Jewish-Christian Relations at Boston College

In the Boston Globe, Michael Paulson interviews Raymond Cohen, BC’s first Corcoran Visiting Chair in Christian-Jewish Relations. A couple of key points:

IDEAS: What about the reconciliation with the excommunicated bishops?

COHEN: The director of the chief rabbinate rightly said this was a cause of real grief, but since then there have been clarificatory remarks by the pope (and others)…and I think that with the passage of time the relationship will get back on track.

IDEAS: There are so many points of tension.

COHEN: In Judaism, we have an idea of “argument for the sake of heaven.” We’re not a people that welcomes banal decorum, or harmony for its own sake. Difficult questions have to be argued about, and I think the Catholic Church also appreciates that. If you read the New Testament, Jesus doesn’t mind arguing. That’s a common tradition. And a relationship based upon a difference of opinion, however profound, I think is a very mutually beneficial relationship. You get to know yourself better, whether you’re a Jew or a Catholic, and also you change. This relationship has led to both sides changing.