Cardinal Koch Recalls Impact of Nostra Aetate   Also Speaks on Struggle to Have ‘Trialogue’ Among 3 Monothic faiths; (2) Sistine Chapel Choir to Be Joined by Anglican Choir This June

Vatican City State, May 22, 2015

Cardinal Kurt Koch says the Nostra Aetate declaration was a landmark in relations between the Catholic Church and other faiths.

According to an interview with Vatican Radio, the President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, which is also responsible for the Church’s dialogue with the Jewish people through its Commission for Relations with the Jews, made this statement after having attended a three-day conference on ‘Nostra Aetate – Celebrating 50 years of the Catholic Church’s Dialogue with Jews and Muslims.’  It was held at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC and concluded yesterday.

Nostra Aetate is a formal document of the Catholic Church drafted in 1965 that declares the relation of the Church with Non-Christian religions. One aspect of it speaks of the bond between Christians and Jews and states that the Jews cannot be blamed for Jesus’ death.The declaration condemns all types of anti-Semitism and is seen as having signaled a new starting point in the Church’s relations with Judaism.

In the interview, the cardinal also discussed the status of talks between the monotheistic faiths of Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam.

While the Church has ongoing bilateral talks with Jewish and Muslim religious leaders, the prelate stated, it may be too early to engage in a “trialogue” among the three.

“We don’t have trialogue,” he noted, “and for us it is too early to make this because sometimes we speak about an Abrahamitic ecumenism – this is very clear – it is a good issue.”

“But on the other hand, we have a very, very different interpretation of Abraham and we cannot deny this issue,” he said, underscoring that in interreligious discussion, “it is very important to treat also this difference that we have in the interpretation of Abraham.”

Responding to whether Muslim and Jewish religious leaders would be open to such a dialogue and if it could lead toward improved relations among the three religions, Cardinal Koch said that he hopes that they can go in this direction, but in every religion, there is opposition.

“We have open leaders, we have open Muslim leaders, we have open Christian leaders, but we have opposition in all the three religions.”

The Swiss cardinal also pointed out that in the Catholic Church there is opposition against Nostra Aetate.  “The same groups, they are against ecumenism, against interreligious dialogue, against the religious freedom declaration.  And I think that they are minorities,” he said.

“We must go on the basis of the Second Vatican Council with the high authority of the Catholic Church and we cannot deny this very important influence.” (D.C.L.)


Sistine Chapel Choir to Be Joined by Anglican Choir This June

Marks One of Several Ecumenical Encounters

Vatican City State, May 22, 2015

For the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29, the Sistine Chapel Choir will be joined by the Anglican choir of New College, Oxford, reported Vatican Radio.

On June 29, the two choirs will sing the Mass for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, presided over by Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The Saturday evening before the feast day at 6 p.m., both choirs will offer a concert in the Sistine Chapel for members of the Roman Curia and for the Heads of Mission of the Embassies accredited to the Holy See. They will perform works from Purcell, Tallis, Palestrina, Gibbons, and Parry.

The Sistine Chapel Choir, or the Pontifical Choir, is the oldest choral institution in the world. Composed of 20 permanent adult singers and around 30 child choristers from an associated private school with classes ranging from fourth to eighth grade, the choir normally performs at Celebrations presided at by the Pope, providing a primarily liturgical service. As such, its concert activity is directed exclusively towards evangelization and to the promotion of ecumenical dialogue.

Master of the Sistine Chapel Choir, Massimo Palombella and master of the Choir of New College Oxford, Robert Quinney, will both direct the two events.

These performances will mark the latest in an ongoing ecumenical project the Vatican choir has been engaged in since 2012. Over the last three years, the Sistine Chapel Choir has performed with the choirs of Westminster Abbey, for the same June feast day in 2012, the ThomanerChor of Leipzig in 2013 and the Orthodox Patriarchate Choir of Moscow in 2014.

To prepare for the June performances in Rome, the Sistine Chapel Choir will go to Oxford to rehearse with the Choir of New College on May 28.

Subsequently, the choir will travel to London to join the Choir of Westminster Abbey at the invitation of the Organist and Master of the Choristers, James O’Donnell to sing Anglican Choral Evensong on Saturday, May 30 at 5 p.m.

The next day, Trinity Sunday, at 6:30 p.m. the choir will give a concert at Westminster Abbey, featuring music written for papal events, celebrating the great composer of the Sistine Chapel, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.

The Sistine Chapel choir has expressed that “a serious and honest mutual appreciation of both our cultures is necessary in the search for common roots.”

“This process,” it noted, “provides a solid platform for ecumenical dialogue respecting diversity and identity.”

“In singing together the common heritage of our unique praise of God, we express our willingness to walk together and anticipate in history that desired unity, which we all seek and which by the gift of God we will achieve.” (D.C.L.)


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