Podcast: George Weigel on the Second Vatican Council and the Jews

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The legacy of Christian anti-Semitism is not a happy one. Early in the history of Christianity, as the religion grew, the persecution of Jews became a normal feature of life in Christian lands. By the Middle Ages, the Jewish people were subject to dislocation, alienation, psychological torment, violence, and torture—all with the approval, and at times the official encouragement, of church authorities. Even in modern times, religiously inflected anti-Semitism has been an unavoidable part of the relations between the two religions.

Is that still the case? Perhaps not. Relations between global Christianity and the Jewish people are fundamentally different than they have been. In part, this is because of one document: the Vatican’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, more commonly known by the Latin words with which it begins, Nostra Aetate, “In our time.” Nostra Aetate was promulgated at the ecumenical council called by Pope John XXIII known as the Second Vatican Council, only the 21st such council to have been convened in the nearly two millennia of the Catholic church. This month marks the 60th anniversary of its being convened.

To help us understand what the Second Vatican Council was about, and its effects today, Mosaic Editor Jonathan Silver speaks with one of the most incisive analysts of Catholicism: the author George Weigel. This week marks the publication of his new book about the Second Vatican Council, To Sanctify the World: The Vital Legacy of Vatican II, a distillation of which was featured in the Wall Street Journal this month under the title “What Vatican II Accomplished.”

Musical selections in this podcast are drawn from the Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, op. 31a, composed by Paul Ben-Haim and performed by the ARC Ensemble.

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