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Reviewed by:
  • The Vatican-Israel Accords: Political, Legal and Theological Contexts
  • Eugene J. Fisher
The Vatican-Israel Accords: Political, Legal and Theological Contexts. Edited by Marshall J. Breger. (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press. 2004. Pp. xvii, 392. $55.00.)

Marshall Breger is professor of law at Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America. This excellent collection of essays will be a "must read" for anyone interested in the Middle East, international politics and law, or Catholic-Jewish relations. It examines the historic 1993 accord between the Holy See and the State of Israel from a variety of scholarly points of view. The authors include participants in the negotiations that led to the agreement, making it the definitive interpreter of the accord and its historical and religious implications.

Lorenzo Cremonesi outlines the stages of diplomatic negotiations that led to the accord. David-Maria A. Jaeger, O.F.M., a drafter of the text, and Leonard Hammer analyze how it changed the legal relationship of the Catholic Church and Israel. Silvio Ferrari places this accord in the context of other conventions between Church and States since the Second Vatican Council in general, while Rafael Palomino compares it specifically with the Church-State agreements in Spain.

Roland Minnerath discusses how the Catholic Church understands Concordats "from a Doctrinal and Pragmatic Perspective." David Rosen comments on the relations between the Vatican and Israel since the signing of the accord. Moshe Hirsh analyzes the issue of proselytism under the accord and international [End Page 292] law. Geoffry Watson discusses its implications for a range of issues associated with pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

Giorgio Filibeck and Ruth Lapidoth explain the understandings of freedom of religion in Catholic teaching and under Israeli law, respectively. Silvio Ferrari analyzes the Vatican's policies and practices with regard to the Middle East during the pontificate of Pope John Paul II. Drew Christiansen presents the situation of Palestinian Christians. Jack Bemporad overviews Catholic-Jewish relations since the Holocaust.

Appendices provide the texts of the agreement itself, along with its implementing "Legal Personality Agreement" and the "Basic Agreement" between the Holy See and the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Richard Mathes provides personal recollections of the informal discussions that took place between representatives of the Church and the State of Israel at the Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center.

Eugene J. Fisher
Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
Washington, D.C.


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pp. 292-293
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