Few Catholics or Jews have probably heard of Eugene Fisher. But few people have done as much for Catholic-Jewish relations.
Since the 1970s, Fisher has been the full-time staff person on Catholic-Jewish relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He’s also been a veteran consultor to the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
It’s safe to say that he’s been responsible for how thousands of Americans understand what Vatican II had to say about relations with the Jewish people.
When St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore gave Fisher an honorary doctorate in 1999, the school declared that:
“No single American Catholic has done more to foster these teachings (the Second Vatican Council’s declaration Nostra Aetate on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions) and to promote the ‘good fellowship’ between Catholics and Jews called for by the Council than Dr. Eugene J. Fisher.”
Fisher is retiring soon as a result of staff cuts at the Bishops Conference. Several people Ã¢â‚¬â€ Jewish and Catholic Ã¢â‚¬â€ have said to me in recent weeks that they are worried about who will fill his role when an inevitable crisis comes up in Catholic-Jewish stuff. There is hardly an important person in Jewish life who doesn’t know Fisher.
I’ve talked to him several times over the years, about Pope Pius XII, John Paul II’s trip to the Holy Land, Mel Gibson’s movie and other things. You can always tell that he understands the Jewish perspective, even if he ultimately represents the Catholic point of view. Fisher holds a doctorate in Hebrew culture and education from NYU.
“Here”:http://www.americamagazine.org/gettext.cfm?articleTypeID=1&textID=3413&issueID=472 is an article that Fisher had in America magazine about how Jews have been portrayed in Passion plays.
And “here’s”:http://www.americamagazine.org/gettext.cfm?articleTypeID=1&textID=3523&issueID=480 something he wrote after Mel Gibson’s movie came out.