Michael Lerner’s Response to Benedict XVI

Thanks to gratefulbear for posting a link in his blog to a wonderful essay by progressive Jewish theologian Michael Lerner with the self-explanatory title The New Pope is a Disaster for the World and for Jews. Here’s a choice excerpt:

Those of us in the Jewish world who have enormous respect for Christianity and for the wisdom and beauty of the Catholic tradition are in mourning today that the Church has confirmed for itself a destructive direction that will hurt not only Catholics but all those who seek peace and justice in the world.

We remain hopeful that the new Pope may return to his original more progressive positions (pre-1968) and realize that the world needs a church that can respond compassionately and wisely to what is needed rather than remain wedded to dogma that is so destructive. In a statement that Ratzinger made a few years ago, he seemed deeply aligned with TIKKUN’s critique of the selfishness and materialism of the contemporary world. We hope that he stops blaming that on secularists and comes to understand that secularists too, as well as people from other faiths, can be allies in the struggle for a new ethos of love and generosity. We pray that he may find a way to bring a better, kinder, more loving and compassionate agenda to the Catholic Church. It is precisely because we continue to feel allied with the Church.

Meanwhile, we reaffirm our solidarity with the many millions of Catholics who had hoped for a very different kind of Pope who would make the Church more open to women’s leadership, to prioritizing social justice, and to returning to the hopeful spirit of Vatican II.

I do think Benedict XVI holds perhaps more of a commitment to peace than this essay gives him credit. But I certainly share with Lerner’s concern over the kind of message that electing Ratzinger sends to all those who do not fit his narrow definition of acceptability.

To my readers I make this request: that, regardless of our political or religious affiliation, may we all hold Benedict XVI in our prayers, that his papacy may transcend the limitations of his past and truly be a force for love and peace and good in the world..

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  • http://ataniell93.livejournal.com/ ataniell93

    Er, okay. Michael has some good points, but this IS a man who will only let you eat in his sukkah if you promise to join his synagogue, which has some of the highest dues in California despite the fact that it has no building or property taxes to pay for, rents halls for high holidays and has Shabbats in people’s houses, and when his wife, who is also a rabbi, extends the invitation to people who are also ‘considering’ joining, he cuts her off and says, ‘but only if you’re really sure’. It rather amuses me to hear him bitching about materialism.

    Also, I just love the way his own website promotes him as a major Jewish leader. He’s a leader to people who subscribe to his magazine and who belong to his synagogue, but he never finished seminary, and he doesn’t speak for any of the major movements in Judaism, although he is technically Jewish Renewal and they do think highly of him.

    Sorry, this is probably more than you wanted to know. I know Michael Lerner and the way he claims to speak for all Jewry gets under my skin. I dislike Ratzinger intensely, but Michael makes me want to go out and buy Ratzinger plushies!

    • http://anamchara.com/ Carl McColman

      Okay, truth be told, I did get a little irked at his unfair ranting about Pius XII. But, hey, that’s a cheap shot so I let it slide. At any rate, thanks for your post, as always I love your fine blend of intelligence and wit.

    • http://gratefulbear.livejournal.com/ gratefulbear

      I don’t know if you can actually buy Ratzinger plushies, but there is a Cardinal Ratzinger Fan Club (no joke): http://www.ratzingerfanclub.com/
      Click on “Shop” to buy Cardinal Ratzinger T shirts and sweatshirts, coffee cups, bumper stickers, and beer steins (appropriate for a German Pope).

      • http://anamchara.com/ Carl McColman

        Amazing. Absolutely amazing.

  • http://preacha.livejournal.com/ preacha

    You’ve got it. Thank you for this.