Jump-Starting the Conversation between Jews and Catholics. (Vatican II: 40 Years Later)

By Rudin, A. James | National Catholic Reporter, October 4, 2002 | Go to article overview

Jump-Starting the Conversation between Jews and Catholics. (Vatican II: 40 Years Later)


Rudin, A. James, National Catholic Reporter


When the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) began, I had just completed a two-year tour of duty as a United States Air Force chaplain in Japan and Korea, and was starting my civilian rabbinic career at Temple B'nai Jehudah in Kansas City, Mo.

My military chaplaincy experience in Asia followed by living in America's heartland provided me unique vantage points to observe the historic three-year gathering of the world's Catholic bishops in Rome as they vigorously debated, among other things, the church's future relationship with Jews and Judaism.

As the only rabbi assigned to the U.S. bases in southern Japan, I worked closely on a daily basis with both Catholic and Protestant clergy. We shared the same chapel space for our offices, various religious services and classes. We also cooperated on a host of official military duties including being present at aircraft and auto accidents involving Americans, as well as counseling troubled military personnel and their families.

It was my first taste of authentic interreligious cooperation, and despite the passage of 40 years, I vividly remember the positive attitudes many of my Christian colleagues, especially the Catholic chaplains, expressed toward Jews and Judaism. Those attitudes were the direct result of chaplains serving together in America's multi-religious, multiracial and multiethnic armed forces.

Preserving the spiritual lives of our military men and women in harm's way required an active form of religious pluralism and clergy collaboration that was frequently absent in American civilian life during the early 1960s. Passive tolerance of one another was not sufficient in the armed forces; mutual esteem and respect were absolutely necessary.

My positive chaplaincy experiences with Catholics predated the extraordinary achievements of the Second Vatican Council that were to come in later years, and they represented a preview of what was possible in interreligious relations.

Once I was out of uniform, America's Midwest also presented me something quite surprising. For even as the bishops were deliberating at the Vatican, Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., Bishop Charles Helmsing publicly reached out in warm friendship to the Kansas City Jewish community. Joining him in this pioneering effort were the leaders of Rockhurst College, now Rockhurst University, a local Catholic school.

I also remember the skepticism expressed by both Jews and Catholics in Kansas City as the bishops at the Second Vatican Council grappled with their church's long record of negative relations with the synagogue and its people. The skeptics were certain nothing important would emerge from the council in the area of interreligious relations since there was so much to confront and overcome.

The Nazi Holocaust (1933-1945), the murder of 6 million Jews, took place in the heart of "Christian Europe," and the rebirth of a sovereign Jewish state in the Middle East in 1948 were unspoken, perhaps unwanted, guests at the Second Vatican Council and influenced the discussions. Both events, one horrific and one heroic, demanded a radical recasting of long-held Catholic theological, cultural, liturgical and pedagogical beliefs about Jews and Judaism. Could it happen? Past history seemed to say no.

The baleful deeply embedded record of Christian anti-Jewish writings and teachings is well documented, and the apt phrase, "the teaching of contempt," succinctly describes much of the past 2,000 years. Tragically, there were more shadows than light in Catholic-Jewish relations.

Three examples, each from a different period of history, reflect that Christian animus. The fourth century saint, John Chrysostom, called Jews "assassins of Christ," and he considered the synagogue "worse than a brothel." In 1543 Martin Luther taught that all Jews in Germany should be "put under one roof" and if they still proved too dangerous for society, the "poisonous bitter worms" should be driven out of Germany "for all time. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Jump-Starting the Conversation between Jews and Catholics. (Vatican II: 40 Years Later)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.