New Pontiff Demonstrates Commitment to Interfaith Dialogue through Conversations with Jewish Rabbi
An interreligious dialogue between Pope Francis and a prominent Argentine rabbi will be published for the first time in English on April 19 by Image Books, the Catholic-interest imprint of Random House, Inc.’s Crown Publishing Group.
Written with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary in Buenos Aires, Argentina, On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family and the Church in the 21st Century (April 19, 2013, Image) records seminal discussions from numerous hours of conversation between the two religious leaders.
An encapsulation of what the new pope believes, On Heaven and Earth addresses a variety of theological and worldly topics including God, fundamentalism, atheism, the Holocaust, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and globalization.
“Dialogue is born from a respectful attitude toward the other person, from a conviction that the other person has something good to say,” writes then Cardinal Bergoglio in the introduction to the book. “It supposes that we can make room in our heart for their point of view, their opinion and their proposals.”
The book will be released simultaneously in print, digital, and audio formats in the U.S. and Canada. A Spanish-language edition titled Sobre el Cielo y la Terra will also be issued in North America by Vintage Espanol, also a Random House, Inc. imprint, in print and digital formats. A Spanish-language edition of the book with the same title was previously published in 2010 in Latin America and Spain by Random House Mondadori.
Quotes from Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, on topics of interest:
On the Holocaust
“What you said about opening the archives relating to the Shoah seems perfect to me. They should open them and clarify everything. Then it can be seen if they could have done something, to what extent it could have been done, and if we were wrong in something we will be able to say: ‘We were wrong in this.’ We do not have to be afraid of that. The objective has to be the truth.”
On Same-Sex Marriage
“Religion has a right to give an opinion as long as it is in service to the people. If someone asks my advice, I have the right to give it to them. The religious minister, at times, draws attention to certain points of private or public life because he is the parishioners’ guide. However, he does not have the right to force anything on anyone’s private life. If God, in creation, ran the risk of making us free, who am I to get involved? We condemn spiritual harassment that takes place when a minister imposes directives, conduct, and demands in such a way that it takes away the freedom of the other person. God left the freedom to sin in our hands. One has to speak very clearly about values, limits, commandments, but spiritual and pastoral harassment is not allowed.”
On the Afterlife
“If belief in the afterlife were a psychological mechanism to avoid anguish, it would not help us. The anguish would come anyway. Death is a tearing away; that is why we live with anguish. One is attached and does not want to go; he is afraid. There is nothing you can imagine beyond this life that can free you from that. Even the most faithful feel that they are being stripped of something, that they have to leave behind part of their existence, their story. These are untransferable feelings. Perhaps those that have been in a coma have perceived something like this.”
“We have to help them earn a living. What is degrading to the poor is not giving them the oil that anoints them with dignity: a job. A poor man must not be looked at with disgust; he must be looked at in the eyes. Sometimes it may be uncomfortable but we have to be up to the task. The great danger – or great temptation – when aiding the poor, is falling into an attitude of protective paternalism that, at the end of the day, does not allow them to grow. A Christian’s obligation is to integrate the most deprived into his community in whatever way possible, but definitely to integrate them.”
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