Volume 10, 2005
Bevil Bramwell OMI
John Paul II and Hans Urs von Balthasar: The Relationship between the Jews and the Church
The views of two modern Catholic figures, John Paul II and Hans Urs von Balthasar, on the Jewish religion and the State of Israel are informed by their theological reflections that go back to the Christian Scriptures. There they identify the radical newness of Christianity and at the same time its profound roots and continuing debt to the Jewish Scriptures and to the continuing existence of the Jewish people and the Jewish religion. The tortured past history of relations
between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people and their religion apparently turned on the political exigencies of ‘protecting’ the daily exercise of Catholicism. In the modern historical period where on the one hand, the independent State of Israel exists and where on the other hand, Catholicism has no intrinsic need of a specific land, the theological principles of the need of and debt to Israel as the ‘elder brother’ and as the ‘stock’ onto which Christianity is inescapably grafted, has come to the fore and has led to a number of agreements, under John Paul II, between the Vatican and the State of Israel.