VATICAN CITY (CNS): In their relations with Jews, Christians cannot conceal the strong missionary dimension of their faith, but also must recognise that Jews do not have to convert in order to be saved, a top Vatican official said.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, who is president of the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, said on November 6 that Christians take a different missionary approach toward Jews than toward followers of other non-Christian religions.
That’s because Christians and Jews share a long biblical and religious tradition, a belief in the same God and a conviction that God will complete human history, he said.
The main difference between the two faiths – the salvific role of Jesus Christ – must also be acknowledged, he said.
“The universality of Christ’s redemption for Jews and gentiles is so fundamental throughout the entire New Testament … that it cannot be ignored or passed over in silence,” Cardinal Kasper said.
“This does not mean that Jews in order to be saved have to become Christians. If they follow their own conscience and believe in God’s promises as they understand them in their religious tradition, they are in line with God’s plan, which for us comes to historical completion in Jesus Christ,” he said.
Cardinal Kasper was speaking at the Centre for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College in the United States.
The cardinal’s comments came amid increasing debate in the United States over the Church’s missionary attitude toward Jews.