I’m afraid that precious few would have assessed last week’s meeting sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council where we were invited to meet with (the newly installed) Bishop Edward J. Burns and (the newly installed) auxiliary Bishop Gregory Kelly as one giant “moron fest”. In my opinion however, the fictional cartoon character Bullwinkle the Moose could have done a far better job coming up with questions for our Catholic guests! To wit:
What role do you see the Catholic Church playing in Sanctuary Cities? (Had Bishop Burns not been so polite, he could have patiently explained that Christianity was founded on the concept of sanctuary cities, when Mary and Joseph took their infant son and fled to a sanctuary city in Egypt to find a haven, in that word was out that the authorities viz. King Herod was out to kill all male infants. However familiar it may sound, the King was informed of the birth of the “King of the Jews”. Herod’s paranoia set in and the life every male infant was at stake. Stated differently, Jesus was in jeopardy. So let’s not start asking our guest about sanctuary cities. Besides, I don’t recall the “synagogue” taking any position on sanctuary cities. Where I come from only someone with chutzpah would dare ask such a question.)
How do intend to attract youth to the Church? (Perhaps the Catholic Church could borrow ideas from NCSY –Orthodox, USY – Conservative, and NFTY – Reform. Word has it that there is a two year wait to join the youth organizations of any of the three branches of Judaism.)
What are you doing to address antisemitism? (Don’t you just love it when you invite someone over, then proceed to hit him over the head? A far better insult question would have been: How recently has it been, since the Catholic Church last fomented Antisemitism? Perhaps the Catholic Church should take a page out of our playbook, since we Jews seem to be doing such a bang up job addressing antisemitism.)
A modicum of seichel (Hebrew and Yiddish for common sense) would suggest that the following three questions be asked of the Monsignors:
What do you see as the three greatest challenges confronting the Catholic Church here in the United States, at this time? Doesn’t it more sense for us to learn what is on his mind, than for him to learn what is on our minds? If we have legitimate concerns for the Bishop to address, common sense dictates that we pay him a visit. Have we gone soft in the head, inviting Bishops Burns and Kelly as our guests, only to have him appear before the makings of a (Jewish) Senate Committee hearing? Any self-respecting Christian leader would have to be out of his mind to come before a group of Jews only to be hit over the head!
What non-Catholic groups do you place at the forefront, when it comes to establishing contact and why? Sure, we Jews have our share of concerns, and yes, we have our agenda. But when all is said and done, we are not the only fish in the sea. Catholic leaders have more than their share of “tzorres.” Not only is their membership down, but so is their leadership. As far as I’m concerned, Bishop Burns and Bishop Kelly deserve the biggest Yasher Koach in the world for making the time to meet with us.
Although no one expects you to be a prophet, or the son of a prophet (Amos 7:14), where do you see the Catholic Church ten years from now? An honest answer will convey whether the Bishop is an optimist, pessimist, or realist. An honest answer will tip us off on the Bishop’s goals and aspirations. An honest answer will be in response to an honest question. There is absolutely nothing wrong, and everything right, when we Jews show a Catholic leader that we are genuinely interested in him as well his religion.
Given that precious few have assessed the May 8 meeting as a “moron fest,” when meeting with leaders of other faiths, we Jews have unfortunately become experts in ensuring that non-Jews hear from us, before we are prepared to hear from them.