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One step forward, two steps back: supersessionism and Pope Benedict XVI's eschatological ecclesiology concerning Israel and the Jewish people.

The history of Jewish-Roman Catholic relations has, for a majority of its history, been defined almost exclusively by the concept of "supersessionism"--the idea that the Church, in totality, has taken up or procured the covenantal promises that God made to the nation Israel and the Jewish people. (1) Thus, the concept of supersessionism suggests that God has abrogated the covenantal blessings made to Israel and has permanently applied them to the Church instead. Though the bulk of literature--including papal statements, papal writings, and official ecclesial documents--interpreted the Vatican II document Nostra aetate (hereafter, NA) as a conciliar call to get beyond supersessionism, there are a few exceptions that caused tension in the overall move toward overcoming the "theology of abrogation" that still lingers in Roman Catholic circles.

In the text that follows, primacy will be given to the brief examination of one of the documents that has hampered the Church's move toward a fully postsupersessionist understanding of the Jews: the then-Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's Many Religions--One Covenant: Israel, the Church, and the World, published in 1999. (2) I have chosen an exploration of Many Religions because it is a widely read text, expresses Ratzinger's primary views on Judaism, and is regarded as an authoritative piece of scholarship in light of the fact that its author is now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. In order to illuminate the ecclesiological and eschatological aspects of his thought--the two themes emphasized in our study of supersessionism--we will also include his dogmatic work, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, published in German in 1977. Before the treatment of Many Religions, for the purpose of context, we will first briefly examine two other documents associated with Ratzinger-- Dominus lesus (On The Unicity and Salvific Universality of Jesus Christ and the Church), (3) and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) of 1997--exploring briefly their interaction with the Jewish-Catholic question of covenant and its bearing on supersessionism.

Dominus lesus, the Catechism, and Supersessionism

Although the Vatican declaration, Dominus lesus (hereafter DI), issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in September, 2000, as a response to the inclusive-pluralism model of the late Jacques Dupuis, (4) has been viewed as a document that advocates for supersessionism in an absolute manner, it has been vigorously clarified by the Vatican hierarchy as being inapplicable to the Jewish people and Judaism in general--indeed, it hardly mentions Judaism at all. (5) Despite the damage DI has done to decades of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue, it is argued that the document cannot be applied to Judaism, because the universal elements of salvific unicity in Jesus Christ and the Church cannot and do not abrogate the covenant God has made with the Jews. Nevertheless, it is clear that DI implies an intentional relapse to the era of supersessionism in the document's no. 13, in which the authors claim that Christianity enlightens Judaism with a "fulfillment of salvation that went beyond the Law," harkening back to dualistic representations of Judaism's Mosaic heritage, as if the law itself was and is some cold, callous conception, having nothing to do with God's grace (related to the concept of hesed in the Hebrew Scriptures) or promises. DI also reiterates very traditionalist views of the Church and the eschaton and emphasizes the dogmatic link between the canonical Church and a very strong christological expression. (6) Christianity's strong Christology is what makes it distinct, but to create a parallel ecclesiology based on that foundation is dangerous.

One aspect of DI that is particularly applicable to our study of supersessionism is the way in which its authors speak--counter to the Vatican II reforms--of the Church as the universal vehicle whereby salvation is applied to an individual: (7) "Therefore, in connection with the unicity and universality of the salvific mediation of Jesus Christ, the unicity of the Church founded by him must be firmly believed as a truth of Catholic faith." (8) The ecclesiology indicative of DI is firmly embedded in a specific understanding of the reign of God in extremely close proximity to the Church. For the authors of DI, the reign of God, in a sense, is the Church: "If the kingdom is separated from Jesus, it is no longer the kingdom of God which he revealed.... Likewise, one may not separate the kingdom from the Church." (9) Though the document claims that there is a "distinction" between the reign of God and the Church, it does not elaborate, thus confirming more traditionalist strands of Catholicism: that is, that the Church is the reign of God in the world. (10) The traditional eschatological concept that the Church is God's reign and closely identifiable with God's consummative act regarding the reign is reiterated in DI, but it is rooted in the new Catholic Catechism that was promulgated in Latin in 1997--originally drafted in 1994 and influenced primarily by Ratzinger. (11) The close approximation of the Church with the reign of God reflects only one aspect of the Christian tradition, leaving out other ancient expressions that are traced to the earliest eschatological models of the faith. (12)

The Catechism teaches, "The Church is both the means and the goal of God's plan: prefigured in creation, prepared for in the Old Covenant." (13) We must ask that, if the Church is the goal of God's plan for human history, how may there exist another consummative and future expression of this plan? In particular, if Judaism has its own unique witness and mission to the world, as is expressed in a variety of official ecclesial documents since NA, what is meant when it is stated in the Catechism that the Church has its own unicity and is necessary for salvation--and is in itself the telos of God's consummative plan? According to the Catechism, the Church has "become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ," and in the Church, Christ is viewed as reigning "forever and ever." If the Church is what was prefigured "in creation," and particularly prepared for in the revelation historically expressed in the Old Covenant--note that the Catechism does not read "Old Testament"--how may there be an alternative expression of God's consummative economy, particularly in Judaism? The reality is that there cannot be an alternative, if one takes seriously the statements of the Catechism, in line with DI. According to Mary C. Boys, the Catechism, the ecclesial document that was influential later for Dl, promotes the view of Judaism only as "a preparation for and figure of that new and perfect covenant which was to be ratified in Christ" (CCC, no. 781) and, in sum, "gives its readers virtually no sense of Judaism as a living, vital tradition." (14)

We must take into account that Ratzinger, in his written scholarship on Catholics and Jews, has indeed referred to an "alternate" mission for the Jews outside the Church and has even given a rationale for the Jewish rejection of Jesus as messiah based on Hebrew Scriptures prophecy. (15) Ratzinger has gone so far as to say that the Jewish "alternate mission" is one with its own sense of value, not only for the Jewish community but also for the entire world:
   The Fathers define this mission [of the Jews] in the following way:
   the Jews must remain as the first proprietors of Holy Scripture
   with respect to us, in order to establish a testimony to the world.

      But what is the tenor of this testimony? ... I think we could say
   that two things are essential to Israel's faith. The first is the
   Torah, commitment to God's will, and thus the establishment of his
   dominion, his kingdom, in this world. The second is the prospect of
   hope, the expectation of the Messiah--the expectation, indeed, the
   certainty, that God himself will enter into this history and create
   justice, which we can only approximate very imperfectly. (16)

Even the "no" of the Jewish community appears to play a part in their God- ordained witness to the world, according to Ratzinger: "... while history still runs its course, even this standing at the door [that is, temporary rejection of Jesus] fulfills a mission, one that is important for the world. In that way this people still has a special place in God's plan." (17) To give a fair reading of his view on the covenant that God made with the Jews, it should be well noted that in his primary text on Jewish-Catholic relations, Many Religions, Ratzinger gave fuller detail as to what is meant by an "alternative mission" or "witness" for the Jewish people of today. He asked rhetorically, "But what does this witness say?" (18) He went on to describe in detail a dual mission of the Jewish people:
   First ... there is the Torah, the commitment to God's will and the
   establishment of his rule, his kingdom in this world.

      Secondly there is the hope, the expectation of the Messiah; the
   expectation, even the certainty, that God himself will step into
   this history and create justice--for the forms of justice we
   ourselves set up are very imperfect. (19)

Ratzinger made reference to the three theological dimensions of time--past, present, and future--as God's will and "... a Word that has been uttered, which is now a datum of history and has to be realized anew in obedience." (20) He boldly related these three categories to the Jewish notion of justice and practical application of the law, simultaneously drawing correlations between these aspects of time and the three great Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love. Ratzinger ultimately showed how the person of Christ is in himself an extension of the very particularly Jewish notions of time and how Christians believe that Christ "simultaneously takes them and extends them into eternity." (21)

The problem is that the examples above are anomalies, whereas the content and tone of the majority of Ratzinger's scholarship has been categorically supersessionist, and the logical interpretation of his work leads one to believe that the Jewish "no" to Jesus, and by default the traditional Jewish rejection of the Church, leaves the Jews with no hope, either through the divinely revealed vehicle of Torah, for which obedience is a mainstay of Jewish religious expression, or through a future prospect for a messiah or messianic kingdom. Thus, it is not surprising that the Catholic Catechism, Dominus Iesus, and Many Religions were either authored or heavily influenced by Ratzinger, continuing the legacy he began in his 1966 Theological Highlights of Vatican II--a document almost entirely void of any significant treatment of the contributions of NA. (22) His evaluation of supersessionism and his attitude toward the Jewish people appear either highly ambiguous or ultimately advocate for a kind of resurgence of supersessionism as it regards the Catholic Church's overall theological stance toward the Jewish people. (23)

Many Religions, Ecclesial Eschatology, and Supersessionism

The primary focus of our evaluation, Many Religions--One Covenant, was written as a means of clarifying the question of the divine covenant among Christians, Jews, and essentially all world religions, but it is also evident that in it Ratzinger intended to challenge some of the assumptions made in Jewish-Christian scholarship since Rosemary Ruether's Faith and Fratricide (24) In reference to the hostility between Jews and Christians in history, he asked:
      Does this hostility result from something in the very faith of
   Christians? Is it something in the "essence of Christianity", so
   that one would have to prescind from Christianity's core, deny
   Christianity its heart, in order to come to real reconciliation?

      ... Do confession of Jesus of Nazareth as the Son of the living
   God and faith in the Cross as the redemption of mankind contain an
   implicit condemnation of the Jews as stubborn and blind, as guilty
   of the death of the Son of God? (25)

As is evident in the quote above, in the attempt to protect traditional Christology and the Christian universal kerygma from what Ratzinger viewed as the relativism marked by certain forms of postsupersessionist theology, his theology of covenant utilized some of the language of NA, but it ultimately reverts back to dualistic and rigidly typological readings of the Hebrew Bible in relation to the Apostolic witness. For example, in one section, Ratzinger made the positive claim that, in the Catholic tradition inspired by the Augustinian and Thomistic ideas of covenant, "the relationship between the Torah and the proclamation of Jesus is never seen dialectically," (26) yet in another section treating the Mosaic covenant, he appears to have adopted a strictly supersessionist theology, claiming that "God's pedagogy with mankind operates in such a way that its individual props are jettisoned when the goal of the educational process is reached. Particular paths are abandoned, but the meaning remains." (27) The path to which Ratzinger referred, the one that is "jettisoned" and "abandoned," is the mediation and the ratification of the covenant through God's revelation on Sinai, as accepted and expressed as the pinnacle of religious experience in much of modern Judaism. (28) The covenant in its earlier expression in Judaism is portrayed merely as a temporary pedagogical element pointing its pupils to the consummation of the reign of God revealed in the Christian Scriptures and, ultimately, in the Church. Ratzinger's impetus for portraying the plural covenants (29) of the Hebrew Scriptures as having a unicity with the one, new, and eternal covenant (30) was to reiterate the concept that in the Church, the covenant is fulfilled and the central Jewish expression of the unconditional promises of God to Abraham, reified at Sinai, is abrogated and has become obsolete:
      Thus the Sinai covenant is indeed superseded. But once what was
   provisional in it has been swept away, we see what is truly
   definitive in it. So the expectation of the New Covenant, which
   becomes clearer and clearer as the history of Israel unfolds, does
   not conflict with the Sinai covenant; rather, it fulfills the
   dynamic expectation found in that very covenant. (31)

Therefore, in Ratzinger's theology, every otherness and particularity in Judaism that is associated with the centrality of the remembrance of the giving of Torah on Sinai is pulverized and subsequently enveloped by the Church. We see from the above statement that it is not merely the Jewish expression of covenant that is superseded, but it is the Mosaic covenant itself. Sinai is replaced by Calvary, or, more practically speaking, the Church replaces the Synagogue. As a logical extension of this claim, Ratzinger once again circumscribed to Israel the roles typical of super-sessionist history: conditionality, temporality, carnality, blind casuistry, limitation, and provisional status. Instead of dissolving Jewish particularity and universalizing it into the existence of the "new people of God," he stressed Jewish uniqueness in order to claim its abolition:
      With regard to the Sinai covenant, we must again draw a
   distinction. It is strictly limited to the people of Israel; it
   gives this nation a legal and cultic order (the two are
   inseparable) that as such cannot simply be extended to all nations.
   Since this juridical order is constitutive of the Sinai covenant,
   the law's "if' is part of its essence. To that extent it is
   conditional, that is, temporal; within God's providential rule it
   is a stage that has its own allotted period of time. (32)

In line with replacement theology (supersessionism), Ratzinger implied that the conditionality of the Sinai covenant, that is, its temporal period, has indeed passed. Whatever God's intent in giving the law at Sinai as a ratification of the Abrahamic covenant and whatever its essence and value, it is now superseded by the new covenant and the new community--the Church.

The problem with this view, both exegetical and theological, is that the conditional elements of the covenant on Sinai have little to do with its standing as either eternal or limited; the covenant at Sinai was as much a grant of privileged status as the initial "unconditional" covenant made with Abraham. Sinai took place not because the Jewish people were obliged to follow the law at the risk of forfeiting their election, but, by contrast, they were called to follow the law precisely because of their election:
   The grant treaties, where property or privileged position is
   granted by the king, or god, constitute a general parallel which,
   while it has been explored in relation to the Abrahamic and Davidic
   covenants, has been all but ignored so far as the Sinai covenant is
   concerned. The strong contrast which is sometimes drawn between
   conditional and unconditional covenantal commitments is seen to be
   untenable and the Sinai covenant shares many features with those
   covenants which are regarded as belonging to the 'grant' type. (33)

Boys best summed up the perspective expressed in Many Religions--One Covenant: "However sophisticated and nuanced Cardinal Ratzinger's reading of the covenants is, in the end it seems thoroughly supersessionist."34 If what she wrote is correct, we must inquire as to the central eschatological and ecclesiological notions that govern the theology of covenant present in Ratzinger's writings. If he viewed the old and new covenants as referring solely to promises made to one people group, the Church, save for the more "particular," nationalistic, and ultimately abrogated Sinai covenant, then supersessionism is not merely an aspect of his thought but the very foundation of his writing on Jewish-Christian dialogue. Ratzinger did not go so far as to state that the promises made to the Jewish people are no longer applied to them, but, as we will see, he insisted that any true consummation of God's promises to the Jewish people ultimately come through the Church militant.

It must be noted that, in a positive step, Many Religions utilizes distinctions and nuanced language as it regards the problem of the traditional portrayal of "hardened legalism" in relation to the Pharisees (35)--something that Ratzinger accused liberation theologians of promulgating through their critique of those in religious authority. He likewise rejected certain interpretations of the Pauline epistles that render the antithesis between law and Gospel, old and new, flesh and spirit too stiffly. (36) He expressed the influence of Vatican II reforms on his own theological purview in light of a certain degree of covenantal value ascribed to biblical Israel. Though Ratzinger mentioned a continued legacy and even a mission of witness for contemporary Jews along with today's Christians, (37) his overall reading of Christian history suggests that biblical Israel's existence was almost solely predicated upon its ability to prepare for the revelation of Jesus Christ and, significantly, today's Church, which, comprised of a composite of "the nations" and the Jews, becomes the People of God "through acceptance of the Davidic kingdom." (38)

Thus, the Davidic kingdom is almost entirely summed up in the Church, (39) even the Church of history, although Ratzinger has claimed that the reign of God is not manifest as a political organization expressed through force. For example, he adamantly critiqued "Alfred Loisy's 'modernist' separation of the kingdom and Church" (40) (although Jesus never mentions the Church, as we think of it today, in the Synoptic Gospels--only the reign) and, on another occasion, he emphasized what is interpreted to be the "ecclesial" understanding of the reign of God, common in the early Fathers, in which "the kingdom of God and the Church are related in different ways and brought into more or less close proximity." (41) Curiously missing from Ratzinger's assessment of the eschatology and ecclesiology of the early Fathers is the concept, overwhelmingly popular in the early Church, that the reign of God was an imminent reality, coming in the future, that would be established in visible form during an interregnum period, with Christ. The idea that there could be a specifically earthly and future political "kingdom of God," as is held by a large constituency in modern Judaism, (42) is utterly rejected in Ratzinger's critique of Jurgen Moltmann's Theology of Hope, and its conceived connection with liberation theology, as it is expressed in Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life:
   The Kingdom of God, not being itself a political concept, cannot
   serve as a political criterion by which to construct in direct
   fashion a program of political action and to criticize the
   political efforts of other people. The realization of God's Kingdom
   is not itself a political process. To misconceive it as such is to
   falsify both politics and theology. The inevitable result is the
   rise of false messianic movements which of their very nature and
   from the inner logic of messianic claims finish up in
   totalitarianism. (43)

Here we see Ratzinger pointing to the dangers of messianic hope in Christianity without critiquing the concept that the Church has emphasized its own existence as the imperial realization of such hopes and as the implied reign of Christ on earth. Thus, it is not surprising that Aidan Nichols, in his introductory note in Eschatology, pointed to Augustine's City of God and its fourth-century reinterpretation of the millennial reign of Christ expressed in the Book of Revelation as a primary influence on Ratzinger and his understanding of the reign of God. (44) Ratzinger, though he expressed that he was not critiquing Moltmann's theology as a whole and that it contained within it "gleams of real gold," insisted that viewing the messianic reign as a "political concept" is both an affront to politics, and an "emasculation of Christian hope." (45)

Certainly, a kind of hesitance to blend political and secular messianic conceptions is understandable since the time of the Nazis, who used such ideas to gain power for the Third Reich. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that the primary messianic conception for both Judaism and early Christianity is an immanent messianism combined with an expectation for political liberation from oppression and a longing for justice in the realms of earthly power. This is frequently argued as the very reason why Jesus modified the political aspects of messianism without rejecting them entirely, modeling a political response to power in the form of martyrdom and silent witness in the face of false accusation and violence. It is impossible to say that Jesus' conception of the reign of God was apolitical. (46)

Ratzinger was particularly sympathetic to C. H. Dodd's realized eschatology, (47) without mentioning the obvious connection between fulfilled apocalypticism and traditional Post-Nicene Catholic ecclesiology--the Church rio/become the political criterion by which a political effort was fashioned, particularly in the time immediately succeeding Constantine, later during the Crusades, and the historical periods manifest in the multiple pogroms against the Jewish people, as Jews were natural enemies of the Church vis-a-vis their alternative messianic claim--a point brought up by Moltmann on numerous occasions (48) The Church, for a great duration of its history, was an ecclesiastical manifestation of that which Ratzinger critiqued--the totalitarianism of political messianism. His glowing review of Dodd was centered upon an already present interpretation of the reign of God, focused on the Church's mediation, particularly as it celebrates the eucharist, "a sacrament of realized eschatology." (49) Ratzinger wrote, "Dodd connects this interpretation of Jesus' message of the kingdom with a Christological and sacramental view of things fully in continuity with the inner development of historic Christianity." (50) The problem with Ratzinger's reflections on the "inner development of historic Christianity" is that it leaves out a significant aspect of Christian development that followed Jesus' emphasis on the immanence of the reign, not solely its already-present content--the phenomenon of millenarianism, adopted in Christian thought from its Jewish precursory forms.

Modern scholarship, including the biblical work of N. T. Wright and Dale Allison, confirms that the emphasis of Jesus' preaching was an imminent expectation of the reign. Allison traced Jesus' words and the traditions associated with them to parallels common in the first century, "found above all in millenarian movements." (51) Steven M. Bryan stated:
      Few today would want to follow C. H. Dodd in seeing Jesus'
   eschatology as fully realized. In fact, if the way Jesus'
   eschatology is understood changed substantially over the course of
   the last century, the perception that Jesus expected an imminent
   end of some sort seems very much the same. To be sure, most would
   acknowledge a certain realized dimension to Jesus' eschatology. But
   for many scholars the realized aspect of Jesus' eschatology in no
   way occupies the centre of his thought. Rather, it is often made
   subservient to his imminent expectation. (52)

We see here the near equating of the reign of God with the Church in Ratzinger's comments, contrary to modem scholarship, insofar as the Davidic kingdom is a thing that is accepted by the new people of God because it is already present, (53) Though some of Ratzinger's work leaves room for a distinction between the Church and the reign, (54) he definitively emphasized the "already" of the reign of God as present via the mystery of the Church. The equating of the messianic kingdom of David with the Church of history is a hallmark of the supersessionist trajectory, because there may be no alternative historical, future, and political vehicle for the reign of God if the Roman Catholic Church has a "monopoly" on the divine reign. Thus, the inner logic of Ratzinger's understanding of the typological function of the old covenant for the new, the unity of Torah and the Christian message insofar as Christ subsumes Torah entirely, and the emphasis of a realized eschatological framework that ties the Church inextricably to the reign of God to the point of equating the two phenomena and making the Church the sole mediating entity between God and humanity--all fail to take adequately into account developments in postsupersessionist theology since NA and the common elements of the declaration's reception.

In sum, Ratzinger's insights regarding Judaism and covenantal history, though well-articulated and erudite, emphasize elements of ecclesiology and eschatology that are rigidly supersessionist in both tone and content. Though Ratzinger has indicated that Judaism has its own "mission in the world" and its own distinct witness, it is difficult to ascertain what that mission might be, considering that Judaism's unique features are portrayed as being taken up or entirely fulfilled in the Roman Catholic Church, which is viewed as God's reign on earth.

(1) See R. Kendall Soulen, The God of Israel and Christian Theology (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1996), pp. 34-51. Ronald Diprose defined supersessionism or replacement theology as the view that "the Church completely and permanently replaced ethnic Israel in the working out of God's plan and as recipient of Old Testament promises to Israel" (Ronald E. Diprose, Israel in the Development of Christian Thought [Rome: Istituto Biblico Evangelico Italiano, 2000], p. 2). On the continued influence of supersessionism on contemporary theology, see "Reversing Roles: Blaming the Victims," Part 1 of an article on the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies website. May 7, 2014, by Benjamin E. Sax, "Re-Remembering the Holocaust: A Look into 'Judeo-Christian' Holocaust Denial"; available at Here, Sax described the continuing role of supersessionist logic in contemporary practical theology, specifically that of American evangelical Protestantism.

(2) Ratzinger's essay, "Israel, the Church, and the World: Their Relation and Mission according to the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church" (tr. John Rock), was written for the Jewish-Christian meeting in Jerusalem in February, 1994. See Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Many Religions--One Covenant: Israel, the Church, and the World, tr. Graham Harrison (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1999 [orig.: Die Vielfalt der Religioner und der Eire Bund (Hagen: Verlag Urfeld, 1998)]), pp. 21-46.

(3) Available at _doc_0000806_dominus-iesus_en.html.

(4) See Jacques Dupuis, Toward a Christian Theology of Religious Pluralism (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002), throughout. Cf. Aimee Upjohn Light, "Jesus Is on the Side of the Non-Christian: A Response to John Hick," Journal of Jnterreligious Dialogue 8 (Spring, 2011): 65.

(5) See Edward Idris and Cardinal Cassidy, "The Future of Jewish-Christian Relations in Light of the Visit of Pope John Paul II to the Holy Land," address delivered at the Annual General Meeting of the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel, held in Jerusalem, March 13, 2001; and Walter Cardinal Kasper, "Dominus lesus," no. 2. Ratzinger himself placed Judaism outside the scope of "another religion," making DI inapplicable to Judaism; see Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "L'eredita di Abramo dono di Natale," L'Osservatore Romano (December 29,2000), p. 1. Jewish scholar David Berger claimed that DI does, indeed, apply to the Jews, yet Berger identified two forms of supersessionism explicit in the text, one of which was endorsed by Ratzinger, which does not view Judaism as espousing "narrow, petty legalism pursued in the service of a vengeful God and eventually replaced by a vital religion of universal love" (David Berger, "On Dominus lesus and the Jews," in Stephen J. Pope and Charles Hefling, eds., Sic et Non: Encountering Dominus lesus (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2002), p. 41. Thus, Berger accepted Ratzinger's rejection of the salvific value of Judaism, provided that the theology retains some value for the ancient faith. Berger's primary impetus for accepting a modified supersessionism is that he feared that Jews would not be allowed to share honestly about more controversial parts of their faith system within the context of interreligious dialogue, namely, the Jewish idea that the divinity of Jesus, espoused by Christians, is idolatry. Berger's primary problem with DI is that its universal language appears to promote proselytism of Jews by Catholics.

(6) DI, no. 4, emphasizes and makes mandatory for the Catholic faith belief in "the unicity and salvific universality of the mystery of Jesus Christ, the universal salvific mediation of the Church, the inseparability--while recognizing the distinction--of the kingdom of God, the kingdom of Christ, and the Church, and the subsistence of the one Church of Christ in the Catholic Church"; emphasis added.

(7) DI consistently speaks of salvation in terms consistent with personal transcendence--a view foreign to the Jewish mind, which views salvation as a communal phenomenon. For the changes initiated by Vatican II concerning the Church and salvation in relation to other religions, see John Berchmans Barla, Christian Theological Understanding of Other Religions according to D. S. Amalorpavadass, Documenta Missionalia 26 (Rome: Editrice Pontificia Universita Oregoriana, 1999), p. 119.

(8) Unitatis redintergratio, no. 4, as cited in DI, no. 16.

(9) DI, no. 18; emphasis added.

(10) For the dangers of such conceptions as expressed in DI, see Richard M. Bennett, Dominus Iesus: Rome Exalts Her Throne: A Verbal Reappearance of the Inquisition (Edmonton, AB: Still Waters Revival Books, 2000), p. 2.

(11) The Imprimi Potest, or official permission, to publish the Catholic Catechism was authorized and physically signed by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, under the authority of Pope John Paul II.

(12) In the history of Catholicism, the term "Church" has taken on multiple meanings. Consistent with both traditional Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy is the insistence that the true Church is the visible Church, but such strong links between the two have been challenged to include a value for that which is outside the canonical bounds of the Church, vis-a-vis Lumen gentium. Borrowing from the work of Georges Florovsky, modem Catholicism has looked to the patristic understanding of one Church but has opened theological space for considerations of the movement and relevancy of a Church that is not strictly canonical and visible. Florovksy borrowed from Augustine the concept of the movement of the Holy Spirit outside the canonical bounds of the Church. See Georges Florovsky, "The Limits of the Church," available at or at odoxyandheterodoxy/2012/06/28/the-limits-of-the-church-by-ff-georges-florovsky/ (originally published in Church Quarterly Review 117 [October, 1933]: 117-131; later expressed in a similar form as "The Doctrine of the Church and the Ecumenical Problem," The Ecumenical Review 2 [Winter, 1950]: 152-161). The Reformed tradition has stressed that there is indeed one Church founded by Christ but has maintained a logical distinction between the visible and invisible Church (see Brian Schwertly, "The Visible vs. the Invisible Church"; available at ible.html). For an understanding of the correlation of the topic of the invisible Church and interreligious dialogue, see Edward Idris Cassidy, Ecumenism and Interreligious Dialogue: Unitatis redintegratio. Nostra aetate, Rediscovering Vatican II (New York and Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2005), p. 74. For the purposes of this essay, the term "Church" will refer to both the visible and invisible elements of the Church, as they form the more universal Church of Jesus Christ. Ratzinger has mentioned the movement in Catholic ecclesiology from the Counter-Reformation emphasis on the visible Church to a needed "deeper spirituality" that "accented the invisible church" (John L. Allen, Jr., Cardinal Ratzinger: The Vatican's Enforcer of the Faith [New York and London: Continuum, 2000], p. 99).

(13) "Ecclesia simul via est et scopus consilii Dei: in creatione praefigurata, in Vetere Foedere praeparata," in Catechism of the Catholic Church, E.T.: US. Catholic Conference (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1994), no. 778.

(14) Mary C. Boys, "The Covenant in Contemporary Ecclesial Documents," in Eugene B. Korn and John T. Pawlikowski, eds., Two Faiths, One Covenant? Jewish and Christian Identity in the Presence of the Other, The Bemardin Center Series, A Sheed and Ward Book (Lanham, MD, and Oxford, U.K.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005), p. 91; CCC, no. 781, cited on p. 90.

(15) Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, God and the World: Believing and Living in Our Time--A Conversation with Peter Seewald, tr. Henry Taylor (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 2002 [orig : Gott und die Welt: Glauben und Leben in unserer Zeit--Ein Gesprach mil Peter Seewald (Stuttgart and Munich: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 2000)]), pp. 208-210. Likewise, Ratzinger has claimed that "all nations, without the abolishment of the special mission of Israel, become brothers and receivers of the promises of the Chosen People" (Ratzinger, "Israel, the Church, and the World," p. 27; emphasis added.

(16) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, "Interreligious Dialogue and Jewish-Christian Relations," Communio: International Catholic Review 25 (Spring, 1998): 37.

(17) Ratzinger, God and the World, p. 150.

(18) Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "The New Manna: Homily for the 19th Sunday in Year B, 1997," in Ratzinger, Many Religions, p. 104.

(19) Ibid. pp. 104-105.

(20) ibid., p. 105.

(21) Ibid.

(22) Benedict did mention that NA was intended as a declaration on Catholics and Jews only and lamented that it was prematurely broadened to include all world religions--a point with which I agree, due to the negative implications for dialogue between Jews and Christians (Benedict XVI, Theological Highlights of Vatican II [Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2009], p. 157). Nevertheless, the absence of the declaration's impact in the text is theological irresponsible considering that the book treats the "highlights" of Vatican II.

(23) E.g., Ratzinger commissioned the 2002 document, "The Jewish People and the Holy Scriptures," issued by the Pontifical Biblical Council, which claimed that "the Jewish messianic wait is not in vain." The document likewise reiterated that the Jewish messianic reality is a reality that is valid within itself, outside the Church's teaching or jurisdiction (see Frank J. Coppa, The Papacy, the Jews, and the Holocaust [Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 2006], p. 292).

(24) See Rosemary Radford Ruether, Faith and Fratricide: The Theological Roots of Anti-Semitism (Eugene, OR: Wipf& Stock, 1996; orig.: New York: Scabury Press, 1974).

(25) Ratzinger, "Israel, the Church, and the World," pp 22-23.

(26) Ibid., p. 36.

(27) Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, "The New Covenant: On the Theology of the Covenant in the New Testament," in Ratzinger, Many Religions, pp. 55-56; emphasis added.

(28) David Hartman, A Hear! of Many Rooms: Celebrating the Many Voices within Judaism (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights, 1999), p. 262.

(29) Ratzinger, "The New Covenant," p. 55.

(30) Ibid., p. 53.

(31) Ibid., pp. 70-71, emphasis added.

(32) Ibid., p. 68.

(33) John A. Davies, A Royal Priesthood: Literary and Intertextual Perspectives on an Image of Israel in Exodus 19.6, Journal for the Stud}' of the Old Testament Supplement Series 395. Continuum Imprint (London and New York: T & T Clark International, 2004), p. 188.

(34) Boys, "Covenant in Contemporary Ecclesial Documents," p. 105; emphasis added.

(35) Ratzinger, "Israel, the Church, and the World," p. 131

(36) Ratzinger stated that certain interpretations of 2 Corinthians 3 create too strong an antithesis between the two covenants and that "it has largely been forgotten that other Pauline texts portray the drama of God's history with men in a much more nuanced way" (Ratzinger, "The New Covenant," p. 54).

(37) Ratzinger stated that God "has obviously given Israel a particular mission in this 'time of the Gentiles,"' but he failed to clarify what that mission is (Ratzinger, "The New Manna," p. 104). In one section it reads that through the Jews' "witness to the one God, who cannot be adored apart from the unity of love of God and neighbor, they should open the door into the world for this God so that his will may be done and so that it may become on earth 'as it is in heaven': so that 'his kingdom come'" (Ratzinger, "Israel, the Church, and the World," p. 46).

(38) Ratzinger, "Israel, the Church, and the World," p. 28.

(39) See Gerhard Nachtwei, Dialogische Unsterblichkeit: Erne Untersuchung zu Joseph Ratzingers Eschatologie und Theologie (Leipzig: St. Benno-Verlag, 1986).

(40) Joseph Ratzinger, The Ratzinger Reader: Mapping a Theological Journey, ed. Lieven Boeve and Gerard Mannion (London and New York: T&T Clark International, 2010), p. 87. According to Richard McBrien, the intention of the authors of Lumen gentium 5 was to avoid the triumphalism of the past and "to counteract this residual habit of equating the church with the Kingdom of God" (Richard McBrien, "Vatican II Themes: The Church as an Eschatological Community," National Catholic Reporter, August 22,2011; available at themes-church-eschatologicalcommunity).

(41) Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives (New York: Image [Random House], 2012; orig.: Jesus von Nazareth: Prolog--Die Kindbeitsgeschichten [Vatican City: Libreria Editions Vaticana, 2012]), p. 41.

(42) Modern Judaism, borrowing from traditional elements, has stressed the connection between the earthly and the heavenly Jerusalem, and the complete rebuilding of the sacred city is a central part of restoration theology and Jewish religious identity (see "The Heavenly Jerusalem and the Earthly Jerusalem," no. 528, in Howard Schwartz, Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism [Oxford, U.K., and New York: Oxford University Press, 2004], p. 414).

(43) Joseph Ratzinger, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, tr. Michael Waldstein (tr. ed. Aiden Nichols) (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1988 [orig.: Eschatologie: Tod und ewiges Leben (Regensburg: Verlag Pustet, 1977)]), p. 58.

(44) Aidan Nichols, "A Note on the Current Volume" in ibid., p. xvii.

(45) Ratzinger, Eschatology, pp. 58-59. It is important to note the language used by Ratzinger concerning the stress of political elements in Christian eschatology, i.e., that Christian hope is then "emasculated." Does this not imply binary, dualistic, and misogynistic elements in the Catholic hierarchy? Was this play on words intended by Benedict in order to draw attention to the feminist critique of traditional eschatology, influenced by Moltmann's pioneering work for and eventual advocacy of liberation theology? Certainly, if Christian hope may be "emasculated" by a political emphasis in eschatology, this implies that the power that lies behind traditionalist concepts of Christian hope is thoroughly male in form and function.

(46) See William R. Herzog II, Jesus, Justice, and the Reign of Cod: A Ministry of Liberation (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000), pp. 219 ff.

(47) Ratzinger, Eschatology, pp. 55-56.

(48) E.g., Moltmann wrote of the "ruthless persecution of the Jews, who still wait for the Messiah, and of dissidents unable to recognize in [the] Roman ecclesiastical rule Christ's messianic kingdom of peace" (Jurgen Moltmann, The Coming of God: Christian Eschatology, tr. Margaret Kohl [London: SCM Press Ltd., 1996 (orig.: Das Kommen Gottes: Christliche Eschatologie [GUtersloh: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, 1995])], p. 180).

(49) C. H. Dodd, The Parables of the Kingdom, rev. ed. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1961 [orig.: London: Nisbet, 1938]), p. 164.

(50) Ratzinger, Eschatology, p. 55.

(5l) Dale C. Allison, Jesus of Nazareth: Millenarian Prophet (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 1998), p. 69.

(52) Steven M. Bryan, Jesus and Israel's Traditions of Judgement and Restoration, Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 117 (Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 2.

(53) See also Benedict, God and the World, p. 344. Benedict often quoted A. Loisy, stating that "the opposition of kingdom and Church has no factual basis" (Alfred Loisy, L'evangile Et L'eglise [Paris: A. Picard et fils, 1902]). Cf. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Hans Maier, Demokratie in der Kirche: Moglichkeiten und Grenzen (Limburg: Lahn-Verlag, 2000), for Ratzinger's views on the reign, contemporary politics, and the existence of the Church.

(54) Ratzinger stated that "what Jesus' message immediately announced was not the Church but the kingdom of God" (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today [San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1996], p. 21), but he often clarified that the Church was intended by Christ to be viewed as the reign on earth. Cf. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Vittorio Messori, The Ratzinger Report: An Exclusive Interview on the State of the Church, tr. Salvator Attanasio and Graham Harrison (San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1985 [orig.. Rapporto Sulla Fede [Milan: Edizioni Paoline, 1985]), p. 48, wherein Ratzinger emphasized the definition of the Church in Lumen gentium, no. 3, referring to "the Church, or, in other words, the Kingdom of Christ now present."

Steven D. Aguzzi (Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.) has a Ph.D. in systematic theology (2013) from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA, with a dissertation on "Israel, the Church, and Eschatological Hope: Moltmann's Millenarianism and the Jewish-Catholic Question." He also holds an M.Div. from Princeton (NJ) Theological Seminary and a B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. He currently has a National Institute for Newman Studies Research Scholarship and is an adjunct in the Theology Department of Duquesne, where his work focuses on Jewish-Christian dialogue and postsupersessionist ecclesiology and eschatology. He has made conference presentations at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology (Boston), and Duquesne. A member of the Pittsburgh Presbytery, he has served pastorates in Savannah, GA, and in Pittsburgh. He has published two articles in the Newman Studies Journal (2010 and 2014), as well as in Ecumenical Trends (2010) and Theology Matters (2011). A book based on his dissertation is presently under review for publication.
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Author:Aguzzi, Steven D.
Publication:Journal of Ecumenical Studies
Article Type:Critical essay
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Date:Sep 22, 2014
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