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  • 25. December, 2015BlogComments are off

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    When I was a young kid, I lived across the street from my synagogue in Brooklyn, New York. I was walking on a beautiful spring day with best my friend, Anthony, a devout Catholic, who glanced at the synagogue across the street and out of the clear blue sky asked me why “I killed his God?” I was stunned, to say the least. This was a close friend whose house I used to go over and help decorate their Christmas tree. He was my very best friend and out of the blue he asks me why I killed his God. Killed his God? I asked him why he’s accusing me of killing his God when I, as an twelve year old was shocked to be accused of any crime, especially killing his God. Anthony then explained to me that the Jewish people, two thousand years ago were the killers of his God even though it was the Romans who crucified him (crucifixion was the Roman method of executing men during that era).

    That incident happened around nineteen fifty-five. That kind of thinking had been going on for nearly two thousand years and had been the cause of prejudice, isolation, discrimination and death to countless millions of my people. Even today, among some “Born Again Christians,” there is the belief that somehow all Jewish people are to be punished for the miss-guided belief that our forefathers killed Jesus. Now that my people’s numbers have been put on the endangered species list this old miss guided belief is to simply be erased from the one billion three hundred million Catholics and the seven hundred million Protestants’ minds. That will probably take another two thousand years, and by that time our numbers should be even lower.

    I know that I sound somewhat bitter, but the Christians have to understand that I lost most of my family in the Holocaust, pogroms, the Inquisition and all those thousands of other ways of killing Jews; among them forced and “voluntary” conversions.

    However, there is a modicum of hope on my part that something new is happening with this new pope. Perhaps his beliefs and feelings of inclusiveness, acceptance and kindness will spread to all Christians and be a model for other religions to follow. During this holiday season of hope, peace and miracles certainly hope so. Below is an article from Reuters by Philip Pullella that was copied by an online news organization and edited just a tad by me.

    The Vatican has declared that the Catholic Church must not try to convert Jews to Christianity.

    Instead, the Catholic Church has decided that it must work with Jews and Jewish institutions to further dialogue and mutually understand and fight anti-Semitism, according to the Vatican, which pledged, “to do all that is possible with our Jewish friends to repel anti-Semitic tendencies.” My comment: wow, that’s a tall order; to try and persuade one and a half billion people to change their minds after indoctrinating them in anti-Semitism for two thousand years to change and love and accept us.

    The statements came in a major document released Thursday by the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. It was issued to mark the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, a declaration promulgated in 1965 by the Second Vatican Council that opened the door to formal Catholic-Jewish dialogue.

    The new document, titled “The Gifts and Calling of God are Irrevocable,” discussed at length how Christianity is rooted in Judaism. Because of this, it said, the Church is “obliged to view evangelization to Jews, who believe in the one God, in a different manner from that to people of other religions and world views.”

    It added, “In concrete terms this means that the Catholic Church neither conducts nor supports any specific institutional mission work directed towards Jews.”

    Goals in Jewish-Catholic dialogue, according to the document, include “joint engagement throughout the world for justice, peace, conservation of creation, and reconciliation” in a way that would make the religious contribute toward world peace. “Religious freedom guaranteed by civil authority is the prerequisite for such dialogue and peace,” it said. “In Jewish-Christian dialogue the situation of Christian communities in the state of Israel is of great relevance, since there — as nowhere else in the world — a Christian minority faces a Jewish majority,” the document said. “Peace in the Holy Land — lacking and constantly prayed for — plays a major role in dialogue between Jews and Christians.” Among other goals, the document said, were “jointly combating all manifestations of racial discrimination against Jews and all forms of anti-Semitism, which have certainly not yet been eradicated and re-emerge in different ways in various contexts.” It particularly stressed the need for “unceasing vigilance and sensitivity in the social sphere” and called for tangible joint Jewish-Catholic cooperation, such as in charitable activity to help “the poor, disadvantaged and sick.”

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