Catholic-Jewish Relations 50 Years after 'Nostra Aetate'

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'America This Week,' October 21, 2015

Rabbi Daniel Polish talks about the strides in Jewish-Catholic relations since the publication of the landmark document 'Nostra Aetatae' on Oct. 28, 1965.

Picture: Pope Francis embraces Rabbi Abraham Skorka during a brief stop at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Sept. 27 (CNS Photo/Paul Haring). 

Richard Murray
1 year 8 months ago

I love inter-religious dialogue. However:
Daniel Polish has previously expounded viewpoints of political zionism, as he clearly demonstrates in his 2011 article in America. Some zionists deal more in hasbarah (zionist propaganda) than in authentic dialogue.
This needs to be understood and recognized if we are to engage in true inter-religious dialogue. If we do not see ulterior motives, and if we do not counter them, then inter-religious dialogue becomes, at best, fruitless, and at worst, an instrument blinding us to others’ ulterior motives and injustices.
In a subtle way, he plays the guilt card on us Catholics in this podcast, by telling us that Catholics have a tendency to be mean to Jewish people. Of course, all cruelty in the world should stop. And he seems to lament the losses of Christianity in the Middle East, which must include Palestine and Israel. But there is not a word about an ongoing campaign of segregation against Christianity, engineered by fundamentalist zionist Jewish terrorists, who attack, burn, and deface Christian churches, monasteries, and communities in Israel and Palestine.
This seems inconsistent. A word from the Rabbi to try to counter these terrorists of political zionism would have been suitable. We should not ignore these zionist Jewish attacks on us. Nor should we allow a wedge to be driven between Christianity and Islam, which is certainly one of the goals of hasbara.
I look forward to more dialogue!
The pursuit of truth and of real concern and dialogue between all valid faiths is the only way forward. Our world depends on it.

Eugene Fisher
1 year 8 months ago

I believe that Rabbi Polish's remarks were apt and to the point. Todah rabbah, many thanks to him for them. As someone who worked in the field of Catholic-Jewish relations for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops for thirty years and who currently teaches a course on the subject for Saint Leo University, I believe I am qualified to second Rabbi Polish. He did, of course, have only a short time to offer his reflections and so could not say everything necessary to say about a two millennia long relationship which was turned from one of enmity toward Jews by Catholics fifty years ago with the promulgation of the document Nostra Aetate. Richard Murray makes points that also need to be made. He should realize, though, that the attacks on Christian properties in Israel were condemned by Jewish religious leaders both in Israel and in the United States. Indeed, Jews in the U.S. have raised money to donate to rebuilding and repairing them. Mr. Murray should also understand that from the Catholic point of view the relationship between the People of God, the Church, and the People of God, the Jews, is not simply interreligious, but interfaith and, in a real sense intra-faith, a unique relationship. Jesus and the apostles were faithful Jews. Jesus' teachings are best understood within the context of first century Judaism. Jesus lived his entire life as a pious Jew. Even after the resurrection the apostles continued to worship in the Temple in Jerusalem. Christians over the centuries developed an anti-Jewish teaching of contempt toward Jews and Judaism that was not effectively challenged until the issuance of Nostra Aetate. Christians revere the Hebrew Scriptures, the Jewish Bible, as inspired by God no less than the New Testament and can learn much from Jews in dialogue with them about its interpretation. To cite, as Rabbi Polish, the positive nature of the present dialogue between Christians and Jews is not at all to lessen the importance that both Jews and Catholics of good will place on a dialogue with the third Abrahamic tradition, Islam. Indeed, the reality is the contrary. In reaching out to each other, Jews and Christians can see the need, morally and theologically, to reach out in fraternal dialogue to Muslims. The fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate should be a time of healing and renewed commitment to interfaith and interreligious dialogue, as Rabbi Polish understands so well.
Dr. Eugene J. Fisher, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Saint Leo University

Richard Murray
1 year 8 months ago

Thank you, Professor Fisher, for your comments, some of which I heartily agree with.

I seek your counsel on two questions: First, while many parts of the Talmud are wonderful conversations, some parts of it are vicious and say horrible things about us goyim, including how we may be slaves, even abused, by our superiors, the Jewish people. As a Catholic, how should I think about these Talmudic texts?

Second question: While we engage in positive dialogue with Judaism, how do we talk about a grave threat to the world today: political zionism?

We must make a great big loving distinction between Judaism, which is a fine religion (and which, as you point out, has positive connections with Christianity) and zionism.
Political zionism is a menace, and a threat to world peace. Political zionism was founded in the late 1800’s by Theodor Herzl, who knew no Hebrew and even less about the Bible.

Why must we become so aware of the menace of zionism? Because after last year’s further utter destruction of Gaza and her people, the leader of Israel spoke down to the U.S. Congress this year. If we are allowing ourselves to be led by a malignant little nation, we had better understand what that malignant little nation is about. Israel is about apartheid and genocide. It is about controlling the United States through the Israel Lobby, of which aipac is just one part.

The zionists control our media. CNN was taken over by zionists, who installed and promoted Wolf Blitzer, a former aipac lobbyist. There are scores more examples.

If we are giving control of our nation to the zionists, we had better know what they are about. Sad to say, we must become conscious of this menace. It’s no longer “business as usual.” Netanyahu is touring the U.S. soon.

“The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy”, by Mearsheimer and Walt, depicts a bit of what THEY are doing to US.

And because this threat, which is both a foreign enemy and a domestic enemy, is so immensely great, we must take clear account of it in our inter-religious dialogue.

Just look at what the zionists have done to the people of Palestine.

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