I may have missed comments, but I haven't noticed much discussion in the Blogosphere of an interesting interview (from Il Riformista) with Rabbi Jacob Neusner, the distinguished American Jewish scholar and student of first century Judaism and Christianity. The text can be found in the blog Palazzo Apostolico. Readers will recall that our Holy Father based the substance of his treatment of the Sermon on the Mount in Jesus of Nazareth on a book by Neusner. They may even recall that I from time to time urged people to read Neusner even before Professor Ratzinger went public as a neusnerophiliac.
Briefly: Neusner singles out Benedict XVI 'in particolare' among modern popes for what he has done for Jewish-Christian dialogue, and curtly dismisses the claim of the Chief Rabbi of Venice that, in 'reintroducing' the 1962 Missal (with a Good Friday prayer for the Jews) the Church has dumped fifty years of progress. Neusner points out that 'gli ebrei pregano per l'illuminazione dei gentili e non avviene niente di diverso nella controparte cattolica'. He thinks relations are progressing well, especially in the academic field, and hopes the Pope will visit the Holy Land and make, at Yad Vashem, 'un eventuale gesto di lutto e di memoria'.
A few weeks ago I found myself sitting at lunch with a 'Roman Catholic' enthusiast for interfaith relations, who told me that, after years of progress under JP II, the whole landscape had been ruined by Benedict XVI. The plain fact is that, despite everything that this kindly, gentle, and very clever man has done, there are still too many people around whose mindset was formed by the vicious media campaign against Cardinal Ratzinger and who have closed their bigoted minds against anything he says or does.