In any telling of the story of American Catholicism the ground breaking work of Edward Flannery shall have to be a part. He spanned the wide gulf of incomprehension which lay between American Catholics and American Jews, two immigrant communities with much in common but with very different memories of the past. He pin pointed this in an often quoted remark in the introduction to his book "The Anguish of the Jews" where he wrote, "It is little exaggeration to state that those pages of history Jews have committed to memory are the very ones that have been torn from Christian (and secular) history books." Bridging this gap was not a task for the faint of heart since the painful memories which had been passed over by Christians remained bitter ones for the Jewish community. Facing them could not be pleasant, but was indispensable for the healing of memories necessary as a firm foundation upon which to build Christian-Jewish relations in the centuries to come. Flannery is and will remain a prominent figure in a gifted and courageous generation of Christian and Jewish leaders who in the last decades of this century played a pivotal role in setting history on a new course. No doubt he had many reasons to be glad that the work he and others initiated has withstood a sometimes unfavorable climate and progressed to a level of acknowledgment and acceptance it has reached today. Just shortly after Flannery took up the position of secretary for Catholic-Jewish relations at the bishops' conference the 1967 War broke out in the middle-East. The swiftness which with it unfolded caught the churches off-guard and speechless. In what was seen as the silence of the churches, Jewish-Christian relations hit the most difficult juncture they encountered during the years of Flannery's work. No small portion of credit goes to him for the patient progress made from such an inauspicious starting point. It was his nature, however, always to look at what remained undone, and while others might consolingly point out "the glass is already half full," he was there to insist it remained half empty. He now joins a number of these other leading figures who preceded him in death. May they be united in the bosom of Abraham as they were in life and may the peace of the Lord be theirs. May his cup of gladness brim over.
Father John F. Hotchkin
Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs