Happy 40th Nostra Aetate!

Last night I had the opportunity to host Sister Mary Boys, Father James Loughran, Dr. Alan Mittleman, and Rabbi Ron Kronish for a discussion of Nostra Aetate - the groundbreaking 1965 Vatican II document that recognized religious traditions outside of the Catholic Church. While Boys and Kronish spoke of the experiences in inter-religious dialogue that Nostra Aetate spawned, Mittleman and Loughran both pointed to ways in which Catholics and Jews are growing farther apart. Loughran hinted that the charge against Jews of deicide that Vatican II hoped to erase has subtley been replaced in certain conservative Catholic circles by a charge of 'abortionist' -- killing baby Jesus rather than thirty-something year old Jesus. He also spoke of emerging anti-zionism in the Catholic Church. Mittleman pointed to the ways in which Catholics continue to push for public ritual in America - creches, ten commandments, etc and Jews attempt to squash these rituals. "The New Deal once united us" Mittleman said "now Jews, Latinos, and Blacks are the only ones hanging onto Roosevelt's vision."

Among the crowd, which was about half seminary students from Princeton, Union, Drew, and JTS, was Luna Kaufman- a concentration camp survivor who was one of the 100 survivors invited by John Paul II to visit the Vatican in 1995. She approached me at the end of the evening - "This was an honest dialogue," she said, "and it is so good to see that the next generation cares."