Windows and Doors

Windows and Doors


Making Sense of Benedict XVI

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Pope Benedict XVI’s decisions regarding Jews and Jewish history continue to vex and confuse many Jews. Having already shared my own perspective in previous posts, including most recently, one on the Pontiff’s recent visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome, I thought another perspective might be of interest. Writing in The Forward, John L. Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter had this to say:

“When Benedict XVI says or does things that affect Judaism, the key is often to understand that he’s not really talking to Jews but to other Catholics…. it may help to understand that Benedict’s approach, as he understands it, is anything but inconsistent. It boils down to this: Let’s each of us be ourselves internally, and let’s see what we can do together in the outside world.”

Is Allen correct?


I am not sure, and it really doesn’t matter – at least from a Jewish perspective. After all, it would be good for Jews to stop assuming that we lay at the center of the Pope’s decision making process, even on matter that relate to Judaism. It’s not like we are in any danger because of what the Pope does, and it’s remarkable hubris on our part to assume that the leader of more than 1 billion Catholics is primarily concerned with us! We need to get over ourselves, don’t you think?
I will say this though about Allen’s analysis of the Pope’s thinking: anyone who thinks that they can be whoever they want to be internally, without that effecting who they are in the “outside world”, is seriously kidding themselves. So while I have no concerns for example, about Catholics returning to a mass which occasionally includes a prayer for the conversion of the Jews, perhaps they should – not for our sake, but for their own.
The track record of any community which yearns for others to become just like them, is never a good one. But that’s not a Catholic-Jewish issue; it’s an issue about balancing passion for that which we believe, the natural desire to share it with those about whom we care, and the ways in which that enthusiasm can turn into an ugly triumphalism. Of course, we need look no farther than how different kinds of Jews have problems with than one, so we need not pick on the Catholics about it.



  • Michael Kocian

    God is at the center of the Pope’s decision making process, as he is called by God to do. The problem is often the Jews think the world revolves around them, when Judaism has been fulfilled now for almost 2,000 years. Wise Jews realize that if Jesus was not the Messiah, then there cannot be a Messiah, because He must come in the line of David, and the records were destroyed when the second Temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. King Jesus is on His throne in Heaven, and His Prime Minister of God’s earthly kingdom is currently Benedict XVI. Familiarity with Isaiah 22:22 would serve you well to see the role foreshadowed in the OT. He carries the authority of the King, who is God. Jews must be concerned with what the Prime Minister of the rebuilt Davidic Kingdom (the Catholic Church) does. However, like in the OT, those who blindly cling to the Jewish faith continue to rebel and want God their way, instead of how He really is. Jesus is God. Until you see and believe this, you do not really know God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God also told us to listen to those He sent, which today are the Pope and Bishops in union with the Pope. The blind will make fun of this and ridicule. However, it’s not me who speaks wrongly. I accept God. Please accept the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, whom Catholics know, but God’s firstborn nation, the Jews do not really know.

  • Cleta Mitchell, Esq.

    Michael Kocian:
    Now we know why/how Adolf Hitler died a Catholic in good-standing!
    Rot in hell, you anti-Semitic Nazi Pedophile.

  • Cleta Mitchell

    CORRECTION:
    On second thought, make that: Rot in hell, you triumphalist anti-Semitic Nazi Pedophile.

  • Kauko

    Michael Kocian: Your ignorance about Judaism is astounding.

  • praesta

    Rabbi Brad, thanks for your message of tolerance of the old form of Mass. I along with many Catholics cherish this ancient form of worship. I wish I could have done what Benedict didn’t do and change the conversion prayer and a few other bits to do justice for my Jewish brothers and sisters. Unfortunately, I have no pull at St. Pete’s, so all I can do is pray. We Catholics will sort it out eventually, I’m certain. I’m a ‘traditional’ Catholic but not a ‘traditionalist': I know that ancient forms of worship can change to mend old contentions.

  • Jon R.

    Michael,
    Your religion is idolatry, your “god” is blasphemy. Do not lecture us Amelek.

  • Zvi Weiss

    The real point is that this Pope
    is a “Good Catholic” which means — ultimately —
    that he is regards the Jews as “Blind” or “mistaken”
    or “deluded” or — well, choose your term.
    Personally, I have no interest in ANY sort of
    “friendship” wiht a person like that. And, it does
    not surprise me that such a “good Catholic” will — on the
    basis of the flimsiest evidence — want to canonize the
    creature called Pius XII. [Note: if the evidence was not
    so flimsy, the Vatican could and should have long ago
    released the evidence; there was no such release because there
    is no such evidence.]
    Further, he — in reality — does NOT regard Jews as an “elder
    brother” — except (perhaps) as a MISTAKEN/DELUDED Elder brother.
    Do we really need to “cozy up” to such a person? I do not think so.
    Once upon a time there was a truly good person — who happened to become
    Pope. He was John XXIII. Unlike the current occupant in the Vatican,
    John XXIII was truly pained by ohw CATHOLICS and christians had treated
    Jews. He felt humbled by what he had seen / experienced and this showed
    in his attitude toward us. SUCH a person (the one who began the entire
    effort to remove the stigma of “Deicide” from the Jews) ruly deserved
    our respect and friendship. Unfortunately, ever since then, there has
    been a pretty steady backtracking — whether it was a Pope’s reception
    of that “great Austrian” — Kurt Waldheim … or the reinstatement of
    a prayer for the conversion of the Jews.
    So, why bother with this pope? He has done nothing “original” in reaching
    out to Jews and he is doctrinaire in his attitude toward them.
    If we realize that this pope is nothign special and jsut someone that
    we have to tolerate — we will likely be better off….
    One comment to Michael Kocian… Jews had family records LONG after the
    destruction of the Temple. The “Nesius” (I think in English, this is called
    Patriarchate) who were descendants of the Davidic line continued in Israel unitl
    the time of Hillel II [way after the destruction of the Temple] and the exilarchate
    (also men of davidic descent) continued in “Babylon” (Iraq) for quite a while.
    In the Middle Ages, we know that Don Isaac Abravanel was able to verify his descent
    as being Davidic. These are just a few examples… So, as far as we are concerned, there
    is no problem “preventing” the arrival if the [mortal] human who will restore the
    Davidic Dynaasty.
    [I will NOT get into the profound insult in Mr. Kocian’s statement — except to note
    that I have no desire to converse with such people.]

  • Ross

    When representatives of congregations come to my door with bibles in hand to ask me to join with them, my answer is always the same. “Thank you for caring but I am very comfortable with my religious convictions; so much so that I don’t feel the need to validate them by getting others to believe the way I do.” That statement usually creates looks of bewilderment as a say “Thank You” and close the door.
    When people are told to go and ask others to believe they way do, it is implied that other religions or belief systems are not valid or fully validated. This is not limited to Christianity vs. Judaism vs. Moslem vs. Hindu, etc. These rifts exist within each of those and the countless others. Catholics don’t think he Baptists do it correctly and the Hard Shell Baptists don’t understand the rest of the Baptists and on and on and on. If the Supreme Being sheds a tear it’s for the religious genocide that kills the innocent because they believe.
    My message to people and Ministers of all faiths; Provide the love of the Deity you worship when someone comes to your door. There is a reason that there are so many belief system and only the Diety knows why.

  • Your Name

    You say we need to get over ourselves, Rabbi Brad; however, the Catholics (and, by extension) other Christians need to get over themselves as well. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder, meaning we’ll never be what they want to see. Placate, ameliorate, justify,rationalize–as long as someone is jamming evangelical stuff at me and insisting I’m wrong and they’re right, even in such an innocuous setting as high Mass, I’m going to be on my guard and keep my Tanakh on hand.

  • Your Name

    Hello Rabbi Brad,
    I am new to this Website and I really enjoy reading the articles as well as the comments.
    When the John Allen said, “It boils down to this: Let’s each of us be ourselves internally, and let’s see what we can do together in the outside world”, I personally think you could be changing the meaning, by saying, “Anyone who thinks they can be who that want to be internally, without that effecting who they are in the “outside world”, is seriously kidding themselves.” I don’t think John Allen’s intended message is meant to imply that our interanl beliefs will not have an impact out the outside world. Of course they will! However, in my opinion, John Allen is saying, regardless of who we are internally, why can’t we nonetheless try to work together for the common good of mankind. My most fervent prayer it that we will. It’s extremley important right now for us to understand that one of the only things that separates democracies from totalitarianism, is our faith, religion, and our belief and trust in God. Why retaining our internal beliefs, we really do need to find a way to work together.

  • Michael Kocian

    Cleta Mitchell, Esq,
    Sadly, you are quite ignorant. Hitler was excommunicated before WWII. He was not in good standing.
    May you come to be saved by our Lord, because you are currently in the firm grasp of Satan.

  • Michael Kocian

    Zvi Weiss,
    There was no insult there or even intended, just truth. I was asking people to straighten up and see straight. So, if you find the truth insulting, then that is a personal problem which you need to rectify. I see why you would not like to discuss truth with someone like me, as it allows you to keep your head firmly in the sand. If you follow the truth, it will lead you to the true God, who you do not know.
    The records in existence today will not verify the Messianic lineage of anyone who claims to be the Messiah. Besides, it is quite clear that God has already come to earth. I hope someday you will see Him face to face, and then and perhaps only then, you will realize the truth I have shared with you. Probably, though you will continue to deride those who do tell the truth, and keep your head in the sand. I would prefer that you did not, but it’s your free will to accept or reject God, to accept or reject the Truth.

  • Michael Kocian

    Ross,
    The reason why there are so many belief systems is man’s ignorance and pride. God only created two religions in history, that being Judaism which has been fulfilled. I bless all the faithful in the lineage of Abraham who love God and have cooperated and sought God’s plan for salvation of fallen man. As for those in the lineage who reject God and prefer themselves, our Lord said that the Father could turn stones into lineage of Abraham, so the blood line alone is not enough. The Old Covenant being fulfilled, God established Catholicism as the rebuilt Davidic Kingdom, the promise to Abraham of a worldwide blessing through His people, of whom Jesus is Head of the Catholic Church. God’s new and everlasting covenant is with Jesus the Christ and administered in His one Catholic Church. If you’re not in the Catholic Church, then you’re in a man made ecclesial community, or cling to the faith whose promise has already been fulfilled and which are the roots of the New Covenant.
    I tell you this so you can know the truth, and come to love God. I do not judge you, but hope you can keep from being judged by the one who decides where you spend eternity, our Lord and God Jesus the Christ (the rock Who followed the Israelites in the dessert).

  • Mark Bick

    Dear Michael,
    I am so happy you came on here to inspire the rest of us by your faith. I only wish 1/100th of the population were as loving and kind as you and letting other’s know of their great mistakes and how they feel and what they believe…and what is the truth because you have no doubt in your mind what is correct and just for you..and if it is for you then everyone else should follow you to Heaven…or are you already living there…and just appear to the populous when we need help and guidance? I’m glad people like you come on here and make posts such as yours, it gives us all an example of the heart of hypocritical catholics…we will love you but only if you are catholic. I being an ex-catholic cannot wait until the catholic church crumbles to the ground by the hand of catholics like yourself but I’m glad you found your all knowing god(yourself). Love, what you call satan:anyone with beliefs other than yours. May peace be with you and also with you again. Mark

  • cleta mitchell

    Cocian:
    In the words of Joe Wilson (R- SC): “You lie” about Hitler being excommunicated: for one thing, he was very much ‘pro-(Aryan=human) life’ wasn’t he? It was just the non-human (like Jew and Slav) fetuses he had aborted.
    Proof of the veracity of my original statement is the fact that Generalissimo Franco of Spain, until his death, had a mass celebrated in Madrid every year on Hitler’s birthday, in Hitler’s memory.
    I see you do not deny the ‘pedophile’ accusation.
    Your name is being forwarded to the proper authorities to be placed on a watchlist.

  • Your Name

    A very interesting piece, and I agree with those who speak of all people of faith working together to eliminate poverty, hunger, disease, abuse, and all the evils that the Jewish and Christian Scriptures speak against. While Christian and Jew are divided with regard to the nature and significance of Jesus, we can both accept what he taught as being our obligation to each other, to love each other as much as we love ourselves … His opposition to the service of the Law demanded without any recognition of the Law is truly about, is something Christian and Jew can accept.
    Those who would promise the Jew a future in Gehenna, unless he or she converts to Christianity, have forgotten the teachings of Jesus, for example the parable of the man attacked and left on the road, who was rescued not by a fellow Jew, but by a Samaritan, who thereby taught what loving the neighbor is about: not our separateness, but our commonality.
    FWIW I retired from the position of being a Pastoral Associate in the Catholic Church.

  • don

    Mr. Cocian is correct about Jewish perfidy.
    As Rush says, let’s go after the Jew bankers on Wall Street who are responsible for the current economic mess.
    Join with the Tea Party and send them all back where they came from.
    D. G. Anderson
    Chevy Chase, Md

  • Gil

    Jesus “said” what ever writer [many had not even met him] concocted he said; eg. “Call no man on earth your Father – you have but one Father and He is in heaven.” On the cross Jesus cries out to God – “God why have thou forsaken me.” I thought this was all pre-planned – And Christians believing Jesus was/is God – was Jesus talking to himself? I know – I know- when you can’t answer a legitimate question of apparent contradiction you will either state that is a mystery – or wait until the second coming – or I will be informed in hell – or you will pray for me. If Jesus is God – and the messiah is to come from the Davidic line – Who came first God or king David? Why was Jesus betrayed for 20 pieces of silver just to point him out – doesn’t the New Testament state that wherever Jesus walked “even the children sang Hosanna praise unto the son of God.” In mythology how may women have been impregnated by a deity? Just read the books and come up with your own conclusions. If after the arrival of Jesus for over two thousand years there has been more bloodshed in his name – as well as Allah, Mohammad, and other sanctified folks – does it not stir up some doubt in your minds? Instead of characterizing yourselves as belonging to an exclusive club – why not consider yourselves brothers and sisters coming from the “same pot.” Be kind, charitable and caring. You are your brother’s keeper. Stop the foolish bickering – which carried to its extreme can result in genocide.

  • Jon R.

    Kocian,
    You are an idol worshipper. Repent or your soul will be extinguished up death.
    Don,
    You know where you can shove your words. Just try to send us anyplace. We are not the week sheep that we were in Europe.
    Kahane Chai.

  • Your Name

    cleta mitchell ~ such harsh words my sweet.
    Why forward Michael’s name to some unknown authority?
    Who knows if that is his real name, or indeed if he is dangerous?
    All Michael is doing is sharing his opinions, which is why the “Comments section” is attached to this article.
    So take a chill pill honey.
    And for the record, I am sick to death with all Catholics being tarred with the same brush!
    It’s the same with comments like “All Jews are money handlers” etc.
    Stop generalizing will you?
    There are good and bad aspects of all religions.
    A little tolerance of other peoples’ religions is helpful rather than jumping down their throats.
    Have a nice day.

  • Barb

    I was raised Catholic – became involved in the early 1970’s Jesus people movement. Lived in a Christian commune. Went to Bible college and throughout my life have continued to study and most importantly question what has always been taught. In the last 10 years I started asking the question – who was Jesus and why do we worship and believe the way we do? If Jesus was a Jew why does Christianity turn away so far from the Jewish faith? Early church leaders wrote they believed this new faith system should get away from Jewishness as far as possible. Why? If Jesus followed the Jewish traditions why doesn’t Christianity? Would Jesus – if he were alive today celebrate Christmas or Easter? Don’t think so. So why do Christians? There were so many religions started the same way with a baby born of a virgin and a sacrificed life – many years and years before any report of a Jesus Christ. If you blindly follow a church tradition without questioning you leave yourself wide open for following an outright myth. I am now Noachide – G-d fearer.

  • hans beck

    Get off Michael Cocian’s back!
    He is simply trying to defend the honor of his many relatives who served – like the current Pope- in Hitler Youth, some of whom went on to glory with the Waffen SS.
    Jon R: Meir Kahane was a racist gangster and stool-pigeon: a role-model which clearly befits you.

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