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Cardinal congratulates Chief Rabbi on honorary degree award

posted on 12 December 2006

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor attended a ceremony at Heythrop College on Wednesday 6th December at which Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was awarded an honorary doctorate of Divinity by the University of London in recognition of his outstanding contribution to public life.

The Cardinal congratulated Sir Jonathan Sacks following the presentation of the honorary degree to the Chief Rabbi by Heythrop principal John McDade SJ. It is a sign of the growing respect between Catholic Christians and Jews that it now seems to us perfectly natural that a College in the Roman Catholic tradition should acknowledge the contribution of the Chief Rabbi to religious and intellectual life in this country, said the Cardinal.  

This is the fortieth anniversary of the publication of  Nostra Aetate, one of the most significant documents of the Second Vatican Council, dealing with the relations of Christians and other religions, but particularly our relations with the Jewish people.   Nostra Aetate means in our time and as you know, spoke about the continuing spiritual bonds between the Church and those who were the first to receive the Word of God.   The remarkable speed and depth of the change is one of Gods acts among us: Catholics now think of themselves as related positively to Jews and their God-given mission to the world.

John McDade spoke of the Chief Rabbis distinguished engagement with the public square, particularly his ability as a gifted communicator to make complex issues intelligible for the general public without reducing them to banality.  In his writings, Rabbi Sacks has argued that unless they are very attentive, the different religious communities will be weakened by the prevailing liberal, secular culture which accommodates them, said Fr McDade.

Religious communities think that they are influencing the secular world around them, but often the truth is that they are being re-shaped in another form and that is not good for them; nor is it good for society which depends for its spiritual energy on the distinctive contribution which religious traditions alone can make.  We need, he argues, a community of communities, each centripetally strong, in touch with its rich tradition and core identity.


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posted on 12 December 2006

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