Vatican Confronts 'Anti-Judaism'

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Did traditional Catholic teaching create a religious climate in which anti-Semitism, and ultimately even Nazism, flourished?

That question forms the focus of a three-day Vatican seminar on "The Roots of Anti-Judaism in the Christian Environment" — part of what TIME religion correspondent Richard Ostling calls "an unprecedented attempt to give an honest account of the Church’s history on the eve of the 2000th anniversary of Christ’s birth."

"I don’t think we’ve ever had anything like this," says Ostling. "This Pope is having the Church look honestly at its history to see where the Church did wrong. And from a religious point of view, the relationship with Judaism is the most difficult and the most important aspect of that painful history." Whatever the outcome of the seminar, there is monumental significance — and, perhaps, catharsis — in the very fact that the Church has put itself in the confession booth.