dialogue partner and friend equally for Christians, Jews, Moslems, Hindus, and Buddhists. How was this possible? Because he saw in every human being Jesus Christ present, the universale, concretum et personale, the second person of the Blessed Trinity. With gracious calm and affable wit, he interacted with countless people of various faiths, religions, and cultures. Why? The key is the Johannine term menein, “to abide.” Father Baima abided in the Lord through prayer and meditation. Thus, he was able to discover divine goodness reflected in all.

In unguarded moments, one could see him thumbing the prayer beads of an Eastern Christian kompuskini, a black rosary. Father Baima was bi-ritual, practicing both the Latin and Byzantine rites Sometimes he would recite by heart longer Eastern Christian prayers.

In significant ways, he facilitated a union between the Assyrian and the Catholic Churches. Father Joby Joseph, one of Mundelein Seminary’s newly ordained priests of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, shared for this occasion a prayer, the Hymn of Resurrection, in the Holy Qurbana of the Assyrian Church of the East. It is most fitting for the conclusion of this homily honoring the life and legacy of Father Baima:

“I have washed my hands purely, and I have gone round your altar, O Lord. You, Lord of all, we confess, and you, Jesus Christ, we glorify, for you give life to our bodies, and you are the Savior of our souls.”


This homily was given in the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, on the campus of the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, on April 30, 2022.

Authors Page

David M. Neuhaus, S.J.

The Reverend David M. Neuhaus, a priest of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) of the Province of the Near East and North Africa, served as the Albert Cardinal Meyer Lecturer at the University of Saint Mary of the Lake in the spring of 2021. Fr. Neuhaus earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; a licentiate in Theology from Centre Sèvres in Paris; and a licentiate in Biblical Exegesis from the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. Fr. Neuhaus is the former Episcopal Vicar for the Hebrew Speaking and Migrant Catholics in Israel. He has lectured at Bethlehem University, the Latin Patriarchal Seminary in Beit Jala, the Pontifical Salesian University, and the Yad Ben Tsvi Institute; and was senior research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute. He is an active member of Justice and Peace Commission for the Committee of Men Religious in the Holy Land Bishops’ Conference. Recent publications include: The Land, the Bible and History (with Alain Marchadour); Writing from the Holy Land; and an introduction to Judaism in Arabic, entitled, Al-Yahudiyyah nasha’at baynana (Judaism developed among us). Fr. Neuhaus also composed five volumes of a children’s catechism in Hebrew, and short volumes of an introduction to the Bible in Arabic; and he regularly contributes to Civiltà cattolica. He currently resides and works at the Jesuit Institute in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Andrew Liaugminas

The Reverend Andrew Liaugminas, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, holds an S.T.D. in Dogmatic Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome with a concentration in Christology and Trinitarian Theology. Fr. Liaugminus has served as a lecturer in Christology and soteriology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary; as Director and Chaplain of Calvert House Catholic Center at the University of Chicago; and as Associate Pastor of Mary, Seat of Wisdom Parish in Park Ridge, Illinois. His research interests include the historical development of the Church’s Christological and soteriological doctrine, and the relationship of contemporary questions in Christology and soteriology to the teachings of the fathers of the Church. Recent publications include: “The Father’s Perfect Image Became Our Perfect Mediator: The Christology of Thomas Aquinas” in a forthcoming volume of essays on the theology of Thomas Aquinas and Hans Urs von Balthasar.

John T. Pawlikowski, O.S.M.

The Reverend John T. Pawlikowski, O.S.M., Ph.D., a priest of the Servite Order, is Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics at the Catholic Theological Union, where he directed the school's Catholic-Jewish Studies Program for many years. Fr. Pawlikowski is a fellow of Cambridge University and has served as a visiting professor at both Catholic University of Leuven and the Graduate Theological Union. He has held Presidential Appointments to the Board of the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum, as well as serving as President of the International Council of Christians and Jews for six years. His publications include: Christ in the Light of the ChristianJewish Dialogue; Restating the Church’s Relationship with the Jewish People: The Challenge of Super-Sessionary Theology; and a recent essay, “Has Antisemitism Been Uprooted from Christianity? A Catholic Response,” with five responses as part of a symposium on Catholics and antisemitism in the October 2022 issue of Antisemitism Studies.

Emery de Gaál

The Reverend Emery de Gaál, a priest from the Eichstätt diocese in Germany, is Professor and Chair of the Department of Dogmatic Theology at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary. Fr. de Gaál holds a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Duquesne University. He also is a member of the Pontifical Academy Marianum at the Vatican. He publishes (in multiple languages) primarily in the area of Mariology. Recent publications include:

O Lord, I seek Your Countenance: Explorations and Discoveries in Pope Benedict XVI’s Theology (2018).

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