The ever-insightful Dudi at the Rosh Pina Project has released an excellent response to the Roman Catholic Church’s repudiation of a mission to the Jews. Here are just a few highlights, but you really should go read the whole article:
We should clear up the fog around this issue. Firstly, this statement does not say that the Vatican rejects mission to the Jews outright. It is more a reassurance to Jewish interlocutors that the Church has no specific outreach programme to Jews, due to unique sensitivities. However, the documents affirms the call to “bear witness to their faith in Jesus Christ also to Jews” in “a humble and sensitive manner”. . .
The Catholic Church also represents the idea of eternal, uncompromising Truth in an increasingly relativist world. The Church takes conservative stances on moral issues such as homosexuality and abortion, and consequently even Protestants cast a curious glance towards the Vatican, seeing them as a powerful institution that can take a stance against moral relativism and what they see as the degradation of traditional family values.
Viewing the Vatican in this way – as a body representing Christian morality if not the Christian Gospel – it is tempting for many Protestants (I include Messianic Jews in this bracket) to invest hope in the Catholic Church as a moral force to be reckoned with.
And this is why the news about the Church’s stance towards Jewish mission has such an impact, because Protestants and Messianics were expecting the Vatican to stand against relativism and stand for objective Truth. They see the Vatican’s stance as a victory to the moral relativists, and as a slight against the very purpose of Messianic Jews. . .
I understand the Messianic anger towards the Vatican playing down mission targetted towards Jews. But at the same time, it seems misplaced – we have no right as Protestants to demand the Catholic Church (which we split from) act according to our favoured model of religious proselytisation. Their understanding of Yeshua is not ours anyway, and we can add to this the fact that the Vatican does not reject mission to individual Jews – simply mission targetted to Jews, in the light of the antisemitism which previously accompanied Catholic mission to Jews.
So there are various issues tangled up together, and it is important to really think about what lessons we want to draw from the sudden media interest in Christian mission which concerns us.
Well said, and shalom.