The Pope Francis Effect and Catholic-Jewish Relations The_Pope_Francis_Effect - Page 4

certainly has the potential to offend, notwithstanding Institute of Chicago collection was not shown in the the facts of Jesus’ historic Jewishness and the painter’s exhibit, but was included in its publication. 5 The exhibit Jewish identity. It speaks volumes about Francis’ generated no protest from the Jewish community. On the empathy with the Jewish people and lack of concern contrary, it was welcomed with universal acclaim. Jewish that his admiration for the painting might be controversial culture has come a long way from Potok’s My Name is or misinterpreted. And the absence of negative reaction Asher Lev to the Jewish Museum’s Chagall: Love, War, and from the Jewish community to Francis’ fondness for this Exile. Pope Francis’ artistic sensibilities are, perhaps, in painting demonstrates a Jewish comfort level with this sync with the Jewish people’s own cultural comfort level. pope that may be unique. Certainly, Francis’ interest in the painting suggests the significant role that the trauma relationships can be traced to his Argentinian roots. In of the Holocaust plays in his theological and addition to being the first Jesuit, first Latino, and first interreligious thinking. Southern Hemisphere pope, Francis is also the first pope to have had the opportunity to implement Nostra Aetate Additionally, Jewish sensitivity to Christian images Pope Francis’ unselfconscious ease with his Jewish previously perceived as threatening may be diminishing. within a local ongoing, fluid, and living Catholic-Jewish Pope Francis, instinctively or unconsciously, might relationship. He rose up within an Argentinian church that sense that. In a poignant scene from Chaim Potok’s My had relations with Jews. He spoke out on issues of concern Name is Asher Lev, published in 1972, the young Hasidic to the Jewish people and demonstrated solidarity with artist’s family cannot fathom his unorthodox act of the families of the 85 victims murdered by terrorists at painting crucifixions and nudes. Asher’s mother says in the AMIA Jewish center. He led the Argentinian church in exasperation, “Your painting. It’s taken us to Jesus. And to Holocaust commemoration and education. the way they paint women.” Asher responds, “Chagall is a Jew,” but his mother cuts him off, “Religious Jews, Asher, biography that the Jewish community of Argentina is large Torah Jews. Such Jews don’t draw and paint.” 3 Asher’s and proud. Argentina has the seventh largest number of father is enraged, and asks his son if he knows “how much Jews in the world. Excluding Israeli and American cities Jewish blood had been spilled because of that man?” 4 And yet in the fall of 2013, the Jewish Museum in New It is important in the understanding of Francis’ which dominate Jewish demographics, Buenos Aires’ Jewish population is one of the largest in the world. 6 York showcased a collection of Chagall paintings entitled Chagall: Love, War, and Exile, featuring several paintings of the “Jewish Jesus” genre. White Crucifixion from the Art 5. Susan Tumarkin Goodman and Kenneth E. Silver, Chagall: Love, War, and Exile (New York: Jewish Museum, 2013), 105. 3. Chaim Potok. My Name Is Asher Lev (New York: Anchor Books, 1972), 171. 4. Ibid, 173. 2 6. “Vital Statistics: Jewish Population of the World (1882 - Present),” citing Sergio DellaPergola, “World Jewish Population, 2012,” in The American Jewish Year Book, (2012 [2014]), 212-283, https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary. org/jsource/Judaism/jewpop.html, accessed March 5, 2015. 3