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  • Righting Relations after the Holocaust and Vatican II: Essays in Honor of John T. Pawlikowski, OSM ed. by Elena G. Procario-Foley, Robert A. Cathey
  • Kevin P. Spicer C.S.C.
Righting Relations after the Holocaust and Vatican II: Essays in Honor of John T. Pawlikowski, OSM, edited by Elena G. Procario-Foley and Robert A. Cathey (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 2018), xxvi + 334 pp., paperback $34.95, electronic version available.

After fifty years of teaching social ethics at Catholic Theological Union, a graduate school dedicated to the study of theology and ministry, Father John Pawlikowski, a Servite priest, retired in 2017. To honor his years as an educator and even more his momentous contributions to Jewish-Christian dialogue, his colleagues Elena Procario-Foley of Iona College and Robert Cathey of McCormick Theological Seminary brought together nineteen scholars to reflect on the theme of righting relationships between Jews and Christians from the vantage points of their respective disciplines. As Procario-Foley explains in her introduction, Pawlikowski has dedicated his career to mending [End Page 435] relations between Christians and Jews following centuries of Christian antisemitism that ultimately provided the seedbed for the Holocaust.

Pawlikowski’s writings are so numerous that the contributors can only begin to unpack them. He influenced the field well beyond the written word, especially through his roles as president (2002– 2008) of the International Council of Christians and Jews; a founding member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council (first appointed in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter); and the founding director of the Cardinal Joseph Bernardin Center for interfaith dialogue at CTU. These roles are mentioned in a few of the essays, but their impact is not fully investigated.

The editors have divided the chapters into three sections: Ethics and Theology; Holocaust Studies; and Interreligious Studies, each containing six essays. In the first section, theologian Mary Doak explores the influence of Reinhold Niebuhr’s thought on Pawlikowski, who studied the work of the Reformed Protestant theologian while a doctoral student at the University of Chicago in the 1960s. While Doak finds few distinct connections, she argues that Pawlikowski, like Niebuhr, is reluctant to trust human history alone to provide the pathway for God’s reign: “there is enormous evil alongside the good, and there is no simple progress in history” (p. 9). Pawlikowski asks not “What else can I do?,” but rather “What must I never do?” For him, human rights and dignity lie at the core of any response to world concerns.

In “Pawlikowski’s Christology as a Challenge to Reformed Christology,” Robert Cathey builds upon the connection between Niebuhr and Pawlikowski to re-examine the Reformed confessions to see where Christian anti-Judaism survives. Cathey interrogates Pawlikowski’s incarnational Christology and compares it briefly with the Christology of three Reformed theologians: Karl Barth, Peter C. Hodgson, and George Hunsinger. More applicative is the chapter “A Theology of Jewish-Christian Relations: Construction of the Common Good,” by Edward Kessler, founding director of the Woolf Institute of Cambridge University, who asks, “How can we live peaceably together while at the same time honoring the commitments of our respective faiths?” (p. 46). Kessler finds that Pawlikowski has answered this question by stating that Christian-Jewish dialogue “can only succeed when it does justice to more than one point of view” (p. 53); “no religion or people is entitled to force its beliefs on any other” (p. 55). Martin Lintner continues this examination of inclusive respect by analyzing the commonality in exhortations to love one’s neighbor in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, concluding that our “humanity arises from assuming responsibility for the other” (p. 64). Jon Nilson concretizes this argument by showing how Pawlikowski’s life and work offer a concrete witness of loving thy neighbor, especially through advocacy of a Christology that avoids supersessionism.

Perhaps the most challenging and interesting essay of the first section is Michael Kogan’s “Welcoming Jesus Home,” which explores the historical Jesus and the fundamental differences between Jews’ and Christians’ understandings of sin, specifically applied to Jesus’s mission. Kogan concludes, “in Jewish theology such a messiah would have come to solve a nonexistent problem, original sin. For Judaism...


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