A historic Catholic-Jewish debate resonates today

There is an old French saying, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.” This might be said for the tough divisions that the Catholic community is feeling these days with other Christians, with non-Christians, and even among themselves over such issues of religious liberty, same-sex marriage, voting for a particular political party, and even the state of being a nun.

Sometimes it helps to take a moment to look back at history and realize that there are battles that American society keeps fighting time and again, just with different players.

Ben Sales, in a May 24 analysis piece “Obamas’s same-sex marriage nod echoes historic Catholic-Jewish debate,” for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, looked back at a time in the early 1960s during the very hot debate on prayer in public schools. The Jewish community was divided among itself, and it was very divided with the Catholic and Protestant communities on this issue. Fascinatingly enough, it was a Catholic publication, Commonweal, that provided the tipping point for reconciliation — though that also took the Second Vatican Council and years of hard dialogue — with Christians and even with each other.

“Ever since, Jewish and Christian groups have periodically disagreed but maintained an open dialogue. But the dispute in 1962 marked a shift in Jewish communal priorities, and Jewish organizations emerged from it newly confident,” Sales wrote.

Take a look at his thoughful piece that has some good implications for our own contentious times.

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