A Life in Dialogue: Building Bridges Between Catholics and Jews

A Life in Dialogue: Building Bridges Between Catholics and Jews

by Eugene J. Fisher, James M. Barrens

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Eugene J. Fisher believes that the sense of limitless horizons for human potential in classic science fiction, such as the works of Isaac Asimov, opened his mind at a young age to the “radical” idea that any system, seen from a wider perspective, can and should be changed for the better, an ideal that at its core is profoundly biblical.

The Bible is essentially “counter-cultural” in any given period of history. It measures the present always to the yardstick of human and, indeed, cosmic perfection of the End Time of universal justice, harmony, and peace. Such a concept is guaranteed to make the people of any generation open to its call to be restive and uncomfortable with human institutions in which they live and with which they interact, whether political or religious.He obviously is not alone in this.

Furthermore, Fisher believes “thinking outside the box” is to some extent a characteristic of his generation, which came to age in the 1960s, however much life’s trials and challenges have forged and molded that instinct in diverse ways.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780998393711
Publisher: Robert S. Andelman
Publication date: 09/20/2017
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 128
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

For the last 40 years, Dr. Eugene J. Fisher has been a visible and articulate presence in Jewish-Christian dialogue. Born in Grosse Point, Michigan, he studied at Sacred Heart Seminary during Vatican II. He earned an M.A. in Catholic theology at the University of Detroit in 1968, and went on to gain M.A. in Hebrew Studies from New York University in1971, and a Ph.D. in 1976. As he recalls, when he began at NYU, "I had stepped into a career in a field that did not even exist before the Second Vatican Council: Catholic-Jewish relations." Fisher's doctoral dissertation examined the presentation of Jews and Judaism in post-Vatican II Catholic religion textbooks. In 1977, he became the first lay Associate Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in charge of Catholic-Jewish relations, a position that he held until 2007. He has lectured throughout the world on a range of topics such as antisemitism, portrayals of Jews in theater and film, the Bible, liturgy, and catechesis. He has published some 30 books and monographs, and 300 articles in major religious journals, many into French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Polish and German. Fisher was the principal contributor to several ground-breaking documents of the American bishops, including their 1988 statements "God's Mercy Endures Forever: Guidelines on the Presentation of Jews and Judaism in Catholic Preaching" and "Criteria for the Evaluation of Dramatizations of the Passion." He co-edited with the late Rabbi Leon Klenicki the definitive collection The Saint for Shalom: How Pope John Paul II Transformed Catholic-Jewish Relations: The Complete Texts 1979-2005. Dr. Fisher has been a Consultor to the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and a member of the International Vatican-Jewish Liaison Committee. He was twice nominated for the Nobel Prize by Israeli Jewish scholars. Since his retirement, he has served as Distinguished Professor of Theology at Saint Leo University, and he continues to work to implement the vision of the Second Vatican Council. Dr. Fisher is married to Catherine, and they have a daughter, Sarah.
James M. Barrens is the former Executive Director of the Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies at Saint Leo University in Saint Leo, Florida. He is also the former Lead Organizer of Congregations United for Community Action, a St. Petersburg, Florida social justice organization comprised of thirty-seven diverse religious congregations, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Quaker, Unitarian-Universalist, Bahia, and others. Mr. Barrens, who is Roman Catholic, has been recognized by local and national media for having a unique and accessible yet scholarly perspective on Catholic-Jewish relations, as well as interfaith relations in general. He completed his undergraduate studies in Sociology at The American University in Washington, D.C., and his graduate studies in Theology at Saint Leo University. And, oh yes, his wife, Ruth, is Jewish.

Table of Contents



Growing Up and Into Dialogue

The Seminary, Civil Rights, and the Second Vatican Council

After the Seminary: A New Life in New York

A Period Wedding

Back to Detroit


The National Catholic-Jewish Dialogue

a. Beginning of the National Workshops on Christian-Jewish Relations

b. How I Got “The Job” and Found My Vocation

c. Significance of the National Workshops on Christian-Jewish Relations, from NWCJR to CCJR

d. A Personal Note

International Dialogue

Meetings with the Popes

a. The Pope is Coming! The Pope is Coming!

b. Laughing with the Pope

Edith Stein and the Auschwitz Convent, Part 1

A Joint Catholic-Jewish Trip to Israel

The International Catholic-Jewish Historical Team

Edith Stein and the Auschwitz Convent, Part 2

The Passion of Mel Gibson

A Cambridge Fellow

The Historical Background of the Vatican Document, We Remember

a. Pope John Paul II’s Decision to Address the Church’s Responsibility Regarding the Shoah

b. Teshuvah

c. Joint Statement on the Occasion of the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Holocaust, Hungarian Bishops, and Ecumenical Council of Churches in Hungary, November 1994

d. “To Re-examine Relationships with the Jews,” German Bishops, January 1995

e. “The Victims of Nazi Ideology,” Polish Bishops, January 1995

f. Commemorating the Liberation of Auschwitz, Archbishop Lipscomb, Chair, Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations, January 1995

g. Supported by One Root: Our Relationship to Judaism, Dutch Bishops, October 1995

h. Confronting the Debate About the Role of Switzerland During the Second World War, Swiss Bishops, March 1997

i. Declaration of Repentance, French Bishops, September 1997

j. Declaration of Repentance, French Bishops, September 1997

k. Letter to the Jewish Community, Italian Bishops, March 1998

l. We Remember: A Reflection of the Shoah, Holy Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, March 1998

m. We Remember: Difficulties and Questions

n. Statement of Cardinal William H. Keeler and Dr. Eugene Fisher, March 16, 1998

o. Our Meeting with Cardinal Cassidy

p. Reflections Regarding the Vatican’s Statement on the Shoah, Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, May 1998

  1. The Relationship Between the Christian Anti-Judaism and Racial Antisemitism
  2. The Distinction Between the Church and Its Members

(“Sons and :”Daughters”)

  1. The Defense of Pius II (Footnote 16)

q. Catholic Teaching on the Shoah, Implementing the Holy See’s We Remember, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, February 2001


Friends, Colleagues, and Saint Leo University

A Personal Tragedy





About the Author

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