Dear Pope Bergoglio*,
The last time I wrote to you on occasion of your first trip to Eretz Israel, you did not pay heed to my pleas. Hopefully, the chummier tone of this open letter will be better at breaking the ice between us and even convince you that reading Arutz 7 is a worthwhile time commitment.
This time I will not plead, but rather reprimand. Rabbis in Italy are already quite disappointed with the fact you gave them their word you would not denigrate “Pharisees” in your sermons… and that after keeping your vow for a few months, you subsequently resumed your bad habit. Such shiftiness is impressive when dancing tango in Buenos Aires, but probably displays a lack of familiarity with the ethical obligations of a world religious leader.
Last week unfortunately, you upped the stakes of your attacks against Judaism, arguing that "The Law however does not give life. It does not offer the fulfilment of the promise because it is not capable of being able to fulfil it... Those who seek life need to look to the promise and to its fulfilment in Christ."
You are educated enough to have noticed that the Jewish nation has lived and flourished for over 3000 years thanks to its laws. In fact, it would have lived and flourished even more, had it not been persecuted and massacred by people who belittled these laws.
I don’t want to make you feel overly uneasy, but let me just briefly remind you that just over 75 years ago, European Jews were merrily exterminated by scores of former altar boys. Thankfully, the laws of the Torah inspired the Jewish people to build a brighter future rather than yield to the natural impulse to seek revenge from their executioners (and the moral accomplices of the latter).
So now you know that the Law not only overflows with life and morality, but also constitutes the fountainhead of the Jewish spirit.
I know you cherish this spirit, because in your sermons and encyclicals you have displayed a remarkable affinity for the sensitivities of the weak and needy, just like many Rabbis do. In fact, you even confided to your friend Eugenio Scalfari, that you view Jesus as a human being. In other words, you may very likely feel like a closeted [Reform] Rabbi.
Dear Pope, you can now come out of the closet. Since you are not Jewish, let me assure you that the law is not intended for you. Thus, you do not need to decry it. The only laws the Torah commands us non-Jews to follow are the seven Noachide commandments. Please google these commandments to realize they are no less redemptive than the message of Jesus.
In fact, there are rabbis who claim that Jesus actually preached these commandments to non-Jews. Given that Jesus studied a few years in yeshiva, he probably knew that circumcision and the Sabbath were never meant to be followed by Bishops and Cardinals.
So Pope Bergoglio, next time you deliver a sermon, it might be a good idea to ask yourself “What would Jesus say?” If you do so, and bear in mind that Jesus was born, lived and died an observant Jew, your sermons will certainly acquire a more noble and truthful ring.
Rafael Castro was raised a Catholic and became a Noahide upon realizing that the Torah addresses adults. He can be reached at [email protected]