Bea, Augustin°

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BEA, AUGUSTIN° (1881–1968), Catholic prelate. Born in Baden, Germany, Bea joined the Jesuit Order and had a distinguished ecclesiastical and scholarly career. From 1930 to 1949 he was rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, and editor of the periodical Biblica from 1930 to 1951. During World War ii, he served as confessor to Pope Pius xii. He was created cardinal by Pope John xxiii in 1959. Pope John had already begun preparing for an ecumenical council to meet at the Vatican, and he appointed Bea head of the Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity. Among his tasks was the preparation of a statement on the relation of the Catholic Church to non-Christian religions, including Judaism. The declaration, submitted to the Council's second session, met with considerable opposition on political and religiously conservative grounds. Bea accepted some changes, but continued to work for a forceful draft, which he submitted at the Council's third session in 1964. It was again deferred, over the protest of the large liberal element among the churchmen present. At the fourth session in November 1965, the statement, though weaker than Bea and other liberals had hoped for, was adopted by an overwhelming vote. Placed now in the context of friendly declarations on the church's attitude toward Islam and other religions, that on the Jews made two important points: that Jews of today should not be burdened with the guilt of the crucifixion of Jesus, and that the church "decried" antisemitism and hostility in any form. It further expressed the hope that friendly dialogue between Christians and Jews would in time eradicate all hostility. After the council's adjournment, Cardinal Bea wrote The Church and the Jewish People (1966), explaining the declaration and emphasizing its favorable aspects.

[Solomon Grayzel]