AHC Interview with Archbishop Raymond L. Burke,
Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura

AHC President David Moss interviewed Archbishop (now Cardinal) Raymond L Burke in La Crosse, Wisconsin on Aug 5, 2010, on the topic of the election and vocation of the Jewish people within the Catholic Church. The recorded interview was shown at the first AHC Conference, "You Shall Be My Witnesses: Hebrew Catholics and the Mission of the Church" in St. Louis on Oct 1-3, 2010.

Part 1


Part 1: The first question concerns the continuing election of Jewish people who are baptized and enter the Catholic Church.

David: Shalom haMashiach, the Peace of the Messiah. I am David Moss, President of the Association of Hebrew Catholics, AHC for short. The AHC was launched in 1979 by Elias Friedman, OCD, a Carmelite friar, and Andrew Sholl, a holocaust survivor. Fr. Friedman believed we had entered a new phase of salvation history, a phase which was characterized by a great number of Christians falling away from the faith, simultaneous with a great growth in the number of Jews coming to faith. The AHC was launched, therefore, to gather Catholics who would help support the rekindling of the Hebrew Catholic witness analogous to that witness which existed in the first couple of centuries of the Church. This rekindling, however, raises a number of issues or questions, the answers to which will affect the work of the AHC.

We are honored and blessed to be able to address some of the most basic questions to a man of deep faith and great love for Christ and His Church, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke. In 2006, Archbishop Burke of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, welcomed the relocation of the AHC to St. Louis. Then in 2008, His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, appointed Archbishop Burke Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Now residing in Rome, Archbishop Burke is also a member of five congregations, is the founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the International Director of the Marian Catechists apostolate. We are most grateful to be given the gift of this interview.

Archbishop Burke: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Almighty God, we ask You to bless us as we celebrate the great gift of Your covenant of faithful and enduring love with us, first given through Your chosen people, and through them, given to all the nations. We ask You in a very special way to bless the members of the Association of Hebrew Catholics, and to give them the grace of a strong witness to Your faithful and enduring love in the world, most perfectly manifested in the incarnation of Your only begotten Son, through His taking of our human nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Finally, we ask through her intercession that all of us may be ever more faithful witnesses to the great gift of Your love given to us in Your holy Church. We ask this through Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

David: Before we begin, your Excellency, I just want to convey the love and the good wishes of your many friends in St. Louis and around the world. I promised them I would do that.

Archbishop Burke: Well, thank you, and I have to say that St. Louis is always in my heart and in my daily prayers and the many wonderful people that I met in St. Louis and with whom I was privileged to work, including the Association of Hebrew Catholics.

David: Thank you, your Excellency.

1. David: This first question concerns the continuing election of Jewish people who are baptized and enter the Catholic Church.

In the Old Testament, the People Israel are called an elect people, chosen by God to be a holy people, to give witness to the one true God and His revelation, to be a light and a blessing to the nations, and to prepare for the Messiah.

Fr. Elias Friedman OCD, founder of the Association of Hebrew Catholics, believed " that the purpose of the Election was to give the world both Jesus and his prolongation in the Church." (cf. Jewish Identity, pg 96)

Additionally, Father believed that "The final aim of the Election is the vocation of Israel to bear collective witness to the Messiah." (cf. Jewish Identity, pg 83)

However, objections to the ongoing election of the People Israel (i.e., the Jewish people) have been raised.

Some have argued that after the Messiah came, the election of Israel was fulfilled and therefore came to an end, having no further reason to exist.

Others have argued that the election of the People Israel is absorbed in the general election of all who believe and who are baptized in Christ. Thus, they argue that there is no longer anything distinctive about the election of the People Israel and that their calling, as a People, has ceased to exist.

[Question] Would you explain the Church's view of the election for Jews who have been baptized into Christ and His Church?

Archbishop Burke: (I'm) very happy to respond to the question. First of all, I think we need to set the response of the question within the context of the historic nature of our Catholic faith. God has indeed entered into time. God the Son, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, has taken our human flesh, has taken a human heart under the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and entered into history. That coming of the Messiah, that coming of the Savior, was prepared by the Jewish people and was entrusted by God the Father to the Jewish people, His chosen people. (They were) as the Scriptures say, a small nation but chosen by God for this most important task, that is, to present the Messiah to the world. That can never change.

Our faith is historical. Once our Lord enters into history and acts on our behalf, that becomes something for us that is forever treasured. We can never say, "Well, now that the Messiah has come, this great gift given to the Jewish people no longer has significance. It has even more significance because we recognize in the coming of Christ the great gift of God's love, and it increases in us, as Pope Pius XI said, a great love for the Jewish people, who brought Christ to the world, (who) presented Christ to the world.

We needn't [even] say that our Lord Himself was a member of the chosen people. His mother in the human flesh, the Blessed Virgin Mary, was a devout member of the chosen people. So that election is not ended. This remains always the great vocation of the Jewish people, to present the Messiah to the world. As St. Paul reminds us, once God has chosen us for some particular mission, He doesn't change His mind. In other words, this is part of His eternal plan for our salvation and is the particular, distinctive role of the chosen people, the Jewish people, in the work of salvation. That, for us as Roman Catholics, creates a most special bond always with the people of the Jewish faith because we are, again as Pope Pius XI said, "We are all spiritual semites." We are the sons and daughters of Abraham, and we feel the closest bond with the Jewish people.

When Christ came, he made it very clear in the Sermon on the Mount that He did not come to abolish the law and the prophets. He did not come in some way to repudiate all that God had done in the history of the Jewish people, but he had come to bring it to fulfillment. So all of that is treasured in the Old Testament, and it remains treasured by us in our time. One excellent example, I always think, is the privileged place that the Psalms have in the Catholic liturgy and in the daily prayer of the Catholic. These are the great prayers of King David so dear to the Jewish people, and also to us. That to me is one of the great signs of the bond that exists between us.

So to sum up, I would say simply this. Once God made that election of the Hebrew nation, of the Jewish people, to be the light to the nations and to be the instrument by which all peoples would be welcomed into the household of God, He never turns back from that election. It remains today as treasured in the Church as it has been from the beginning of that election. So, a Hebrew Catholic has a very distinctive witness to give in the Church, and we ought to recognize that. All of us who come from different backgrounds give a distinctive witness in the Church, and this is how God works. But the witness of a Hebrew Catholic is particularly treasured by the Church because of the rich heritage which they bring to the Catholic faith and this mission of presenting the Messiah to the world.

Videos and transcripts reposted here courtesy of the Association of Hebrew Catholics.

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