Cushing, Spellman, O'Connor: The Surprising Story of How Three American Cardinals Transformed Catholic-Jewish Relations

By James Rudin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
The Way We Were:
Catholics and Jews in History

The fact that Richard Cushing, Francis Spellman, and John O’Connor were able to transcend traditional anti-Jewish teachings and move their Church and themselves into a new relationship with Jews and Judaism is a remarkable testimony to their leadership abilities.

But as youngsters growing up within the burgeoning Roman Catholic community in the United States, all three encountered a basic Christian teaching that developed nearly two thousand years ago during the early years of the Church: Christians had replaced Jews as the authentic “people of God.” The ancient Hebrews and Israelites had once been a great spiritual people during the period of the “Old Testament,” the Christian term for the books of the Hebrew Bible, but their divinely ordained task had been fulfilled and completed with the coming of Jesus and Christianity. In order to better understand this narrative, and why it is a false and dangerous one, this chapter looks at Catholic-Jewish relations over the course of history, starting with what we find in the Bible and continuing into the modern era.

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