28.9.15

Interfaith Dialogue in Our Time




Text from Nostra Aetate, which opened the door to an improvement in Catholic-Jewish relations:

True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ; still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. All should see to it, then, that in catechetical work or in the preaching of the word of God they do not teach anything that does not conform to the truth of the Gospel and the spirit of Christ.

Pope Francis [...] stopped Sunday to bless a sculpture commissioned by the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia that repudiates a centuries-old anti-Semitic image. At his side, was Rabbi Abraham Skorka, his good friend and literary collaborator, who had flown in from Buenos Aires, to be the keynote speaker at the dedication of the work, which took place on Friday.



The Pope and the rabbi [...] have done a lot of plotting together since they forged a bond over both matters of the spirit and of sport, some 16 years ago in their hometown.

Even though it’s been a half-century since Vatican II and the famed Nostra Aetate, countering centuries of anti-Semitism has been a priority for the pontiff, and Rabbi Skorka.

[...] "Having me in many opportunities with him is a message [...]," said Rabbi Skorka in an interview. "Our friendship is a paradigm of what has to be the great relationship between Jews and Christians."

That the two should share a moment at the new sculpture on the campus of St. Joseph’s University as the pontiff blessed it with holy water is another example of both their friendship and their shared commitment to bridging their distinct religious beliefs.



Titled Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time, the sculpture is of two women seated next to each other, much like two sisters. One holds a book, the other a scroll, and they are looking at each other’s sacred texts in mutual respect. (Nostra Aetate means "in our time.")

The work was designed to counter a medieval motif depicting the triumph of Christianity over Judaism. In the ancient sculptures, found in churches all over Europe, the Christian “Ecclesia” stands proudly, wearing a crown, while the defeated "Synagoga," is blindfolded [...], her staff broken, her tablets slipping from her hand.

The pedestal of the new sculpture bears a quote from Pope Francis, "There exists a rich complementarity between the Church and the Jewish people that allows us to help one another mine the riches of God’s word."

The work, by sculptor Joshua Koffman, is the result of a pioneering collaboration between Catholic and Jewish organizations in Philadelphia that started in 1967, two years after the Vatican’s declaration. Among the Institute’s partners are the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

"The sculpture was to mark the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate," said Philip A. Cunningham, co-director of the Institute. “It took several decades for a new dialogue between Jews and Catholics to get moving. We had to learn to talk with each other,” he said, adding, "This new relationship of learning and enriching one another is embodied in the relationship of Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka."

[...] Rabbi Skorka [...] did talk about some of the theology they share, namely their admiration of Abraham Joshua Heschel, who saw in the teachings of the early prophets, such as Isaiah, a contemporary call to social action a well as the importance of looking to mankind for the face of God.

"Heschel’s thinking has a lot to do with my own thinking and the way of thinking of Francis," said Rabbi Skorka. "This generation of prophets taught us in a very special way that the way to approach God is first and foremost to honor human beings."

[...] A brief encounter during a reception line in Argentina had first sparked the relationship between the two high-ranking clerics. Then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a fan of the soccer team San Lorenzo, knew that Rabbi Skorka supported the ever-losing River Plate. When the Rabbi approached, the Archbishop ribbed him, saying that River Plate was going to be "chicken soup." Rabbi Skorka quipped back something that perhaps should not have been said in a holy place.

From then, their dialogue took off and in 2010, they co-authored the book On Heaven and Earth, in which they debated more than two dozen subjects, including the devil, divorce, globalization, poverty and the Holocaust.

They also shared their views on anti-Semitism. Rabbi Skorka pushed Bergoglio on his opinion about opening the Vatican documents under Pope Pius XII, to understand the Church’s role in World War II.

In the book, Bergoglio responds, "What you said about opening the archives relating to the Shoah seems perfect to me. They should open them and clarify everything. Then it can be seen if they could have done something… We do not have to be afraid of that. The objective has to be the truth."

• Text is excerpt from article by Dotty Brown.



Resources
Pontiff Makes Historic Visit to Philadelphia‘s Jesuit University, Saint Joseph’s University, 1.10.2015 | TOF | FWD | TJN


Synagoga and Ecclesia in Our Time
Arte y Diálogo Interreligioso
Album Ecclesia et Synagoga
Wikimedia Pic


Vesalius Rio Program

5 comments:

NCL said...

Maravillosa reseña que muestra la sabiduría y sensibilidad de Francisco. Y maravillosa también la evolución de las esculturas, me hace sentir más fuerte en mi creencia y más fuerte como ser humano en un pie de igualdad con cualquier otro ser humano. Para mí es muy reconfortante, beso.

Liz Peterson said...

Gorgeous and moving.

Micheline Assier said...

Merci de me faire découvrir cela. C'est superbe à tous points de vue.

Ziva Maisels said...

Striking sculpture in Philadelphia. I think this is remarkably a propos of your research.

Gina desde Ciudad Plena said...

Ojalá que el mensaje del Papa Francisco llegue a quienes debe llegar. La gente tarda añares en cambiar las ideas.

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