Cardinal addresses improvements in Jewish-Catholic relations

February 11, 2014

HOUSTON — Differences remain but the state of Jewish-Catholic relations over the last 50 years, especially in the U.S., has improved tremendously.

That was one of the thoughts shared by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Rabbi David Rosen and Father Brendan Cahill at the recent “An Evening with His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo” Lowenstein Lecture of the Anti-Defamation League, hosted by Congregation Beth Yeshurun in Houston. 

About 1,000 people attended the January event in which Cardinal DiNardo answered questions from Rabbi Rosen and Father Cahill, director of clergy formation in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, including questions submitted by those in attendance.

“So, what do you think about this new pope?” Rabbi Rosen asked first, to the sound of approving laughter from the audience. 

“I think it’s his spontaneity, his humility,” said Cardinal DiNardo about how Pope Francis has caught the interest of so many. “(Then-)Cardinal Bergoglio had a very good relationship with the Jewish community in Argentina, and he will carry that through in his papacy,” he added.

“Pope Francis will follow on what Pope John Paul II did — he made Nostra Aetate concrete,” Cardinal DiNardo said, referring to the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, proclaimed by Pope Paul VI in 1965.

The declaration reflected the Church’s respect for the covenant of Abraham, the Jewish faith, and the importance to engage in dialogue with one another, Cardinal DiNardo explained.

“Nostra Aetate’s impact has been profound,” Rabbi Rosen said. “I am grateful to the Catholic Church for that and I think the Jewish people are, too.”

Rabbi Rosen noted that Pope Francis is planning a trip to Israel later this year and wondered what this might indicate: “Is Israeli hopefulness justified that he may do a little more?”

“I would say that if he is stepping into this, he is determined. He is stressed over the situation and he is talking to leaders, urging them to do more,” responded Cardinal DiNardo. “I don’t think Pope Francis is daring just to be daring.”

When asked about immigration law reform, Rabbi Rosen and Cardinal DiNardo noted the major role immigration has played in their respective faiths and agreed that the U.S. should institute changes.

“We have had immigration laws that have been unenforceable,” said Cardinal DiNardo. “I am not opposed to the idea that we need to be watchful of our borders... but I am dedicated that we do something for comprehensive immigration reform.”