On 28 October 1965 Pope Paul VI promulgated the Conciliar Declaration Nostra aetate, considered to be the “foundational text” of interreligious dialogue.

In particular, paragraph 4 of the Declaration made some important affirmations on the relationship of the Church with Judaism. The first states: “As the sacred synod searches into the mystery of the Church, it remembers the bond that spiritually ties the people of the New Covenant to Abraham's stock. … Since the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews is thus so great, this sacred synod wants to foster and recommend that mutual understanding and respect which is the fruit, above all, of biblical and theological studies as well as of fraternal dialogues”. These words reflect the recognition of the Jewish roots of Judaism of Christianity as well as its Jewish heritage. As John Paul II observed during his visit to the Jewish synagogue in Rome on 13 April 1986, the Jewish religion is not extrinsic but intrinsic to Christianity, and therefore Christianity has a unique relationship with Judaism.

The second important affirmation concerns the condemnation of anti-Semitism. The Declaration states that the Church decries “hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone”.

Furthermore, Nostra aetate §4 overturned two millennia of homelitics and teaching by affirming that the responsibility for the death of Jesus cannot be attributed to all Jews. “True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today”.

With Nostra aetate the Second Vatican Council therefore radically transformed the attitude of the Church towards the Jewish people and laid the foundations for a new relationship.