December brought two significant developments in Jewish-Christian relations: a statement from the Vatican affirming the sacredness of Judaism in Catholic doctrine and a statement from an Orthodox Israeli organization describing Christianity as a component of the divine plan. Examining these statements, Peter Berger argues that dialogue between the faiths must not be limited to doctrinal questions, an especially important point for those who do not subscribe to a literalist interpretation of their scriptures:
Jews and Christians who cannot understand the Scriptures in . . . a literal way don’t really have the problem [of resolving] how the two covenants relate to each other—both are historically questionable. The question of whether they have a common faith must be addressed through a much more nuanced assessment of the core of each tradition, rather than through the quasi-juridical decision [as to] whether the same covenant covers both traditions. . . . I think that such an assessment will lead to the proposition that yes, Jews and Christians do have a shared faith in the same God.
The other questions, about common moral and political concerns, will also have to be addressed beyond the [strictly doctrinal issues]. These concerns have been strongly expressed in interfaith statements for many years since World War II—that anti-Semitism is a blasphemous offense against God and man; that any persecution of people because of their religion is morally unacceptable; that the state of Israel has a fundamental right to exist in safety. And recalling the Holocaust is a useful help in formulating every one of these concerns.