Opening ceremony of the Catholic Synod of Bishops – Vatican II – in October 1962. The declaration was presented at the end of the session in 1965. (Haaretz archive)

Forty years of revolution

By David Rosen

On October 28, 1965, a declaration was published by the Catholic Synod of Bishops (known as Vatican II) that changed in a revolutionary way the attitude of the Catholic Church towards the Jewish people, Judaism and ultimately the state of Israel. This declaration is known by the name taken from the two Latin words with which it begins: “Nostra Aetate,” which means “In our time.”

To appreciate the dimension of the change, it must be noted that the historical approach of Christianity, almost from its very beginnings, had been that because the Jews had failed by not recognizing the person whom Christianity had declared to be the Messiah, and were also responsible for the death of Jesus, their Temple was destroyed, they were expelled from their land and they were condemned to wander the earth until the end of days.

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