Bishop Patrick McGrath of the Diocese of San Jose, the leader of the Roman Catholic community in Santa Clara County, recently send out a note to all the parishes in the diocese inviting them to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The Week is an annual observance, and during that week Christians from across the spectrum of different denominations, communions and traditions seek to affirm their connections to each other.
Interestingly, the Bishop also invited people to use this time to reflect on the importance of developing and strengthening ties with non-Christian leaders and community members. He reminded them that this year is the 40th anniversary of the Vatican document Nostra Aetate.This proclamation marked the beginning of a new era in interfaith relations for the Roman Catholic Church. In it, Pope Paul VI called on his people to recognize the value of other traditions, mentioning specifically Hindus, Moslems, and Jews, and encouraged them to find way to strengthen relationships within the human family.It ends with these words:
“The Church reproves, as foreign to the mind of Christ, any discrimination against men or harassment of them because of their race, color, condition of life, or religion. On the contrary, following in the footsteps of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, this sacred synod ardently implores the Christian faithful to “maintain good fellowship among the nations” (1 Peter 2:12), and, if possible, to live for their part in peace with all men, so that they may truly be sons of the Father who is in heaven.”
- Read the full text of Nostra Aetate on the Vatican website.