What will be the future of Catholic-Jewish dialogue if the international Jewish interfaith coalition known as IJCIC is officially disbanded?
That's the question facing Jewish interfaith leaders this week, following the surprising announcement by the Vatican's top Jewish liaison, Edward Cardinal Cassidy, that he considered the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultation "no longer in existence " as a dialogue partner for the Vatican.
Rabbi Rene Samuel Sirat, Europe’s chief rabbi emeritus, wasn’t pulling any punches. The 68-year-old former chief rabbi of France, who is Orthodox, used his recent visit to New York to assail the current state of Orthodox Judaism — particularly for its continuing mistreatment of women, the peace process, and “strangers” within its community.
Rabbi Sirat, a respected educator, also said that the Jewish community could learn a thing or two about repentance from the Catholic Church.
His given name is Aaron, the same as the first High Priest of the Children of Israel. He wears garments similar to those worn more than 2,000 years ago by the kohanim (Jewish priests) in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.
But this Aaron, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland whose mother died in Auschwitz, is a priest of a different kind. Having converted to Catholicism at the age of 15, he has risen to become Archbishop of Paris.
Catholics will now be able pray to a Jewish-born nun for divine intervention. That’s because on Sunday, Pope John Paul II made Edith Stein, a German-born Jewish convert to Catholicism, into an official saint of the Catholic Church.
It is the first time in history that the Vatican has elevated a Jewish convert to sainthood, said Rabbi Leon Klenicki, interfaith affairs director of the Anti-Defamation League. But the canonization of Stein, who died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz, has re-opened wounds in the Catholic-Jewish relationship.