Category Archives: Church History

The Catholic Church’s résumé

The facts are:


We are members of the oldest Christian religion in the world.

The Catholic Church was founded in the year 33.

We believe in the real body and blood of Christ in our communion.

The next oldest Christian Church is the Lutherans and they have only been around for about 500 years.

The Mormons have only been here since 1829.

In the year 33 there were no hospitals. Today, one out of five people in this country receive their medical care at a Catholic hospital.

In the year 33 there were no schools. Today,the Catholic Church teaches 3 million students a day, in it’s more than than 250 Catholic Colleges and Universities, in its more than 1200 Catholic High Schools and its more than 5000 Catholic grade schools.

Every day, the Catholic Church feeds, clothes, shelters and educates more people than any other organization in the world. We should all be proud to be Catholic.      

There are more the 77 million Catholics in this country. It takes an estimated 50 million votes to be elected president. When you go to polls in 2016, I urge you all to vote for those who would oppose abortion, and stand on the side of truth and rightiousness. May you be guided by your moral compass and help to return this great land of which Our Redeemer has so bountifully blessed to the greatness that it once was.      

Want to enter the Mission Field? Take these notes and pass them on to your Catholic as well as Non-Catholic friends. May you all be blessed and touched by the Holy Spirit as you step out in Faith.

The Stigmata – Lesson and Discussion

Bret Thoman
What is the stigmata?
The stigmata is the markings of Christ given to someone by God while they are still alive. It is “[The] Phenomenon in which a person bears all or some of the wounds of Christ in his or her own body, i.e., on the feet, hands, side, and brow. The wounds appear spontaneously, from no external source, and periodically there is a flow of fresh blood.”[1] Sometimes the stigmata is visible and other times the wounds are invisible. The word “stigmata” comes from the Greek “tattoo mark”. The Church has never issued an infallible declaration concerning the stigmata.
 
Who has received the stigmata? “There have been 321 cases of authentic stigmatization recorded.”[2] Of the 321 cases, more than sixty of the people have been canonized as saints[3] and almost ninety percent of all stigmatists are women. There are some theologians who speculate that Saint Paul was the first to receive the stigmata because he says in today’s second reading, “From now on, let no one make troubles for me; for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body”[4], but we are not sure. The first recorded account of someone receiving the stigmata is Saint Francis of Assisi. 
 
The following is a list of known stigmatists who have been beatified, canonized, or declared venerable:

 

Angela of Foligno
Anna Maria Taïgi
Anna Rosa Gattorno
Camilla Battista Varani
Catherine Emmerich
Catherine del Ricci
Catherine of Genoa
Catherine of Racconigi (1486-1547), Dominican
Catherine of Siena
Charles of Sezze
Christina Ciccarelli
Clara Isabella Fornari
Clare of Montefalco
Colette
Elizabeth Achler
Faustina Kowalska
Flora of Beaulieu
Frances of Rome
Francis of Assisi
Gemma Galgani
Gertrude
Gertrude van Oosten
Helen of Hungary
John of God
Lydwina of Schiedam
Lucy of Narni
Lutgarde
Margaret Mary Alacoque
Margaret of Cortona
Margaret of the Blessed Sacrament
Maria Lopez of Jesus
Marie of the Incarnation
Mary Anne of Jesus (1557-1620), Franciscan tertiary
Mary Frances of the Five Wounds
Mary Magdalene de’ Pazzi
Mary of Jesus Crucified
Matthew Carreri
Osanna of Mantua
Padre Pio
Rita of Cassia
Rita of Lima
Stephana de Quinzanis
Veronica Giuliani

 
When and how do people receive the stigmata? Everyone who has received the stigmata has received it in different forms and fashions. For example, “The best known stigmatic was St. Francis of Assisi. During an ecstasy on Mount Alvernia on September 17, 1224, he saw a seraph offer him an image of Jesus crucified and imprint upon him the sacred stigmata. Blood used to flow from these wounds until the time of his death two years later. He tried to conceal the phenomenon but not very successfully.”[v] Usually, the person who receives the marks of Christ receives them sometime on Thursday and/or Friday, coinciding with Our Lord’s passion. The people who have received the marks have also received them after intense prayer and forms of ecstasy. Sometimes the wounds would come and go. Padre Pio had the stigmata for a long time, then one day it went away only to return again a short time later.
 
Do the wounds constantly bleed? At times, yes. They are not free flowing to where there are dangerous levels of blood loss, but they do bleed. Also, they do hurt. Both Padre Pio and Saint Francis had extremely difficult times walking around because of the wounds which slowed them down.
 
How do we know if the stigmata are real? Just like miracles that occur at Lourdes and miracles that happen through the intercessions of saints, the Church does not just claim stigmata haphazardly. There are certain things that the Church looks for when approving or disproving stigmata. “Through centuries of canonical processes, the Church has established certain criteria for determining genuine stigmata. Thus the wounds are localized in the very spots where Christ received the five wounds, which does not occur if the bloody sweat is produced by hysteria or hypnotism. Generally the wounds bleed afresh and the pains recur on the days or during the season associated with the Savior’s passion, such as Fridays or feast days of Our Lord. The wounds do not become festered and the blood flowing from them is pure, whereas the slightest natural lesion in some other part of the body develops an infection. Moreover, the wounds do not yield to the usual medical treatment, and may remain for as long as thirty to forty years. The wounds bleed freely and produce a veritable hemorrhage; and this takes place not only at the beginning but also again and again. Also the extent of the hemorrhage is phenomenal; the stigmata lie on the surface, removed from the great blood vessels, yet the blood literally streams from them. Finally true stigmata are not found except in persons who practice the most heroic virtues and possess a special love of the Cross.”[vi]
 
Why do some people receive the stigmata? The people who have received the marks of Christ have had a deep desire to be as close to Christ as humanly possible. They spend hours in prayer, receive daily Eucharist, and fast for long periods. “Authentic stigmatization occurs only among people favored with ecstasy and is preceded and attended by keen physical and moral sufferings that thus make the subject conformable to the suffering Christ. The absence of suffering would cast serious doubt on the validity of the stigmata, whose assumed purpose is to symbolize union with Christ crucified and participation in his own martyrdom.”[vii]
 
The stigmata can also be seen as a witness to the great holiness of the person or used to awaken something within the world at that time. “In his paper Hospitality and Pain, Christian theologian Ivan Illich states: ‘Compassion with Christ… is faith so strong and so deeply incarnate that it leads to the individual embodiment of the contemplated pain.’ His thesis is that stigmata result from exceptional poignancy of religious faith and desire to associate oneself with the suffering Messiah.”[viii]
 
Why is the stigmata usually in the hand instead of the wrist? While some stigmata have been shown in the wrists, the majority have been in the hands. Many people see this and think that the markings are fake because it is believed that Jesus was crucified in the wrists. We have to ask ourselves what the purpose of the stigmata is in the first place. It has a mystical purpose. The markings are not the actual markings of Jesus Christ; it is not like the priest being in persona Christi or the Eucharist being the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. The mystical purpose of the stigmata is to unite us to our Lord.
 
What are we to learn from the stigmata? The first thing to note is that our salvation is not dependent on whether or not we believe in the stigmata. This is why the Church has not pursued it so fervently. The Church will recognize it, but not trouble herself with making dogmatic decrees on the matter. Whether someone believes in people receiving the stigmata or not, what we learn from this is to unite our sufferings with Jesus in the body of Christ.
 
Saint Paul says in the second reading, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ…”[ix] The cross is where we see our salvation and the example of perfect suffering. We are the body of Christ. Jesus is the head. Jesus’ suffering is completed and perfected on the cross. He suffers no more, but we, the body of Christ, do still suffer. However, since we are connected to the head of Christ, our suffering has meaning. Saint Paul writes, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church.”[x] We can take on our own burdens and other peoples too if we so desire to bring the body closer to health. We should never look at any suffering, pain, or hardship with despair, because we are not alone. We unite our sufferings with Jesus, the head, and are brought to salvation. Of all people, Jesus understands suffering because He is a divine person that took on human flesh, and with it all its sufferings, even death.

[1] Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary pgs. 520
[2] http://catholicism.org/the-stigmata.html
[3] cf. Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary pgs. 520
[4] Gal. 6:17
[v] Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary pgs. 520
[vi] Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary pgs. 520 – 521
[vii] Hardon, Modern Catholic Dictionary pgs. 520- 521
[viii] http://www.catholic.org/saints/stigmata/
[ix] Gal. 6:14
[x] Col. 1:24

Pope discusses why he chose “Francis”

New pope meets with journalists
“Oh, how I wish for a Church that is poor and for the poor!”
March 16, 2013 10:52 EST By Catherine Harmon

Today Pope Francis met with the more than 6,000 members of the media currently accredited to the Holy See, most of whom went to Rome specifically to cover the conclave and the election of a new pope.

Pope Francis’ remarks focused on the role of the media in the modern world. But he also related why he chose “Francis” as his papal name, for St. Francis of Assisi, who he described as “the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who love and safeguards Creation.”

The full text of Pope Francis’ address is below, via Vatican Information Service:
Dear friends, I am pleased, at the beginning of my ministry in the See of Peter, to meet with you who have worked here in Rome at this very intense period that began with the surprising announcement of my venerated predecessor Benedict XVI, this past 11 February. I warmly greet each of you.

The role of the mass media has been continuously growing in recent times, so much so that it has become essential to narrate the events of contemporary history to the world. I therefore especially thank you for your distinguished service these past few days—you have had a bit of work to do, haven’t you?—when the eyes of the Catholic world, and not only, were turned toward the Eternal City, in particular to this area that has St. Peter’s tomb as its focal point. In these past few weeks you’ve gotten a chance to talk about the Holy See, the Church, her rites and traditions, her faith, and, in particular, the role of the Pope and his ministry.

A particularly heart-felt thanks goes to those who have been able to observe and present these events in the Church’s history while keeping in mind the most just perspective in which they must be read, that of faith. Historical events almost always require a complex reading that, at times, can also include the dimension of faith. Ecclesial events are certainly not more complicated than political or economic ones. But they have one particularly fundamental characteristic: they answer to a logic that is not mainly that of, so to speak, worldly categories, and this is precisely why it is not easy to interpret and communicate them to a wide and varied audience. In fact, the Church, although it is certainly also a human, historical institution with all that that entails, does not have a political nature but is essentially spiritual: it is the people of God, the holy people of God who walk toward the encounter with Jesus Christ. Only by putting oneself in this perspective can one fully explain how the Catholic Church works.

Christ is the Church’s Shepherd, but His presence in history moves through human freedom. Among these, one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, Successor of the Apostle Peter, but Christ is the centre, the fundamental reference, the heart of the Church! Without Him, neither Peter nor the Church would exist or have a reason for being. As Benedict XVI repeated often, Christ is present and leads His Church. In everything that has happened, the protagonist is, ultimately, the Holy Spirit. He has inspired Benedict XVI’s decision for the good of the Church; He has guided the cardinals in their prayers and in their election. Dear friends, it is important to take due account of this interpretive horizon, this hermeneutic, to bring the heart of the events of these days into focus.
From this is born, above all, a renewed and sincere thanks for your efforts in these particularly challenging days, but also an invitation to always seek to know more the Church’s true nature and the spiritual motivations that guide her and that are the most authentic for understanding her. Rest assured that the Church, for her part, is very attentive to your precious work. You have the ability to gather and express the expectations and needs of our times, to provide the elements necessary to read reality. Like many other professions, your job requires study, sensitivity, and experience but it bears with it a particular attention to truth, goodness, and beauty. This makes us particularly close because the Church exists to communicate Truth, Goodness, and Beauty ‘in person’. It should be clear that we are all called, not to communicate ourselves, but rather this existential triad that shapes truth, goodness, and beauty.

Some people didn’t know why the Bishop of Rome wanted to call himself “Francis.” Some thought of Francis Xavier, Francis de Sales, even Francis of Assisi. I will tell you the story. At the election I had the archbishop emeritus of Sao Paulo next to me. He is also prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes [O.F.M.]: a dear, dear friend. When things were getting a little ‘dangerous’, he comforted me. And then, when the votes reached the two-thirds, there was the usual applause because the Pope had been elected. He hugged me and said: ‘Do not forget the poor.’ And that word stuck here [tapping his forehead]; the poor, the poor. Then, immediately in relation to the poor I thought of Francis of Assisi. Then I thought of war, while the voting continued, until all the votes [were counted]. And so the name came to my heart: Francis of Assisi. For me he is the man of poverty, the man of peace, the man who love and safeguards Creation. In this moment when our relationship with Creation is not so good—right?—He is the man who gives us this spirit of peace, the poor man … Oh, how I wish for a Church that is poor and for the poor!

I wish the best for you, I thank you for everything that you have done. And I think of your work: I wish you to work fruitfully and with serenity and to always know better the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the reality of the Church. I entrust you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of evangelization. I wish the best for you and your families, for each of your families, and I wholeheartedly impart to all of you the blessing.
After personally greeting some of the journalists present, Pope Francis, in Spanish, concluded: “I told you I wholeheartedly imparted my blessing. Many of you don’t belong to the Catholic Church, others are not believers. From my heart I impart this blessing, in silence, to each of you, respecting the conscience of each one, but knowing that each of you is a child of God: May God bless you.”

What is a Cardinal?

The Role of the College of Cardinals in History and Today
By: Msgr. Charles Pope

See more at: http://blog.adw.org/2013/03/what-is-a-cardinal-the-role-of-the-college-of-cardinals-in-history-and-today/#sthash.14qBmMNM.dpuf

Now that attention shifts to the College of Cardinals, it might be good to spend a brief time reflecting on what a Cardinal is and how the College of Cardinals functions. Perhaps it is good to start with a little history and then describe the present realities.

History [1]- Originally the term “cardinal” simply referred to any priest who was attached to a particular church or diocese. Even to this day we speak of diocesan priests as being “incardinated” (or attached) to a certain diocese, and this is required for every priest. There are not to be “free-ranging” priests. Later however, from about the 4th Century through the late Middle Ages the term “cardinal” came to be used only of certain more prominent priests in the larger and more prominent dioceses of antiquity such as Constantinople, Milan, Ravenna, Naples, Sens, Trier, Magdeburg, and Cologne and of course, Rome. In more recent centuries the term came only to be used of Rome.

And thus we find the term cardinal used in the Church at Rome (from at least fifth century) to designate priests permanently serving in the Roman parishes and ministries under the Bishop of Rome, the Pope— These were the “cardinal priests.” However, as the number of priests grew, not all the priests attached to these Roman parishes were known as cardinal, but only the first priest in each such parish—i.e. the Pastor or Rector.

Cardinal priests attended not only to their own ministry or parish but also convened regularly to oversee matters of Church discipline in the diocese of Rome. These might include matters of disciplining the clergy, filling vacancies and so forth. But it also involved matters pertaining to the laity insofar as they interacted with the Church. Thus the Cardinal priests assisted the Pope in the administration of the Diocese of Rome. There are some echoes of all this in every diocese through a mechanisms known as the College of Deans and College of Consultors who assist the Bishop in administrative details and matters of Church discipline.

Cardinal Deacons – During all this time just described there also existed a group known as the cardinal deacons. The Roman Diocese was divided into seven regions and a deacon was assigned to each. They performed numerous duties but chief among them was record-keeping and the coordination of the care of the poor, cemeteries and the like. Given their elevated status over a deacon who only served a parish, they came to be called cardinal deacons. These cardinal deacons would also assist the Pope liturgically whenever he was in that region of the diocese. The number of these cardinal deacons gradually rose over the years.

Cardinal Bishops – Yet again, during all this time there also emerged the cardinal bishops. As the worldwide Church grew in size, the duties of the Pope, and the administrative concerns of the Roman Church (diocese) grew. The Pope increasingly came to call on bishops of nearby dioceses (esp. Ostia and Velletri, Porto and Santa Rufina, Albano, Frascati (Tusculum), Palestrina (Præneste), and Sabina) to represent him in an official capacity and to give him counsel. In a way it was like the modern notion of a local synod.

Thus we see that the Cardinals had varying ranks and functions. They were, assistants of the pope in his liturgical functions, in the care of the poor, the administration of papal finances and possessions, and met in synod over the disposition of important matters to include Church discipline.

By the 11th Century the College of Cardinals took on more importance as they began to oversee the election of a new pope when this became necessary. They not only saw to the election but they also ran things during the interregnum. From this time on their functions and importance grew. The Pope met regularly with them in something called the “consistory,” i.e. the reunion of the cardinals and the pope. In these meetings were regularly treated doctrinal questions of faith, disciplinary matters, canonizations, approvals of rules of new orders, indulgences for the Universal Church, rules for papal elections, the calling of general councils, appointing of Apostolic legates and vicars etc. The consistory also oversaw matters concerning dioceses and bishops, creation, transfer, division, the nomination and confirmation of bishops, also their transfer, resignation, etc.

The Modern Scene – More could be said of the history but allow this to bring us to modern times [2].
Although we see historically that there are three ranks of Cardinals (bishop, priest and deacon) it is now the practice that only bishops are elevated to the College of Cardinals. Since 1962 all cardinals have been required to receive episcopal consecration unless they are granted an exemption from this obligation by the Pope. Most recently this happened with Cardinal Avery Dulles who was elevated to Cardinal but remained a priest.

Though all the Cardinals are now bishops, the traditional distinctions are maintained. The title of “Cardinal Bishop” only means that he holds the title of one of the “suburbicarian” (nearby dioceses of Rome listed above) or that he is the Dean of the College of Cardinals — or that he is a patriarch of an Eastern Catholic Church. Cardinal priests are the largest of the three orders of cardinals. Cardinal priests today are generally bishops of important dioceses throughout the world, though some hold offices in the Curia. The cardinal deacons are either officials of the Roman Curia or priests elevated after their eightieth birthday (such as Cardinal Dulles was).

As for the functions of the College of Cardinals, we have already seen much of this in the history above. In modern times the function of the college is to advise the Pope about Church issues whenever he summons them to an ordinary consistory. The cardinals not only attend the meetings of the College but also make themselves available individually or with small panels of cardinals if the Pope requests their counsel in this way . Most cardinals have additional duties, such as leading a diocese or archdiocese. Others run a department of the Roman Curia.

The College of Cardinals also convenes on the death or abdication of a pope as a papal conclave to elect a successor. The college has no ruling power except during the sede vacante (vacant see) period, and even then its powers are extremely limited.

Those who attain to this office have proven their worth as stable and wise counselors, good bishops of the Church. May our Cardinals experience many graces and blessings in their work of electing a new Pope, likely from among their own number.

Jews reclaim Jesus

Jews reclaim Jesus as one of their own
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

The relationship between Jews and Jesus has traditionally been a complicated one, to say the least.
As his followers’ message swept the ancient world, Jews who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah found themselves in the uncomfortable, and sometimes dangerous, position of being blamed for his death.
Mainstream Christian theology’s position held that Judaism had been supplanted, the Jewish covenant with the divine no longer valid, because of the incarnation of God as Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.
Jews, for their part, tended largely to ignore Jesus.
That’s changing now.
In the past year, a spate of Jewish authors, from the popular to the rabbinic to the scholarly, have wrestled with what Jews should think about Jesus.
And overwhelmingly, they are coming up with positive answers, urging their fellow Jews to learn about Jesus, understand him and claim him as one of their own.
“Jesus is a Jew. He spent his life talking to other Jews,” said Amy-Jill Levine, co-editor of the recently released “Jewish Annotated New Testament.”
“In reading the New Testament, I am often inspired, I am intrigued. I actually find myself becoming a better Jew because I become better informed about my own history,” she said.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a media personality who recently launched a bid for a U.S. House seat, argues in his own new book, “Kosher Jesus,” that “Jews have much to learn from Jesus – and from Christianity as a whole – without accepting Jesus’ divinity. There are many reasons for accepting Jesus as a man of great wisdom, beautiful ethical teachings, and profound Jewish patriotism.”
And Benyamin Cohen, an Orthodox Jew who spent a recent year going to church, admitted that he’s jealous that Christians have Jesus.
“He’s a tangible icon that everybody can latch on to. Judaism doesn’t have a superhero like that,” said Cohen, the author of the 2009 book “My Jesus Year.”
 “I’m not advocating for Moses dolls,” he said, but he argued that “it’s hard to believe in a God you can’t see. I’m jealous of Christians in that regard, that they have this physical manifestation of the divine that they can pray to.
“There could be more devout Jews than me who don’t need that, but to a young Jew living in the 21st century, I wish we had something more tangible,” he said.
The flurry of recent Jewish books on Jesus – including this month’s publication of “The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ” by Daniel Boyarin – is part of a trend of Jews taking pride in Jesus, interfaith expert Edward Kessler said.
“In the 1970s and 1980s, Christian New Testament scholars rediscovered the Jewish Jesus. They reminded all New Testament students that Jesus was Jewish,” said Kessler, the director of the Woolf Institute in Cambridge, England, which focuses on relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims.
A generation later, that scholarship has percolated into Jewish thought, he said, welcoming the trend: “It’s not a threat to Jews and it’s not a threat to Christians.”
For Jews in particular, he said, “It’s not so threatening as it was even 30 years ago. There is almost a pride that Jesus was a Jew rather than an embarrassment about it.”
Boteach agrees, writing in “Kosher Jesus” that “Jews will gain much from re-embracing him as a hero.”
“The truth is important,” Boteach writes. “A patriot of our people has been lost. Worse still, he’s been painted as the father of a long and murderous tradition of anti-Semitism.”
Boteach aims to claim, or reclaim, Jesus as a political rebel against Rome and to exonerate the Jews of his death. But Boteach’s book has attracted plenty of criticism, for instance for blaming the Apostle Paul for everything he doesn’t like about Christianity, such as hailing Jesus as divine and cutting his ties to Judaism.
“Paul never met Jesus, and Jesus certainly never would have sanctioned Paul’s actions and embellishments,” Boteach argues about the apostle who wrote much of the New Testament. “Jesus … would have been appalled at how his followers would later define him.”
“Jews will never accept his divinity. Nor should they,” Boteach writes, in one of many instances of presuming to know what Jesus really thought and meant. “The belief that any man is God is an abomination to Judaism, a position that Jesus himself would maintain.”
He cherry-picks the Gospels to to suit his arguments, writes in casual modern idioms (calling Pontius Pilate a “sadistic mass murderer” and comparing him to Hitler), and gets wrong the most basic details of the Passion story, such as the amount of money Judas took to betray Jesus.
Other experts in the field label Boteach’s book “sensationalistic,” and call him a “popularizer,” but Kessler sees “Kosher Jesus” as part of the trend of Judaizing Jesus. Cohen, the “My Jesus Year” author, offered some support for Boteach even as he expressed doubts about the book.
“I understand what Shmuley is trying to get at there,” he said, but added: “I don’t think anyone has the right to say ‘This is the definition of Jesus,’ especially a rabbi. He’s not ours to claim.”
Levine, who teaches New Testament and Jewish studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, also framed Jewish efforts to study Jesus in terms of mutual respect.
“Speaking personally as a Jew, if I want my neighbors to respect Judaism, which means knowing something about Jewish history, scripture and tradition, I owe my Christian neighbors the same courtesy. It’s a matter of respect,” she said.
She urged Jews to “become familiar with the material and make up their own mind as to how they understand Jesus.”
Ironically, she added, Jews can understand their own history more thoroughly through studying the life of Jesus.
“The best source on the period for Jewish history other than (the first-century historian) Josephus is the New Testament,” she said.
“It’s one of those ironies of history that the only Pharisee writing in the Second Temple period from whom we have records is Paul of Tarsus,” she said. ” ‘The Jewish Annotated New Testament’ is designed in part to help Jews recover their own history.”
But she also wants Christians to use it to understand Judaism more deeply, she said. While many Christian leaders acknowledge that Jesus was a Jew, she said, not many know much about what that means.
“Many Christian ministers and educators have no training in what early Judaism was like,” she said. “Not to take seriously first-century Judaism seems to dismiss part of the message of the New Testament.”
Cohen, the “My Jesus Year” author, found that Christians were very interested in Judaism during the 52 weeks he spent going from church to church.
“Many Christians look on Judaism as version 1.0 of their own religion. Because of that historical relationship, they’re interested in a lot of the theology of Judaism,” he said.
For his part, Cohen learned much that surprised him. “I was shocked when I went to church and heard them give sermons about the Old Testament,” he said. “I had no idea Christians read the Old Testament.”
“One week, I went to church and the pastor gave exactly the same sermon my rabbi did the night before about Moses and the burning bush, and the pastor did it much better,” he continued.
Cohen came away from his Jesus year with a clear understanding of what he believes.
“People ask me all the time if I believe in Jesus. Do I believe he exists? Sure. Do I believe he’s your God? Sure, I have no problem with that,” he said he tells Christians who ask.
“I understand Christians’ love for Jesus and I respect that,” he said. “If anything, I learned a lot from them and did become a more engaged Jew, a better Jew, and I appreciate my Judaism more because I hung out with Jesus.”

Richard Allen Greene – Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire