Pope Emeritus Benedict did not call Christian-Jewish dialogue into question in his article published in Communio magazine in July, as claimed by Catholic and Jewish theologians, the Curia cardinal responsible for relations with Judaism told KNA news agency on 13 August.
Jewish critics have said Benedict fails to appreciate contemporary Judaism. But Cardinal Kurt Koch says that the Pope Emeritus wanted to deepen Catholic-Jewish dialogue. “Benedict discusses the basic convictions of Christian-Jewish dialogue not to expand on the problems or relativise or undermine the convictions but to specify and differentiate – and thereby to deepen them – theologically,” Cardinal Koch explained.
“Benedict’s reflections are concerned with an intra-Christian understanding that will promote Christian-Jewish dialogue, but not with a Christian-Jewish dialogue document itself,” the cardinal said. “It is of great importance to me,” he emphasised, “that the article should not cause uncertainty on the Jewish side but rather clarify the Catholic position and that no one on the Christian side should be able to get the idea that anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism are in any way at all justified and that Christians must or should try to convert Jews.”
Cardinal Koch reiterated that Benedict’s article had not been intended for publication, but as it pointed to many perspectives in Christian-Jewish dialogue which needed deepening, he (the cardinal) had advocated having it published. “While the article takes nothing back as far as Christian-Jewish dialogue is concerned, genuine dialogue means that both partners must … account for the religious convictions they commit themselves to in the dialogue without wanting to missionise one another,” he said.