A bridge of peace
· The Work of St James celebrates 60 years ·
A “bridge for reconciliation” between Jews and Christians, but also a tool to show “alternatives” to war between the Palestinian (and Arab) and Israeli worlds. Fr David Neuhaus, SJ, Vicar for Hebrew speaking Catholics of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem for Latins, emphasized the unique role of the Jewish-Catholic community in the State of Israel.
This community has been built, since 1948, by thousands of Christian immigrants, including Jews “who encountered Christ and recognized him as Messiah and Lord”, and Christian members of Jewish families.
On 9 August, the feast day of St Edith Stein, Fr Neuhaus published a pastoral letter for the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Work of Saint James, which “began the work of forming a Christian community, intimately connected to its Jewish roots, at home in the State of Israel, speaking Hebrew, a language never before used for Christian life and liturgy, and witnessing to the values of the Gospel in Jewish Israeli Hebrew speaking society”. As the “first Church in Jerusalem”, the community feels “completely at home in the Jewish world”. Indeed, “the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 provided the context in which, for the first time since the first century, Christians lived within a Jewish majority, in a society defined by the contours of Jewish religion, history and civilization”. Similarly, from an ecclesial standpoint, “the teaching of the conciliar document Nostra aetate and all the documents that have followed” have contributed “to one of the greatest revolutions in the 20th century, the revolution in relations between Jews and Christians”. Thus “a widespread ‘teaching of contempt’ among Christians is giving way to a teaching of respect”.
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