Skip to comments.The Next Pope and the Jews
Posted on 03/11/2013 3:28:40 PM PDT by NYer
When the next pope is elected, pronouncements from major Jewish organizations will follow this basic script:
Mazel tov. Your recent predecessors did many good things for the Jews; please expand them. Your predecessors also did many bad things for the Jews; please admit this and do better. Mazel tov again, and keep in touch.
Different organizations will highlight different issues: Some Jewish leaders will be most concerned with anti-Semitism, Vatican relations with Israel, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; others will focus on interfaith dialogue on theology and history; others will discuss social and economic policy, and the place of religion in politics and the public square. But whatever concerns are mentioned, this much is certain: The organized Jewish community will present a long wish list to the chief cleric of a religion in which it does not believe.
That is no problem in itself. Religious communities seeking to coexist have every reason to discuss their grievances. But sometimes Jewish leaders expect more from Christians (and from the Catholic Church in particular) than it is reasonable to ask.
For example, in April 2005, a few days after Pope Benedict was elected, the Jewish Daily Forward quoted Rabbi Leon Klenicki, former director of interfaith affairs at the Anti-Defamation League, as saying, If he stresses Jesus is the only way of salvation then we are in trouble. . . . If hes going to relate to the world Jewish community and others, he will have to work to reconsider his previous positions, especially vis a vis Jews and Judaism. Otherwise he is going to be a pope of the Middle Ages when he has to face the twenty-first century.
I cannot imagine many Catholics welcoming the idea that a non-Christian is qualified to declare which Christian doctrines are best suited to what century. We in the Jewish community should resist the urge to tell Christians how to be Christian. To do so is neither valid interfaith dialogue, which respects the other groups right to define its own beliefs, nor valid proselytism, which is honest enough to seek the other partys conversion forthrightly.
This is not to say that we cannot promote our beliefs. If Jews want, for instance, to respond to the internal Christian debate over the possibility of salvation for non-Christians, then it is perfectly fair to announce that according to Judaism, one side of that Christian debate is right and the other wrong. The nonsense begins when Jews try to tell Christians what kind of doctrine is better as Christianity. We have no more standing to do so than a Carmelite nun has to issue halakhic responsa.
So let us return to the wish lists Jewish organizations will present to Pope Benedicts successor. Instead of lecturing the new pope on how best to be Catholic, Jews should identify the maximum we can reasonably ask from the Catholic Church, without asking it to stop being the Catholic Church. Here is my proposal for a realistic agenda for Catholic-Jewish relations:
Fighting anti-Semitism. We should ask the pope to ensure that every level of the Church hierarchy will proactively seek and condemn anti-Semitism, both within the Church and without. The current record is mixed, and there is much work to be done.
Relations with Israel. We cannot ask the Vatican never to disagree with Israels actions, but we can and should demand that no double standard be applied to the Jewish State.
Mutual education. Jews and Catholics both sometimes use the other religion as a foil to draw contrasts with their own faith. This is fair so long as it is accurate, but too often each groups conception of the other is oversimplified at best, and at worst, slanderous. Jews sometimes lump all Christian denominations together, or misunderstand Catholic doctrines such as papal infallibility. Catholics sometimes paint a picture of Judaism derived only from Christian readings of the Old Testament, as if the Talmud and subsequent rabbinic history never occurred. Catholics and Jews must work together to eradicate lazy stereotypes, and to better educate clergy and laity alike.
History and memory. Jews should give up asking the pope to admit that the Church as an institution sinned in the past. The Church already admits that its leaders have often sinned as individuals, bothby oppressing Jews and by other evil acts. While this is not enough for Jewish communal memory, we should not expect Christians historical narratives to match our own. Communities should be given interpretive leeway to construct triumphalist narratives for themselves, as long as they present the facts correctly. (Without triumphalist narratives, a community is difficult to sustain, as Jews should know as well as anyone.) In the same vein, we should not oppose the canonization of Pope Pius XII. We should ensure that the Vatican does not deny (or distort) anyhistoricalfacts, but how those facts interact with the parameters of Catholic sainthood is not our business.
Religion in the public square. It is impossible to create any one agenda for social and economic issues, war, peace, and the religion-state relationship. Both the Jewish community and the Catholic laity are divided on these issues, but the institutional Church takes clear stances. Whichever segment of the Jewish world agrees with the Catholic Church on each issue should seek to work on that issue in cooperation with the Church, both for the good of the cause and for the good of Catholic-Jewish relations more broadly. Even Jews who disagree with Church teachings about any given issue will benefit from a closer working relationship between the Church and Jewish leaders from the broadest possible spectrum of ideologies and denominations.
This list is not exhaustive, but it need not be so; more important than any one of the specific items above is the general principle that crafting a reasonable agenda for dialogue requires a commitment to allowing the other party to define itself on its own terms. May God grant to both Jews and Catholics the humility to pursue dialogue in respect and honesty, charity and clarity, and to work together toward the ultimate agenda of the One whom both seek to serve.
As a Jew, I don’t think we have any business interfering in what Catholics do, just as I don’t believe Catholics have any right to interfere in what WE do. My only admonition to a new pope is the same as the last two. Give us back our stuff.
If they oppose it based on the false narrative of his being league with Hitler, then they are being VERY intellectually lazy. Pope Pius XII aided priests, nuns, and laypeople who assisted Jewish refugees all over Italy, including a large number of Jewish families who took shelter at the Pope's summer residence, Castel Gandolfo. And even the NY Times wrote an editorial praising the Pope for being one the very few who spoke out early against Hitler and the Nazis.
“If he stresses Jesus is the only way of salvation then we are in trouble. . .”
Jesus was the one who stressed that; He was very clear.
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What stuff is that?
Pardon my ignorance, but which stuff is it you refer to?
Jewish artifacts in Vatican catacombsPosted on March 13th, 2007 by Layla Gonzalez in Religious NewsRead 8,998 times.
It has long been known that in the Vatican catacombs are many Jewish artifacts that have yet to be released back to the Jews. This is completely shameful on the part of the Vatican. Pope John Paul II while in Israel during an historic visit in 2000 made a formal apology to all Jews on behalf of the Roman Catholic Church for the Vaticans indifference to the plight and suffering of Jews during the holocaust that took place during World War II. Yet they still to date hold on to artifacts belonging to the Jewish people.
There are countless books and artifacts in the Vatican catacombs. Many important writings and other objects of religious and historical significance to the Jews that are located in the Vaticans present dwellings. One in particular comes to mind is the Menorah that is from the Temple of Solomon.
This was posted on Free Republic in 2004:
When the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 A.D., they took huge amounts of booty home. Legend has it that religious articles from the Temple, including the menorah, were among them.
The Arch of Titus in Rome depicts victorious Roman legions marching off with the seven-branch menorah in hand.
Amar said the Vatican official denied the menorah was there.
My heart tells me this is not the truth, but that it is some kind of camouflage, Amar said. An aide to the rabbi said the Vatican was not likely to permit a search.
The Vatican will allow the rabbis to view rare Jewish manuscripts in its possession, Amar said.
He said if the rabbis were to come across other objects, they would be happy to bring them home.
The menorah was the most important symbol of the Temple after the Ark of the Covenant. The image of the biblical menorah is the symbol of the modern state of Israel.
Some Orthodox Jews believe the restoration of the menorah and other holy vessels to Jerusalem would be the first step in rebuilding the Temple, whose site is now occupied by the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest shrine of Islam.
There is this interesting fact also:
The fact that the Vatican holds these holy Temple vessels has been very well know since 70 CE and many Jews traveled to the Vatican when they could do so to look for them and to see them. Some of the travelers testified that they had personally seen the golden Menorah and the vessels in the basements of the Vatican. Some priests have even confirmed the fact that the Menorah and holy vessels are in the Vatican.
The Vatican officially denies having the Menorah, but there is no doubt they hold thousands of Jewish artifacts, manuscripts, and artwork stolen from the Jews throughout centuries of prigroms.
Right. A nice legend, that the mean old Pope has tons of Temple loot, but it's just not true.
Rome has been sacked *six* times since Titus' day. Our own "temple treasures" were pillaged from St. Peters by the Arabs in the 9th Century.
The menorah and the other goodies Titus took are long gone. One story has them being taken by Genseric and the Vandals to Carthage, from there by Belisarius, the Greek Byzantine general, to Constantinople, and from there back to the Holy Land. After the Holy Land was conquered by the Persians in the 7th C, they disappear from history.
We don't have them, sorry. Never have.
The Vatican has books and artwork from many different cultures, including Jewish cultures. There are plenty of Christian artifacts in Israeli possession, too. While we're at it, can you persuade the Muslim Turks to give Hagia Sophia back to the Greek Orthodox?
Sorry Rabbi, but I expect the Pope to constantly say that, but also re-affirm that Jews are our elder brothers in faith and God has his undying covenant with them.
our predecessors also did many bad things for the Jews; please admit this and do better. -- Yup, we know that and the past two Popes have admitted as such. I'm ok with the next saying this, but at some point, the past must be the past -- not forgotten, but present-day white people in America shouldn't have to say each year "I'm sorry for slavery" when they had nothing to do with it. There is a time for it to rest -- forgiven, not forgotten.
Until the Tsars swallowed up the P-L (much of present day Lithuania, Belarus, Western Ukraine, even a large sliver of Western Russia), they didn't have many Jews, but they suddenly got this big influx and took the worst option out -- pogroms...
the things grabbed by the Roman Empire I doubt still remain. If there are manuscripts then Jewish scholars and rabbis are given access to them. If there is anything of religious significance, it would have been returned, but there isn't any.