(photo credit: Courtesy)
Eaten up, lovingly
Sir, - The death of Cardinal Lustiger seems to have reignited the polemic started a few years ago when the cardinal declared himself to be Jewish and Christian at the same time. Had this been his personal position, one could point out that it is not possible to belong to one religion and another at the same time. Yet this is a new stance of the Catholic Church itself, and its motives must be elucidated.
Clearly, the cardinal could not express himself on matters of doctrine without a prior "imprimatur" from the highest ranks of the Church. In addition, in 1962, Father Daniel Rufensein, a Carmelite from Stella Maris in Haifa, asked the Israeli authorities to recognize him as a Jew and therefore an Israeli citizen, by the Right of Return. When the ministry of interior refused to do so, Father Daniel turned to the Supreme Court in Jerusalem. Judge Silberg explained that the Jews who immigrated to Israel had a common history, while Father Daniel already had stronger ties elsewhere that did not allow him to identify with the Jewish people. The judge added: "How can he identify himself with the descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain by the Inquisition while he embraces the faith of the inquisitors?"
Father Daniel's attempt failed, but it is clear that he acted upon the authorization, if not instigation, of the ecclesiastical authorities. In his homily on the occasion of the beatification of Edith Stein, on May 1, 1987 in Kohln, Pope John Paul II said Stein was like "Esther, who by sacrificing her own life had contributed to the salvation of her people." Later on, the pope said: "She died as a daughter of Israel 'for the glorification of the sacred name of God,' and at the same time as Sister Benedetta of the Cross."
The use of the Jewish phrase "for the glorification of the sacred name of God" (al kidush hashem), on the lips of so many Jews who died rather than abandon their faith, is a grave offense against all Jews. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI, recalled Stein by saying that "as a Christian and a Jew, she had accepted to die together with her people." Clearly, it was both popes' wish to promote the concept of the Christianization of the Shoah.
Lustiger's position expressed the ideas of the Church. By stating that his "Judaism fulfilled itself in Christianity," he was inviting all Jews to convert to Christianity. Along the same lines, he stated that the Jews had the mission to bring the light to all other people, a mission they could realize through Christianity.
Like an amoeba, the Church embraces its prey with love, and then eats it from within. We Jews can definitely do without such treatment.
SERGIO I. MINERBI
Fighting or weeping
Sir, - Tommy Lapid claims talks are going nowhere because Palestinians cannot give up the "right of return" or an inch of land beyond the 1967 borders ("The road to nowhere," August 22). Also, no government in Israel can evacuate so many "settlers." He shows his bias by calling those who oppose his policies "settlers" and "zealots."
He could write more objectively, citing the deep despair and sadness in the Right before and after the "withdrawal from Gush Katif." He leaves out in the "Palestinians' response" the sense of winning they rejoice in, along with Muslims world over. He predicts that the Right "will fight" for Hebron. This could be because just to "weep" accomplishes nothing.