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The Very Rev. Thomas A. Baima is Vicar for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The 2014 Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Jerusalem Lecture

On Monday, March 31st, the Archdiocese of Chicago and our four partner organizations in the Jewish community will host the 2014 Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Jerusalem Lecture at Temple Sholom in Chicago.  The topic is timely as the Church celebrates the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  “What Changed at Vatican II: Past, Present and Future Reflections on Catholic-Jewish Relations.”

The 2014 Bernardin Lecturer, Fr. John Crossin, will guide us through a discussion of Nostra Aetate: the Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, which was one of the most dramatic teaching documents of the council.  The document is important because it addressed directly how common understanding in the Catholic Church historically reflected attitudes which often led to a sense of anti-Judaism among Christians.  The Fathers of Vatican II confronted these interpretations and presented a corrective vision of the relationship of Jews and Christians.

Unique among the world religions, Judaism alone has an organic relationship to the Church.  The Blessed Virgin Mary, Jesus and all of the apostles were Jews.  When the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70, both Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity were finding their distinctive identities.  As the centuries went on, both communities spread and developed, but usually in isolation from each other.  Now twenty centuries later we know of each other; sadly we do not directly know each other. 

What changed at Vatican II was this call for Christians and Jews to directly know each other.  To facilitate that goal, the Council called Catholics to a correct religious understanding of Judaism.  Free from past prejudice, our two communities can forge relationships which will allow a common future.

The Reverend Dr. John Crossin is an Oblate of Saint Francis de Sales and Executive Director of the Secretariat of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.  He served most recently as executive director of the Washington Theological Consortium.  Previously he was a visiting fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University, academic dean and later president of De Sales School of Theology.  He also has served for the past 20 years as an assisting priest at Annunciation Parish, Washington, D.C.  Within his religious order he has served as a superior, a member of the provincial council and assistant general treasurer of the congregation.

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