Hebrew Catholics hold controversial, closed conference
Amid uncertainty from Jewish leaders, the Association of Hebrew Catholics held recently a three-day closed conference at the Renaissance St. Louis Airport Hotel, to which the media was unwelcome.
The Archdiocese stated that they decided to close the conference to media in order to avoid needless controversy. However, they did however provide CDs about the conference when it was over, St. Louis Today reported.
Mainstream Jews reject the notion that a Jew who changes faith can still be Jewish. They also do not accept the notion of witnessing as unlike Islam and Christianity, the Jewish faith is not evangelical, The Jewish Journal said.
Jewish officials have objected to continued involvement of the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Vatican in AHC activities. They decry the fact that the AHC is also cited in the archdiocese website as an official organization, The Jewish Journal said.
Some Jewish organizations have claimed that the smooth relationship between Catholics and Jews in St. Louis may be at risk by this. Representatives of the city’s Anti-Defamation League and the Jewish Community Relations Council expressed deep concern over the issue, St. Louis Today said.
In 2002, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs in a resolution denounced “Misleading and Aggressive Proselytizing” saying “utilizing misleading practices, some … groups misrepresent themselves as Jews in an effort to enhance their proselytizing efforts,” St. Louis Today reported.
Jewish leaders in fact “have publicly and unequivocally rejected the ‘Hebrew-Christian’ movement’s claim to be a form of Judaism. Of particular concern is that by accepting Hebrew Catholics proselytizing may increase, according to St. Louis Today.
The stated purpose of the conference was to “preserve the identity and heritage of Catholics of Jewish origin within the Church.” However, a number of the speakers at the conference have been known to openly express a desire to convert Jews to Catholicism, The Jewish Journal said.
In their website, the AHC describes itself as a lay apostolate comprised of Catholics both of Jewish and non-Jewish background. Their goal is to preserve the heritage and identity of the people of Israel by gathering together Jews who have joined the Catholic Church, the website said.
AHC president David Moss sees no problem with this saying, “Jews outside the church need to see a Jewish reality inside the church. We don’t evangelize, but if Jews are able to preserve themselves within the church, it will open the floodgates for Jews to come into the church,” St. Louis Today reported.
Eugene Fisher, a former staffer of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ interreligious affairs office said that “The Catholic Church has not sanctioned any organizations created specifically to ‘target’ the Jewish community. This does not, of course, diminish in any way the Catholic Church’s universal proclamation of the gospel to all humanity,” according to St. Louis Today.
Jewish Catholics also distinguish themselves from messianic Jews, who joint groups like Jews for Jesus and are often linked to Protestant evangelical Christianity, St. Louis Today reported.