ROME (LifeSiteNews) — An Italian archbishop has proposed that Jews do not need to accept faith in Christ, and for this reason, all Christian churches should “end the active mission to the Jews,” thus contradicting Christ’s words in the Gospel and Catholic doctrine.
On Monday, April 4, during an interreligious-dialogue conference held at the Angelicum in Rome, Archbishop Bruno Forte, of the diocese of Chieti-Vasto in Italy, delivered a lecture on the perspective of the Catholic Church on Judaism and its claim to possession of the Holy Land.
The conference was jointly sponsored by the Cardinal Bea Center for Judaic Studies of the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Thomistic Institute of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelicum. The Chief Rabbi of Rome was present along with other rabbis, priests, and scholars.
Forte’s lecture, based on the 2016 document Between Jerusalem and Rome and the Vatican II text Nostra Aetate, focused on the claim of the Jews regarding the possession of the land of Palestine. Following a common thread among those who engage in Jewish-Catholic “interreligious dialogue,” Forte proposed, among other things, that in order to foster Judaic-Christian relations that are purified of “every form of anti-Semitism,” Christians should no longer hold and preach that Jews must accept faith in Christ as normative for salvation.
Joining Jewish voices from the 2016 declaration Between Jerusalem and Rome, Forte declared, quoting the document, “We call upon all Christian denominations that have not yet done so to follow the example of the Catholic Church and excise anti-Semitism from their liturgy and doctrines, to end the active mission to the Jews, and to work toward a better world hand-in-hand with us, the Jewish people.”
Expounding the theory of two salvific covenants which coexist side by side—that of Moses by which the Jews are saved, and that of Christ by which Gentiles are saved—Forte said, “Israel and the Church are called to walk unmingled, even if inseparable… The idea of ‘reconciliation along the way’ thus definitively overcomes any theory of substitution, according to which the Church had taken the place of Israel in the divine plan of salvation.”
In the question and answer session that followed the lecture, Forte was challenged on his claims about not preaching the Gospel to the Jews.
“At the end of your talk,“you called for an end to the active mission to the Jews on the part of the Church. And it seemed that you joined that with an apparent anti-Semitism, or you present it as something that can foster anti-Semitism,” his critic stated.
“So my question is: [Given that] in the Gospel, Our Lord Himself and the Apostles clearly preach first to the Jews, and call them specifically to faith in Christ as Savior, if we end an active apostolate to the Jews, how do we avoid the accusation 1) that we are not being faithful to Jesus in His mission to the Jews, and 2) how do we avoid the accusation of not being honest about the Gospel in this dialogue with the Jews?” he continued.
“It seems that a dialogue requires that we be clear about what we believe as Christians, which is that all men must believe in Christ as Savior.”
Forte avoided answering the question directly, instead emphasizing that if Christians love Jesus, who was Jewish, they must also love their Jewish brethren. He equated this with an acceptance of Jewish faith as such, and refused to address the matter of faith in Christ as the one, universal Redeemer for all men, and the reception of salvation through the grace won by His blood on the Cross.
Dual-covenant theory stands in contradiction with the Letter to the Hebrews, which states that “it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins” (Heb 10:4), that Christ “annuls the first covenant in order to establish the second” (Heb 10:9), and that “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb 10:10).
Forte’s position on ending the Christian mission to the Jews stands in contradiction with Christ’s great commission to the Apostles to preach the Gospel to all peoples, “Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), and, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19).
It also contradicts the teaching of the Apostles that salvation comes through Jesus Christ alone. On Pentecost day Peter preached to the Jews concerning the name of Jesus, “there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), and John begins his Gospel declaring, “the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn 1:17).