NCR Podcast: How (and why) Jews appreciate Catholics

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This week on, we're featuring a compelling trio of opinion pieces written by Jews about how they appreciate Catholics. We asked an art critic, a journalist and a rabbi to tackle this pair of questions: What makes the Catholic community approachable today, given our history and particularly this moment when we have revealed the worst of ourselves in the ongoing sex abuse scandal? Do you see something in us, in our art, in our tradition, in our work and ministries, that we might even overlook today, given the tensions and embarrassing scandals within our community?

You'll hear from two of those contributors today, as well as a sociologist on the value of having outsiders look in on the Catholic Church.

On the show today:

  • Julia Lieblich, a Chicago journalist and author who has become deeply engaged in the life of a Catholic family in Guatemala
  • Rabbi James Rudin, who spent years as the American Jewish Committee's Interreligious Director and Senior Interreligious Adviser
  • Maureen Day, sociologist and professor at the Franciscan School of Theology

Background reading:

  • In his NCR Connections post, NCR executive editor Tom Roberts explains the series: "With all of the dualistic face-offs Catholics are engaged in, we wondered if there was a third party who could join our dance to change the dynamic. So we asked three Jewish writers what value they see in Catholic thought, art and ministry, even amid the tensions and embarrassing scandals within our community."
  • Menachem Wecker writes: "When Catholics today are deciding what place, if any, they want and crave in the church, and what the church will look like going forward, I think the church's rich art history can help look beyond the individual offenders and take a wide-angle view of the faith more broadly.
  • In embracing a Guadelupe-loving Maya family in Guatemala, journalist Julia Lieblich says she has "seen the beauty of a tradition that inspires my adoptive family to the south and enriches my own spiritual life." 
  • Self-titled "professional Catholic watcher" Rabbi James Rudin encourages Catholic Church leaders to not abandon or divert attention from the revolutionary change in the church's relationship with the Jewish people and Judaism and its remarkable and steadfast commitment to social justice.
  • Catholics are now grouped into a liberal or conservative binary that is reinforced in our jobs, home life and more. A more unified church is possible, argues sociologist Maureen Day, but we face formidable challenges.

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This story appears in the How Jews Appreciate Catholics: Three Views feature series. View the full series.

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