A big issue about which has been debated on the blogs has been the Rav's famous article "Confrontation". Since I haven't read it in a few years (I read it sometime when I was either a sophomore or junior in college), I don't remember many of the specifics and therefore am preferring to stay out of the ring on this one. However, the editorial quotes a paragraph of this article
We certainly have not been authorized by our history, sanctified by the martyrdom of millions, to even hint to another faith community that we are mentally ready to revise historical attitudes, to trade favors pertaining to fundamental matters of faith, and to reconcile "some" differences. Such a suggestion would be nothing but a betrayal of our great tradition and heritage and would, furthermore, produce no practical benefits. Let us not forget that the community of the many will not be satisfied with half measures and compromises which are only indicative of a feeling of insecurity and inner emptiness. We cannot command the respect of our confronters by displaying a servile attitude.While the editorial goes on to question Rabbi Weiss and the school's direction, it doesn't take a genius to explain even just this paragraph. First of all, let's touch on the background: the Rav had lived at the time (though living in Boston and not in Europe) of the Holocaust and even lost relatives through it, so he was definitely affected by that (he tries to deal with this in his famous "Kol Dodi Dofek", which I read as a college senior (for a paper on the Rav's views on evil)). So the Catholic Church's trying to deal with all of this during the Second Vatican Council and enunciated in their Nostra Aetate coming less than two decades after the Holocaust, surely generated within him some weariness on his behalf when he published his "Confrontation" in Tradition in 1964 (while the Second Vatican Council was still proceeding (it would end in the following year in 1965)). However, over forty years later, and especially with what we've seen, there is hope. Granted, I think it is unreasonable that the Vatican should just feel, "Well, hey, y'know we're cool with you now, and we know we've been really protective of our massive and precious storehouse, but we figured all's well in the name of ecumenicalism - y'know, it's all good, our Jewish brothers. Come on in." I doubt that it will go down like that. While I have not spent much time considering the Vatican's storehouse (or whatever it is), I'm sure that if (and, please God, when) the Catholic church opens up, it will be done in a slow and gradual manner.
While these things take time (and apparently the eighties weren't so great), and the Rav was correct that these things can't just be erased in the blink of an eye (paraphrase), would it be too much to go out on a limb to say we can't make little steps, eventually leading up to better relations? Heck, we may even get to see what's in the Vatican.
Tags: Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, YCT, Rabbi Avi Weiss, Jews and Catholics, Jewish Press, Vatican, Interfaith Dialogue