Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Israeli Ambassador Mordechai Lewy on Catholic-Jewish relations

Mordechay Lewy, a longtime Israeli diplomat who serves as Israel's ambassador to the Holy See, was recently interviewed by the Boston Globe's Michael Paulson. Topics included the administrative powers of the Pope ("From the books you can see that it is an absolute monarchy, but it is not. Far, far from that") to Israel's interest in preserving its Christian population ("It's not a question. We are obliged to") to the thorny matter of visas and the Pope's remarks on the Holocaust ("What he contributed at Yad Vashem was a completely different approach which was an enrichment to the culture of memory, ... a wake-up from an unexpected corner for people to think a little bit differently") to the controversy involving Pope Pius XI ("It is wrong to look for any affinity between him and the Nazis. It is also wrong to say that he didn’t save Jews").

On a humorous note, there is also this:

Q: What do you actually do on a day to day basis?

A: (laughs) Try to convince Jews that the menorah is not any more in the cellar of the Vatican Museum. I'm not joking. I've had very many requests of that kind. To intervene, to find it, and to bring it back in a diplomatic pouch. There is a legend that says the menorah from the Second Temple, after the destruction, was the war booty of Titus, brought to Rome, was shown where war victories were shown, in a temple of peace. It's shown in the Arch of Titus.

Read the whole thing.