The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Pope Francis and the Jews Revisited

In a recent post -- December 6 -- I included a few paragraphs from Pope Francis'  apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium in which he addresses the Church's relationship with our Jewish brothers and sisters. These were not however, the Pope's first published words on the subject. Earlier, on September 11 of last year, Pope Francis wrote an article for the Italian national daily, La Repubblica. The Pope's article was in response to a series of questions asked by the publication's founder, Eugenio Scalfari, a non-believer. One of these questions focused on the Jews and whether, in light of centuries of persecution, God had kept His promise to Abraham and his descendants. Pope Francis gave the following reply:

"At the end of your first article, you also ask me what to say to our Jewish brothers about the promise God made to them:  Has this been forgotten? And this  -  believe me  -  is a question that radically involves us as Christians because, with the help of God, starting  from the Second Vatican Council, we have discovered that the Jewish people are still, for us, the holy root from which Jesus originated. I too, in the friendship I have cultivated in all of these long years with our Jewish brothers, in Argentina, many times while praying have asked God, especially when I remember the terrible experience of the Shoah. What I can say, with the Apostle Paul, is that God has never stopped believing in the alliance made with Israel and that, through the terribile trials of these past centuries, the Jews have kept their faith in God. And for this, we will never be grateful enough to them, as the Church, but also as humanity at large. Persevering in their faith in God and in the alliance, they remind everyone, even us as Christians that we are always awaiting, the return of the Lord and that therefore we must remain open to Him and never take refuge in what we have already achieved."

Pope Francis & Rabbi Di Segni
As a result of the Pope's comments -- You can read his entire article here -- Rome's Chief Rabbi, Dr. Riccardo Di Segni, praised Francis in a letter published the following day, September 12. In his letter Dr. Di Segni stated, "This Pontiff does not cease to surprise." He went on to say that, although the Pope's thoughts were not new, and were certainly confirmed by Vatican II, “it is the force with which he expresses them and his capacity of communicating them that is astounding. The fact that Judaism is the holy root of Christianity is fundamental, but many theological currents, especially in Protestantism, have tried to belittle them. In opposing these currents, Francis is coherent to the teaching of Benedict. Especially noteworthy is his expression of gratitude to Jews for their devotion in faith.”

We have been blessed by God with a series of remarkable popes who have led the Church wisely through some very challenging times, and Pope Francis appears to be no exception. Pray for him.

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