Good relations between the Catholic Church and our Jewish friends have been growing since the Second Vatican Council. One event is a semi-annual conversation between representatives of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and leaders from the Rabbinic Council of America (RCA) and the Orthodox Union (OU).
This past Monday we meet at the Orthodox Union. Together we examined the education tax credit bill which is being considered in the State legislature as well as issues of religious freedom. The first has the full endorsement of the NY State Catholic Conference and our Jewish friends in the Orthodox community. This would provide tax credits to individuals and corporations who could designate those credits to go to public school or a scholarship entity, like Tomorrow’s Hope, that helps parents sending children to religious schools like ours. It is good to have this kind of interfaith support for education and we will continue to work together toward that end. Your support and prayers are a great help.
On religious freedom, we shared a report on our efforts to protect religious freedom not just regarding the mandate the HHS wants to impose on the Church and individuals against our conscience and first amendment rights. There again the Orthodox Jews, while not sharing our views on all the issues to which we object, recognize and support the underlying principle of the need to be vigilant against encroachment on religious freedom by our government.
In the afternoon we discussed the impact of Pope Francis on the Church and on Catholic-Jewish relations. The response of our Jewish partners to the Holy Father was most positive.
Finally we discussed a famous article written in 1964 by the renowned Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik. He determined with a dense theological and pastoral paper that Jews should not engage in theological discussion with Christians. This has become an official position of Orthodoxy in America. It obviously is important for our group. The discussion was robust, serious and very helpful.
We will continue these discussion that benefit both our traditions and bring a united voice of men and women of faith to issues of our day.