No Longer “Eternally Valid”

We have commented in previous posts concerning the controversial sentence in the U.S. Catechism for Adults that says, “Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them.” While susceptible of an orthodox interpretation, the wording was ambiguous, giving the impression that Jews have their own independent means of salvation apart from Jesus Christ, the one savior of the world.

In a vote conducted through the mail, the U.S. bishops, by an overwhelming 231-14 margin, voted to replace the problematic sentence with this sentence: “To the Jewish people, whom God first chose to hear his word, ‘belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ’ (Rom 9:4-5; cf. CCC, No. 839).” This change will become effective upon receiving the formal recognition of the Holy See.

For more details on this development, click here.

14 responses

  1. Congratulations to Dr. Sungenis, who has endured terrible calumniations for his resolute refusal to compromise the truth of our Faith- the Mosaic covenant does *not* remain eternally valid.

    Thanks be to God for the US Bishops who have clearly repudiated the terrible neo-Judaizing influence of a small minority of bishops.

    Deo gratias!

  2. The decision of the American bishops to revise this seriously problematic statement in the U.S. catechism shows why Catholics must always be grateful to Christ for establishing the Magisterium to uphold the unchangeable truth of the Faith in every century, including the exceptionally troubled and confused era in which we are living.

    This much needed clarification also shows how the Magisterium will continue to dissipate the errors that have infiltrated the human features of the one true Church after (but not because of) Vatican II.

    “The person hearing you is hearing me [. . .]” (*Lk* 10:16).

    Keep and spread the Faith.

  3. Thanks for the update, Leon. I am thankful to those who brought this error/problematic phrase to the forefront so that there would be a change.

    God bless.

  4. I think the problem words are not “eternally valid” but “for them”. The covenant was and is consummated in Jesus Christ – who is eternal as is God’s covenant. For those of us still stuck “in time”, we have the Church, which is the body of Christ. Salvation is through the Church, which is the way to Christ.

    I do not see how the revised stentence helps teach anything difinitive. It seems it’s there to say “something” about the Jews while trying extremely hard to say nothing at all. As Chesterton observed – statues are not made to committees.

  5. This positive action affirms the efforts of many good, knowledgeable, orthodox Catholics who have been in touch with their bishops and the USCCB itself for some time about this particular issue without opting to make a public spectacle of themselves or positioning themselves as judges, juries, and enemies of the U.S. Catholic bishops.

    Unfortunately, it seems that a few Catholics can conceive of only one manner in which to express concern or disagreement: immediate public condemnation and outrage. And for such individuals, anything short of that apparently makes one guilty of “complicity,” “heresy,” or whatever other charge seems most provocative at the time to them. For instance, some months ago (Feb 2008), in a fury over this sentence in the USCCA, Robert Sungenis wrote: “…Catholic universities may be following the lead of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who recently published these provocative words in its United States Catholic Catechism for Adults: ‘Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them.’… This is an unprecedented move, but it is not surprising. More and more the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has shown itself to be a predominately liberal institution…Where there should be absolute outrage from the USCCB…there is little more than complacency…the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is fast becoming a mouthpiece for modern dissidence and liberalism in American Catholicism.” (The Old Covenant, pp. 6-7)

    and

    “I later found out that Rhoades was in league with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on this issue…I knew…the erroneous theology…Rhoades and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops were attempting to propagate to unsuspecting Catholics” (ibid, p. 11).

    Interestingly, this supposed “mouthpiece” that is so determined to spread “judaizing” errors to “unsuspecting Catholics” moved – by a nearly unanimous vote – to make this positive, helpful change in the service of orthodoxy.

    One wonders if Sungenis still considers Bishop Rhoades to be “in league with the USCCB”, now that the U.S. bishops have taken this step. One also wonders if anyone truly believes that such rash, utter condemnations as the ones he published accomplish much more than sowing distrust and anger against our bishops. We should hope and pray that such individuals who have been particularly condemnatory of the U.S. bishops as a whole (and perhaps their own bishop) on this specific issue – such as publicly accusing them of intentionally spreading error to their “unsuspecting” flock – will apologize for the calumny and perhaps even send along a note of appreciation.

    Last, it bears repeating that the reasons Sungenis has been criticized have repeatedly been laid out in detail. These reasons have nothing to do with the need to address this one sentence in the USCCA and it is erroneous to claim otherwise:

    http://www.sungenisandthejews.com/Section2.html

    and

    http://sungenisandthejews.blogspot.com/2008/03/by-sungenis-alone_29.html#eight

    Deo gratias, the bishops have resolved this issue. Let’s all pray for them as they continue to grapple with so many other serious issues that demand their attention on a daily basis.

  6. Dear Michael,
    Praised be Jesus and Our Lady.
    In the interview with Bishop Rhoades on the CUF blog and the blog Sungenis and the Jews there are four questions answered by the bishop.

    1) Is the Bishop saying that the Church teaches that Jesus is the only Saviour of the world, and so all Jews saved within Judaism, are saved through Jesus. However Jews in general are saved implicitly through Jesus and so they do not have to convert for salvation ( to go to Heaven and avoid Hell)?
    2) Is the Bishop saying that the Catholic Church teaches that Jews in his diocese of Harrisburg need Catholic Faith and the Baptism of Water in general,(except for the exceptions, those in invincible ignorance etc)to be saved by Jesus ?
    In Christ
    Lionel Andrades

  7. The old covenent is all the Jews( our elders in faith)need for salvation.Goodness gracious hasn’t anyone read Pope Paul 6th’s Nostra Aetate and still the old hatreds persist?? Thank G-d clear heads voted to change the so-called problematic wording,,BUT its not wording that is so very problematic,,its the old bitter anti-semitic attitudes thst remain unchanged.Mel Gibson’s
    atrocious manners keeps reaping weeds that choke
    the newly planted flowers of love.

  8. Dear Lionel,

    Please understand that I am not Bishop Rhoades’ spokesperson and have no authority to speak on his behalf. However, I believe an in-depth comment I previously posted at CUF on this issue best answers the questions you posed already:

    http://www.cufblog.org/?p=311#comment-2254

    But in short, the bishop clearly affirmed that all people need Christ and His Church -including the Jewish people – for salvation. This is why he unequivocally affirmed the Church’s missionary mandate to evangelize all peoples, specifically mentioning the Jewish people:

    Bishop Rhoades: “the Church is called to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all peoples, including the Jewish people. This is the Church’s missionary mandate, received from Christ. That is why I so strongly support and promote the Propagation of the Faith and the Church’s missionary endeavors.”

    Obviously, if the Jewish people are just fine right where they are within Judaism, there would be no point in evangelization.

    This is also why he affirmed that there is *one* salvific economy – not two. And that salvific economy operates in and through Christ and His Church:

    Bishop Rhoades: “It is not correct to speak of two independent covenants in effect today, one for Jews and one for Gentiles, since Jesus is the only Savior who continues His saving work in the Church and by means of the Church, His Body. There is only one salvific economy.”

  9. Dear Michael,
    Praised be Jesus and Our Lady.
    Thank you for responding.
    I have read the in-depth commentary and it does not answer my two questions which are specific. Neither has your response.
    Let me rephrase those questions with your response.

    The bishop clearly affirmed all people need Christ and His Church-uncluding the Jewish people, you have said.Hence the importance of evangelisation.
    I ask again is the Bishop saying that Jews are implicitly saved in their religion through Jesus and the Catholic Church,the baptism of desire is the general ordinary way of salvation for them,in Judaism. Hence the need for evangelisation remains and we continue it?

    Or, there is one salvific economy as the Bishop says,to receive this salvation, do Jews in general, barring the exceptions,need Catholic Faith and the Baptism of water ? Hence the need for mission.
    In Christ
    Lionel

  10. John, you are mistaken regarding salvation for the Jews. Nostra Aetate (a document of Vatican II, not a writing of Pope Paul VI) discusses inter-religious dialogue, which seeks to find points of agreement with non-Christian religions as a means of promoting the common good and solidarity among peoples, while also laying the necessary groundwork for the message of salvation in Christ.

    As the Church emphatically teaches (and Bishop Rhoades wholeheartedly affirms), all peoples–Jews and Gentiles alike–can be saved only through Jesus Christ, the one Savior of the world (Acts 4:12).

    Lionel, as you admit, Bishop Rhoades provided orthodox responses to the questions that were posted to him in the context of the unfortunate Bob Sungenis controversy. Your questions or issues are slightly different, and no one from that diocese wants to engage you on this subject. With all due respect, so what? Bishop Rhoades is under no obligation to submit to your personal (and not particularly clear or helpful) litmus test for orthodoxy, especially since he hasn’t said or done anything that should raise a legitimate concern in that regard.

  11. Dear friends in Christ,,please re read paragraphs 4 and 5 of Nostra Aetate,, the beauty of Pope Paul 6th’s writing makes my/our words here dust and rubble, compared to the bright and shining diamond it is..The Jews are saved and this Encyclical states: God does not take back the gifts he bestowed( old covenant) or the choice(suffering and death on the cross which Christ
    freely chose to do out of love for all men. )
    AMEN ..

  12. John, God did not take back the Old Covenant but rather fulfilled it in Christ. Without its fulfillment in Christ it is incapable of effecting salvation.

    Clearly hatred and venom directed toward the Jewish people is reprehensible and contrary to the Gospel.

    In addition, there is the issue of “invincible ignorance,” raised by others on the other side of the issue. But Vatican II and recent Popes, while affirming the value of positive dialogue, etc., have maintained the perennial, fundamental teaching that all salvation comes from Christ through the instrumentality of His Church.

  13. ok,,allow me to explain what and why i believe with regard to the Jews.Classical music has and is what keeps this old man going and as Jews were usually my teachers and co-musicians, I have always deeply have loved them, long before Nostrate Aetate was given. Jesus was a devout Jew,thus it always seemed to me antisemitism is
    foolish and sinful for any Christian.To demean the
    Jewish people and their Covenant is like another
    scourgeing, another nail on His cross, another
    crown of thorns on His gentle and beautiful head.

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