Nostra aetate

Nostra aetate ( Latin : In our Time ) is the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council . Passed by a vote of 2,221 to 88 of the assembled bishops , this declaration was promulgated on 28 October 1965, by Pope Paul VI . [2]

The first draft, entitled Decretum of Iudaeis (“Decree on the Jews”), was completed in November 1961, approximately fourteen months after Cardinal Bea was commissioned by Pope John XXIII . This draft is nowhere, never having been submitted to the Council, which opened on 11 October 1962. Opposition from conservative elements in the Church has been overcome and supported by Jewish organizations. [3]

Summary of the final text of Nostra aetate 

  1. Introduction
  2. Hindus, Buddhists, and other religions
  3. Muslims
  4. Jews
  5. Conclusion
  6. Interfaith Dialogue

The Declaration begins by describing the unity of the origin of all people, and the fact that they all return to God; hence their final goal is also one. It describes the eternal questions which have been dogged since the beginning, and how the various religious traditions have been tried to answer them.

It mentions some of the answers that some Hindus , Buddhists , and members of other faiths have suggested for such philosophical questions. It notes the willingness of the Catholic Church to accept some truths in other religions.

Part three goes on to say that the Catholic Church looks at the Muslims with esteem, and then continues by describing some of the things Islam has in common with Christianity and Catholicism: worship of One God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, Merciful and Omnipotent, Who has spoken to men; the Muslims ‘ respect for Abraham and Mary , and the great respect they have for Jesus , whom they consider to be Prophet and not God. The synod urged all Catholics and Muslims to forget the hostilities and differences of the past and to work together for mutual understanding and benefit.

Part four speaks of the bond that ties the people of ‘New Covenant’ ( Christians ) to Abraham’s stock ( Jews ). It states That Even Though Some Jewish autorités and Those Who Followed Them called Expired for Jesus ‘ death, the blame for this can not be laid at the door of All Those Jews present at That Time, nor can the Jews in our time be Held as guilty, thus repudiating an indiscriminate charge of Jewish deicide ; ‘The Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God’. The Declaration also decries all displays of antisemitismmade at any time by anyone.

The Church Keeps the Eyes of the Apostle on his kinsmen: “theirs is the sonship and the glory and the covenant and the law of the worshipers and their followers are the Christ according to the flesh “(Romans 9: 4-5), the Son of the Virgin Mary. She also recalls that the Apostles, the Church’s main-stay and pillars, are most of the early followers who proclaimed Christ’s Gospel to the world, sprang from the Jewish people.
True, the Jewish authorities and those who follow their lead for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion against the Jews, without distinction, then alive, against the Jews of today. The Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. They should not be taught anything about the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ. In addition, in the face of the dead, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.

The fifth part of the world is set in God’s image, and it is in the face of the spirit of Christ, to be discriminated against, or to be hated on the basis of color, race, religion, and condition of life .

Post-Conciliar developments

Nostra aetate was one of the Vatican II’s three declarations, the other documents consisting of nine statements and four constitutions. It was the shortest of the documents and if any, references to the debates and the rationale that had gone into its making; Uncategorized Relationships with Non-Christian Religions, nostra aetate .

The 1974 “Guidelines”

To flesh out these implications and ramifications, the Vatican’s Commission on Interreligious Relationships with the Jews issued its Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate in late 1974. [4]

The 1985 “Notes”

This was followed by the same body’s Notes on the Correct Way to Present Judaism and Judaism in the Teaching and Catechesis of the Roman Catholic Church in 1985. These developments were paralleled by accompanying statements from the US bishops.

Nostra aetate 40 years on

The above-referenced statements by the Vatican’s Commission for Interreligious Relationships with the Jews , including the establishment of more than two dozen centers for Christian-Jewish understanding at Catholic institutions of higher learning in the United States along with the participation by rabbis in seminarian formation training, how has the church been embraced Nostra aetate .

The significance of Nostra aetate as a new starting point in the Church’s relations with Judaism, in light of the foregoing, can be appreciated from the vantage point of the passage of forty years. The US Congress passed a resolution acknowledging Nostra aetate at forty, [5] and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC also noted this anniversary. This is in addition to the marking of the occasion at the Vatican ‘s Gregorian University Itself and at major centers of Christian-Jewish understanding around the United States.

The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable 

The Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with Jews has released a new document exploring the issues of Christian-Jewish dialogue. The new document, entitled The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable , marks the 50th anniversary of the ground-breaking declaration Nostra Aetate . [6]


  • John M. Oesterreicher
  • Gregory Baum
  • Bruno Hussar

See also

  • Decretum of Iudaeis
  • Dignitatis humanae
  • Unitatis redintegratio
  • Jules Isaac


  1. Jump up^ Cheney, David M. “Second Vatican Council” . Catholic Hierarchy . Retrieved 18 May 2011 .
  2. Jump up^ Pope Paul VI (28 October 1965). “Declaration on the relationship of the church to non-Christian religions – Nostra aetate ” . Holy See . Retrieved 25 December 2008 .
  3. Jump up^ Madigan,Nostra aetateand fifty years of interfaith dialogue – changes and challenges, Journal of the Australian Catholic Historical Society 36 (2015), 179-191.
  5. Jump up^ US House Concurrent Resolution 260Recognizing the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra aetate , and the continuing need for mutual interreligious respect and dialogue.
  6. Jump up^ Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with Jews (10 December 2015). ” The Gifts and Calling of God are irrevocable ” . Holy See . Retrieved 29 December 2015 .

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