Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rescuing the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue...from (some) Catholics

So glad I waited a month before following up my Recognito post. That post was about how in June, the U.S. Catholic Bishops (USCCB) managed to set Catholic-Jewish relations back a few years/decades/centuries.

First, they messed around with the United States Catholic Catechism for Adults. Then, after being busted for insensitivity, the putzim issued a clarification.

How does issuing a Statement of Principles for Catholic-Jewish Dialogue (October 2, 2009) make it all better? It doesn't. . . not even with this reassurance:

"Jewish-Catholic dialogue, one of the blessed fruits of the Second Vatican Council, has never been and will never be used by the Catholic Church as a means of proselytism -- nor is it intended as a disguised invitation to baptism."

Can the USCCB possibly be more out of touch with what's going on within certain (growing) sectors of the U.S. Catholic population?

Before convicting me for being too tough on the Roman Catholic Church, please compare and contrast this piece posted on Spero News (dateline: October 6) with this one on the Catholic News Agency website (dateline: October 8).

If deep text analysis is your thing, notice how each Catholic news service organizes information, uses quotes from the Statement, and provides links to resources. If that's too darn exegetical for you, then take a deep breath and scroll down to comments posted on the CNA site. Here are a few excerpts:

"Frankly, I'm getting tired of Jewish people telling the Catholic Church what it can pray, believe, and teach."

"Incidents like this always leave me wondering whether Christian-Jewish dialogue is even worth the effort. It gives the impression, in fact, that what passes for dialogue is really just a Jewish monologue with a Christian audience."

"More Apostasy, cowardice,and caving in to the Jews from the USCCB. The Old covenant is dead!!! Our Lord is the fulfilment [sic] of the old covenant."

Despite artfully worded proclamations, anti-Judaism (i.e., hatred of the Jewish religion) and anti-Semitism (i.e., hatred of Jews as an ethnic group) are alive and sick. At least one disturbingly hefty segment of the Catholic population is clue-free about the debt of gratitude all Christians owe to Judaism and the Jewish people.

I suppose I should, in some bizarre way, be grateful for validating proof of persistent ignorance about Jews and Judaism. Instead, I'm mostly annoyed and discouraged by bungled communications from those entrusted with church leadership.

If the USCCB can't adhere to the standard set forth in Matthew 7:12 when they attempt to clarify Catholic-Jewish dialogue, they should at least consider adopting this one from the Hippocratic Corpus: "First, do no harm."

Note: You can find links to all USCCB documents about Jewish relations at the USCCB website. Find copies of declarations and proclamations from the Vatican, as well as ones from the Episcopal and Lutheran churches in my new book, Why Is There a Menorah on the Altar?


  1. For evidence that God considers Jews and Christians to be true brothers, perhaps we can take heart from the fact that the devil hates both with a passion.

    The wicked screwballs of Westboro Baptist Church (the charmers whose web address is have shifted their primary picketing targets from Catholic churches and military funerals to Jewish synagogues. May God have mercy on us all.

  2. Last month I blogged about the original document that the "clarification" was in respone to. If it is true that the Catholic Church doesn't seek to proselytize Jews, then they need to vigorously renounce the patently offensive statement from the earlier document that said that "this line of reasoning could lead some to conclude mistakenly that Jews have an obligation not to become Christian and that the Church has a corresponding obligation not to baptize Jews." So which is it? Do Catholics have an obligation to baptize Jews or don't they?

    BTW, I actually found your blog by way of a comment you left in Michael Rosen's Jewcy blog about his own efforts at interfaith dialogue. I am not Jewish, and so I felt uncomfortably leaving comments on that web site.


Thanks for your comment and please consider continuing this conversation with me on Twitter and Facebook!