Tekst jest traktowany jako integralna całość, można go cytować, ale zgodnie z prawem z podaniem źródła, tzn. autora książki i jej tytułu, osoby udzielające wywiadu, no i tłumacza amatora:). Tłumaczenie jest moje (z pomocą Google Translate), dlatego jest pewnie w nim dużo błędów:), pro publico bono, całkowicie bez wynagrodzenia.
In the Church we need a dialogue about the dialogue
with prof. fr. Waldemar Chrostowski
In the breaks between the scientific work, You find time to guide pilgrimages around the Holy Land. Does their program differ in some way from ordinary pilgrimages?
They look like other pilgrimages, but they have their specificity. I studied at the Hebrew University and for the first time lived in Jerusalem in 1979 and 1980. Later, in 1982, I studied again, this time in the Jerusalem branch of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and visited the Holy Land. I dreamed that one day You could visit pilgrimage groups from Poland. This dream came true at the beginning of the 90s. Over a quarter of a century that has passed since then, I showed around a few thousand people. We implement a pilgrimage program that is Christian in nature, but open to the spiritual richness of local religions and cultures.
What is Your attitude towards Israel?
Israel is for me the same state as any other country in the world. I sincerely admire Israel and Israelis for the enormous progress they have made in their country, unique throughout the Middle East. In the space of several decades since the State of Israel came into existence in 1948, a real miracle has been achieved. I remember how at the end of the 1970s there was a breath of the desert everywhere, and now it is a modern and highly developed country. On the other hand, what evokes spiritual and psychological discomfort in Israel is due to the complicated political and social situation in its territory, and more so in territories belonging to the Palestinian Autonomy.
Do You have Jewish friends or acquaintances among Jews?
I have friends and acquaintances both in Israel, as well as in Poland and other countries. Our acquaintances and friendships, however, have a private character. In conversations with each other we discuss various aspects of political, social and religious life, but rather we don’t have a dialogue. The paradox is that there has been a situation in which several Jews and several Catholics meet each other, eat a meal together and this is sometimes referred to as dialogue, but this isn’t a dialogue, but a common meal. The dialogue takes place when three fundamental assumptions are met. First of all, the interlocutors discover themselves in front of each other to get to know the partners as they really are. Not the kind they put before each other, because everyone wants to show as better than it is. Mutual learning is done not only on the basis of ad hoc conversations, but through thorough studies and personal efforts to get to know each other. Secondly, it is necessary to respect partners, which can be very difficult, because on both sides accumulated a lot of stereotypes. If You don’t know them, then everything seems to be fine. This is often the case for Christian-Jewish relations, also in Poland. However, if You know the various pasts and prejudices that exist on the Catholic and Jewish side, then mutual respect is no longer an easy matter, but it becomes a difficult challenge. Thirdly, a real dialogue leads to cooperation where possible and needed. It seems that since the followers of Judaism and Christians profess the one God, the field for cooperation is overwhelming. However, when we look at the individual elements of faith, piety and morality, it turns out that full consent is no longer there. I will give an example: in the moral teaching of the Catholic Church, it is very important to ban abortion, but we don’t have allies on the Jewish side, because the Judaic view of the same issue isn’t conducive to the teaching that the Church addresses to her faithful.
What prompted You to get involved in Christian-Judaic dialogue?
Shortly after priestly ordination, which I received from Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński in 1976, I took seriously the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the pontificate and teaching of John Paul II. I found it very important to get out of the followers of Jesus Christ outside of our own circle. The conciliar declaration Nostra aetate, proclaimed in 1965, designated several circles "ordering" all of humanity: Catholics - Christians of other faiths - followers of the only God, namely Judaism and Islam - followers of other religions - non-believers. With theological studies on the bible profile behind me, I felt most predisposed to join in Christian-Jewish relations for the simple reason that I gained considerable knowledge and understanding about the Old Testament and the Jewish tradition, both ancient and later. I thought it would allow me to do something good. In the 1980s, in the pages of Jesuit "Przegląd Powszechny", which no longer appears, but then it was very significant, I published a series of articles on the subject of ancient Jewish biblical exegesis. Several Polish Jews confessed to me that they were learning issues that they couldn’t learn from elsewhere. So a Catholic priest was helpful to them in learning about the Jewish religious tradition. Hearing these voices, I felt that I needed - in a sense - both sides. This has been repeated many times in various contexts and was reflected in the inclusion of me in 1988 in the work of the Subcommittee of the Polish Episcopate to Dialogue with Judaism. It happened thanks to Bishop Henryk Muszyński, later Archbishop of Gniezno and Primate of Poland. There was nothing extraordinary about my involvement. I was just and I am convinced that resentments, prejudices and stereotypes aren’t a way of life, and in any case aren’t a way of life for the followers of Jesus Christ. I take my faith seriously and deeply believe in Jesus Christ and the content of the Gospel. This creates a commitment to which I try to meet even if it raises objections and misunderstandings.
When dealing with Catholic-Jewish relations, it is very easy to expose one of the parties to attacks. I met with opinions about the priest's earlier work, according to which the priest was once perceived as a "Judaizing priest." Currently, opinions about the Professor are quite opposite it happens that harsh words are falling from the part of the Jewish community, but also from Catholic side. It is said that Prof. Paweł Spiewak would even call the priest an anti-Semite. Does it touch You this criticism?
I will refer to these harsh words in the way that conforms to the Year of Mercy: "To Bear Wrongs Patiently". I have nothing more to say, because unjust allegations and innuendos comment on themselves. Habilitated doctor Paweł Spiewak should weigh his words all the more that in 1996 I received, for the involvement in the Catholic-Jewish dialogue, Medal of Anna Kamieńska, his mother. I don’t care about how I am perceived in some circles, because I know that it depends not only on me, but also, and above all on those who inflict injurious accusations. In the opinions we give about other people, we usually manifest ourselves more than what we know about them. Therefore, I wasn’t interested in media opinions about my involvement in Christian-Polish-Jewish relations, because I knew that I would never be able to get involved in the service of political correctness. On the other hand, I was much more interested and concerned that my involvement was, firstly, reliable, secondly competent, and thirdly balanced, and, fourthly, faithfully reflecting my Catholic and Polish identity. I think that it was the implementation of these aspects which hamper many people. I was able to see better and better that on the Catholic and Polish side, they are people who don’t know well or don’t value highly the Catholic and Polish identity and sensitivity, and have been involved in dealing with Jews. However, the measure of recognition from the Church is granted to me in 2014, the extremely prestigious Vatican Ratzinger Award. I received it for achievements in the field of biblical studies and its popularization as well as dialogue of the Church with Jews and Judaism.
There are opinions that many Jews, including those who owe their lives to Polish Catholics, easily pass from anti-Catholic prejudices existing in the Jewish community to anti-Polonism. Did the priest meet with anti-Polonism while conducting a religious dialogue with Jews?
I have met with various manifestations of anti-Christianity, anti-Catholicism, anti-nationalism, anti-Polishness and anti-Polishism not once but dozens of times. When, for example, I tried to say something about it in the book “Church, Jews, Poland”, to illustrate the difficulties and obstacles in the way of our mutual relations, then the newspaper of Adam Michnik referred to this with unusual sarcasm. But not wanting to talk about facts, You can’t do anything good. If we negate or omit the facts, then we move in the fog. When learning about various aspects of Jewish attitudes towards Christianity and the Church as well as Poland and Poles, it is necessary to show patient perseverance and react in the right way.
Often anti-Zionism, anti-Jewishness, anti-Judaism, or anti-talmudism are thrown into one bag with the inscription "anti-Semitism." Although anti-Semitism usually includes each of these elements, none of them separately automatically means anti-Semitism. The very concept of "anti-Semitism", which - which may seem like a paradox - was invented by the Germans, is also not very precise, because most of the Semites are Arab nations. Usually, however, no distinction is made on this issue, abusing the term anti-Semitism. Sticking someone with an anti-Semitic patch is so stigmatizing that it can bury a professional career accused of this person and lead to environmental ostracism. Some even argue that calling an anti-Semite person in the media space today is what it was in the past to forcibly label Jews with a Star of David, and so that we went from one extreme to the other. In the book “Church, Jews, Poland”, You said: "Allegations of anti-Semitism have been made to many creators and people of culture, such as Cicero, Seneca, Strabon and Horace, Erasmus of Rotterdam, Shakespeare, Goethe, Defoe and Dickens, Pushkin, Wagner and Liszt, Dostoyevsky, Chekhov, Turgenev and Tolstoy, Bulhakov, Pasternak and Solzenicyn, and among Poles: Rej, Skarga and Czarnecki, Konarski, Kołłątaj and Staszic, Kraszewski, Prus, Reymont and Žeromski, Paderewski and Sikorski, and in our time: cardinal. Stefan Wyszyński, Stefan Kisielewski, cardinal Józef Glemp and ... John Paul II". As You are also noticing, Antoni Słonimski and Julian Tuwim met with accusation of anti-Semitism. Among the accused of anti-Semitism are also such great Poles as Saint Maksymilian Kolbe, Władysław Anders and Cardinal August Hlond. Because a group of people accused of anti-Semitism is so wide and diverse, who don’t say that the anti-Semite is often called not who does not like Jews, but who isn’t like by certain Jewish environments. They spread the charge of anti-Semitism to people, organizations, and even countries whose activity is incompatible with the broadly defined Jewish interests, as well as the interests of Israel. This Include the attempt to correct the mythologized and often unambiguously positive image of Jews during the Holocaust. In 1986, Professor Norman Davies wrote: "the word "anti-Semitism" seems infinitely flexible, everything can be defined - from propagating genocide to not passing through some Jewish dishes”. Today in America, the word is widely used to condemn any criticism of Jews or the Jewish state, Israel, regardless of whether it deserves to be criticized or not. In the meantime, it is quite normal that in any - shimmering a democratic state, public debates can be conducted on the most controversial issues, and despite the respect for minority rights, the majority interest should be raised at the most, hence my question: is it sometimes abused today in the public and scientific debate about the allegation of anti-Semitism?
I believe that the above long quote from my book gives a clear answer to this question. The term "anti-Semite" has become a stigma of uncomfortable people and a nickname, and therefore a patch and a label that is pinned to someone with whom You don’t want to undertake a substantive discussion and polemics. This is a weapon and a tool that is used by the supporters of political correctness, a nickname that can be stick to the other person completely without criminal punishment. Very often it is adhered to people who are clearly unjust and harm to many. Many people, including clerics and theologians, avoid engaging in Catholic-Jewish relations in fear of any form of stigmatization or labeling. But when it comes to the fact that the definition of an anti-Semite "will be systematically over used and will cease to signify anything, then the Jews will lose the most.
Some people believe that the tragedy of the Holocaust is used in a similar way. This is to be an attempt to bring the entire history of the WW2 only to the extermination of Jews and the use of the Holocaust for moral blackmail and the implementation of political goals. Some Jewish communities say that the Holocaust can be repeated as soon as Iran gains access to nuclear weapons. Iran is equated in this rhetoric to the Third Reich and its leaders to the Nazis. Some even argue that bombing nuclear installations in Iran would be like bombing Auschwitz. Taking in to account the special history of the Jews and the related - fully understandable - sensitivity to the dangers that threaten them, they can’t be forbidden to look for different analogies in this field. It may save them from another tragedy. However, the use of the Holocaust, as a kind of propaganda weapon, aimed at achieving specific political goals, at the same time leads to the shallowness of the meaning of the Holocaust and deprives it of seriousness. This is only one side of the coin, because anti-Zionist circles are similarly doing that in their rhetoric compare Israeli soldiers to the Gestapo, the Gaza Strip to the Warsaw Ghetto, and the wall separating the Palestinians from the Jews, compile the ghetto wall. They are very far-reaching, primitive invective. Similarly, he is trying to do apartheid state with the Israel, which - in spite of the appearance of dangerous tendency toward ago - in any case it isn’t. However, it happens that some communities are denied the right to similar discussions and seek analogies with the Holocaust. This is the case, for example, when some Catholics say that the holocaust of unborn children is currently in the world. The embargo was only abolished by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. Besides, both in the Holocaust and in the murder of unborn children, one can find eugenic roots. The use of the term "holocaust" in the media and scientific space, however, still seems to be reserved only for Jews, which it was also wanted by the Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Eli Wiesel, who is the originator of using the term in relation to the extermination of Jews during the WW2. Do You think it should remain so?
In addition to the memory of the Holocaust, it is usual to talk about the myth of the Holocaust and the religion of the Holocaust. It is true that the Holocaust is an event that cast a gloomy shadow on the history of mankind. At the same time, however, the Holocaust has become the subject of a carefully thought-out policy pursued by many Jewish milieus and those who favor them, such as Christian communities with a Zionist orientation in the United States. More than 70 years have passed since the tragedy of the Holocaust and the tendencies to speak only about this tragedy are intensifying. However, sooner and later there were various holocausts carried out with no less cruelty. This was the case with the genocide committed by the Turks on the Armenians in the years 1915-1916, a great famine in Ukraine in the 1930s, the genocide of Poles living on the western frontiers of the Soviet Union in 1936-1938 and in 1943-1944 in Volhynia, crimes committed in Asia in In the 1950s, or in Africa and the Balkans in the 1990s. It was time for the political monopoly of the Holocaust to be translated into a language of spiritual solidarity with all those who suffered and their descendants. The Jews emphasize the absolute uniqueness of the crimes committed against them. Both because of the size of the extermination carried out by the German socialists, as well as its bloody course and the circumstances in which it took place, this is true. Nevertheless, the Holocaust must not be separated from the suffering of other people and nations. The same applies to the lives of the unborn and the disabled and the elderly, because their extermination, as a manifestation of eugenics, preceded the Holocaust and exists to this day.
Although the term "holocaust" is most often used in relation to the extermination of Jews, many people think that the Holocaust of Poles began earlier than the Holocaust of the Jews, only that it was spread over several installments. Besides, during the Second World War, Polish Catholics were killed almost as many as many Polish Jews. Do the Jews try to somehow empathize with the suffering and martyrdom of the Poles, or did the Jewish martyrdom and the haggadah of the Holocaust completely cover them in their collective memory as victims of the WW2 - it was reserved exclusively for Jews?
We are now going to the hospital level. Two patients lie side by side and start a dispute that is more ill and suffers more. Such a dispute leads to nowhere.
So one patient shouldn’t treat the second patient, since only what it can lead us - as a You once described – to comparative victimology?
Comparing suffering and their bidding isn’t a good way to build relationships between two nations. Both of us, together with many common points, have our own history and we should be its guardians, the guardians of the generations' memory that were before us. This is a different story than others, because it expresses a different sensitivity. Seeing how Jews and Israelis expose and emphasize the memory of their martyrdom, ours, Poles, is the duty to highlight the painful martyrology that has become the part of our ancestors. And they suffered a great deal, both as a result of communist and Nazi persecution, offering a large tribute of blood for faithfulness to the Christian faith and the homeland.
Once You said that the Germans consciously made a Jewish cemetery from Poland, to change the memory of Jews about Poland and associations with Poland. Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel referred to this problem, saying that " it looks like the second Holocaust. Hitler murdered our people. Now let us die their spirit". Are looking for Jews in Poland only through the prism of the Holocaust and the cemetery isn’t in some way a posthumous victory for Hitler and Nazism?
Dobrze byłoby, aby wiedza na ten temat przedarła się wreszcie do polskiej świadomości, bo Polacy nie mają o tym żadnego pojęcia. Potrzebna jest również debata na temat natury i genezy niemieckiego narodowego socjalizmu. Co się go tyczy, łatwo zepchnąć wszystko na Hitlera, analogicznie jak co się tyczy komunizmu na Stalina, ale są to uniki, które wypaczają historię. Niemiecki narodowy socjalizm był tak samo antyżydowski, jak antypolski i antychrześcijański. Nad bramami niemieckich obozów koncentracyjnych umieszczano napis „Arbeit macht frei", „Praca czyni wolnym". co stanowi ironiczną przeróbkę słów Jezusa z Ewangelii według św. Jana: „Wahrheit macht frei", „Prawda was wyzwoli". Ideolodzy Hitlera wiedzieli, co robią, a więźniowie kierowani do obozów rozumieli, co czytają.
Yes! The Germans consciously made a Jewish cemetery from Poland, which they brutally murdered on our territories. They were well aware that the memory of Jews about Poland was essentially good until the outbreak of WW2, which was reflected in the famous haggadah about Polin as a "land of rest". Wanting to change this radically, they sent to extermination camps in the territory of occupied Poland, next to the great local transport, much smaller and small groups of Jews from Greece, the Netherlands, Belgium or France. They didn’t kill them in their countries of origin, but in the Polish territories. It would be good if the knowledge on this subject finally breaks into the Polish consciousness, because the Poles have no idea about it. There is also a need for a debate about the nature and genesis of German national socialism. As for him, it's easy to push everything to Hitler, analogically to what is related to Communism on Stalin, but these are evasions that distort history. National socialism was just as anti-Semitic as anti-Polish and anti-Christian. Above the gates of the German concentration camps, the inscription "Arbeit macht frei" was placed, "The Work will set You free", which is an ironic remake of Jesus words from the Gospel according to Saint John: "Wahrheit macht frei", "The Truth will set You free". Hitler's ideologues knew what they were doing, and prisoners directed to the camps understood what they were reading.
The American rabbi Byron L. Sherwin said: "The genocide of Jews was a prelude to the planned by Himmler, but postponed, the genocide of the Slavs."
Rabbi Byron L. Sherwin is an honest and courageous man. Yes, the European Jews were at the forefront of those who were to be completely devastated by the German National Socialists. Poles were next in the queue, but this wasn’t the case on such a mass scale, as John Paul II said in Warsaw during a meeting with the Jewish community in 1987. The result of the lethal National Socialist ideology and politics was the diametric change of the Jewish past about Poland. After 1945, Poland is simply their cemetery for Jews.
Is maintaining the vision of Poland as a Jewish cemetery where there is no room for Jews, it can be profitable for some Zionist communities who think that the diaspora time is over and the Jewish place is only in Israel?
It is worth studying the Zionist materials both from the pre-war period and the WW2 period, as well as reports on the situation of Jews in occupied Poland, which then flowed into the United States. It is also worth studying the circumstances of the creation of the State of Israel and various trends of Zionist ideology. Only then You can more fully develop Your own solid views on this subject. As for the phenomenon of the Jewish Diaspora, however, it still exists after the creation of the State of Israel. Also in Poland, the number of Jews and followers of Judaism is systematically growing, and we are also observing numerous manifestations of the revival of Jewish religious life. So it isn’t true that there is no place for Jews in Poland.
In February 2015, on the pages of the American newspaper The Washington Post, and then in July 2016 on the Israeli daily Haaretz, American rabbi Avraham Weiss demanded that Pope Francis remove the church Our Lady Queen of Poland, located at Victims of Fascism Street in Oświęcim-Brzezinka. This church was built in 1982, in a building where Germans planned to create a commandant of the Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp. But they never did. Nevertheless, Rabbi Weiss argued the necessity of his removal by the fact that "Auschwitz is a holy place of Jewish memory" and "it isn’t a place for a Catholic church". You entered the International Council of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, when the Carmelite convent was moved in 1984 in an abandoned Old Theater building, which is located next to the former German concentration camp Auschwitz I. This monastery was a place of remembrance and prayer for Christians and Poles who were murdered here. Although the displacement of the monastery was contrary to the Polish tradition of religious tolerance, thanks to which Jews could enjoy the best conditions for living and development in Poland for hundreds of years, and in the entire history of the church, the monastery was never transferred to the petition or request of another religion, the monastery was finally moved. There were also request to remove crosses from the so-called Żwirowisko (Gravel Pit), for which he lobbied, among others Rabbi Weiss, and against which You strongly objected. Commenting on later Jewish demands, You said that some Jewish environments in accordance with the formula of the religion of the Holocaust: "Heaven above Auschwitz must be empty!", wanted to remove not only the cross under which John Paul II celebrated the Mass, but all the crosses appearing in the landscape around Auschwitz-Birkenau, and thus also those on the church towers in Oświęcim. Paraphrasing the priest's words: If someone has allergies to something, he should be treated with it, and not cut down the tree that may cause this allergy. Today we can see that the issue of the presence of Christian symbols and temples in the vicinity of Auschwitz is still as you can see for some people thorn in the side. What do You think about Rabbi Weiss's request to remove the church of Our Lady Queen of Poland?
Because Rabbi Weiss does not mean anything in the United States, he has been trying to exist in Poland for over a quarter of a century. From time to time, he reiterates his demands by publicizing them in influential media. This is a calculating game whose goals aren’t difficult to guess. I hope that nobody can get involved in this game on the Catholic side. Those who have been drawn into the transfer of the Carmelite convent are no longer alive. The consequences of the commitments were painful and unpleasant, which, without any consultation with the Polish Episcopate and due sensitivity to what they experienced and what the Poles think, were taken by the signatories of so-called Geneva commitments. They went to Geneva in 1986 and 1987, where they signed an obligation to transfer the Carmelite convent, which they absolutely didn’t have the right to. Later, it was necessary to deal with this commitment, presented as the position of the Catholic Church in Poland. From the point of view of the Catholic-Judaic dialogue, the entire matter and actions of Rabbi Weiss caused a great deal of damage. At present, he wants to repeat the same strategy, attempting to involve Pope Francis on her services.
"In the ghetto, none of my colleagues and acquaintances, none of my entourage seek God, and everyone just hates Hitler. What kind of God is that? He does not exist, because where would he be? If God tells people to kill people, there is no God. Who's watching out for this heavy thing? "23 - spoke of the search for God in the ghetto, a member of the anti-religious Bund, Marek Edelman. Primo Levi and wrote: “Since Auschwitz is, it can’t be God”. If we accept the above narrative, it is clear that no references to God can be present in Auschwitz, that is, both crosses and symbols connected with other religions. Perhaps this is why in 1990 the belgian Jew, Maurice Goldstein, protested against placing in Auschwitz a quotation from the Bible, and more precisely from the Book of Job 16:18. In this discussion, therefore, the voices of people opposing the "Catholicizing" of Auschwitz and desirous of the de-Christianization of this place through its Judaization were heard, but the most powerful voice came from the communities wanting to atheise the "Golgotha of our time", as Auschwitz was called by John Paul II. As the Professor once remarked, if the Jews were afraid of "Catholicizing" Auschwitz, instead of demanding a hollow sky over it, they could build a synagogue near the monastery. It seems anyway, but in a place like Auschwitz, there should be churches, monasteries and synagogues. The removal of temples and religious symbols existing near Auschwitz is nothing more than the posthumous award of victory to pagan Nazism, which sought to fully attest to this place. Exterminating the chosen people, because I know the Germans wanted to kill faith in God and undermine his covenant with the people of Israel. The biggest brutality and cruelty of the Nazis were to show prisoners precisely on religious and national holidays. In many concentration camps specially they are tormenting then the priests and mocked them. It is worth mentioning that the Germans started the action of resettling the inhabitants of the Warsaw Ghetto and transporting them to the Treblinka concentration camp on July 22, 1942, so on the feast of Tisza B'Aw, commemorating the destruction of the first temple of Jerusalem. The final liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto, which caused the outbreak of the uprising that was being prepared earlier, was set by the Germans on the Passover feast, which is celebrated in remembrance of the liberation of Israel from Egyptian slavery. Blowing up in the air - at the behest of the German Nazi criminal Jürgen Stroop - built by the Jews in 1878 in celebration of Rosh Hashanah Great Synagogue in Warsaw, and was symbolic for finishing the bloody pacification of the creation and liquidation of the Warsaw Ghetto. Unfortunately, the religious dimension of the tragedy, which was the Holocaust, is today very often shallow, and especially neglected. I would like to refer, however, to the circumstances of the priest's ending in the Polish Council of Christians and Jews, of which You were a co-founder and co-chairman. Did the removal of the Carmelite cross and monastery, and therefore a kind of attempt at the atheization of Auschwitz through his de-Christianization, had it influenced the You decision to leave the Council?
I left the Polish Council of Christians and Jews at the beginning of 1998, when more demands were made that the so-called Gravel Pit adjacent to the walls of Auschwitz I and the monastery, from which the Carmelite sisters were moved, remove a large cross, under which in 1979 John Paul II celebrated Holy Mass in the former extermination camp of Auschwitz Il-Birkenau. One was trying to put pressure on me to become an ally in the work of removing this cross. I strongly refused, which wasn’t everyone liked. The second element was my polemic with Fr. Stanisław Musiał, who, going against the flow of feelings and attitudes of Catholics and changing his previous views in this matter, became the spokesman for the transfer of the cross. Moreover, in the pages of Tygodnik Powszechny and the Michnik newspaper, he unjustly and unofficially attacked the well-deserved for "Solidarity" and the survival of the opposition in the difficult years of martial law of the prelate Henryk Jankowski, accusing him of anti-Semitism. I spoke in a way that showed the absurdity of the attack. Some members of the Council voted loudly on the Fr. Musiał side and had to make a choice. The other co-chairman, Stanisław Krajewski, stated that we must speak with one voice. I replied that yes, but only on condition that it would not be his voice. At the very beginning of 1998, during my stay in Canada and numerous meetings with Polish and Jewish communities, the Council turned out to be disloyal to me, so I resigned. This is how my adventure with the Polish Council of Christians and Jews ended, which in fact I was a founder, which opened my eyes to the world in which I lived.
On the 50th anniversary of the Kielce pogrom, Eli Wiesel, told about the perpetrators of the pogrom that "their hatred was Polish". He also addressed the then Prime Minister Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz with the words: "Sir, Prime Minister, You promised to remove this cross, and this cross is it's insulting to us!". If a Polish Catholic publicly recognized the presence of a Menorah or the Star of David as an insult or occupied a synagogue, as Rabel Weiss did with the Carmelite monastery, he would certainly be considered an anti-Semite and would face public stigma and environmental ostracism.
Nothing like this, however, occurred in relation to Eli Wiesel and Rabbi Weiss. In spite of this amazing inertia of the Polish media, in 1997 in the church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw, the primate of Poland, Cardinal, unequivocally defended the papal Cross. Józef Glemp, saying: "The cross in Auschwitz is still standing and will be standing!" Thanks to the primate's determination, it wasn’t removed ." As You commented: "Crux stat, dum volvitur orbis! " (The cross stands still/steady while the world turns!). After yours departure from the Polish Council of Christians and Jews, the Council itself changed its face as well. In July 2013, in connection with the statement on the support of the parish priest from Jasienica, Fr. Wojciech Lemański, signed by Stanisław Krajewski, the co-chairman of the Council from the Jewish side, the Augustinian Father Wiesław Dawidowski, Barbara Sułek-Kowalska and Fr. Henryk Romanik resign from Council. How do You assess the current functioning of the Council?
At present, the Polish Council of Christians and Jews has a completely different profile and conducts a completely different activity than the one that almost 30 years ago guided its establishment. I perceive it as a screen for immediate actions, of which nothing important is evident. In the autumn of 2015, I was invited to the celebration of the 25th anniversary of its existence, organized by the Jesuits in Warsaw. I admit that it was a sad event. I saw people whom I have met for over a quarter of a century and a handful of new people. However, in my opinion, they lack enthusiasm and religious direction. I wish the members of the Council the best, but the profile and lines of action depend mainly on those who preside over it.
On December 3, 2015, the rabbis from the USA and Europe issued a statement in which they said that " […] we acknowledge that the emergence of Christianity in human history is neither an accident nor an error, but the willed divine outcome and gift to the nations". Is this a signal of changing the attitude of Jews towards Christianity, or is it not a significant episode and Catholic-Judaic dialogue is currently at a standstill?
There are many questions in one question. I will take one of them. By saying that Christianity is "willed divine outcome and gift to the nations” the authors leave the negative representation of Christianity, but the same formula means that Christianity is good for others, but not for Jews - for which consent isn’t and will be not. If the Jews don’t need Jesus Christ, why would He be needed to non-Jews? This problem should be at the heart of the reflection of the Church on the content and meaning of dialogue with Jews and Judaism and the Catholic theology of Judaism. Meanwhile, in my opinion, in Poland, and this assessment can be applied to Europe and the world, there exist, above all at a very high level, bodies dealing with practical contacts with the followers of Judaism. The point is that this activity does not translate into effective shaping and improving the awareness of the faithful about their faith and its justification. Dialogue is also to himself that he could truly exist, it must be representative, and this happens when the content can be transferred to the lowest levels. Problems that are solved, as well as issues and matters that are raised, should be explained in an effort to gain interest and approval. This kind of situation occurred in Poland during the pontificate of John Paul II, especially in the 80s and 90s, although it was swollen with various problems and conflicts, mainly the conflict around the presence of the Carmelite nuns in Oświęcim. At the beginning of the 21st century, we are dealing with various initiatives, but when we look at them, no particular progress and rapprochement with the followers of Judaism can be seen. The old prejudices are constantly reappearing on both sides, and what is positive, on the Catholic side in Poland, there is no way out of repeating a few sentences of the Council declaration Nostra aetate and a few of the most publicized statements of John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Franciszek.
How to assess the rabbinical statement that appeared on December 3, 2015?
This is nevertheless a step forward, because the rabbis turn to “Christian brothers and sisters”. Such a description didn’t appear in the mouths of rabbinic Judaism and is still not common among them. It began to appear in Reform Judaism as a reciprocation of attitude, which precursor was John Paul II. This is an advantage of this document, and at the same time a certain burden, because it looks like it is an export document for Christians. Similar fate has released a week later Commission document for the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews, addressed to Catholics. Thus, once again confirmed is a significant regularity: Catholics enter into relationships and dialogue with Jews and Judaism because of the Jews, and the Jews reciprocate this attitude for themselves. Consequently, anyway, dialogue should take place because of Jews.
But isn’t it that if Pope John Paul II drew a hand on behalf of the Church to the Jews, then the Church should still hold the hand outstretched to them?
It wasn’t John Paul II who first reached out to the Jews. If we closely examine almost two thousand years of mutual Christian-Jewish relations, then it can be seen that apart from what was bad on both sides, in each generation there were people who cooperated with each other, or at least tolerated each other. You can and must write a history of Christian-Jewish relations also in this respect. Already in antiquity, then in the Middle Ages, and then in the period of revival and in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, there were many attempts to establish contacts and prevent situations in which prejudices and hostility would be victorious. The Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) brought a great impetus to significant progress, which is of course related to the Nostra aetate declaration. But it didn’t come out of nowhere. The real precursor of the fraternal meeting with the Jews was Pope John XXIII, whose pontificate lasted only a short time, for only five years (1958-1963). In the early 1960s, meeting with a group of American rabbis who came to the Vatican, when the script was prepared, what the meeting was to be, John XXIII entered the room where the guests were, spread his arms wide, and said, "Io sono Giuseppe, vostro fratello "(I am Joseph, Your brother"). In this way he referred to a story from the book of Genesis about Joseph (Genesis 45: 4), which in Egypt allows one to recognize one's brothers. These are the foundations of dialogue, and on them John Paul II erected a building of mutual fraternization not only, and maybe even not so much, thanks to words and teaching, although they are important, but above all thanks to gestures and deeds. One of his greatest achievements, both political and religious, is the 1994 establishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the state of Israel, which was impossible before. A few years earlier, in April 1986, John Paul II visited the Roman Synagogue of Greater, which was also an unprecedented event.
Unfortunately, the chief rabbi of Rome didn’t return the visit to the Vatican Basilica, although the actions of John Paul II certainly showed the Jews the will of dialogue on the part of the Church. However, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that it was the Pope from Poland who entered the synagogue as the first pope. Apparently, Karol Wojtyła visited the synagogue for the first time in 1936. as a teenager. The father of his friend, Jerzy Kluger, Wilhelm Kluger, invited him to the Wadowice synagogue for a concert there. Jerzy Kluger was to play a major role in establishing diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Israel. So Karol Wojtyła grew up in the spirit of religious tolerance and contacts with Jews were normal for him. As he himself recalled, at least a quarter of the students in his class in the primary school were Jewish boys. Certainly such a childhood made it easier for him, later as a pope, to run a dialogue with the Jews.
John Paul II held numerous meetings with representatives of Jewish communities in Rome and various corners of the world. In the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and it was the first pilgrimage of the Pope on the territory of the State of Israel. In 1964, Pope Paul VI was in the Holy Land, but then political borders were different and he stayed on the then Jordanian territory. During the pontificate of John Paul II, also thanks to the presence of the Pope on the territory of the State of Israel, including under the Western Wall, the so-called Wailing Wall, and in the Yad Vashem Memorial Museum, a fundamental change for the better took place. John Paul II met with the two - Ashkenazi and Sephardi - chief rabbis of Israel. These events became the fuel for the next progress that took place during the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and now, during the pontificate of Pope Francis. At the highest level, at the level of the Holy See and bishops, contacts are good, and in any case, they are certainly spectacular. However, the assessment of how they look at lower levels is less cheerful.
Some people are critical about the form and content of the Catholic-Jewish dialogue. In their opinion, this dialogue consists in the conversation of a liberal Catholic about the Philosemic views of the so-called open church with a liberal Jew who has no real influence on the shaping of opinions and attitudes towards Catholics among the Jewish community. In fact, nothing new should emerge from this dialogue. Another objection that is repeated is that dialogue isn’t based on partner relations. Christians are to be in constant defenses and give way to the Jews at every step, renouncing their own goals. By doing so, in turn, it is supposed to take over by the Catholic side the Jewish vision of Christianity and the softening of Catholic identity. What, then, should we - as a church and Catholics - expect from the Jews, conducting a dialogue with them?
Na sympozjach teologicznych „Kościół a Żydzi i judaizm", które były doskonałym forum do wzajemnej wymiany myśli, część osób, które wystawiają mi niepochlebne opinie, w ogóle nie chciała się pojawić, gdyż problematyka religijna i teologiczna jest im zupełnie obca. Brak dialogu o dialogu stanowi więc istotny problem.
Our postulates should be directed first and foremost not so much towards Jews as to our own religious community, especially those who engage in mutual contacts. From the perspective of more than thirty years of events in which I participate, I can say that it isn’t the Jews who are the main problem in mutual relations. When entering into contact with Jews, we should know who they are, what their history is, know their soreness and sensitivity, as well as the various forms of prejudices that still persist among them. The problem isn’t so much the Jews as the people on the Catholic side, who want to please the Jews at all costs, saying words and making gestures for which they want to be and are praised. From the Nostra aetate advertisement, over half a century has passed, and on the Catholic side it has not been adequately developed and deepened. The problem is that the statements of the Church and the teaching of popes are treated as a ending point. Meanwhile, practicing theology is to the point that the statements of the Teaching Office should be treated as a starting point for in-depth theological reflection. When I tried to do so many times, for example during eighteen consecutive theological symposia from the author's series "Church and Jews and Judaism", it always faced huge obstacles and objections. In Catholic-Jewish contacts, we still have a narrow group of the same people - both on the Catholic and Jewish sides. Because their opinions are publicized in the mass media, eg by the Catholic Information Agency, there is the impression that since it is a loud group, it is also representative and important. Meanwhile, it is not so, because its representatives have no impact on the actual image of Judaism in the Church. That's what I see as the main problem. Since the early 1990s, I have been postulating a dialogue about dialogue within the Catholic Church, but, unfortunately, it has not been taken. At the theological symposium "Church and Jews and Judaism", which were a great forum for mutual exchange of ideas, some people who give me unflattering opinions did not want to appear at all, because the religious and theological issues are completely alien to them. is therefore a significant problem. The lack of dialogue about dialogue is therefore a significant problem.
Under the Jewish address, it must be said that since mutual reluctance and prejudice and hostility lasted almost two thousand years, we shouldn’t expect to make a breakthrough in one evening, at one conference or symposium. Mutual patience is needed. It must be combined. what we were talking about, learning Judaism as it really is, and not the one we have on the basis of school reading or school catechesis. While the knowledge of Jews about Christianity and the Church, although marked by prejudices, is large, our knowledge about the history of Judaism and its nature is negligible, not to say - none.
Certainly one of the problems of the Catholic-Judaic dialogue is the organizational structure of the parties that participate in it. For example, many Jews have a problem with understanding that the existence of priests and religious communities, as well as various lay communities, isn’t at all evidence of divisions within the Church, but an example of its unity in diversity. The problems with understanding what the Catholic Church is, however, also have members of other Christian Churches. A Polish priest in his service in Georgia told me once, after the Mass in one of the churches in Tbilisi, he was approached by Georgian and asked him what church it was. When he heard that he was Catholic, he continued to ask: "But what? German, Polish, or maybe Italian?”. The priest explained to him that Catholic means universal, and therefore for all nationalities. Georgian didn’t want to be satisfied with this answer and decided that the priest was hiding something from him and just want to send him away. So when he heard that he was Polish, he finally pleased that he now knows that it is the Polish Church, because in Orthodoxy the Churches are national, it is difficult for some Orthodox followers to understand the essence of the universality of the Catholic Church. If we don’t understand each other in the bosom of Christianity, how are we to understand Jews and how do Jews understand us? Catholics finally have a central authority in the form of a pope and a specific church hierarchy. In the case of Jews, it was just said that where there were two Jews, there were three synagogues. Each rabbi has different views and additionally to stand and there is a very large rotation in the Jewish communities, Christians send so from time to time towards the Jews a clear signal that tend to dialogue and reconciliation. On the other hand, due to organizational and structural reasons, it is difficult to expect a similar message from the Jewish side. Does this not make a Catholic-Jewish dialogue a kind of shell?
This is certainly a significant conditioning, but it does not prejudge whether mutual contacts and dialogue will develop or not. Respecting the asymmetry between the vertical structure of the Catholic Church and the horizontal structure of Judaism, dialogue between us is possible and necessary. On the other hand, paradoxically, the total lack of asymmetry that occurs in the case of Protestantism causes that there is practically no institutional dialogue between Jews and Protestants, because nobody represents anyone on either side, except himself, and if he is married, he represent his wife, who does not always have to agree with her husband. Bilateral contacts have a completely different character there. In the Catholic Church, there is a vertical structure: the Pope, bishops, priests, and faithful. What the Pope teaches is true to the faithful. At this stage, it isn’t so much about making fundamental and decisive steps as it is to overcome prejudices and various manifestations of hostility on both sides that destroy us. They destroy Christians when we have them inside and they destroy Jews when they have them inside, and it is known that both of them bear such long-awaited prejudices. Therefore, one must make an effort to mutually purify the memory and orientate one's consciences. We must see - we in the Jews, and they in us - brothers and sisters. This seems obvious to us, but when we look at the past and present of mutual relations, we see how much there is to do in this field.
There were many Jews in the 20th century who were baptized and were admitted to the bosom of the Catholic Church. This was the case of Edith Stein, Izrael Zolli, Roman Brandstaetter, Bernard Nathans, and Benjamin H. Freedman. However, many more Jews joined the communities of the Messianic Jews, who admittedly considered Jesus the Messiah, but rejected the Catholic Church. What is this caused?
The difference between Catholics of Jewish origin and the messianic Jews is much deeper, and it isn’t only about the attitude towards the Church, but above all about the relationship to Jesus as the Messiah. Those who recognize Jesus as the Messiah and Son of God and are baptized become Christians. That's how it was with Edith Stein, Israel Zolli and Roman Brandstaetters - they became Christians of Jewish descent, or Judaeo-Christian. They are an extremely valuable component of the Church. They remind us of the circumstances of the birth of Christianity and the very beginnings of our faith. They confirm that Christian faith isn’t only acceptable to Jews, but is a continuation and fulfillment of messianic promises and the hope of biblical Israel. On the other hand, somebody else is the messianic Jews who recognize the Messiah in Jesus, but they have their own concept, different from Christianity. They recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, but they place him in the context of the great heroes of the Old Testament faith. For them, Jesus is indeed the expected Messiah, but understood as the new Moses, the new Isaiah, the new Jeremiah, or the other great figure of the Hebrew Bible. He is treated by them as a great prophet or sage, but not as the Son of God. Messianic Jews don’t accept the truth about the Holy Trinity, so they aren’t Christians. They are in some sense suspended between Judaism, in its former, Old Testament form, and Christianity. Despite this, it is worth listening to their voices, because they are important and contain a great potential of knowledge about Biblical Judaism. At the same time, however, we should be fully aware of who they really are and what distinguishes them from us.
In Israel, as well as in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, there are also communities of Jewish Catholics who pray and celebrate the liturgy in Hebrew.
In Poland, we also have Catholic Jews or Catholics of Jewish origin, but they don’t pray in Hebrew because they don’t know the language. They are Jews of descent and sensitivity, carrying the wealth and baggage of Jewish tradition, and at the same time they confess Jesus Christ. On the other hand, Catholic Hebrew-speaking communities gather and integrate these baptized Jews, for whom Hebrew is the mother language. They were born and brought up in this language, or came to Israel as part of subsequent aliyas, or waves of mass arrivals, they retained the Christian identity brought - Russia or other countries, or learned the Hebrew language. The Hebrew-speaking communities celebrate the Eucharist and the sacraments, and they pray in Hebrew similar to Poles praying in Polish, German in German, Swedish in Swedish or Spanish in Spanish. Because the Hebrew language and culture is different from the Greek and Roman cultures, they introduce to the liturgy elements appropriate to it, such as Africans or residents of Asia or South America, including many local elements to the liturgy. Inculturation of a Hebrew character and profile takes place in a few communities in Israel, the United States, or elsewhere. However, one of these factors is extremely important. Catholic Hebrew-speaking communities read the Hebrew Bible in their native language, and they have easy access to the long Jewish tradition of its explanation, also rabbinic - fundamentally different from Christian exegesis. This makes them in some respects in a privileged position, which from the Christian perspective can be compared to the situation of the Greeks. With the Septuagint, or the Greek Bible, as the Old Testament, and the New Testament written in Greek, Greek Christians read and explain all holy books in their native language.
Is the Catholics who belong to the Hebrew-speaking community of Catholics sometimes not so predisposed to initiate and participate in the Christian-Jewish dialogue, and consequently, are they in some sense in a privileged position in defining the form and content of this dialogue?
These faithful aren’t only privileged, but even a certain obstacle - what I say with great pain. For Jews who profess Judaism, they are apostates and renegades, and that's how they are perceived in Jewish environments. Rabbinic Jews treat them as a burden that non-Jewish Catholics don’t have. In addition, we must know that the rabbis forbid their religious contacts with Christians. For example, followers of Judaism can’t talk to Christians about Jesus, or even speak Jesus in Hebrew. So they don’t say "Yeshua," but "Yeshu," and that means something completely different. For someone who does not know this, it sounds almost the same, but someone who knows the nuances of the Jewish language and traditions knows exactly what the difference is. Christians of Jewish origin, especially Hebrew-speaking, aren’t a bridge between Christianity and Judaism. "They should be it" - that's what the Christians think, “They can’t be it”, think the Jews.
Apparently, "Yeshu" is a distorted Hebrew name of Jesus, an anagram of Hebrew words: "Let his name and memory (about him) be lost". Is it true?
Yes it's true. The Hebrew name of Jesus is "Yeshua" or, in the long form, "Yehoshua". It occurs on the pages of the Old Testament, and the most famous figure is the successor of Moses, who introduced the Israelites to the Promised Land, and the name was polonized as "Jozue -Joshua." And "Yeshu" is an anagram created from the first words of the Jewish saying that You quoted here in Polish. It sounds almost identical, which is misleading to the point that even a certain number of Catholics fascinated by Jewish religion and culture use it, but it is a shallow and superficial fascination.
Some Christians interpret occurring in the Apocalypse of St. John term "Synagogue of Satan" as a reference to rabbinic Judaism, which, in their opinion, was created later than Christianity and shaped in opposition to Christianity. What do You think about this interpretation?
Few Christians, and even few Christian theologians, have the notion that rabbinic Judaism, which exists to this day, was shaped chronologically a little later than Christianity. Christianity and rabbinic Judaism grew on the common soil of biblical Israel. They grew like two branches from one trunk. The heirs and continuators of the faith and piety of biblical Israel are both Christianity and rabbinic Judaism, but in a radically different way, in confrontation and centuries-old opposition to each other. I think that I have made a significant contribution to making Christians aware of this important truth in Poland. Jews know it well, but they don’t want to take up this topic and develop it. However, Christians don’t know, treating rabbinic Judaism as a simple continuation of biblical Judaism, and I emphasize the word "simple" because it is a continuation, but not ordinary, devoid of major differences and accretions. Rabbinic Judaism, like Christianity, is the result of the revolution it experienced Biblical Judaism has become the core and mission of Jesus Christ. On the common ground of faith and piety of biblical Israel, some Jews have said “yes” to Jesus, becoming the leaven of the Church, to which the Gentiles also soon entered, and other Jews told Jesus "No", giving rise to rabbinic Judaism.
Referring to the term "Synagogue of Satan", it must be emphasized that it is extremely blunt. It comes from the Apocalypse of Saint John, which was created at the end of the first century, in the 90s, when the confrontation between followers of Jesus Christ and Rabbinic Judaism intensified, which emerged and solidified in the generation living between the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 and the second Jewish uprising against the Romans in the years 132-135. In the Yavne settlement (the Greek name is Jamnia), currently located in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, a thorough reconstruction of Jewish life was made. In its course there was a strong confrontation, which was very painful for Christians, because from the stoning of the deacon Stephen in the mid-30 of I century there were many Jews in the group of fierce persecutors of Christianity. Many traces of their attitude are recognized in hostile attitudes towards Jesus, then the Church, as described in the four Gospels and in Acts of the Apostles and in the letters of Saint Paul and the Apocalypse. The term "Synagogue of Satan" is swollen with pain, suffering and impatience. At the end of the life of St. John the Apostle, the institution of the Synagogue was shaped written by a large "S" whose name reflects the synagogue buildings from which the Christians were expelled. Those Jews who became Christians must have hurt a lot. The question of who was right in this confrontation was the most powerful. Whose side is the truth? Is it on the side of those who profess the deity of Jesus Christ and the fact that God revealed Himself in Him, or on the side of those who loudly and clearly contradict it? In view of this dilemma, St. Paul, writing in the Second Letter to the Corinthians, that it can’t be that both are right. It can’t be that Jesus of Nazareth is God and he isn’t. Paul wrote to the Corinthians: " The Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us, that is, by me and by Silvanus and Timothy, was never Yes-and-No; his nature is all Yes. For in him is found the Yes to all God's promises and therefore it is 'through him' that we answer 'Amen' to give praise to God. " (2 Cor 1:19-20).
In the face of a growing dramatic confrontation, in the Apocalypse, in a letter to the Church in Smyrna (now Turkish Izmir) where the persecution of Christians was particularly severe, Saint John wrote: I know your hardships and your poverty, and -- though you are rich -- the slander of the people who falsely claim to be Jews but are really members of the synagogue of Satan" (Rev 2.9). You can see that at the end of the century has made a definite separation of the Church and the Synagogue, and one of its consequences was that the rabbis deny the Jewishness of their brethren who have become Christians. This powerful statement of the Apocalypse has survived to this day in the canon of the New Testament. At the birth of Christianity and rabbinic Judaism, there were tensions, disputes and conflicts so strong that this expression reflected the attitude that came to the fore on both sides.
According to many Jews, Jesus can’t be recognized by them as the true Messiah, because after His coming there was no peace on earth. Jesus, moreover, directly said about his mission: "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword. For I have come to set son against father, daughter against mother, daughter-in-law against mother-in-law "(Mt 10,34-35). Among other things, it is for this reason that Jesus is to be referred to by the orthodox Jews as "maiyach shekher"- a false prophet. So when we Christians await the second coming in the glory of Jesus Christ, the Jews are still waiting for the first coming of their Messiah. Could it be that Christians and Jews are now waiting for the same Messiah?
The current Jewish concept of the Messiah was shaped by the rabbis. It is necessary to trace its genesis, content and meaning that arise from the Hebrew Bible and from the Septuaginta, that is, the pre-Christian Bible of Greek-speaking Jews, and then we will see that there are expressive announcements of the suffering Messiah. Messiah persecuted and martyred is to go through torment and death and enter new life. The rabbis reluctantly refer to this key plot, and if they do, they interpret it in terms of a collective, presenting all Israel as a community of suffering.
In the matter of the consequences of the revelation of God in Jesus of Nazareth, one must distinguish between causes and pretexts, because the pretext is to say that only then will we recognize the Messiah when peace comes to earth. Observation indicates that in the worldly order of the world there was no peace, isn’t and will not be, because "paradise" on earth will not be built with human hands. We should work for peace, but there will always be different manifestations of injustice, rape and harm. The kind of Messiah that rabbinic Jews imagine will not come, so it's not quite that we Christians are waiting for the Messiah and the Jews are waiting for the Messiah, so it may turn out to be one and the same Messiah. At the beginning of my involvement in these matters and learning about both religions, I thought so too, because this is a simple solution and sounds attractive. But it has the disadvantage that we, Christians, are calming in what concerns the current Jewish declarations refusing to recognize Jesus Christ. So it is better not to rely on investigations on the difficult imaginable and unknown future, but think about it, what is the meaning and consequences of continually retries refusal, and at their background justify why we are Christians, and what does this mean for us and for the world.
Christians read the Old Testament through the prism of the New Testament and vice versa. They reach for the Old Testament to understand the New Testament. The Jews, in turn, read the Bible, or Torah through the prism of the Talmud. Does the Talmud stand to some degree in the reconciliation of Jews and Christians?
There isn’t one but two Talmuds, namely the Palestinian Talmud and the Babylonian Talmud. The Palestinian Talmud was created around 400 AC, and the Babylonian Talmud a hundred years later, about 500 AC. Rabbinic Talmud is normative for Rabbinic Judaism. Because Jews read the Hebrew Bible through the prism of the Talmud, which is why rabbinic Judaism is sometimes called Talmudic Judaism, for the one and a half millennia that has passed since the rise of the Talmud, the Jewish tradition bulid, organized and developed just in the Talmud. It isn’t the case that Jews who lived in later ages or live now are satisfied with the solutions given in the Talmud. On the contrary, they are the subject of constant updating and reinterpretation, which unites one, namely "no" spoken to Jesus Christ and Christianity. While the Jews declare that there is no "no" because they don’t care about Jesus Christ and Christianity at all. They are silent about Jesus, but this silence is a camouflaged manifestation of the refusal given to Jesus and Christianity.
In an interview for Rzeczpospolita, You said that "in the first century, when faith in Jesus Christ was born and solidified, the Jews of that time didn’t question the Jewishness of their compatriots who were the first to receive the Gospel, ie the apostles and Judeo-Christians (...) A radical change has come with Rabbinic Judaism". Orthodox Jews today receive the evangelization of Jews as an attempt to denigrate them, because according to their Jewish interpretation, a Jew who receives baptism ceases to be a Jew. Is this lecture on non-Jewishness used today in retrospect, that is, in relation to Jesus who was baptized in the Jordan? Or it recognizes only that the Jews ceased to be only those Jewish Christians who were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ?
The baptism that Jesus received in Jordan wasn’t the one through which we become Christians. On the Jordan River, to John the Baptist, many Jews of the time were coming, accepting the baptism of purification, probably similar to the ritual rituals practiced by the nearby Qumran community. It would not have occurred to anyone at that time to question the Jewishness of the faithful who had received that baptism. The Judaism of this period was a multiform phenomenon, involving various factions, both political and religious. To suggest that baptism in the Jordan was beyond the bounds of Jewishness is ridiculous, and I have never heard such a suggestion before. The case of the first Christians of Jewish origin, that is Jews who were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, is different. Very early, because in the apostolic times, the rabbis, beginning the rebuilding of Judaism, put them outside the boundary of Jewishness. Note that the baptized have Jewish origin, but the concept of Jewishness changed, with the monopoly and frames appointed by the rabbis as the essence. From the pluralistic Judaism of the time of Jesus and the beginnings of the Church, Judaism emerged, in which the rabbis, heirs of the Pharisees, determined who is or isn’t a Jew. From their point of view, being a Jew means not being a Christian - and it has remained so until today.
It happens that persons who regard themselves as Christians say that Jesus freed himself from his Jewry and even rejected it. You can also hear from them that Jesus wasn’t a Jew at all, but an Israelite. For those who preach similar theories, Judas and the crowd chanting: "His blood on us and our children" usually remain Jews. What do You think about such theories and distinctions aimed at undermining the Jewishness of Jesus?
There are distinctions healthy and sick, true and false. The claim that Jesus freed himself from his Jewishness and even rejected it expresses those areas of imagination that have nothing to do with Christianity and common sense. Their straightening does not bring much good, because it requires their reproduction - which they don’t deserve. The distinction between "Jews" and "Israelites" is justified because the Jews are an ethnic and religious community that emerged in Judea after returning from the Babylonian exile and thorough reconstruction in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, that is, in the middle of the fifth century BC. Before the exile of Babylon, from the settlement in Canaan, their ancestors were called Israelites - and they also referred to themselves. In the last centuries of the pre-Christian era and in the time of Jesus, the term "Israelite" was still used, but it had a non-ethnic but religious meaning. It meant a Jew who was faithful to the Mosaic Law and zealous in its observance. In this sense, he appears in the Gospel according to Saint. John, as the praise of Jesus for Nathanael (Jn 1: 47). Consequently, Jesus was a Jew, although one could say that he was an Israelite. One does not exclude one another. Those, who cried "Let his blood be on us and on our children", demanding the death of Jesus they were also Jews. The conflict and opposition that led to the condemnation and crucifixion of Jesus took place within the Jewish world.
It seems that the Church shouldn’t renounce missionary activity towards Jews. In the end, the first Pope, on whom Jesus built the Church, Saint Peter, almost exclusively limited himself to proclaiming the Gospel among Jews. It wasn’t until Saint Paul began spreading faith in Jesus among the Gentiles. Currently, however, there are more and more voices in the Church saying that Christians shouldn’t convert Jews. A member of the Polish Episcopate Committee for Dialogue with Judaism and a member of the board of the Polish Council of Christians and Jews prof. Jan Grosfeld, in the text "Is it allowed to convert Jews?", cited a story that compels us to rethink certain things again. Apparently, Karol Wojtyła, as a young priest, refused to baptize a Jewish child, recommending giving it to Jews, through whom be raised in the faith of fathers". I think that prof. Grosfeld could rely here on the stories of prof. Yaffa Eliacha, who claimed that in 1946, Fr. Karol Wojtyła was to refuse to baptize the Jewish boy saved by Poles, Szachne Hiller, because he learned that the last will of his dead mother was to inform her child about his Jewish roots and return him to his people. Returning, however, to the heart of the question. Recently, the Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism published a document: "Because the gifts of God's grace and call are irrevocable (Romans 11, 29). Reflections on theological issues in the field of Catholic-Jewish relations on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate”. In the commentary given to him You said that the Church didn’t abandon the evangelization of Jews and invariably believed that "there are no two parallel ways of salvation". The ambiguous position of the Church, or rather the media's distorting media coverage, however, causes that ordinary Catholics are confused and don’t know if the Church advises them to evangelize Jews or wants them to give up. What is the official position of the Church regarding the evangelization and conversion of Jews by Catholics?
There are so many different legends and applications around Karol Wojtyła that one can’t say which ones contain the grain of truth. The story that You quoted, disseminated by Professor Jan Grosfeld, seems unlikely. And not because of the specific moralistic message it contains, but because of the post-war context of life in Krakow and the fact that until November 1946 Karol Wojtyla wasn’t a priest. Earlier, no one, as a student of the Jagiellonian University, a laborer in the Solvay chemical plant, a participant in secret teaching in the priesthood, probably came to ask for baptism. In my opinion, it is a story circulated, as well as many others about Karol Wojtyła and John Paul II, with the hope that if people like legends, let them have them.
As far as I understand Professor Grosfeld's statements, he stands as saying that we should leave the Jews as they are, because Judaism is a way of salvation for them. Since Jews aren’t pagans, their path with God is separate - says prof. Grosfeld, but he does not explain what this difference is. Catholics who adhere to this approach believe that the followers of Judaism are on the path where Christ is unnecessary for them. But such a matter is wrong and unacceptable. The only and universal Savior of all mankind and every human being is Jesus Christ. During the pontificate of John Paul II, the centuries-old teaching of the Catholic Church was recalled in the declaration “Dominus Jesus”, which was proclaimed by Cardinal Józef Ratzinger. It is significant that she immediately encountered strong opposition, also in Poland, raised from the so-called Open Church. Cardinal Ratzinger was subjected to many harsh and unjust accusations. They were multiplied by supporters of the theory of two ways of salvation: separate for Christians and other people and separate for Jews. It is a reproduction concept with Jewish origin that perhaps non-Jews (goys) need the Son (Jesus Christ) on their way to the Father, while the Jews don’t need the Son because they have always been and are with the Father. This catchy formula means that Jesus may be needed by everyone but not Jews.
The latest position of the Catholic Church in this regard was laid in the document of the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, published in December 2015 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate and is unambiguous. Unfortunately, this document passed almost unnoticed, and in any case isn’t properly promoted by the bodies involved in the dialogue. It emphasizes that Christian faith is rooted in the faith of Abraham, but is a new reality and confirms the new dimension of God's work of salvation, which was accomplished in Jesus Christ, as a result of which "the Christian Church can’t simply be understood as the branch or fruit of Israel" (No. 34).
In the paragraph on the universality of salvation in Christ and the irrevocability of the covenant of God with Israel, we read: "The theory that there may be two ways of salvation, a Jewish way without Christ and a path with Christ, whom Christians will confess to her in Jesus of Nazareth, in fact endangers the very foundations of Christian faith” (No. 35). And a little further: "There are, therefore, no two ways of salvation, because Christ is also the Savior of the Jews, not just Gentiles. We stand here in the mystery of God's action, which is not a matter of missionary endeavors to convert Jews, but rather the expectation that the Lord will give us a time in which we will all be united "(No. 37). The Vatican document also speaks about the evangelization of Jews: "The Church is obliged to perceive the evangelization of Jews who profess the one God, unlike people of other religions and worldviews. Specifically, this means that the Catholic Church neither supports nor supports any specific institutional missionary activity directed to the Jews" (No. 40). Has not and is not expected to send an official to the Jewish communities of Catholic missionaries, thousands of which are working in other religious and cultural environments, but that does not mean abandoning evangelization. It is the duty of every Christian is faithful to the testimony of Jesus Christ - also against the Jews. I document we read the significant words: "From the theological point of view, the fact that Jews are partakers of God's salvation is unquestionable, but how can this be possible without expressing Christ explicitly, is and remains an unfathomable mystery of God"
Once You said that when the occasions occurred, the Jews during the French Revolution and the Bolshevik Revolution reciprocated Christians for all these wrongs and persecutions. During these revolutions, did the Jews play on the Christians fully consciously and deliberately?
It is difficult to give an answer in a few sentences. It is necessary to reliably and comprehensively look at the circumstances of the outbreak of the French Revolution and its course and effects. We need to look at the politics of Napoleon, his presence in Palestine and struggles with the Turks and his promise to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple. We need to look at the circumstances of the outbreak of the Bolshevik Revolution and its course and effects. Both revolutions have turned bloodily against Christianity and Christians. So it is necessary, but it isn’t politically correct, to look at their perpetrators and performers, and then it will become visible how powerful hostility and anti-Christian resentments have manifested in them. Of course, everything shouldn’t be attributed to Jews, but the same shouldn’t be called for, that they didn’t have any share in it. These were not the only occasions in which an anti-Christian attitude was revealed. In history, You can indicate many similar events, reciprocated in other circumstances by the Christian side.
For the destruction of Jews, German national socialism is accused, that is, brown Bolshevism, which created a new nation chosen and denied the Christian origin of the Germans. Joseph Goebbels spoke about Adolf Hitler: "The Führer is a man of antiquity. He secretly hates Christianity (...) What a difference between a benevolent and wisely smiling Zeus and a contorted Christ crucified with pain". Nazis like the communists sincerely hated Christianity. The social Darwinism that forms the basis of class struggle and race struggle was completely alien to Christianity and it was in sharp contradiction to the Christian message of mercy and love for neighbor which included both kulak and the bourgeoisie as well as Jew. For this reason, there were no Catholic chaplains in both the Red Army and the Third Reich Army. Christian clerics were persecuted, imprisoned in concentration camps and murdered. The building of the world without God by the Nazis ended with death factories with gas chambers and chimneys of crematoria. At one of his lectures, Rabbi Byron Sherwin said: " Each time we read these words, we experience great emotions. "The sacrifice of our father Abraham". Please note that Abraham is called our father, our ancestor. Anti-Semitism is not compatible with sublime thought and reality (...) It is a movement that inspires antipathy, a movement with which we Christians can’t have nothing to do ... No, it's impossible for Christians to take part in anti-Semitism, we admit that everyone has the right to self-defense to take the necessary steps to protect themselves from any threat to their legitimate interests. But anti-Semitism is unacceptable. Spiritually, we are Semites". In spite of these quite unequivocal words of the Pope, pronounced by him a year before the outbreak of the WW2, some try to see Christianity, especially Catholicism, the prelude to the extermination of Jews carried out by the German national socialists. At one point, the blame for the Holocaust began to burden not only Germans, but also the Nazi international. Then the entire Western civilization was also included among the culprits. Now, in turn from Western civilization, the Catholic Church and Christianity are at the forefront of culprits. Instead of examining the real foundations of Nazi anti-Semitism, it begins to claim that the true sub-soil was the anti-Judaism of the Protestants, and the persecution and discrimination that Jews experienced for centuries from the Catholic Church. As in June 2009 in the monthly Znak, Rev. Prof. John T. Pawlikowski wrote: "Christian anti-Semitism certainly played an important role in affirming the Nazis in the extermination of the Jews, and perhaps also in the persecution of groups such as the disabled, Roma and Sinti (ie. Gypsies) and homosexuals". What do You think about the increasingly frequent attempts to blame the Christianity for Holocaust, especially the Catholic Church?
You have made a synthetic look at the gradual, but clearly recognizable, process of transferring responsibility from the Germans to much less recognizable Nazis, then to Western civilization, and finally to the Church, especially the Catholic Church. I know Fr. prof. John Pawlikowski, who lives in the United States and reproduces a typically American, or rather American-Jewish, point of view. There are many stereotypes behind the ocean that are being transferred to Europe and uncritically reproduced. The "Znak" and "Tygodnik Powszechny" environment has a big "Merit" in it
Already quoted by me, the American rabbi Byron L. Sherwin in the book entitled “The spiritual heritage of Polish Jews “ wrote that the sufferings that fell on Jews were always read by them as God's punishment for their sins. However, the punishment always came among the Jews to examine their conscience and humbly settle their own offenses, which led to the suffering of the whole nation. “But with the Holocaust, something has changed radically, not only in Jewish theology, but also in psyche and in the mentality of the Jews (...) This time, Jews refused to accept the thesis that their sins caused a catastrophe" says Rabbi Sherwin. The Jews' suffering during the Holocaust was too great for them to read, as God's punishment. It is difficult to apply the motive of God's retribution to such an inconceivable tragedy as the Holocaust. In addition, they could not accept the fact that a tool that would bring them to this punishment were German Nazis, As further stated in his book, Rabbi Sherwin: "Jews refused to accept responsibility for what others had done for them, for what others were allowed to do. (...) While the classical concept of God's repayment was responsible for the tragedy of the nation of Israel, paralyzing him with guilty pleading for sins he did not commit, the new approach transferred responsibility for what happened, to others". What do You think about the thesis that Rabbi Sherwin formulates?
Rabbi Byron Sherwin's book appeared in Polish in 1995 in a circulation of ten thousand copies, thanks to my personal involvement as an interpreter. I translated it from the manuscripts provided by the author, constituting the records of lectures delivered in many places in Poland, which I organized in the first half of the 90s. First, this book was published in Polish, and only later in English. You can freely quote from her, because everything what Rabbi Sherwin wrote is very important and deserves increased attention
I certainly will quote words from one of Rabbi's speeches. While in the convent of the Carmelite nuns in Oświęcim, Rabbi Sherwin said: "We, American Jews, come to Oświęcim by airplanes and cars. We spend a few hours here. We cry. And then we return to a prosperous and comfortable life in America. You stay here, You live and work here. You sacrificed Your life to this place. Therefore, You deserve our admiration. You also deserve our deepest and most humble gratitude. I know that most Jews don’t appreciate Your efforts. I know that You are constantly being attacked and criticized for what You do. I know that Your motivations and intentions are constantly being questioned. But we are all children of one God. And I am convinced that God knows and understands that Your motives are pure and sincere. Although we are unable to comprehend what God has allowed here, I am convinced that God understands Your actions and motives. And I am convinced that - just like I thank You - thank God for You too. "