The Israeli press has been full of articles about Pope Pius XII this week. Many of these articles have expressed pain, anger and even hatred. For those of us who live as Catholics in Israel, speaking Hebrew and finding our place within Israeli Jewish society this has not been an easy week. Undoubtedly, for those of us who are members of the Jewish people and Catholics in faith, we feel terribly torn.

What can be done? First and foremost, we must pray with even greater intentionality for the future of Jewish-Catholic reconciliation. Sometimes it seems that we have already entered into a new age of almost Messianic promise. Jews and Catholics are able not only to speak together with respect but to work together on a myriad of issues that face our modern world. There is so much we share.

ImageHowever, when history becomes a central issue, Jews and Catholics are often divided, each one writing the narrative from their own perspective, often unable or unwilling to hear the narrative of the other. In order to move forward, Jews and Catholics must begin to try to write the troubled history of their relations together. No one side holds the full perspective, no one side can offer the entire picture. It is too easy to demonize historical figures or turn them into angels. The truth is too often in between. Can we listen to one another in moments of disagreement?

During this past week, the voices of reconciliation and moderation seem to have been drowned out by the voices of polarization and reaction. In such a context, the danger is that we fall back on a discourse of contempt for the other that attributes the worst intentions to our actions. That is a way that leads to a dead end.

Let us remember that the way forward is in humility, much patience, dialogue and mutual respect.

Father David Neuhaus SJ
Jerusalem