Letter #94, 2021, Wednesday, August 25: Galatians


Dr. Robert Moynihan via 8:05 PM (1 hour ago)
to me
    “Why the law?” (Galatians 3:19) Pope Francis, in his public catechesis of August 11, two weeks ago, citing St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. There St. Paul deals with this question, as Francis formulates it: “If the Holy Spirit exists, if Jesus exists who redeemed us, why the law?” With this catechesis, Francis touched off a debate with leading Jewish rabbis in Israel, who wrote to Pope Francis to express their concern     “In making the Covenant with Israel, God offered them the Torah, the Law, so they could understand his will and live in justice. We have to think that at that time, a Law like this was necessary, it was a tremendous gift that God gave his people. Why? Because at that time paganism was everywhere, idolatry was everywhere and human behaviour was a result of idolatry. Because of this, the great gift God gave his people is the law, so they could persevere.” —Pope Francis, in the same public teaching of August 11    “The Apostle explains to the Galatians that, in reality, the Covenant and the Law are not linked indissolubly – the Covenant with God and the Mosaic Law. The first element he relies on is that the Covenant established by God with Abraham was based on faith in the fulfillment of the promise and not on the observance of the Law that did not yet exist. Abraham began his journey centuries before the Law.” —Pope Francis, in the same August 11 teaching    “The Apostle writes: ‘This is what I mean: the law, which came four hundred and thirty years afterward [with Moses], does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God [with Abraham when He called him], so as to make the promise void.’” —Pope Francis, in the same teaching    “Such an argument disqualifies all those who sustain that the Mosaic Law was a constitutive part of the Covenant. No, the Covenant comes first, and the call came to Abraham. The Torah, the Law, in fact, was not included in the promise made to Abraham.” —Ibid.    “Having said this, one should not think, however, that Saint Paul was opposed to the Mosaic Law. No, he observed it. Several times in his Letters, he defends its divine origin and says that it possesses a well-defined role in the history of salvation. The Law, however, does not give life, it does not offer the fulfillment of the promise because it is not capable of being able to fulfill it. The Law is a journey, a journey that leads toward an encounter. Paul uses a word, I do not know if it is in the text, a very important word: the law is the “pedagogue” toward Christ, the pedagogue toward faith in Christ, that is, the teacher that leads you by the hand toward the encounter (cf. Gal 3:24). Those who seek life need to look to the promise and to its fulfillment in Christ.” —Ibid.    “The Law leads us to Jesus. But one of you might say to me: ‘But, Father, just one thing: does this mean that if I pray the Creed, I do not need to observe the commandments?’ No, the commandments are valid in the sense that they are ‘pedagogues’ [teachers] that lead you toward the encounter with Christ. But if you set aside the encounter with Jesus and want to go back to giving greater importance to the commandments, this was the problem of these fundamentalist missionaries who had infiltrated the Galatians to confuse them.” —Ibid.    “Against those who urged the Galatians to obey the precepts of the Law of Moses, Paul replies that the Law was always in the service of God’s Covenant with his people. The Covenant was itself based not on the observance of the Law but on faith in the fulfilment of God’s promises. Now that God has definitively fulfilled those promises in the paschal mystery of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection, those who believe in the Gospel are set free from the demands of the Law. The newness of the Christian life, then, is born of our response to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, who brings the Law to fulfilment in the new commandment of love.” —Summary of the Holy Father’s words in his public teaching of august 11, 2021, in Rome        “Convey our distress to Pope Francis.” —Rabbi Rasson Arousi, President of the Commission of the Grand Rabbinate of Israel for Dialogue with the Holy See. In the letter from, the Jewish authorities said they were “worried” that what Pope Francis taught seemed to suggest that the Jewish Law is obsolete, and they asked Pope Francis for a clarification of what was said in a catechesis on August 11. In a sense, the letter was a sort of “dubium” (“doubt” or “question”) proposed by these Jewish leaders to Pope Francis. Vatican officials said they were studying the letter and considering a response    “Hypocrites are people who pretend, flatter and deceive because they live with a mask over their faces and do not have the courage to face the truth. For this reason, they are not capable of truly loving: a hypocrite does not know how to love…     Hypocrisy in the Church is particularly detestable; and unfortunately, hypocrisy exists in the Church and there are many hypocritical Christians and ministers.” —Pope Francis today, August 25, two weeks after the August 11 catechesis cited in all of the quotations above, as he continued his teaching on the Letter to the Galatians    ***    Letter #94, 2021, Wednesday, August 25: Feast of St. Louis IX, King of France (1214-1270)        The “old covenant” of the Law, and the “new covenant” of Christ    A Catholic-Jewish theological controversy was revealed today in Rome.    It had to do with remarks Pope Francis made two weeks ago, on August 11, as he commented on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.    The revelation came in a Reuters report by the agency’s Vatican correspondent, Philip Pullella.    Here below is that report.    Then, at the bottom of this letter, the complete text of three of the Pope’s recent Wednesday catecheses:     (1) Wednesday, August 11;     (2) Wednesday, August 18, and     (3) Wednesday, August 25…     …all on this topic of the relationship between the Law and Christ, between the Old Covenant (the Old Testament) and the New Covenant (the New Testament).    With a link at the very end to an interesting supplemental article. —RM    ***    Israeli rabbis ask pope to clarify remarks on Jewish law    By Philip Pullella    August 25, 2021    Vatican City (Reuters) – Israel’s top Jewish religious authorities have told the Vatican they are concerned about comments that Pope Francismade about their books of sacred law and have asked for a clarification.    In a letter seen by Reuters, Rabbi Rasson Arousi, chair of the Commission of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel for Dialogue with the Holy See, said the comments appeared to suggest Jewish law was obsolete.    Vatican authorities said they were studying the letter and were considering a response.    Rabbi Arousi wrote a day after the pope spoke about the Torah, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible, during a general audience on Aug. 11.    The Torah contains hundreds of commandments, or mitzvot, for Jews to follow in their everyday lives. The measure of adherence to the wide array of guidelines differs between Orthodox Jews and Reform Jews.    At the audience, the pope, who was reflecting on what St. Paul said about the Torah in the New Testament, said: “The law (Torah) however does not give life.    “It does not offer the fulfilment of the promise because it is not capable of being able to fulfil it … Those who seek life need to look to the promise and to its fulfilment in Christ.”    Rabbi Arousi sent the letter on behalf of the Chief Rabbinate – the supreme rabbinic authority for Judaism in Israel – to Cardinal Kurt Koch, whose Vatican department includes a commission for religious relations with Jews.    “In his homily, the pope presents the Christian faith as not just superseding the Torah; but asserts that the latter no longer gives life, implying that Jewish religious practice in the present era is rendered obsolete,” Arousi said in the letter.    “This is in effect part and parcel of the ‘teaching of contempt’ towards Jews and Judaism that we had thought had been fully repudiated by the Church,” he said.    Improved Relations    Relations between Catholics and Jews were revolutionised in 1965, when the Second Vatican Council repudiated the concept of collective Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus and began decades of inter-religious dialogue. Francis and his two predecessors visited synagogues.    Two leading Catholic scholars of religious relations with Jews agreed that the pope’s remarks could be seen as a troublesome setback and needed clarification.    “To say that this fundamental tenet of Judaism does not give life is to denigrate the basic religious outlook of Jews and Judaism. It could have been written before the Council,” said Father John Pawlikowski, former director of the Catholic-Jewish Studies Program at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.    “I think it’s a problem for Jewish ears, especially because the pope’s remarks were addressed to a Catholic audience,” said Professor Philip Cunningham, director of the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.    “It could be understood as devaluing Jewish observance of the Torah today,” Cunningham said.    Arousi and Pawlikowski said it was possible that a least part of the pope’s teaching homily, known as a catechesis, was written by aides and that the phrase was not properly vetted.    Koch’s office said on Wednesday he had received the letter, was “considering it seriously and reflecting on a response.”    Francis has had a very good relationship with Jews. While still archbishop in native Buenos Aires, he co-wrote a book with one of the city’s rabbis, Abraham Skorka, and has maintained a lasting friendship with him.    In his letter to Cardinal Koch, Arousi asked him to “convey our distress to Pope Francis” and asked for a clarification from the pope to “ensure that any derogatory conclusions drawn from this homily are clearly repudiated.”    [End, Reuters report]    =================    The controversy was also mentioned today in the widely followed Il Sismografo blog, here:    Judaism authorities in Israel ask the Holy Father for clarification on some of the statements made in the catechesis of 11 August focusing on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (link)   

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.