Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Pope and The Chief Rabbi of Venice

Do not walk into a bar.

Instead, the rabbi seems to be the latest to succumb to the Holy Father's knack. Rorate Caeli has the report on the latest outrage that has allegedly brought us to the "cancellation of the past fifty years of the history of the Church."

What could the Pope have done to spark such outrage?

He wants people to pray for the conversion of Jews to Christianity.

The Assembly of Rabbis of Italy has made known that, at least for this year, there will be no collaboration between the Jewish Communities of Italy and the Catholic institutions for the celebration of the Day of Judaism (January 17). It is the logical consequence of a particular moment which the inter-Confessional dialogue is living today, a moment in which the signs began to appear when the Pope, by liberalizing the Latin Mass, indicated in the Tridentine Mass the norm to follow. In that formulation, in the prayers of Good Friday, there is a prayer which asks for the conversion of the Jews to the "truth" of the Church and to faith in the salvific role of Jesus. In truth, that prayer, which, in its first wording defined the Jews as "perfidious", that is "outside the faith" and blind, had already been "changed" (but never abolished) by John XXIII. Benedict XVI expunged from it the most offensive terms, and reintroduced it.

How dare he have concern for the souls of others? What kind of a pope is this, who actually wants people to be Christians? Here's a hint, if the Pope was really an anti-Semite, he wouldn't want anyone praying for Jews at all.

The rabbi then shows quite a bit of audacity:

It is not, therefore, a matter of hypersensitivity: it is in the most banal sense about the respect owed to the other as a creature of God. If to that we add the most recent positions taken by the Pope regarding the worthiness of dialogue, defined as useless because in every case the superiority of the Christian faith is clear, it is evident that we march towards the cancellation of the past fifty years of the history of the Church.

If the rabbi really means this statement, I have no choice but to call him a hypocrite. Perhaps he should consider a few basic principles. The Pope is Catholic because he believes in the clear superiority of the Christian faith. We can reasonably assume the rabbi is Jewish for an analogous reason. If not, then he is debasing the very idea of God and revealed Truth. If so, then he is calling the Pope out for an offense for which he is just as guilty.

When did calls to conversion become offensive anyway? If there is ever to be any meaningful discussion of religion, one has to assume that the other is serious enough about his beliefs to want you to share them. To say otherwise is cruelty. Why would anyone who claims to be a good person want others to be ignorant of the most significant things in all of creation?

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