(Bonn / Rome) The German Fundamental Theologian Gregor Maria Hoff is the new advisor to Pope Francis on Judaism. Last 20 February he was appointed Advisor of the Pontifical Commission for Religiosu Relations with Jews founded in 1974 by Pope Paul VI.. Hoff is Professor of Fundamental Theology and Ecumenical Theology at the Catholic Theological Faculty of Paris-Lodron University in Salzburg. He already belongs to the Sub-Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism of the German Bishops' Conference. This is followed by the appointment to Rome, where he takes the place of the Aachen theologians for Ecumenism, Hans Hermann Henrix. The preliminary discussions, said Hoff in an interview with the Deutsche Welle, had already begun in mid-2013, soon after the election of Pope Francis.
Gregor Maria Hoff Papal Consultor to Judaism
The Commission, which was created in the aftermath of the Conciliar Constitution of Nostra Aetate in 1965, is concerned among other things, with the preparation of the Pope's trip to the Holy Land. Otherwise the task belongs, says Hoff, to the Commission, especially that of drawing "significant documents" that bring "expression to the positions of the church, the pope and the Vatican to Judaism".
One of the topics with which Hoff is concerned as the Fundamental Theologian and now as Pope Consultor, is the question of "whether the evangelization of the Jews may be an issue for the Church." Because, says Hoff apodictically : "The Catholic Church is operating no mission to the Jews." Pope Francis is supposed to have said, says Hoff, in his Apostolic Letter Gospel Gaudium "emphasizes that God continues to act in the people of the Old Covenant, therefore that God in his covenant first chose the Jewish people of Israel." Other issues facing the theologian and ecumenicist concerns, "Trinity and monotheism."
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The Roman Commission would have to deal with the "fifty year anniversary" of Nostra Aetate, which is celebrated in 2015. This conciliar Constitution had "meant a very large incision". Because "since then the relations between the Catholic Church and Judaism have changed dramatically," said Hoff. This applies "especially in Germany," where the relations are "very good and intense".
During the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI. there were "even irritations", due to the reformulation of the Good Friday prayer for the traditional rite. Hoff holds the new version as "problematic" and "hopes" himself "that he thinks this phrase will be revised again by Pope Francis." It doesn't mean it's a "real burden" in places. The relationships were "so good" that one "such irritation can be settled between us."
The "importance of the State of Israel's existence," because of the "theological significance of the country" imposed "election of the Jewish people" and the "question of the existence of the State of Palestine as well as the human rights issues"... "is a very sensitive matter, which touches part of the theological issues," said Hoff.
Pope to Visit Israel, not the Holy Land
Hoff in his interview with Deutsche Welle never spoke of a trip of Pope Francis to the "Holy Land", but only about a "trip to Israel." On this trip "to Israel" it will be shown, which accents the Pope "will set". "Francis will certainly be good for the Catholic-Jewish relations," assured the German Fundamental Theologian and pope consultant. This would have been previously shown in his "very strong personal relations with the Jewish community in Buenos Aires".
Hoff believes that the Pope would bring in "Israel" a "certain" climate in the talks and will make a "programmatic" statement with the contents: "God continues to act in the people of the Old Covenant."
Otherwise would the Pope in the Middle East issue take any particular position. He would then only be "lost in the nettles" said Hoff.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Strasbourg Cathedral
Image: Strasbourg Cathedral
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org