The modern church has one foundational purpose: to provide a venue for advising God of man’s will. Given how prone the latter is to significant fluctuation, our creator is obliged to maintain vigilance in accommodating himself to it. And one item that will require his immediate attention is this remarkable document. It is–to the extent I have been able to bear reading–a doctrinal statement on Catholic Christians’ obligatory (and of course completely unrequited) accommodation to jews. In places it almost reads as a Newer Testament inversion of its predecessor. The story of Divine Jesus (who was a jew) replaced by Divine Jews (among whom was jesus).
The piece begins with a lengthy preamble, which includes this statement:
Judaism is not to be considered simply as another religion; the Jews are instead our “elder brothers” (Saint Pope John Paul II), our “fathers in faith” (Benedict XVI).
I would think more reverence would be accorded to alleged siblings and fathers who embrace the central tenet of one’s faith than those who repudiate it. Though this distinction seems to actually serve as a validation rather than indictment of Christians’ subordinate position. It impresses as essentially: you oppose and deny us, therefore we submit. This being an extrapolation of the modern West’s assignment of status in descending value from out-group to in. In terms of religious doctrine, it obviously creates certain logically untenable positions. The most inconvenient of which being how to place equal (greater) moral legitimacy with an oppositional out-group that overtly rejects your entire thesis. Well, that’s an unfathomable divine mystery. Yes, literally.
That the Jews are participants in God’s salvation is theologically unquestionable, but how that can be possible without confessing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable divine mystery.
I am certain the failure of European gentiles to confess Christ would offer a less mysterious landscape to Vatican cartographers. One probably furnished with fire and brimstone. Though for others what an amazing concession. Societal fashion precludes continuing to cordon our ancient in-group privileges (such as access to heaven) from fringe outliers (particularly jews, for whom realpolitik demands nothing be denied). Therefore we grant an allowance that can not possibly be reconciled to our own gospel. This circle will be squared with a we-give-up citation of unfathomable divine mystery. I imagine the humiliation must be more unfathomable than anything else.
It’s probably pointless to say, but faith in the transcendent is in itself a divine mystery. The clergy’s chore is to provide an interpretation digestible by the laity. The scope of God’s will is necessarily beyond our reckoning, though to abide by it in good-faith requires an understood framework. The most fundamental aspect of which being how fallen man may find his way into the grace of God by accepting Jesus Christ as his savior. To actually remove this cornerstone for mere political expedience casts more into mystery than I imagine the church would care to admit. Any number of scenarios can now be conjured to question who must embrace Christ and who is excused. Are the loopholes now elastic enough to accommodate other factions or only jews? Among these is it orthodox, atheist, or one drop rule? Can Heaven’s doorway be stretched to encompass anyone, or are Unfathomable Divine Mysteries (UDMs henceforth) a finite resource? And what’s the benefit of being Christian again?
We can only hope Francis will soon advise God of the answers.