Monday, January 26, 2015

CESJ Core Group Meets “Pope’s Rabbi”


Thanks to the extraordinary initiative of two CESJ stalwarts, Ms. Harriet Epstein of Northern Virginia, and Dr. María Teresa Rosón de Pérez Lozano, professor of Commercial Law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, we were able to get a group together to attend an event in Washington, DC, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Ætate, the 1965 encyclical on relations with non-Christian religions.  The event was co-sponsored by the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Jewish Community of Greater Washington.
Dr. Rosón prepared a letter of introduction for Norman Kurland to Rabbi Abraham Skorka, popularly known as “the Pope’s Rabbi,” who has co-authored a book, On Heaven and Earth (2013) with Pope Francis, and co-hosted a large number of television shows before Francis’s election.  CESJ’s core group attendance at the event was a great success.  At the very least, we can now say that we met Rabbi Abraham Skorka, “the Pope’s Rabbi.”
MDG, N. Kurland, H. Epstein, Rabbi Kranz
There was a great deal more, however.  CESJ’s ever-alert member of the Board of Counselors, Rabbi Herzel Kranz of the Silver Springs Jewish Congregation, had dinner with Rabbi Skorka before the event, and we entered the hall where the event was being held in company with Rabbi Skorka.
As we came through the door, Bishop Barry Knestout and his aide, Father Avelino Gonzales, saw us come in.  We went over to Bishop Knestout and introduced ourselves.
Bishop Knestout, Fr. Gonzales, Rabbi Skorka, MDG, N. Kurland
Norm quickly explained about CESJ, and gave Bishop Knestout a small package of materials containing Dr. Rosón’s letter of introduction, a letter to Rabbi Kranz explaining why we want to meet Rabbi Skorka, our business cards, a short brochure on CESJ, a single-page brochure listing some of our publications, our Core Values and Code of Ethics, the CESJ accomplishments brochure with the photos of Pope St. John Paul II and President Ronald Reagan, an article by Venerable Fulton Sheen on the new slavery, the report on CESJ’s private audience with John Paul II, and a copy of our Just Third Way Edition of Fulton Sheen’s book, Freedom Under God.  Norm also spoke briefly with Rabbi Skorka before the event and gave him a similar package.
Rabbi Kranz, Bishop Knestout, Rabbi Skorka
Bishop Knestout was there because His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, could not attend, but that was better for CESJ.  An auxiliary bishop is obviously less busy than a cardinal, and Bishop Knestout said he would like to meet with CESJ.  He works in interfaith matters, and he has met with Dr. Ahmed Mansour, head of the International Quranic Center in Springfield, Virginia, who is on the CESJ Board of Counselors.
Norm spoke to the Bishop’s aide, Father Gonzales, and Father Gonzales seemed interested in what we have to say.  Father Gonzales was there to make certain that Bishop Knestout went to the right place at the right time, however, so Norm could not say too much.
Following up with Rabbi Skorka will be more complicated.  Norm obtained Rabbi Skorka’s e-mail address, and suggested Dr. Rosón might be able to start the follow up.
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