Speaking of which

There’s some new document from the American bishops about not proselytizing Jews. The papers are making it sound as though Catholics are now dispensed from believing that Jesus is the one Way, Truth, and Life and that Jews can be saved apart from Christ. However, I’m gonna withhold judgement about whether the bishops are really saying this till I’ve seen the document. The American media has been invaluable in exposing the sins of our bishops. It remains, however, a collection of chuckleheads when it comes to analyzing a theological document. Think back, for instance, to ignorant reports on Dominus Jesus (the teaching of which is diametrically opposed to the reported teaching of the American bishops in the article) or the still more ignorant responses to every papal encyclical (“What?! Veritatis Splendor isn’t all about sex?! What else could it be about??”).

The basic rule of thumb when reading American media on Catholic theological teaching is to assume the reporter is a hack who doesn’t know squat. Read the document for yourself and be prepared for incredibly nuanced language that often does not register on the retinas of guys who have to make a deadline.

My own suspicion is that the document will make a distinction between the essential necessity of Christ for salvation (it cannot be otherwise since relationship with the Blessed Trinity is the very essence of salvation) and the far more practical question of how to conduct our relationship with Jewish persons. There the Church can bend and say (as I think it should) that proselytizing and telling Jews to abandon their Jewishness is a wrong-headed way of approaching that relationship. If that’s all the document is saying, I can live with it. However, the Christian life is to be lived, it cannot be lived by insisting somebody disobey his or her conscience.