Controversy at the Vatican: The Fuller Story

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16 Responses

  1. Ori says:

    If Benedict XVI wanted to bring SSPX into disrepute among lay Catholics, he could have hardly have chosen a more effective method than sparking off these protests. At the same time, by appearing re-conciliatory, he makes it easy for the SSPX laity to abandon the organization and become Catholics again.

  2. Chaim Fisher says:

    I don’t care if it’s long. This article is succinct, beautifully researched and very important.

    Benedict does seem to be part of the whole move to the right that the world is experiencing in all areas of belief. Our BT movement must be the cause of it, but it’s undeniable.

    The amazing thing would be for the Catholics to move back to the right but to take back with them the meforash acceptance of the Jews that came out of Vatican II. Then their whole treck would have been ‘worthwhile.’

    Now not to disappoint all the bloggers who like to disagree with me here, I just want to add that we also need continually to pound on the idea that Islam indeed has a longer and better history of respect for and coexistence with the Jews than the Catholics do, regardless of all the quotes you can find to the contrary. Islam’s historical acceptance of us is a drum we must sound continually, loud and clear, instead of constantly beating the war drums of how much we hate them and how both of us wish each other were dead etc. etc.–besides all the politics and battles with the situation on the ground that we can and must fight…

  3. L. Oberstein says:

    In our own Jewish community, there are those who cre deeply about how it will look to the gentiles and those who are focused only on being 100% correct. Without personally opining, this is exactly what Rabbi Haskell Lookstein said in his explanation of why he participated in a prayer service with gentiles in front of Obama. He derides the RCA for being such a stickler for Jewish norms without taking into account how it would have looked if everyone but the Orthodox Jews participated. His whole defense has nothing to do with halacha,but with how it would look. His “heter” came fromJoe Lieberman.After the fact, Rabbi Broyde gave him a source to permit it retroactively. The Catholic Church has its own “universe” and the present Pope is a theologian, not a PR man. He wants to bring back the lost sheep and strengthen his flock. I honestly believe that Holocaust Denial by this Bishop was not on his radar screen when he made this decision. However, his advisors should have alerted him. Mypoint is that it happens in our hierarchy too.

  4. Ori says:

    Chaim Fisher: Islam’s historical acceptance of us is a drum we must sound continually, loud and clear,

    Ori: Why and to what end? To convince Muslims their religion really is tolerant? Either they already think that, or the fact that a few heretics tell it to them will be irrelevant. To remind Catholics of the sins of their ancestors? Why – the people who committed them are dead anyway.

  5. Nathan Elberg says:

    Chaim, face forward, not backwards in terms of deciding friends and enemies. And if you look carefully backwards, to the history of Islamic-Jewish relations, you will find plenty of murder, oppression, forced conversion, and other forms of violence. Of course if you choose to ignore all the facts to the contrary (including the words and actions of their “prophet,”), then you can believe that there is historical Islamic acceptance of Jews.

  6. Baruch Pelta says:

    Rabbi Oberstein:

    What you say about R’ Lookstein is not true. You write that “His whole defense has nothing to do with halacha,but with how it would look. His ‘heter’ came fromJoe Lieberman.” But that’s not true. He said he felt it was permitted and he talked to people who felt it was permitted based on halachic sources. Joe Lieberman had nothing to do with it. Even if he did talk to Rabbi Broyde afterwords as to before the service (although I am skeptical of how you came to possess that information), he had other sources and he said he talked to people beforehand.

    One need not agree with Rabbi Lookstein to realize that your characterization of his defense is false.

    (paranthetically, I wonder how many times rabbis who write/say falsehoods like this and are then corrected, then proceed to apologize to the rabbanim they talked about before Yom Kippur. For example, those who misrepresent that speech Rabbi Lamm gave by spewing that “RABBI LAMM CALLED THE GEDOLIM CAVEMEN!!!” When corrected, do they proceed to call Rabbi Lamm? I don’t know Rabbi Oberstein personally so I’m not talking about what he does, but I’m saying in general…maybe this is one of those things slowing the redemption.)

  7. L. Oberstein says:

    To Baruch Pelta: In answer to your question. I was sent the entire textg of Rabbi Lookstein’s sermon the following Shabbat in his shul and he is the source of my information. My point was that in our religion also we have those who are totaly focussed inward and those who value what the outside will think. There was a Christian minister who was kicked out of his church because he participated in a joint prayer service after 9/11 in Yankee Stadium. His group felt he “recognized” other faiths by being on the same platform.
    In teh area of inter-faith dialogue,there are those for whom dialogue equals recognition and those who feel that dialogue will prevent misunderstanding and show we have a valid point of view. For the orthodox,this issue was settled by Rabbi Soloveitchik long ago who was against it. The Pope didn’t actually deal with the specifics of this one priest who is a denier, he was inerested in preventing a scism.What is the price of unity? The Jews also deal with this question. Do we sit on a Board of Rabbis with gay rabbis? How far can one go ? I will let the great ones make those decisions.

  8. Ori says:

    Imagine that Raffi the Reform Rabbi were to give a speech saying abortion(1) should be legal, and at the option of the pregnant woman. Then, at some subsequent point, Ovadiah the Orthodox Rabbi were to invite Raffi to spend a Shabbat with him, study Torah together, and so on.

    How would you react if the Pope were to tell Rabbi Ovadiah he did wrong? Is there any reason hold a Pope to a higher standard?

    (1) Catholics believe that life begins at conception and abortion is murder. Therefore, for them this isn’t the same as denying the holocaust – it’s more similar to advocating the killing of more Jews in 1942, which the holocaust was ongoing. Much worse.

  9. Charlie Hall says:

    Dear Rabbi Oberstein,

    Rov Soloveitchik did not settle the issue of interfaith dialogue. It is clear that his opinion was never accepted in Israel, for rabbis continue to meet with leading Christian clergy.

    For example, there is a continuing dialogue between the Chief Rabbis of Israel and the Anglican Communion:

    http://www.anglicancommunion.org/acns/news.cfm?mode=entry&entry=D5D889F4-D67F-5595-2980B4C22D82B013

    And a continuing dialogue with the Vatican:

    http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/relations-jews-docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20031203_jerusalem-kislev-5764_en.html

    And of course even in America there are Orthodox rabbis who openly support Christian Zionists, which does not mean Christians who support Israel but rather Christians who hold a specific end-times theology that is a matter of current theological controversy within Christianity.

  10. Baruch Pelta says:

    Rabbi Oberstein:

    I have not seen Rabbi Lookstein’s sermon, but what I have seen is the letter he sent out to members of the RCA. In that letter, which is certainly part of his “whole defense,” he attempted to provide a halachic justification for his participation. Again, one need not agree with Rabbi Lookstein’s justification to see you misrepresented his defense. As for my own view of what he did, I choose to withhold judgement on this particular issue.

    You write that for the Orthodox the issue of interfaith dialogue was settled by the Rav “who was against it.” This obfuscates the Rav’s true position; I realize that Rabbi Lookstein also made this mistake, but it is a mistake indeed. The Rav was against interfaith theological dialogue, but social dialogue is a horse of a different color. I would advise you to read Dr. David Berger’s response to Dr. Eugene Korn from the 2003 Boston College seminar entitled “Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik on Interreligious Dialogue: Forty Years Later” as well as Dr. Lawrence Kaplan’s “Revisionism and the Rav.” The Rav would certainly disagree with the implications of your statement that “dialogue equals recognition.”

    You ask if “we sit on a Board of Rabbis with gay rabbis.” I don’t see the difference between sitting on a Board of Rabbis with different types of heterodox rabbis, whether they be gay or not. The fact is that the Rav and Rabbi Eliezer Silver refused to sign the ban on participating in interdenominational organizations such as the Synagogue Council of America and the New York Board of Rabbis; the RCA itself stayed in the SCA where there were not a few heterodox rabbis.

  11. Todd V says:

    Very balanced and informed article from your perspective. Just so readers of this forum know, one of the Vatican statements in recent days is that Williamson must publically recant.

    My favorite quote in your article:
    “The DaVinci Code may have promoted Opus Dei to a position of sinister mystery it does not deserve; the real Church is far more inscrutable.”

    LOL! but so often true. For more on that from a Catholic insider see ncrcafe.org

    Todd V

  12. mycroft says:

    “The Rav was against interfaith theological dialogue, but social dialogue is a horse of a different color. I would advise you to read Dr. David Berger’s response to Dr. Eugene Korn from the 2003 Boston College seminar entitled “Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik on Interreligious Dialogue: Forty Years Later” as well as Dr. Lawrence Kaplan’s “Revisionism and the Rav.” The Rav would certainly disagree with the implications of your statement that “dialogue equals recognition.”

    Agreed-see how the Rav himself gave the speech at a Catholic Seminary in Boston that essentially was published later as The Lonely man of Faith . Of course, there are interesting details like that the Talmud quotes that underlie his ideas were not spoken at the lecture but rather in footnotes to the article. Life and halacha is a lot more complex than simple slogans.

  13. dr. bill says:

    Mycroft, it is actually much more than a speech. I believe the mental health project that was the reason the rav ztl went to speak at the catholic seminary, had jewish as well as catholic and protestant funding. Like some of the religious / philosophical works of rishonim, it has a universal charachter.

    despite this, the rav opposed watching a funeral in a catholic church on television. how he might of judged the current circumstance will, like most things be debated. one thing i feel more sure about: he would have never approved the RCA’s public condemnation.

  14. mycroft says:

    “The DaVinci Code may have promoted Opus Dei to a position of sinister mystery ”

    An interesting tidbit is that the property adjacent to the major headquarters of OPus Dei is the Stern College major building. Opus Dei has invited Judaic teachers from YU to speak at their building which appears to be a residence and office building.

    ” rav opposed watching a funeral in a catholic church on television”
    Very diplomatic language-some claim that the Rav prohibited watching JFKs funeral to his shiur. An obvious question JFK was killed on a Friday he was buried after a mass on Monday. Certainly the 60s had other assassinations and there was no shnuah that it was assur to watch the funerals on TV. I have contacted some who were close to the Rav from the shiur in 63-64 and none had heard of this story independently-of course I haven’t heard does not mean that it doesn’t exist.It is possible the Rav had said some words to the effect it is better not to watch-especially it is no secret that he did not like JFK at al. Sadly, since the Rav is no longer here we will never know exactly what the Rav said or what his intention was with those words.

    ” how he might of judged the current circumstance will, like most things be debated.”
    Agreed-though IMHO it is probable if not beyond reasonable doubt that he wouldn’t have approved of doing the actions involved but certainly I have no doubt that the following is true

    ” one thing i feel more sure about: he would have never approved the RCA’s public condemnation.”

  15. mycroft says:

    “The fact is that the Rav and Rabbi Eliezer Silver refused to sign the ban on participating in interdenominational organizations such as the Synagogue Council of America and the New York Board of Rabbis; the RCA itself stayed in the SCA where there were not a few heterodox rabbis.”

    R E Silver was against the SCA but refused to sign the ban because RYBS was in favor of the SCA and as he put it to R A Kotler your students are not particiipating in the SCA so the purpose of the ban was to attack RYBS students who were following their Rebbe and thus R E Silver refused to sign the ban.
    The SCA was made up of lay and Rabbinic groups thus the OU and the RCA were members-as were the equivalent lay and Rabbinic groups of the Reform and Conservative movements. The SCA ran by consent-thus any organization-including its lay components could VETO any action of the SCA. BTW-the Rav was not in favor of belonging to the NY Board of Rabbis-thus you had many of his talmidim who were active in the SCA but did not belong to the NY Board of Rabbis.

  16. Baruch Pelta says:

    R E Silver was against the SCA
    What’s your source on that?
    In any event, R’ Silver told R’ Rackman not to pay any attention to the ban.

    BTW-the Rav was not in favor of belonging to the NY Board of Rabbis
    What’s your source on that? Most treatments I’ve seen haven’t really pinpointed to the Rav’s actual position, but simply noted that he refused to sign the ban.

    (For some reason the above seems to come off sarcastic; I’m really just curious as to what your sources are and I’m not trying to prove your assertions false.)

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