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Meeting of the International Liaison Committee
between the Roman Catholic Church and Judaism

Germany

Regensburg, October 22-25, 1979


Press release

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 the State.

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 with pluralism.

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:

Jewish participants:
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.

 

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