When you understand English grammar and the grammar afforded to Latin, the first point of note comes in the fact, on the document itself, we find two languages. The document therefore has absolutely no standing in the canon law nor within any system of law based in the English language.
In November 1960, at the first meeting of the Secretariat for Unity, Cardinal Bea appointed Fr. Gregory Baum, OSA, to produce a short survey on the problems posed for the Church in connection with the Jews. At the next meeting, in February 1961, Fr. Baum presented the results of the survey, proposing that the council should issue declarations on following three points:
1) underline the close connection of the Church with the old Israel;
2) correct the notion that the Jews are an accursed race or a people rejected by God;
3) solemnly proclaim the Church’s unceasing hope of Israel’s final reconciliation with herself and condemn anti-Semitism.
At the same time, Abbot Leo Rudloff and John Oesterreicher, together with Fr. Baum were appointed to form the core of the sub-commission for Jewish questions. They had barely even started to work before they ran into opposition. Following a leak of information, Arab governments were alerted to the secretariat’s intentions and immediately began to protest that a positive declaration on the Jews would intrude into the sphere of politics and lead to a diplomatic recognition of the state of Israel. This was only the opening salvo of what would soon become a massive barrage of attacks against the Declaration on the Jews.
At the third meeting of the secretariat, on April 6-21, 1961, Abbot Rudloff shared his conviction that the Church must live in expectation of the reunification of the two Israels at the end of time. Oesterreicher added reasons why the Church must give expression to the role of the Jews in the working out of salvation and put in its true light the relationship between the Church and the Jews. Following this, Fr. Baum read out the preliminary study, which so impressed the listeners that it was greeted with applause, contrary to all the customs of the secretariat. The study asked the council fathers to consider earnestly the following matters :
- Any definition of the nature of the Church should teach that the Church is rooted in the Israel of the patriarchs and prophets.
- The Church is the Church of Jews and Gentiles; the reconciliation of the two in Christ prefigures and proclaims the reconciliation of all men in the Church. The Jewish people are not accursed but remain forever dear to God.
- The reconciliation of the two Israels is an integral part of Christian hope.
- Anti-Semitism should be condemned as a sin against justice, love, and the bond of human brotherhood.
- The feasts of the just of the Old Covenant, as presently celebrated in the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, might be extended to the whole Church.
- Guidelines might be given on the best ways of teaching Israel’s role in salvation history.
- Paintings and sculptures that preserved the slanders accusing the Jews of ritual murder should be removed; liturgical passages offensive to the Jews should be corrected.