Truths You Can Use

Truths You Can Use


A Rabbi’s Thoughts on the Pope’s Resignation

Pope Jewish community

Pope Benedict’s resignation is sending shockwaves through Catholic communities worldwide. It also brings sadness and loss to the Jewish community.

Despite early concerns with the Pope’s childhood participation in the Hitler youth, he has been an extraordinary leader, reaching out to the Jewish community and addressing shared concerns with intelligence and moral passion.

The Pope and the Jewish People

1. During his visit to Auschwitz, the most notorious Nazi death camp in Poland, Pope Benedict said of the Nazis, “By destroying Israel, they ultimately wanted to tear up the tap root of the Christian faith and to replace it with a faith of their own invention.”

2. He was the first Pope to visit an American synagogue, meeting with on the eve of Passover with Rabbi Arthur Schneir, a Holocaust survivor and Orthodox rabbi. 

3. When controversy arose after a decision to allow greater use of a traditional Latin Mass that suggested proselytizing Jews, the Pope met with Jewish leaders and reaffirmed the Church’s understanding of Jews’ unique relationship with God that has holiness without conversion. 

Leader for People of All Faiths

As a global spiritual leader, the Pope also addressed critical issues confronting people of all faiths. His central task was confronting an increasingly cruel world driven by globalization, economic uncertainty and militant atheism.

In an address given in Rome before a meeting with the Pope, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks described this world eloquently.

“Today, in a Europe more secular than it has been since the last days of pre-Christian Rome, the culprits are

  1. an aggressive scientific atheism tone deaf to the music of faith; 
  2. a reductive materialism blind to the power of the human spirit; 
  3. global corporations uncontrollable by and sometimes more powerful than national governments;
  4. forms of finance so complex as to surpass the understanding of bodies charged with their regulation;
  5. a consumer-driven economy that is shriveling the imaginative horizons of our children; 
  6. a fraying of all the social bonds, from family to community, that once brought comfort and a redemption of solitude, to be replaced by virtual networks mediated by smartphone, whose result is to leave us “alone together.”

These remain concerns for all of us. The task of every faith leader is to make a home for God here on earth.

In meeting this task and overcoming its challenges, the Pope’s voice of intellect and conviction will be greatly missed. May God continue to bless him with life and strength. 

To receive Rabbi Moffic’s weekly digest of Jewish wisdom, click here. 



  • http://www.rabbimoffic.com Evan Moffic

    Thanks. The Pope has been a thoughtful critic of modernity, and this issue will confront any of his potential successors.

  • http://Rabbi Robert Jones

    Thanks for your kind and insightful words. Also, Rabbi, thank you for the insights on todays struggle with modernity, something which I have also noticed.

Previous Posts

Will God Condemn Brittany Maynard for Choosing to Die?
On the most sacred Jewish holiday of the year--Yom Kippur--we literally imagine our own funeral. Men traditional wear a white sash that will also serve as their burial shroud. The purpose is to picture our own death in a way that helps us live more fully. What if, however, we could not only imagi

posted 10:06:23pm Nov. 02, 2014 | read full post »

The Strange Book of the Bible We Read in Sukkot
Tonight begins the Jewish “Festival of Tabernacles.” Known in Hebrew as Sukkot, we spend time in  temporary outdoor dwellings. They remind us of the fragility of life our ancestors experienced during their journey across the Sinai Desert. Vanity, Vanity, All is Vanity!  The biblical book

posted 3:57:40pm Oct. 08, 2014 | read full post »

When a Rabbi Announces He is Gay
Religious leaders are public figures. We live on display. People look at what we drive, what we eat, what we wear. Unfortunately, sometimes we hide parts of ourse

posted 8:01:44am Oct. 08, 2014 | read full post »

Is 75 the Perfect Age to Die?
Dr. Ezekiel Emauel, the well-known bioethicist and brother of the mayor of my town, argued recently in an essay in the Atlantic Monthly that 75 is the perfect age to die. After that, he said, most people have little to contribute to society and are a burden rather than a benefit. I can think of f

posted 9:02:23pm Oct. 05, 2014 | read full post »

Yom Kippur: The Happiest Day of the Year
Yom Kippur is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. It is filled with solemn prayer, and most Jews fast. How, then, can it be the happiest day of the year? Allow me to explain... Picture the scene: It is 1944, in Glasgow, Scotland, in the midst of the Second World War. Kol Nidre is about to

posted 1:29:44pm Oct. 03, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.