A very nice article in America Magazine which touches on the importance of Catholics & Jews coming closer together; as, after all, we are essentially of the same faith.
Soon after the death of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel in December 1972, America devoted an entire issue to his life and work. The idea for the special issue, published on March 10, 1973, came from John C. Haughey, S.J., an associate editor, who explained that anyone who knew Rabbi Heschel “sensed the depth of his exposure to the Presence of God.” The same point appeared in the editorial that introduced the special issue: “No Christian who ever entered into conversation with Professor Heschel came away without having been spiritually enriched and strengthened.”
Pope Francis never met Rabbi Heschel, and although he is known to own a number of books by Heschel, it is not clear to what extent he has studied Heschel’s thought. Nonetheless, he may have been indirectly “spiritually enriched and strengthened” by Rabbi Heschel. A few connections between the men point in this direction. Take, for example, the testimony of Rabbi Abraham Skorka of Argentina, one of Pope Francis’ closest friends. Rabbi Skorka accompanied Francis to the Holy Land in May, and in 2010 they co-authored a book, On Heaven and Earth. About the conversations that became that book, Rabbi Skorka, who claimed Rabbi Heschel as a “formative spiritual guide,” has said that the spirit of Rabbi Heschel guided his dialogue with Francis. “In our live dialogue, one drew from the other,” Skorka explained in an email message to Rabbi Alexander Even-Chen. “In this manner, Francis undoubtedly drew spiritually from Heschel.”
Another connection exists through Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer (1930-93), one of Rabbi Heschel’s most devoted students, who became the most influential rabbi in Argentina while Jorge Mario Bergoglio served as the provincial superior of the Jesuits there (1973-79) and then as rector of the Jesuit university and seminary in San Miguel, outside Buenos Aires. Rabbi Meyer inspired not only Jews but also Christians. He was passionate about spreading Abraham Heschel’s approach to Judaism and once said he felt that Rabbi Heschel had “accompanied” him during his 25 years in Argentina.
In light of these connections, we decided to probe what Pope Francis has said and written about topics central to the religious worldview of Rabbi Heschel. We found that Francis has a strong affinity for a number of the rabbi’s core ideas.
Retrieved November 3, 2014 from http://americamagazine.org/issue/interfaith-affinity