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1960s Vatican II
The Vatican, in 1965, issued Nostra Aetate. The Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions was a landmark document that transformed Catholic-Jewish relations. The document asserts the Church’s rejection of the age-old deicide charge and affirms Christianity’s respect for, and close relationship with, Judaism and the Jewish people. The new path embarked upon by the Church was the result of years of scholarly research, meetings, and debate. During this crucial period, AJC was asked by the Church to submit three research papers on Catholic-Jewish relations. This request, an expression of trust and confidence in AJC, was the result of years of AJC relationship building.

In 1957, an AJC delegation was the first Jewish group to meet with Pope Pius XII, who subsequently issued a formal statement recognizing the importance of AJC’s work and condemning prejudice and bigotry. AJC’s friendship with the Church deepened as AJC cooperated with Pro Deo, an International University of Social Studies in Rome, endorsed by the Vatican. In addition, in 1963, noted Jewish scholars and rabbis representing all major denominations met privately, under AJC auspices, with Cardinal Bea the president of the Vatican’s Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity. A year later at AJC’s Annual Meeting Cardinal Spellman delivered an address in which he condemned the deicide charge. These events and others that contributed to the emergence of Nostra Aetate can be examined by clicking on the subject headings below.