Rabbi di Segni creates interfaith situation again

In anticipation of October’s grand interfaith day of prayer in Assisi, Cardinal Koch points out of each faith has high holy days of repentance and atonement. This was appropriate background since the Assisi day does not consist of dialogue but of parallel prayer in separate spaces. So Koch’s message was that we all have commonalities. Rabbi di Segni complained when the Cardinal said that Jews have Yom Kippur for atonement and Christians have Easter and the Cross. This was similar to the way Pope Benedict compare Passover and Easter when visiting Park East Synagogue. In Koch’s speech, di Segni hears a supersessionalist fulfillment scheme, but Koch thought he was presenting parallels. In general, di Segni has idiosyncratic views as an exclusivist believer in Toldot Yeshu who believes in dialogue -see the prior post- and where Jews and Christians have a link of particular closeness.
This commonality has yet to fully be integrated, since during the time of patristics and rabbinics, parallels meant one was correct and one was incorrect, as sibling rivalry. Now, it is just comparative charts.
For those who have not been following, Cardinal Koch replaced Cardinal Kasper as liaison to the Jewish People. He will be making his first major speech on Jewish-Christian Relations at my place on Oct 30. There will be an open-to the public lecture and a closed discussion.

La Stampa 07/28/2011
Assisi: Controversy breaks out between Jews and Christians over religious symbols
The Holy See’s official newspaper, “L’Osservatore Romano” has reported a heated argument between Cardinal Koch and Riccardo di Segni, following the rabbi’s contest of a comparison between the Cross and Yom Kippur

“If the terms of this dialogue are based on Christians leading the Jews towards the path of the Cross, then what is the point of dialogue? What is the point of Assisi?” Rome’s head rabbi, Riccardo di Segni wrote in “L’Osservatore Romano”, warning that those who encourage dialogue between Catholics and Jews should avoid comparing symbols that the two faiths simply do not share.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, head of the Vatican dicastery for ecumenical dialogue, made a comparison between the Christian Cross and the Jewish celebration of atonement, known as Yom Kippur, which did not go down well with Rome’s head rabbi, Riccardo di Segni.

What sparked the confrontation was an article written by Cardinal Koch on last 7 July, and published by the Holy See’s newspaper, on the different meanings of the Interreligious Day of prayer for Peace due to take place in Assisi on 27 October this year. In the article, the Swiss cardinal said that Jesus’ Cross “stands over us as the eternal and universal Yom Kippur does,” and “therefore, Jesus’ Cross does not stand as an obstacle to interreligious dialogue; rather, it points to the right path that Jews and Christians (…) above all, should follow, in a deep, inner reconciliation, in order to spread peace and justice in the world.”

According to di Segni, however, “he ends on a message of the shared objectives of peace and justice.” “Although [these words] are inspired by a sense of fraternity and good will, if they are not explained further, could lead to Christians not knowing where the limit is in terms of fostering dialogue.” In particular, di Segni contested Koch’s suggestion that “Jewish interlocutors should let themselves be guided by symbols they do not share. Especially when these symbols are presented as substitutions, with the added value of rites and symbols that the person speaking believes in.”

“Christian believers, Rome’s head rabbi explained, may very well believe that the Cross can substitute the day of Kippur permanently and universally, but if they really wish to engage in a respectful dialogue with Jewish people who in turn believe that Kippur has an equally universal and permanent value, they should not propose their own beliefs and Christian interpretations as indicative of the “right path” for Jews to follow.

“Because the, he continued, there is a risk of going back into theology of substitution turf, with the Cross becoming an obstacle. The Christian-Jewish dialogue inevitably runs this risk, because the idea of Jewish promises being fulfilled is at the basis of Christian faith; therefore the affirmation made by Christianity implicitly involves the idea of integration and of being above the Jewish faith.”

Di Segni added that “the language of dialogue must be a common language and parties must share in the same project. “If the terms of this dialogue are based on Christians leading the Jews towards the path of the Cross, then what is the point of dialogue? What is the point of Assisi?”

Cardinal Koch replied that “he was not suggesting that Christ’s Cross should substitute Yom Kippur, even though Christians see a permanent and universal Yom Kippur in the Cross.” The question, however, “is certainly not an obstacle to the efforts of Christians and Jews, in their expression of mutual respect for each other’s faiths, in promoting peace and reconciliation, joining each other in the walk towards Assisi.”

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