OK. I’ll admit it. First, I was surprised that there were enough Italian rabbis to actually hold a press conference. But then I was surprised that not only are there a bunch of them but they’re mad at the Pope. Why? Because he wants Catholics to pray for Jews.
Here’s the story from the Dallas News:
Italy’s rabbis announced they were pulling out of the Italian Catholic Church’s annual celebration of Judaism, saying Pope Benedict XVI’s actions were turning back 50 years of interfaith progress.
Speaking for the assembly of Italian rabbis, Elia Enrico Richetti, the chief rabbi of Venice, cited the pope’s decision to restore a prayer for the conversion of Jews as part of Easter Week services in the old Latin Mass. Jews consider the notion that they need to be converted to Christianity offensive on its face.
In addition, Richetti said, Benedict has signaled that he doesn’t find interfaith dialogue particularly useful, since, in his view, “the superiority of the Christian faith is proven anyway.”
Finally, while the rabbis didn’t cite this as one of their reasons, the pope’s denunciation of the violence in Gaza — interpreted by many as an implicit criticism of Israel — surely did nothing to ease tensions between Italian Catholics and Jews.
Here’s my question – What kind of Christians would we be if we didn’t pray for their conversion?
If Christians didn’t ever seek the conversion of Jews, Christianity would’ve likely been limited to twelve Jewish guys. Hey, Paul was a convert. Should we apologize for him? Look, we’re Catholics. Spreading the Good News is what we do or at least what we should be doing. We’re not like all up in your business like the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses. We’re not blowing up stuff like folks from…some other religion. We pray. That’s what we do. There are worse things in the world than having someone pray for you.