Meeting of the International Liaison Committee
between the Roman Catholic Church
Regensburg, October 22-25, 1979
The eighth annual meeting of the International Liaison Committee between the
Roman Catholic Church and Judaism took place in Regensburg, Bavaria, Federal
Republic of Germany from October 22nd to 25th, 1979. The Liaison Committee is
composed of representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and of the
International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC).
The significance of the meeting being held in Germany was underlined in a
telegram sent to the Auxiliary Bishop Karl Flügel from Chancellor Helmut
Schmidt: "As you are meeting for the first time in a German city we are reminded
not only how serious are the consequences of estrangement and lack of
understanding between religious communities, but also how important is the task
to seek dialogue against the background of a burdensome common experience. I
believe that in the course of your proceedings you will gain insights which will
promote readiness for tolerance and dialogue not only on the religious plane.
What Jews had to suffer in the painful years of national socialist dictatorship
is a burden which also concerns your deliberations in Regensburg. It is for this
reason that I wish to express to you my gratitude that your encounter it taking
place in the Federal Republic of Germany."
The working sessions of the conference took place in the House Heuport of the
Dioces of Regensburg.
Two main subjects were discussed at this meeting: Religious Freedom and
Education for Dialogue in a Pluralistic Society. On the first subject, two
papers were presented: The Right to Religious Liberty by Msgr. Franco Biffi,
President of Lateran University (Rome), and Religious Liberty in the Jewish
Perspective by Dr. Robert Gordis, Professor of Bible, Jewish Theological
Seminary of America (New York).
Msgr. Biffi's paper outlined the teachings of the Catholic Church on religious
liberty as stated in the Second Vatican Council's document on this subject and
in subsequent papal statements. He analyzed the implications of the church's
position regarding relations between religions and between Church, Society and
Professor Gordis outlined the position of Judaism on religious liberty from a
biblical, historical and philosophical perspective. He presented the concept of
religious freedom as found in Jewish tradition. The discussion of the two papers
revealed convergences of basic conceptions and similarities of problems which
the two religious communities face in the area of religious freedom.
On the second subject, papers were presented by Dr. Eugene Fisher, Secretariat
for Catholic-Jewish Relations, National Conference of Catholic Bishops (USA), by
Dr. Gunter Biemer, Professor of Religious Education, University of Freiburg i.
Br., and by Dr. David Silverman, Professor of Religion, Jewish Theological
Seminary of America, New York.
The papers on the Catholic side dealt with the need for developing new teaching
methods and curricula in the area of Catholic-Jewish dialogue at all levels of
education. Professor Silverman analyzed the phenomenon of pluralism in
contemporary society and its implications in the field of education for
dialogue. He discussed the problems and opportunities for dealing creatively
In addition to the two main subjects, current trends of antisemitism were
discussed by P. Dr. Willehad Eckert, 0.P., Prior of the monastery of Walberberg.
Following his presentation, Bishop Flugel presented a detailed outline of the
work of the German Conference of Catholic Bishops, of the Central Committee of
German Catholics and the Council of the Protestant Church in Germany to
counteracht antisemitism, to promote Christian-Jewish dialogue in Germany and to
foster scholarly research.
The joint committee took note of the recently published "Tractate on the Jews"
by the Regensburg scholar, Prof. Franz Mussner. The work is an outstanding
contribution to the study of the significance of Judaism for Christianity. Both
delegations recognized the progress made in collaboration and mutual
understanding since the Committee began its work in 1971.
The Jewish community tendered a reception to both delegations at the Regensburg
Jewish Community Center.
The Lord Mayor of Regensburg received the conference participants at the
historical Rathaus. Greetings were delivered by Lord Mayor Dr. Friedrich
Viehbacher and addresses given by the two co-chairmen of the conference,
Professor Shemaryahu Talmon (Jerusalem) and Msgr. Charles Moeller (Vatican).
Bishop Dr. Rudolf Graber welcomed the delegates cordially and Bishop Flugel read
to the assembly the above-mentioned telegram from Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. The
participants expressed their appreciation to the choir of the Academy for
Catholic Church Music for its inspiring performance.
At the end of the session the delegates visited the former concentration camp in
Flossenbuurg. Prayers were said for the Jewish and Christian victims who died
there, and Bishop Flugel laid a wreath in their memory.
The following were present at the meeting:
Mr. Fritz Becker, Representative, World Jewish Congress, Rome; Rabbi Balfour
Brickner, Director of Dept. of Interreligious Affairs, Union of American Hebrew
Congregations, New York; Mr. Andre Chouraqui, Jewish Council in Israel for
Interreligious Consultations, Jerusalem; Dr. Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich, European
Director, B'nai Brith, Basle; Mr. Theodore Freedman, National Program Director,
Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith, New York; Dr. Joseph L. Lichten,
Representative, Anti-Defamation League of B'nai Brith, Rome; Dr.Gerhart M.
Riegner, Secretary General, World Jewish Congress, Geneva; Mr. Zachariah
Shuster, European Consultant, Interreligious Affairs, American Jewish Committee,
Paris; Prof. Shemaryahu Talmon, Chairman, International Jewish Committee for
Interreligious Consultations, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Rabbi Marc
Tanenbaum, National Director, Interreligious Affairs Committee, American Jewish
Committee, New York; Dr. Paul Warszawski, Assistant Director, Latin American
Jewish Congress, Buenos Aires; Prof. Michael Wyschogrod, Senior Consultant,
Synagogue Council of America, New York; Prof. Rabbi Robert Gordis, Professor,
Jewish Theological Seminary, New York; Prof. David Silverman, Professor, Jewish
Theological Seminary, New York; Rabbi N. Peter Levinson, Landesrabbiner von
Baden, Heidelberg; Mr. Juan Rosengold, President, Jewish Community, Regensburg.
Roman Catholic Participants:
Prof. Dr. Gunter Biemer, University of Freiburg i. Br., Freiburg; Msgr. Franco
Biffi, President, Lateran University, Citta del Vaticano; R.P. Jacques-Marcel
Dubois, 0.P., Jerusalem; R.P. Bernard Dupuy, 0.P., Paris; Hochw. Pater Dr.
Willehad Eckert, 0.P., Dominikanerkonvent St. Albert, Bornheim-Walberberg; Dr.
Eugene J. Fisher, Secretary, Secretariat for Catholic/ Jewish Relations,
Washington; Most Rev. Karl B. Aux. Bishop of Regensburg, Regensburg; Hochw. Herrn Priilat Dr. Heinrich Gross, Universitatsprofessor, Regensburg; Dr.
Hanspeter Heinz, Direktor des Generalsekretariates des Zentralkomitees der
Deutschen Katholiken, Bonn-Bad Godesberg; The Rt. Rev. Msgr. George Higgins, Social Action Dept., NCCB, Washington; Rev. P. Roger
Le Deaut, C.Ss.P., Roma; Msgr. Jorge Mejia, Secretary to the Commission for
Religious Relations with the Jews, Citta del Vaticano; Msgr. Charles Moeller,
Vice-President of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and
Secretary of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, Citta del Vaticano;
Most Rev. Francis J. Mugavero, Bishop of Brooklyn, Brooklyn; Hochw. Herrn
Priilat Dr. Franz Mussner, Universitatsprofessor, Passau; Msgr. Erich Salzmann,
Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, Citta del Vaticano.