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COMMISSION FOR RELIGIOUS RELATIONS WITH THE JEWS

 

INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC-JEWISH LIAISON COMMITTEE 

17th Meeting, April 30- May 4, 2001

 

The 17th meeting of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee took place May 1-3, 2001 in New York City. The main theme of its gathering was “Repentance and Reconciliation”.

Besides a joint communiqué, the meeting produced a “Declaration on Protecting Religious Freedom and Holy Sites” as well as a “Recommendation on Education in Catholic and Jewish Seminaries and Schools of Theology”. These documents as well as the opening address of Walter Cardinal Kasper, President of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, are published here.

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ADDRESS OF HIS EMINENCE WALTER CARDINAL KASPER

 

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with pleasure that I greet all of you this morning. With many of you I am meeting for the first time, but, I would say, the opportunity to meet “new” people also contains the opportunity to find ever new ways to further develop a relationship that began well before our time, but which is now our own heritage and task. I am committed to this task. I am committed to work together with you for the reconciliation of our two faith communities, on the basis of a total mutual respect for our respective traditions and convictions. This mutual respect has, unfortunately, often been lacking in the past. Teshuva, therefore, is an indispensable step on our path. For us, Catholics, Pope John Paul II has set the example.

On March 12, 1979, still early in his pontificate, Pope John Paul II received in audience representatives of Jewish organizations who had come to Rome, to greet the new Pope and to meet with the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. In his address, the Pope recognized in that meeting the potential “to renew and give a fresh impulse to the dialogue which for the past years you [Jewish leaders] have had with authorized representatives of the Catholic Church. This is indeed, therefore, an important moment in the history of our relations”.[1] And the Pope quite significantly added: “I am happy to have the occasion to say a word on this subject myself.” As a matter of fact, since then Pope John Paul II has spoken many words on the subject.

Seven years later, on Sunday April 13, 1986, the Pope made his historic visit to the Synagogue in Rome. In his address of welcome, Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff said:

 

Your Holiness,

As the chief rabbi of this community, I wish to express to you my intense satisfaction at the gesture you have wished to carry out today, visiting a synagogue for the first time in the history of the Church. This gesture is destined to be remembered throughout history. It shows itself linked with the enlightened teaching of your illustrious predecessor, John XXIII, who, one Sabbath morning, became the first Pope to stop and bless the Jews of Rome who were leaving this temple after prayer, and it follows the path marked out by the Second Vatican Council, which, with the declaration Nostra Aetate, produced that revolution in relations between the Church and Judaism that has made today's visit possible. 

In his response, the Pope also drew on memory, and said:

I am well aware that the chief rabbi, on the night before the death of Pope John, did not hesitate to go to St. Peter's Square; and accompanied by members of the Jewish faithful, he mingled with the crowd of Catholics and other Christians, in order to pray and keep vigil, as it were, bearing witness, in a silent but very effective way, to the greatness of soul of that pontiff, who was open to all people without distinction, and in particular to the Jewish brethren. The heritage that I would now like to take up is precisely that of Pope John. 

It is a heritage primarily characterized by human warmth, faith, sincerity, and sensitivity; qualities, I believe, which invite reciprocity. In fact, over the years a growing number of informed Jews, especially, but certainly not exclusively, scholars and rabbis, have wished to respond in the same way; and I am thinking of the recent Jewish Statement on Christians and Christianity, Dabru Emet, “To Speak The Truth”, as well.

On the Catholic side, I would like to pay tribute to two people who, for a good number of years, have made a decisive contribution to the development of positive relations between our two communities, and who have recently retired from their office in the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews: my honorable predecessor, His Eminence Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy, who was the Commission's President, and the Reverend Dr. Remi E. Hoeckman, OP, who was the Commission's Secretary. They have served the process of Catholic-Jewish reconciliation with the same qualities with which Pope John Paul II had taken up his task: human warmth, faith, sincerity and sensitivity.

As far as I am concerned, it is my hope and intention to continue on a road that Jews and Christians, as people of faith, can walk together. I agree with Cardinal Cassidy when he pointed out during a symposium held at the Van Leer Institute in Jerusalem, on 10 February 1997, that we must move on from the constant examination of difficulties in our relations, to joint action in favour of the moral values which as faith communities we share.[2] At this point in the history of our relations, our Commission is indeed convinced of the need for a dialogue which goes beyond the discussion of problems, and enters into the very heart of what constitutes our identities as faith communities, in order to allow us to proceed - on that basis - along the path of common action in today's society.[3]

This agenda has already been agreed upon by this very body - the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee - at its 13th meeting which took place in Prague, in September 1990. Yet, as you well know, at times other agendas have tried to "hijack" it, even to the point that our Commission felt that it had to reconsider the conditions of its further participation. In the meantime we did continue to work, together with many Jewish friends of faith who also believe in the possibility of, and indeed the need for engaging in a genuine interreligious dialogue, for really sharing the agenda. Rabbi Irving Greenberg has put it beautifully like this: "If committed and believing Christians and Jews can discover the image of God in each other, if they can uncover and affirm each other's proper role in the overall divine strategy of redemption, surely the inspiration of their example would bring the kingdom of God that much closer to everyone".[4]

We are talking here about Jews and Christians of faith, believing people, people who are - in faithfulness to their respective faith traditions - committed to the will of God. We know that many of our Jewish friends share this vision. We welcome them. We are happy to engage - on a religious basis - in a very enriching dialogue experience with them, whatever religious tradition within Judaism they belong to. We wish to receive together with them an agenda which, I believe, is given to both our communities by God. This is, as far as we are concerned, the basis of our partnership, for (and I am using the words which Pope John Paul II spoke in Assisi in October 1986), it is, in fact, our faith conviction which has made us turn to you.

My friends, as Marcus Braybrooke wrote in his book Time to Meet, "religions should meet where religions take their course, in God".[5] We are people who believe in God and want to do His will. We know our own religious faith tradition and are committed to it. We are nourished by it and feel secure in it. Hence we should have no fear to respectfully go near the faith experience of one another, to respectfully see one another's face "as one sees the face of God" (cf. Gen. 33:10), feeling blessed by it. We are partners, we are "others", but we are also "brothers".[6]

The mandate for the Second Vatican Council to study thoroughly the relationship of the Church to the Jewish people came from Pope John XXIII. It expressed more than a mere gesture of goodwill and sympathy. There was a theological understanding there, which Pope John expressed when he received, in October 1960, a group of American Jews, and greeted them with the biblical words, "I am Joseph, your brother". In a certain way, Pope John echoed then what Pope Pius XI had told a group of Belgian pilgrims on 6 September 1938, namely that we Christians are spiritually Semites; and he anticipated what Pope John Paul II would tell the Jews of Rome during his visit to their synagogue: "You are our dearly beloved brothers and, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers" .

The relations between us spring from our respective identities, both of which are linked to the Divine Promise to God's "own people", "that good olive tree unto which [according to Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans] have been grafted the wild olive branches of the Gentiles"[7]. I believe that the discovery, or the re-discovery, of this essential link between both our religious traditions, is basically the agenda for our dialogue. As one of my predecessors, Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, has once put it, "we are linked for good".

 


[1] The relevant papal addresses have been published in the volume Pope John Paul Il, Spiritual Pilgrimage - Texts on Jews and Judaism 1979-1995, edited by Eugene J. Fisher and Leon Klenicki, Crossroad/New York, 1995. 

[2] Cf. also an address given by Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy in Baltimore, on 18 February 1999, on the theme "Catholic-Jewish Relations - The Unfinished Agenda".

[3] Cf. an address given by Remi Hoeckman at The Centre For Jewish-Christian Relations, Cambridge/UK, 5-7 September, 1999, on "Setting the Agenda: the Future of Jewish-Christian Relations".

[4] Judaism and Christianity: Their Respective Roles in the Strategy of Redemption, in Visions of the Other - Jewish and Christian Theologians Assess the Dialogue, edited by Eugene J. Fisher, Mahwah/NJ, 1994, p. 27.

[5] London/Philadelphia, 1990, p. 152.

[6] Cf. Remi Hoeckman in his opening address to the participants of a theological colloquium between Catholic scholars and the Rabbinic Committee for Interreligious Dialogue, at the Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America, Washington DC, 19 June 2000.

[7] Nostra Aetate,n. 4.

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PROTECTING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND HOLY SITES

 

A DECLARATION OF THE
INTERNATIONAL CATHOLIC-JEWISH LIAISON COMMITTEE

 

Religious Freedom Under Attack 

In recent years, inter-religious and anti-religious violence have been on the rise. In some places thousands of people have been killed and thousands more left homeless, even made refugees. Assassination of religious leaders and lay workers has become a frequent occurrence. Shrines, monuments and houses of worship have come under attack, been damaged or destroyed. The rights of many hundreds of thousands of believers have been violated. The offenders are occasionally individuals. More often they have been groups, whether mobs, terrorist organizations, or people with authority: police, military personnel or even governments.

We are troubled by assaults on religious freedom wherever they occur. We are all the more disturbed when members of our own religious communities have been the offenders. Assembled for this International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee meeting, we affirm once again before God and the world community our common commitment to the protection of religious freedom and to the security of holy places. 

Respect for Holy Places 

From the dawn of human consciousness, men and women have experienced the holy in locations that they have designated as sacred. Throughout recorded history, various groups have felt special attachment to places that they considered holy. The sacred texts of the great historical religions include accounts of specific places where individuals or groups experienced significant encounters with God.

Holy places set aside in memory of these encounters with the divine are a part of the character of every religious tradition. The faithful are drawn to them out of reverence for the great events or personalities they commemorate, and as loci for especially fervent prayer. Each of the great religious traditions of humanity has places that it holds to possess special sanctity. Holy places are as much a common feature of the religious traditions of humanity as are sacred time or prayer.

Paradoxically, one of the results of the identification of locations as sacred is that these places can become the focus for the tensions between the members of different religious communities. A place that is considered holy by one group can come to be claimed by adherents of another tradition. As a result, holy places can become the source of conflict as much as of spiritual expression.

Tragically, as religious communities fall into estrangement or antagonism, the holy places of each community often become the target of violence or vengeance instead of veneration and reverence. People act out their contempt and anger through various forms of violation: occupation, desecration, even destruction. So too, when holy sites are used for military purposes, their sacred character is defiled. One group can take physical possession of the holy place of another and eradicate traces of its earlier identity. Objects of veneration can be defaced. Holy places have been reduced to rubble.

As people of faith, we know how important our own holy places are in our religious and communal lives. Each of our communities of faith has also experienced the desecration of spaces sacred to us. We know the intense pain that arises from that experience. It is out of this history that we condemn all violence directed against holy places even by members of our own communities. 

Protecting Religious Freedom 

Freedom of religion and of conscience, including the rights of religious communities within society, derive from and are rooted in the liberty of persons before God. As Christians and Jews, we find the religious roots of such respect in the dignity of all persons created "in the image and likeness of God" (Genesis 1:26). Religious freedom is realized through the exercise of specific rights. Among these are: freedom of worship, liberty in public manifestation of one's belief and the practice of one's religion, the freedom of religious communities to organize themselves and conduct their own affairs without interference, the right to show the implications of one's beliefs for society, the right to hold meetings, and the right to establish educational, charitable, cultural and social organizations in keeping with the religious orientation of one's own religious tradition.

Protecting religious liberty requires the efforts of many parties. Looking at our own task, we must do more as religious leaders to teach our fellow believers respect for people who belong to other religious traditions. Religious leaders should also take initiatives to foster a climate of respect. They must be ready to speak out against violations of religious liberty committed against people of other religions.

We encourage religious bodies to institute regular programs of inter-religious education, dialogue and exchange. When members of other faiths, particularly minority religions, come under attack, we urge people of good will to speak out in defense of the religious liberty and the human rights of the minority, to offer them support and to share with them public signs of solidarity. Religious leaders should never use their declarations for incitement or make shrines and houses of worship havens for hostile political action.

We ask all believers to work amicably across religious lines to resolve religious disputes and to follow the ways of peace together. Complaints about violations of religious liberty, freedom of conscience or the sanctity of holy places should be subject to careful examination and must never be an occasion for recrimination or defamation. Rather we must always strive to establish an atmosphere of openness and fairness in which disputes may be resolved. 

Governments and political authorities bear special responsibility for protecting human and religious rights. Those responsible for law, order and public security should feel themselves obligated to defend religious minorities and to use available legal remedies against those who commit crimes against religious liberty and the sanctity of holy places. Just as they are prohibited from engaging in anti-religious acts, governments must also be vigilant lest by inaction they effectively tolerate religious hatred or provide impunity for the perpetrators of anti-religious actions.

Armed forces ought to be vigilant in avoiding violent action against religious minorities and attacks against places of worship and holy sites. In the interest of securing religious liberty, in times of conflict, armed personnel should be trained to respect the rights of religious minorities and holy sites and held accountable for their actions. When conflicts arise between legitimate defense needs and religious immunity, ways must be found to avoid, or at least, minimize the infringement of religious rights.

 

CONCLUSION 

We stand together as representatives of the Catholic and Jewish communities of faith in calling on men and women of all faiths to honor religious liberty and to treat the holy places of others with respect. We call on all people to reject attacks on religious liberty and violence against holy places as legitimate forms of political expression.

We look forward, prayerfully, to the time when all people shall enjoy the right to lead their religious lives unmolested and in peace. We long for the time when the holy places of all religious traditions will be secure and when all people treat one another's holy places with respect. 

New York, New York, May 4, 2001

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RECOMMENDATION ON EDUCATION IN CATHOLIC
AND JEWISH SEMINARIES AND SCHOOLS OF THEOLOGY
 

Relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish People have improved significantly in the last half-century. The education of future clergy and lay leaders in both our communities is crucial if coming generations are to sustain and further this progress.

In particular, the curricula of Catholic seminaries and schools of theology should reflect the central importance of the church's new understanding of its relationship to Jews. To that end, we recommend: 

Courses on Bible, patristics, early church history and liturgy should incorporate recent scholarship on Christian origins. Illumining the complex developments by which both the church and rabbinic Judaism emerged from early Judaism will establish a substantial foundation far ameliorating "the painful ignorance of the history and traditions of Judaism of which only negative aspects and often caricature seem to form part of the stock ideas of many Christians" (Notes on the Correct Way to Present Jews and Judaism in Catholic Preaching and Catechesis, #27, 1985). Opportunities for faculty to continue their own learning about Jewish-Christian relations should be available so that their courses will reflect the richness of contemporary scholarship.

Courses dealing with the biblical, historical and theological aspects of relations between Jews and Christians should be an integral part of the seminary and theologate curriculum, and not merely electives. All who graduate from Catholic seminaries and theology schools should have studied the revolution in Catholic teaching on Jews and Judaism from Nostra Aetate to the prayer of Pope John Paul II in Jerusalem at the Western Wall on March 26, 2000. 

The Jewish community has yet to undertake a similar effort to promote a basic understanding of Christianity. For historic reasons, many Jews find it difficult to overcome generational memories of anti-Semitic oppression. Therefore: 

Lay and Religious Jewish leaders need to advocate and promote a program of education in our Jewish schools and seminaries - about the history of Catholic-Jewish relations and knowledge of Christianity and its relationship to Judaism. Such knowledge does not mean Jewish acceptance of Christianity's theological tenets. Encouragement of dialogue between the two faiths does involve recognition, understanding and respect for each other's beliefs, without having to accept them. It is particularly important that Jewish schools teach about the Second Vatican Council, and subsequent documents and attitudinal changes which opened new perspectives and possibilities for both faiths. 

Educational institutions in both our communities should make every effort as appropriate to their particular contexts to expose students to each other's communities through guest lecturers, field trips, involvement in local, national and international dialogue groups and conferences. The resources of the Internet should be utilized, especially sites such as www.jcrelations.net and the sites of various centers far Jewish-Christian understanding.  

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JOINT COMMUNIQUÉ 

Following the Second Vatican Council in 1965, the Catholic Church and international groups representing the Jewish People both in Israel and in the Diaspora determined to establish together a mechanism to follow through on the extraordinary moment in history represented by the Council's Declaration, Nostra Aetate ("In our Time"). After nearly two millennia of polemical relations, a window was opened to allow dialogue to replace the disputations of the past. The result was the establishment of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee ("ILC") between the Holy See's Commission far Religious Relations with the Jews and the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations ("IJCIC "). IJCIC is comprised of the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, B'nai B’rith International, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Israel Jewish Council for Interreligious Relations, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Rabbinical Council of America, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the United Synagogue of America, and the World Jewish Congress. The 17th meeting occurred May 1-3, 2001 in New York City.

In the years following the 16th meeting (which was held in Vatican City in March of 1998) tensions arose between the Holy See's Commission and IJCIC. The Catholic side was frustrated by the lack of theological dialogue. The Jewish side responded that it wanted to deepen the dialogue in a way that Jews and Catholics could learn about each other and project our communities accurately without risking theological disputations.

We affirm that our partnership is secure and that the vital work of the ILC continues and promises to flourish, now and in the years ahead. As official representatives of our organized religious communities, we are determined to engage our leadership and laity in dialogue and cooperation.

In the Spring of 2000, IJCIC and the Holy See agreed to pursue a broader dialogue. Now, as we concluded our meetings in New York we affirm that we have accomplished our goal. We engaged in probative dialogue that sharpened greatly our understanding of the differences and similarities of our religious faiths.

The main theme of our gathering, Repentance and Reconciliation, was prompted by a desire to review the past eleven years, since Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy's remarkable statement made in Prague 1990, on Teshuva. This was a powerful declaration on the need for remorse and contrition and served as the basis for a groundbreaking call by the ILC for Catholic renunciation of anti-Semitism as "a sin against God and humanity". This theme was subsequently given worldwide attention by Pope John Paul II. Much has occurred since that meeting in Prague: the diplomatic normalization in 1994 between the Holy See and the State of Israel, the publication of "We Remember" in 1998, the visit of Pope John Paul II to Israel in 2000, and the review by Catholic and Jewish scholars of published Vatican archival material on events during World War II in 2000. Yet, there were also moments of tension, including the canonization of Edith Stein, the beatification of Pius IX and the possible beatification of Pius XII and the publication of Dominus Iesus. These issues produced intensive discussion.

We began our conference with a reading in Hebrew from the Book of Psalms (Ps. 85) by Msgr. Pier Francesco Fumagalli of Milan with an English translation by Professor Jean Halperin of the World Jewish Congress, Geneva. IJCIC's Program Chair, Rabbi Gary M. Bretton-Granatoor gave a brief overview of the subject area of our meeting and introduced Cardinal Walter Kasper, the recently appointed President of the Holy See's Commission and Seymour D. Reich, the Chairman of IJCIC.

Cardinal Kasper welcomed all and in his statement said, "I am committed to work together with you for the reconciliation of our two faith communities, on the basis of a total mutual respect for our respective traditions and convictions. This mutual respect has, unfortunately, often been lacking in the past. Teshuva, therefore, is an indispensable step on our path. For us Catholics, Pope John Paul II has set the example." He continued, "At this point in the history of our relations, our Commission is indeed convinced of the need for a dialogue which goes beyond the discussion of problems, and enters into the very heart of what constitutes our identities as faith communities, in order to allow us to proceed - on that basis - along the path of common action in today's society." He concluded his remarks, “I believe that the discovery, or the re-discovery, of this covenantal link between both our religious traditions, is basically the agenda for our dialogue. As one of my predecessors, Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, has once put it, ‘we are linked for good’.”

Mr. Reich stated that “the quite remarkable aspect of Catholic-Jewish partnership is that despite differences and disagreements, fundamental relationships have undergone a sea change, converting the hatred and distrust of centuries into a positive dialogue between two faiths linked by historic threads.” He noted the negative impact of the beatification of Pope Pius IX on Catholic-Jewish relations, especially in Italy because of the Edguardo Mortara affair, in which a Jewish child was forcibly taken from his parents to be raised as a Catholic within the Vatican. The ILC affirms that this episode exemplifies the historical problem which Nostra Aetate and subsequent statements of the Holy See have solved "in our time".

Rabbi Joel Zaiman, Chair of the National Council of Synagogues, introduced Cardinal Cassidy and Rabbi Leon Klenicki, former Director of Interreligious Affairs for the ADL. Cardinal Cassidy, reflecting on the past eleven years, stated, "Dialogue is the exchange of gifts". He suggested that there was still much to do in our dialogue; we must "press forward... there will be no turning back". But he did suggest that if not vigilant, there could be a lessening of interest in our dialogue. Cardinal Cassidy referred to the 1990 ILC meeting in Prague as a "milestone that gave new life to the relationship and led to important work in the fields of education and formation. Several old problems", he said, "were subsequently solved and new impetus was given to Catholic-Jewish relations when the Holy See and Israel entered into formal diplomatic relations. Despite new questions that caused some tension, progress continued to be made and the Commission published in 1998 a Catholic document on the Holocaust, We Remember: a Reflection on the Shoah. The period came to a resounding climax with the visit of Pope John Paul II to Israel in March, 2000".

Introducing the main theme, Repentance and Reconciliation, Rabbi Klenicki argued that each of our communities needs to overcome its own form of triumphalism. "Christianity must overcome theological triumphalism: the conviction that it is the only way of salvation and has to be imposed on everyone. On our side, Judaism needs to overcome the triumphalism of pain and memories. We are obligated to respond to history with new affirmations of God's covenant and with new dimensions of faith in humanity despite human evil's potential". He pointed to the Jewish statement, Dabru Emet (To Speak Truth), signed last year by some 200 American rabbis and scholars, as an example of this Jewish response to Christian outreach for reconciliation.

We then turned to the substantive papers suggested by the main theme. Cardinal Kasper chaired the afternoon session which featured presentations from Fr. Lawrence Frizzell, Professor, Institute of Judeo-Christian Studies, Seton Hall University and Rabbi Dr. Michael Signer, Professor, Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame. Fr. Frizzell reminded us that "Pope John Paul II called Catholics ‘to progress by means of daily conversion of heart, or teshuva in repentance, fasting and works of mercy’ (Address to Jewish Leaders in Budapest, August 18, 1991)". The experience of Christian repentance and return to God's plan for humanity is rooted in the Jerusalem Temple liturgy, especially for the Day of Atonement. "In faith, Christians are challenged to become instruments or ambassadors of reconciliation among human beings and between people and God. How can Christians and Jews become a blessing to each other so that they can become a blessing to the world?"

Professor Signer offered his perspective on Darke Shalom (the Paths of Peace). There is much to be learned about a society from its rituals of greeting. When we greet someone we receive them into our presence and take a risk that we will be received. The Jewish greeting "Shalom" indicates that we bring the other into our presence, wishing them a sense of well-being and wholeness. In the rabbinic tradition the idea of peace is part of the nature of God. It is a unique gift of divine mercy and grace. Equally true is the fact that Jews are commanded to fill their daily lives with the pursuit of peace by establishing a sound network of peace and harmony.

One of the difficult issues addressed by this 17th ILC meeting was the publication of Dominus Iesus. "Dominus Iesus", Cardinal Kasper said, "is an intra-Catholic document about interreligious dialogue addressed to Catholic theologians concerning problems with relativism, syncretism, universalism and indifferentism. It does not enter into the JewishCatholic dialogue. It must be noted first that the relationship between the church and the Jewish people is unique. Second, Dominus Iesus does not call into question the salvation of Jews. Third, the Jewish covenant has not been revoked and remains salvifically effective for Jews. Fourth, Dominus Iesus must be understood properly within the context of Nostra Aetate, papal encyclicals and other official documents of the church regarding Judaism. Fifth, there is no missionary activity on the part of the church directed toward converting the Jews. Dominus Iesus is not the end of our dialogue.  It is a challenge for our dialogue."

Prof. David Berger addressing the issue of Dominus Iesus noted the concerns of some in the Jewish community who hold a belief that it asserted that followers of other religions are in a gravely deficient situation with respect to salvation, that interreligious dialogue is part of the Church's "mission" to the nations, and that equality in dialogue refers to the dignity of the participants but not to doctrinal content. He argued that the contention that Jews are excluded from these controversial assertions appears inconsistent with the language of both the declaration itself and other writings of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which issued the declaration. Berger argued further, however, that there are no legitimate grounds for Jewish objections to Dominus Iesus' passages about salvation and equality. To proffer such objections is to invite reciprocal demands for revisions of Jewish theology and to transform dialogue into an instrument of religious intimidation. He suggested, on the other hand, the passage about mission creates a major problem for dialogue, especially on doctrinal issues, and vindicates the concerns of Orthodox Jews who have largely avoided such discussions.

Discussion then ensued. Fr. John Pawlikowski, OSM stated that the document does not speak about post-biblical Judaism. Cardinal Kasper noted that the document does not fully reflect the doctrine of the Catholic Church or other relevant Papal statements concerning relations with the Jewish faith. Cardinal Cassidy noted that Dominus Iesus was not the final word on the subject.

The evening of May 1 was a most profound experience of fellowship as the ILC honored Cardinals Cassidy and the late John J. O'Connor; Rabbis Mordecai Waxman, Leon Klenicki and A. James Rudin; Sr. Rose Thering, O.P., and Msgr. George G. Higgins for their example, witness and love for the Catholic-Jewish dialogue. The ILC is deeply grateful to Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor and the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue for hosting the event.

The next day (Wednesday May 2, 2001) Fr. James Loughran, S.A presented the Catholic tradition on repentance as it is practiced on a pastoral level through the sacrament of penance and the liturgical life of the Church. His main theme was metanoia, the complete "turning around" of the heart away from sin and towards God. The motivation for this conversion of the heart is love, not fear of condemnation. The discussion that followed further clarified the distinction in Catholic theology between the Church instituted by Christ being sinless and the human assembly of the Church being sinful.

Professor David Novak, of the University of Toronto presented a paper on "The Evolution of Jewish Attitudes Towards Non-Jews ". He said that the Torah ordains that Jews must respect those of a different religion who recognize God as the Creator and do not worship idols. These people must be respected for "Darke Shalom" (the paths of peace) as long as they do not threaten Jews or Judaism.

Fr. Gerald P. Fogarty, of the University of Virginia and Dr. Michael R. Marrus of the University of Toronto, two members of the panel of scholars charged by the Holy See and IJCIC (previously authorized at the 1998 ILC meeting in Rome) to review the published Vatican documents relating to the World War II period, discussed their preliminary report. Drawing upon their reading of the eleven volumes of the Acts and Documents of the Holy See during World War II, the scholars have submitted a preliminary evaluation of the collection and expressed their appreciation for the efforts of the editors at objectivity. They reported that the team concluded that it makes a valuable contribution to the historical record. Along with the evaluation the scholars submitted forty seven specific questions illustrating the need to continue an examination of this complex and difficult subject. While differing among themselves, as scholars regularly do, they agree that the question of the role of the papacy during the war remains unresolved. While the opening of the Vatican archives will not definitely put this matter to rest, opening the archives will help to remove the aura of suspicion and will contribute to a more mature level of understanding. The ILC takes note of the importance of this issue to both of our communities, and encourages a discourse on the subject that is characterized by mutual respect, and appreciation for legitimately held points of view.

Discussion ensued. Fr. Pawlikowski said that while the issue is not yet settled, the reference to the "silence" of Pius XII is an unfair characterization and should be removed from the debate. Dean Marrus stated that we need a positive response to the interim report and the "ball is in the Vatican's court ". He further said that we need movement on the issue of the archives and "access to the archives would be salutory" .

Our attention then turned to the first draft of a joint statement on Protecting Religious Freedom and Holy Sites. After much debate and discussion over two days, our ILC adopted the resolution that is attached. The ILC also issued a "Recommendation on Education in Catholic and Jewish Seminaries and Schools of Theology" which is also attached to this communiqué.

The third day of meetings began with a brief memorial for Cardinal John J. O'Connor, on the first anniversary of his passing. Rabbi Bretton-Granatoor read the words of the Hebrew poet, Hannah Senesh entitled Yesh Kochavim (There are Stars). We then turned to the third session of papers.

Dr. Eugene Fisher, of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops surveyed the vast array of episcopal statements, educational programs, improvements in teaching materials, academic institutions of Jewish and Christian studies attached to Catholic Universities, dialogues and joint social action on all levels that have advanced the prophetic vision of Nostra Aetate and embedded its spirit deeply and inextricably into the life of the Catholic Church worldwide. "The theological challenge issued by the Second Vatican Council and so carefully built upon by subsequent statements", he said, "has become an edifice of doctrinal stone that will last the centuries".

Seymour Reich spoke about the remarkable changes that have taken place in the course of our dialogue. He made important suggestions about education in Jewish schools that have been incorporated into the aforementioned resolution on Education in Catholic and Jewish Seminaries.  He also called to the attention of Church leaders the need to understand that for virtually all Jews, the survival and welfare of the State of Israel is a "litmus test" that reflects the self-image and sense of survival as a people. It is important, he said, for Catholics to comprehend the emotional ties of the Jewish community to the Jewish State and to recognize that tenor and tone are almost as important as substance in matters affecting that nation.

During a discussion concerning on-going projects in local communities a number of interesting reports were offered. For the first time, the Ambassador of Israel to the Holy See, Neville Lamdan, together with the Minister for Interreligious Affairs at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, Moshe Fox, took part in the meeting as observers. Ambassador Lamdan reported on the efforts being made by his embassy together with the Holy See to advance Catholic-Jewish relations, such as educational work at Pontifical Universities, "people to people" experiences such as pilgrimages, student exchanges, international developmental cooperation, cultural events. 

Rabbi Ron Kronish of Israel spoke about projects in Israel and the Palestinian Authority that bring together Jews, Christians and Muslims. Professor Georges Schneck of Brussels spoke about ongoing work in his country and Rabbi Henry Sobel of Brazil shared experiences from Latin America.

With regard to Jedwabne, a World War II massacre of Jews by Poles, Bishop Stanislaw Gadecki of Poland made three points. "First, I must stress Polish responsibility in the crime committed in Jedwabne. I do not justify the Polish conduct at all. Second, during wartime, many people looked for a scapegoat to explain their own misfortunes. Too many found it in the stereotype that the Jews collaborated with the Communist regime. We know that the Jews were used and abused - as were other minorities - by the Soviets, as were the Poles by the Germans. The demonization of the Jews, and the traditional anti-Semitism grounded on Christian stereotypes, also influenced the anti-Jewish pogrom. Third, what we Poles want is to acknowledge our own sin and to repent".

A suggestion was adopted by consensus that there should be more representation by women in the planning and the programming of ILC meetings.

The meeting concluded with Psalm 133 offered in Hebrew, Latin and English by Betty Ehrenberg of the Orthodox Union, Dr. Hans Hermann Henrix of Germany and Lisa Palmieri-Billig of the ADL in Italy. Final reflections were offered by Cardinal Edward Cassidy and Seymour Reich. Cardinal Edward Egan of New York hosted the ILC at his home on May 3.  His kindness and warm welcome to us was deeply appreciated.

The International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee expressed appreciation for the hard work and dedication of the staff of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations whose space, and facilities were conducive to a pleasant and productive environment.

We extend our appreciation to the Secretary of IJCIC, Rabbi Dr. Leon Feldman and to Reva Kaiser, Zeesy and Joel Schnur of Schnur Associates for their labors in the coordination of the conference.

***

 

PARTICIPANTS

 

CATHOLIC PARTICIPANTS

 

WALTER CARDINAL KASPER
President
Commission for Religious Relation with the Jews
Vatican City 

EDWARD IDRIS CARDINAL CASSIDY
President Emeritus
Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews 
Vatican City 

Sister MARY BOYS, SNJM 
Union Theological Seminary
New York, NY 10027, USA 

Reverend DREW CHRISTIANSEN, SJ 
Woodstock Theological Center 
Washington, DC 20057, USA 

Dr. PHILIP A. CUNNINGHAM
Executive Director
Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College
Pelham, NH 03703, USA 

Reverend PATRICK DESBOIS
Comité Épiscopal pour les Relations avec le Judaïsme
75005 Paris, France 

Sister CELIA DEUTSCH, NDS
Brooklyn, NY 11230, USA 

Sister AUDREY DOETZEL, NDS 
Relation and Encounter 
Brooklyn, NY 11235, USA 

Dr. EUGENE FISHER
Associate Director
Secretariat for Catholic-Jewish Relations NCCB in the U.S.A
Washington, DC 20017-1194, USA 

Most Reverend MICHAEL L. FITZGERALD, M.AFR. 
Secretary
Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue 
Vatican City

Reverend LAWRENCE FRIZZELL
Institute for Judaeo-Christian Studies
Seton Hall University
South Orange, New Jersey 07079, USA 

Msgr. PIER FRANCESCO FUMAGALLI 
Biblioteca Ambrosiana 20123 Milano, Italy 

Most Reverend STANISLAW GADECKI 
Auxiliary Bishop of Gniezno 
62 200 Gniezno, Poland 

Sister DONNA GEERNEART, SC
Director - Ecumenical & Interfaith Relations 
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops 
Ottawa, K1N 7B1, Canada 

Most Reverend MARC OUELLET
Vice-President
Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews 
Vatican City 

 

JEWISH PARTICIPANTS 

Dr. AVI BEKER
Director of International Affairs 
World Jewish Congress, Israel Office 
Jerusalem, Israel 

Dr. DAVID BERGER
Rabbinical Council of America
Professor of History
Brooklyn College and Graduate Center of CUNY 
Flushing, NY USA 

RABBI ALVIN BERKUN 
Rabbinical Assembly 
Tree of Life Congregation 
Pittsburgh, PA USA 

RABBI PYNCHAS BRENER 
Principal Rabbi
Union Israelita de Caracas 
Caracas, Venezuela 

RABBI GARY M. BRETTON-GRANATOOR
Program Chairman
International Jewish Committee on Interreligious 
Consultations (IJCIC)
CentraI Conference of American Rabbis
Senior Rabbi, Stephen Wise Free Synagogue 
New York, NY USA 

RABBI DR. ALAN BRILL
Rabbinical Council of America 
Professor 
Yeshiva University, Bernard Revel Graduate School 
Teaneck, NJ USA 

Ms. SARRAE G. CRANE
Director
Department of Social Action and Policy 
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism 
New York, NY USA 

RABBI STEVEN DWORKEN
Executive Vice President
Rabbinical Council of America
New York, NY USA

RABBI LAWRENCE H. EDWARDS
Associate National Director far Interreligious Affairs
American Jewish Committee
Chicago, IL 60603

Ms. BETTY EHRENBERG
Director
International and Communal Affairs 
Orthodox Union
New York, NY USA

Professor DR. ERNST LUDWIG EHRLICH
Director
European B'nai B'rith
Riehen-Basel, Switzerland

RABBI JEROME M. EPSTEIN
Executive Vice President
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism 
New York, NY USA

RABBI PROFESSOR LEON A. FELDMAN
Secretary
International Jewish Committee on Interreligious 
Consultations (IJCIC)
New York, NY USA

MOSHE FOX
Minister far Public and Interreligious Affairs 
Embassy of Israel, Washington 
Washington, D.C. USA

JUDGE MAYER GABAY
Chairperson
Israel Council on Interreligious Relations 
Jerusalem, Israel

PROFESSOR JEAN HALPERIN
Interfaith Consultant
World Jewish Congress, Geneva 
Geneva Switzerland

Ms. JUDITH M. HERTZ
Chair, Interreligious Affairs
Union of American Hebrew Congregations 
New York, NY USA

RABBI PHILIP HIAT
Scholar in Residence, Central Synagogue 
Union of American Hebrew Congregations 
New York, NY USA

KENNETH JACOBSON
Assistant National Director 
International Affairs Division 
Anti-Defamation League 
New York, NY USA

RABBI JOSEPH KARASICK
Hon. President
Orthodox Union
Time Instrument Enterprises 
New York, NY USA

RABBI LEON KLENICKI
Director
Department of Interfaith Affairs 
Anti-Defamation League
New York, NY USA

RABBI DR. RON KRONISH
Director
Israel Council on Interreligious Relations 
Jerusalem, Israel

AMBASSADOR NEVILLE LAMDAN
Israel's Ambassador to the Holy See 
Rome, Italy

Mr. DANIEL S. MARIASCHIN 
Executive Vice President 
B'nai B'rith International 
Washington, DC USA

Dr. MICHAEL MARRUS
Dean
School of Graduate Studies
Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario Canada

RABBI PAUL MENITOFF
Executive Vice President
Central Conference of American Rabbis 
New York, NY USA

RABBI JOEL H. MEYERS 
Executive Vice President 
Rabbinical Assembly 
New York, NY USA 

PROFESSOR SERGIO ITZHAK MINEREI
Israel Council on Interreligious Relations 
Ben-Gurion University
Jerusalem, Israel 

Ms. ISABELLA NESPOLI
World Jewish Congress 
Brussels, Belgium 

RABBI DR. DAVID NOVAK
Director
Jewish Studies Program
University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario Canada

Ms. LISA PALMIERI-BILLIG
Representative of Anti-Defamation League in Italy 
Rome, Italy

RABBI JORDAN PEARLSON 
Canadian Jewish Congress 
Temple Sinai
Toronto, Ontario Canada 

RABBI DANIEL POLISH
Director, Joint Commission on Social Action 
Union of American Hebrew Congregations 
New York, NY USA

Mr. SEYMOUR D. REICH, ESQ.
Chairman
International Jewish Committee on Interreligious 
Consultations (IJCIC)
New York, NY USA 

RABBI PROFESSOR DAVID ROSEN
Director, Interfaith Relations and Liaison to Vatican 
American Jewish Committee
Jerusalem, Israel

RABBI GILBERT ROSENTHAL
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism 
Executive Director
National Council of Synagogues 
Brookline, MA USA

RABBI A. JAMES RUDIN
National Director of Interreligious Affairs 
American Jewish Committee
New York, NY USA

PROFESSOR LAWRENCE H. SCHIFFMAN 
New York University
New York, NY USA

PROFESSOR DR. GEORGES SCHNECK
Hon. President
Consistoire CentraI Israelite de Belgique 
Brussels, Belgium

RABBI MARC SCHNEIER
Chairman, Commission Intergroup Relations 
World Jewish Congress
New York NY, USA

RABBI FABIAN SCHONFELD
Rabbinical Council of America 
Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills 
Flushing, NY, USA 

RABBI DR. MICHAEL A. SIGNER
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Joint Commission on Interreligious Affairs 
Department of Theology, University of Notre Dame 
Notre Dame, IN USA 

RABBI ALAN SILVERSTEIN 
Rabbinical Assembly 
Congregation Agudath Israel 
Caldwell, NJ USA 

Dr. ISRAEL SINGER 
Secretary General 
World Jewish Congress 
New York, NY USA 

RABBI HENRY L SOBEL
Interreligious Affairs, Latin American Jewish Congress
Congregação Israelita Paulista
Sao Paulo, Brazil

MR. GEORGE SPECTRE
B'nai B'rith International
Washington, DC USA 

Mr. JACOB STEIN
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism 
Hicksville, NY USA

Mr. ELAN STEINBERG 
Executive Director 
World Jewish Congress 
New York, NY USA

RABBI JONATHAN WAXMAN 
Rabbinical Assembly 
Elberon, NJ USA

RABBI WALTER S. WURZBURGER
Rabbinical Council of America
Professor of Philosophy, Yeshiva University 
Lawrence, NY, USA

RABBI JOEL H. ZAIMAN
Chairman
Rabbinical Assembly 
Congregation Chizuk Amuno 
Baltimore, MD USA

PROFESSOR TULLIA C. ZEVI
Former President
Union Italian Jewish Communities 
Rome, Italy

 

*** 

CARDINAL KASPER SPELLS OUT CONDITIONS
FOR CONTINUED JOINT RESEARCH

 

After a group of Catholic and Jewish experts, appointed in 1999 by the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the International Jewish Committee on lnterreligious Consultations to study the eleven volumes of Acts et Documents du Saint-Siège rélatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, suspended its work in 2001, Cardinal Kasper made the following statement. 

Relations between the Catholic Church and the Jews recorded a positive turning point with the Declaration Nostra aetate (n. 4), of the Second Vatican Council (1965). Dialogue therefore replaced their ancient disputes.

In this new atmosphere, the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the International Jewish Committee for lnterreligious Consultations took the initiative in October 1999 of forming a group of experts, consisting of three Jewish representatives and the same number of Catholics, with the duty of examining and presenting important questions concerning the 11 volumes of the collection Actes et Documents du Saint-Siège rélatifs à la Seconde Guerre Mondiale, published by several famous historians between 1965 and 1981. Indeed since that date, in the public discussion on the Holy See and the Holocaust only marginal attention has been paid to the abundant documentation contained in those volumes.

The Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews learned with regret of the decision of the group of experts, last July, to suspend their research. At the same time, it is grateful to the group members, especially the Catholic representatives, for all that has been achieved so far and for their availability.

From the outset it was obvious that it would not have been possible, within the limits of the mandate entrusted to the group, to solve all the problems which could only have been solved with the consultation of sources not yet accessible, or with further research. However, it was believed that the possible results might for now encourage an objective discussion.

The experts of the group agreed to take on their difficult task. They were never, at any time, led to expect that they could have had access to documents in the Vatican Archives after 1922.

In October 2000, the group of experts presented a Preliminary Report, which included 47 questions; this document was the subject of controversial discussions by other historians. The continued research of the group was examined thoroughly at the meeting of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee held in New York (1-4 May 2001). The positive outcome of this examination incited both parties to continue their research and to present a Final Report.

In fact one had to accept the impossibility of resolving the different interpretations of the groups' tasks and aim. In addition, indiscretions and polemical writings on the Jewish side were instrumental in giving rise to a sentiment of distrust. All this made it practically impossible to continue joint research.

This scientific work can only be done on the basis of uprightness, in respect and mutual trust of those who undertake it. This indispensable presupposition was totally lacking, because of the controversy that resulted after the suspension of the research and because of the suspected offences that accompanied the suspension. The Catholic members of the group publicly disassociated themselves from these polemical interpretations and evaluations. At the present state of affairs and on these grounds, it does not therefore seem possible to foresee the resumption of the common endeavour.

The Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews wishes to remove every doubt about the irreversibility of the progress made towards understanding between Jews and Christians, a journey that must be made in the interest of both. This process, which began with the Council, was continued by Pope John Paul II. Authoritative Jewish representatives also made it plain that they did not want such public controversy, reaffirming their desire to continue further dialogue on religious matters.

Of course, understanding between Jews and Christians also requires an investigation of history. Access to all the relevant historical sources is therefore a natural prerequisite for this research. The desire of historians to have full access to all the archives concerning the Pontificates of Pius XI (1922-39) and of Pius XII (1939-58), is understandable and legitimate. Out of respect for the truth, the Holy See is prepared to allow access to the Vatican Archives as soon as the work of reorganizing and cataloguing them has been completed.

In the coming months, The Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews will do all it can to find the adequate means to reactivate research on a new basis, in the hope that it will be possible to reach the point of a common clarification of the questions raised. All this with the conviction of the Commission that the Catholic Church does not fear the historical truth. 

24 August 2001 

Cardinal Walter KASPER
President
Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews

 

August 29, 2001

 


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