David Rosen, former Grand Rabbi of Ireland, was a member of the Permanent Bilateral Commission of the State of Israel and the Holy See that negotiated the establishment of full diplomatic normalization of relations between the two states. Now he is Director of the Department for Interreligious Affairs at American Jewish Association. He has participated to the International Prayer for Peace organized by the Sant’ Egidio community in Munich (September 11th-13th). Below the text of his intervention given on September 12th, 2011 in the framework of a discussion about “Jews and Christians, from Dialogue to Friendship”.
Rosen notes that the recent decades witnessed a Transformation in the Catholic-Jewish relationship : “nothing comparable in human history.” I turn your attention to the paragraph in bold where he seeks to create a theology of partnership between Christians and Jews in which the two faiths are joined and complementarity. He offers four possibilities: (1) A model of two covenants- Jewish communal and Christian individual; (2) A Jewish Kingdom of Heaven has not yet fully arrived, and a Christian view that the Kingdom is already rooted in the here and now; (3) Judaism as a constant admonition to Christianity regarding the dangers of triumphalism, while Christianity’s universalism serves as a warning against Jewish insular isolationism; (4)A Jewish reminder of difference against the Christian vision of universals. The sources for the complimentary nature of the two faiths is Philip Cunnnigham, A Story of Shalom, p. 59, where the positions are labeled as (1) Michael McGarry; (2) Paul van Buren; (3) Irving Greenberg.
Rabbi Rosen many times serves as speech writer or speech adviser for Israeli Chief Rabbis.So, be prepared for a chief rabbi to discuss the complementarity of Judaism and Christianity.
Transformation in the Catholic-Jewish relationship : “nothing comparable in human history.”
The transformation in the Catholic-Jewish relationship since the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council has been dramatic. Arguably there is nothing comparable in human history. A community that was once seen as condemned and rejected by God; guilty of deicide: enemies of God and in league with the Devil; is now seen by the Church , in the words of Blessed Pope John Paul II as “the dearly beloved elder brother of the Church, the people of the original Covenant never broken and never to be broken”.
Both Blessed John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have reiterated that the Church has a relationship with Judaism that is unique and incomparable to Christianity’s relationship with any other religion, because it embodies the Church’s very roots.
In addition to deepening this process, we face two great tasks. The more laborious but perhaps most essential one is to translate this transformation more extensively into the pews and grass roots; and even to some of the shepherds and hierarchy who sometimes still think and even teach and preach under the impact of the old “teaching of contempt”, or at least in its shadow. Indeed in terms of our history, this transformation is very new and we have almost two millennia of negative indoctrination to overcome. Aside from simple ignorance, replacement theology is still quite prevalent and often other extraneous factors such as the conflict in the Middle East are utilized to avoid or prevent effective integration of the new theological understanding into the minds and hearts of faithful Christians throughout the world. Moreover as Pope Benedict XVI and other prominent prelates and theologians have noted, the full theological implications of Nostra Aetate, have not yet been fully plumbed.
This leads me to the second challenge, which is to develop a serious theology of partnership between Christians and Jews and an understanding of the other’s complementarity. Efforts at doing so have already begun. These have included seeing Judaism and Christianity in a mutually complementary role in which the Jewish focus on the communal covenant with God and the Christian focus on the individual relationship with God, may serve humanity in parallel as well as balance one another. Others have seen the complementary relationship in that we both need to be reminded that the Kingdom of Heaven has not yet fully arrived, and yet at the same time to appreciate that that Kingdom is already rooted in the here and now. Another view of the mutual complementarity, portrays Judaism as a constant admonition to Christianity regarding the dangers of triumphalism, while Christianity’s universalistic character may serve an essential role for Judaism in warning against degeneration into insular isolationism.
As opposed to the underlying assumptions of the latter, there is a contention that it is actually Christianity’s universalism that is challenged by the modern culturally pluralistic reality. The communal autonomy that Judaism affirms, it is suggested, may serve more appropriately as a model for a multicultural society, while Christianity may provide a better response for individual alienation in the modern world. Read the full speech here.