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  • Deacon Dan Wright serves the Diocese of Austin, Texas. His work outside the parish is as a special education teacher serving students with significant cognitive disabilities.



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January 14, 2009



Well, DD..I wouldn't be so quick to condemn. You have to understand where these Italian rabbis are coming from...The Church is present with everything from announcements to little tidbits of news every day in the Italian media, something which sparks a an increasing tension and conflict in our society.

This is happening in particular because it seems that, although the message is the same, while Pope John Paul II was a great communicator who was revered by everyone, believers and non believers alike. Navarro Valls was a well known, reassuring father figure.

The whole approach towards communication is completely different now, and this is creating quite a bit of unrest among the Jews, the Muslims and any other category of folks that are interested in or affected by what the pope has to say - not to mention it's effect among those who are not interested in his message.

Also, the figure of reference in the national Jewish community is the chief rabbi of Rome, who made his objections at the appropriate time (when the change in the prayer for the Jews was announced) and apparently there is still dialog going on at that level. I don't know how important the chief rabbi of Venice is, but I don't think his announcement meant that no Jews would be present at the meeting to be held in the next few days.

Deacon DW

Of course I understand that my perspective is bound to be different from that of someone who lives in a society where the Church has such a presence as it does in Italy. Certainly I didn't intend to have a condemning tone either, though I may have come across that way.

In living my own standard of tolerance toward the faith of others, I do not believe that I would have the right to criticize their practice of religion, even if it meant that they were praying for my conversion from the faith I hold. Rather, I would see such a practice as an opportunity to delve deeper into the rationale for it. Hence, I would see it as an opportunity for further dialogue.

Nevertheless, I can concede that if someone is praying for my conversion the implication of it can be taken to be that my belief is somehow defective or inferior. This is why I said that a prayer for conversion to Christ does not necessarily entail conversion from one's current expression of faith. Instead it can connote the desire for a more accepting stance regarding the position of Christ in salvation history.

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