Pope Francis Taking Ecumensim to a New Level

Photo by Elisabetta Pique: Rabbi Skorka in front of Santa Marta
Courtesy of Vatican Insider.

'Argentina’s Rabbi Abraham Skorka, in this interview, tells how Pope Francis and he are making history by their friendship, and reveals that they dream of travelling together to the Holy Land soon', Gerard O’Connell, Rome
'Never before in the history of Christian-Jewish relations have a Pope and a Rabbi celebrated their friendship by living in the Vatican together for several days, sharing all meals, including on two Jewish festivals and the Sabbath at which the Rabbi said prayers in Hebrew, and discussing what more they can do together to promote dialogue and peace in the world.

That is what actually happened over the past four days at the Vatican guesthouse (Santa Marta) where Pope Francis lives and where his friend from Buenos Aires, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, has been his guest from September 25 to this day.

“I eat with him at breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. He cares for me, and controls everything regarding my food to makes sure it is all kosher, and according to my religious tradition. These are festive days, and I have to say certain prayers at meals and, I expand the last prayer and translate it. He accompanies me together with the others at table -his secretaries and a bishop, and they all say ‘Amen’ at the end”, the Rabbi said.

By acting in this way, the Pope and Rabbi are sending an extraordinary message of friendship, dialogue and peace not only to their respective religious communities but also to the whole world. And they plan to do even more together, Rabbi Skorka revealed when we talked together at Santa Marta, on September 27.

He and the Pope are planning to travel together to the Holy Land next year. The Israeli and Palestinian authorities have invited Pope Francis, and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew1, wants him to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic meeting of his predecessor, Athenagoras, with Paul VI in the Holy City.

“We are dreaming of traveling together to Israel soon, and the Pope is working on this subject”, the Rabbi said. “I dream of embracing him at the Kotel, or Wailing Wall, and I will accompany him to Bethlehem, in the Palestinian territories. His presence can help a lot at this moment when the peace talks are starting again”, he added.

Skorka sees a deep spiritual significance for both of them in being together at the sites that are sacred to their respective religions. “I do not cease to be a Jew for him, and he goes on keeping his own faith. But the two spiritualities have to have a point of encounter. We cannot live in a world where we reject each other, we must build bridges.”

He believes his friend “has become a spiritual reference point for the whole world, not just for the Catholic Church” as was evidenced recently when he called for a day of prayer and fast for peace in Syria.

“Ours is a spiritual journey”, he said of their friendship which dates back to 1997 when Bergoglio became coadjutor bishop of Buenos Aires archdiocese. “Like him I don’t much like the protocol, and like him I too go for the essentials”, he added. Since then, they have done many things together, including producing an interview book – Sobre el cielo y la tierra (‘On heaven and earth’) that has been translated into several languages and will soon be in Hebrew too.

“We hold to different traditions, but we are creating a dialogue that has not existed for centuries. Both of us believe that God has something to do with our friendship and with what we are doing. There are too many coincidences for it all to be mere chance”, said Skorka, 63, who is Rector of the Latin American Rabbinic Seminary.

“We come together without burying our identities. I spoke to him about evangelization, and he stated emphatically that the Catholic Church cannot engage in proselytism”, he said...'

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Comments

Elizabeth said…
"and he stated emphatically that the Catholic Church cannot engage in proselytism”. This is the Pope saying we cannot attempt to convert souls. What in the world is wrong with this man? I know there have been statements like this before from other mouths, but from the Pope?

Lord have mercy on his soul.
The Bones said…
Well that's what the man said the Pope said.

It could be the Pope never said that, or that he has misinterpreted what the Pope said to him.
Barbara said…
I see.... so Our Blessed Lord, the King of Heaven and Earth and the entire Universe went through all He went through in His work of Redemption for nothing?

Shameful betrayal from one - sorry to say - who is shameless as this is calculated and planned - not impulsive and caused by fear like our first Pope's betrayal.

Mamma mia - what a sorry state the Church is being reduced to...and it just goes on and on and on...
C&M said…
When the tw of them go to the holy Land together, I hope they go to Shechem (Nablus) sacred to both traditions.
Celia said…
Proselytism has been a dirty word for decades since, oh, I would guess the 1960s. All it really means is attempting to convert people, but it acquired implications of pressurising or forcing conversion at some stage.

Evangelisation is nicer and was once famously (but I forget by whom) defined as 'Being nice to people and hoping they'll guess why'.
Patricius said…
"It could be the Pope never said that, or that he has misinterpreted what the Pope said to him."

Indeed!
I think that by now we should all be aware that reports of what Pope Francis is claimed to have said need to be taken with a huge pinch of salt.
Jacobi said…
“we are creating a dialogue that has not existed for centuries”

True and that is good. It should have existed as from the beginning.

Dialogue must now resume and it must be explained to the Jewish Faith that Christ came to fulfil the Old Testament, that although The Father spoke through the prophets in the Old Testament, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, fulfilled the message, by his life, teaching, death and resurrection in the New Testament.

Judaism, however belatedly, must recognise and accept that clear and undisputable fact.

Furthermore, Christ established, with Peter and his Successors, as its head, the One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church for the Redemption of Mankind, including Judaism.

So Judaism must now address itself to union with, and acceptance of, the Teachings of the Magisterium, of the Catholic Church.
@ Elizabeth and Bones:
Pope Francis said this before, link with video on his speech included
http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.de/2013/08/when-you-meet-needy-your-heart-grows.html:

"Does this mean going to convince someone to become became Catholic? No, no, no! You are just reaching out to meet him, he is your brother! That is enough. You reach out to help them, the rest is done by Jesus, by the Holy Spirit."
Lynda said…
This seems like indifferentism. The Pope is not helping the salvation of his friend's soul or the salvation of souls in his care, or generally, by this kind of activity. Time to put his responsibilities as Pope before his personal satisfaction. It is putting being liked by men before obedience to God.
CNS also said that he said it in August:
Pope Francis said, "Do you need to convince the other to become Catholic? No, no, no! Go out and meet him, he is your brother. This is enough. Go out and help him and Jesus will do the rest.
http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1303392.htm
David said…
My great-great grandfather who left Judaism to become a Christian and who earned the ostracism of his family obviously shouldn't have bothered...

This hurts very, very much.
And NRC rejoiced when he first said it in August: http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/pope-francis-encounter
David said…
I missed this:

“We come together without burying our identities. I spoke to him about evangelization, and he stated emphatically that the Catholic Church cannot engage in proselytism”, he said...'

If true, this is as explicit a rejection of Christ's Great Commission as one could fear from a Pope.
Nicolas Bellord said…
I think we need to remind ourselves of Benedict XVI's friendship with Rabbi Jacob Neusner author of "A Rabbi talks with Jesus". In Chapter 4 p.103 of "Jesus of Nazareth" (first volume) Benedict mentions how he was greatly helped by him and he gives a very enlightening view of how a faithful Rabbi sees Jesus. I believe Rabbi Neusner visited Benedict in the Vatican soon after his election. That Chapter 4 is well worth reading as he shows how the Church should develop the message of the Torah and that there are things we need to take from the Torah such as support for the concept of the Sabbath and the importance of the Family.
Rabbi Skorka told reporters after the audience that the pope looked "very well" and was "wonderful" as pope.

However, "you don't need my opinion," the rabbi said. "You can see with your own eyes the success, the spiritual success," he has achieved through his words, manners and even "revolutionary acts," presumably including the pope's decision not to live in the Apostolic Palace.

The rabbi said he is not at all surprised with the new pope's popularity.

Not only will Pope Francis continue on in the same vein, the rabbi predicted, but he will be "emphasizing changes, accepting challenges more and more, undoubtedly with God's help and God's blessings."

Then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Rabbi Skorka shared a passion for soccer and worked together for years to bring Catholics and Jews closer together after some episodes of less-than-cordial relations in Argentina.

The Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina, which Pope Francis oversaw, awarded Rabbi Skorka an honorary doctorate in 2012, which, the rabbi said, was a watershed moment and could never have been done just a decade before. The achievement was a "revolution" brought on specifically "by Bergoglio," he said.

http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1302556.htm
“I believe I have already said that our goal is not to proselytize but to listen to needs, desires and disappointments, despair, hope. We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. We need to include the excluded and preach peace,” he stated.

Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/10/01/pope_shares_his_vision,_reform_of_church_with_italian_daily/en1-733344
of the Vatican Radio website
David said…
And now: "Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense".
Nicolas Bellord said…
Oh dear, another muddle. To-day La Stampa quotes him as saying: "The Church does not grow through proselytism but through witness" see:
http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/santa-marta-28258/

The problem is that "proselytism" seems to have acquired a new meaning. It is worth reading the Wikipedia article on this at:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proselytism

Muddle, muddle, muddle. Should not someone explain to him that he needs to define what he means by proselytism - that is if he actually said that?
Nicolas Bellord said…
Perhaps he is influenced by the appalling history of proselytism in Argentina where under the constitution everyone had to be a Catholic. Incidentally under that constitution piracy was not allowed without the permission of the president!