Sorry about the silence on the blog in recent weeks. Life has been very busy in the office, especially planning for Sunday night’s “Catholic Jewish Friendship Dinner” (for which there are still seats left – go to this page on Eventbrite to book for what will really be a great time with great speakers and music). I have been spending a lot of time in the company of Jewish friends lately, the most recent giving a talk with my friend Rabbi Shamir Caplan on “Passover meets Easter” at the Glen Eira Interfaith Network.
The real blessing in recent days however was, as mentioned previously on this blog, the discussion on Pius XII at Temple Beth Israel hosted by the Melbourne Mitzvah of the B’nai B’rith Antidefamation Commission and the Council of Christians and Jews. I have written a report on this (with the help of my good Jewish friend Michael Cohen) which has been published on the website of the Archdiocese here.
While David and I would probably agree to disagree on somethings, he is one of those people in the “blogosphere” who really does make the cyber-world a better place. Listening to him speak at the seminar in Melbourne on the Catholic understanding of beatification and canonisation to a largely Jewish audience who had just sat through a presentation on Pius XII in his gentle, polite and firm manner was very impressive. As David writes in the opening paragraph of the article the true test of inter-faith discussion lies in the ability to speak honestly and frankly on matters of great sensitivity and disagreement.
Allow me in return to say some “nice things” about Paul. Everyone (well, almost everyone, since, as Monty Python wisely said “there’s no pleasing some people”) who heard him speak at Temple Beth Israel that day were in agreement that his presentation and scholarship was helpful and enlightening. In his own comments, he said that the more one studies the record of Pius XII during the war, “the black gets no blacker, the white no whiter and the grey just gets murkier”, yet I think he was able to dispel a lot of false ideas and put our mutual understanding on a much firmer grounding. Without his help, the event could not have been held and this discussion would not have been moved forward in the way it has here in the Melbourne community. I am extremely grateful for his kind assistance in making the event possible. I wish Paul all the best in his continued studies in this area, which so sorely needs an even historical hand to guide us.
The transcripts of the presentations at the event (the third speaker was Rabbi Fred Morgan) will soon be available, and I will give you the full links when these are published.
UPDATE: Paul has placed the transcript of his presentation (via a recording on my iphone – a last minute decision on my part to press the “record” button) on his blog here.