Friday, February 15, 2008


It's not the Rabbis who are speaking wisely in relation to the Good Friday Catholic prayer.

Over at israelenews.com Jonathan Tobin comments:

The Jewish reaction to this move was anguished. The Anti-Defamation League wrote a letter to the pope asking that he further amend the prayer. The Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist rabbinical movements are all expected to add their pleas soon.

In response, Cardinal Walter Kasper seemed to express bewilderment at the sensitivity of the Jews. He told the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, “I don’t understand why Jews cannot accept that we can make use of our freedom to formulate our papers.” His point was that the prayer “reflects the faith of the church, and furthermore Jews have prayers in their liturgical texts that we Catholics don’t like … one must respect differences.”

While the cardinal’s statement illustrates the slippery slope down which this sort of dispute can soon lead to hurt feelings on all sides, he is, of course, right. Catholics are free to believe whatever they want about the universal truth of the doctrines of their faith. The same right must also apply to everyone else when it comes to their opinions about their own religions and everyone else’s. Problems arise not from believing these different things, but how we act on those differences. ...

This a moment in history when the greatest challenge to religious freedom is not coming from the traditional sources of reaction within Christianity, such as those that sought to punish Nahmanides for defending Judaism at Barcelona. Instead, our challenge comes from forces within Islam that have already sought to censor the beliefs of Pope Benedict for defending the West. Their goal is to dismantle the entire edifice of tolerance that Jews and Christians have worked so hard to create.

Given that reality, this is not the time to pick fights over other people’s prayers.

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