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Vatican to unveil new document on Christian-Jewish relations

The Vatican will soon publish a new 200-page document setting out guidelines for how Christians should relate to Judaism and the Jewish people.

Catholic World News reports that the document -- prepared by the Pontifical Biblical Commission under the direction of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- condemns every form of anti-Semitism.

In the preface to this document, Cardinal Ratzinger explains that there are two key questions to be answered: whether Christians can rightly consider themselves the heirs of the Hebrew Scriptural tradition, and "whether the manner in which the New Testament itself portrays the Jews has contributed to the creation of hostility against the Jewish people."

The document answers the first question affirmatively. The New Testament explicitly recognizes the authority of the Old, the document points out. And the Old Testament furnishes the very basis for the revelation of Christ.

In answering the second question, the Biblical Commission points out that Judaism was split at the time of Christ, with the interpretations of the Mosaic law offered by Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. Relations among these sects were often quite contentious. So it is not surprising, the Vatican document suggests, that Christian evangelists expressed their new faith in terms that clearly implied their conflict with the Jewish authorities.