Friday, November 10, 2006

Catholics and Elder Brethren, Together

The 19th International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee (ILC) Meeting -- the biennial summit of leaders of the two faiths -- met this past week in Cape Town, Cardinal Kasper serving as marquee Catholic rep:
This was the first ILC meeting since the 40th anniversary of the historic declaration of the Second Vatican Council, Nostra Aetate, which has significantly transformed relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish People. During this past year celebratory events were held around the world, as well as an official event in Rome organized by the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. The ILC participants expressed much satisfaction at the level and breadth of these commemorations which testify to the commitment on both sides to advancing their unique bilateral relationship. The ILC participants affirmed the importance of educating the members of their respective communities about the positive changes in the Jewish-Catholic relationship ushered in with the promulgation of Nostra aetate 41 years ago. This is a task for both Catholic communities - especially in developing countries and areas of rapid growth such as Africa, Asia and Latin America where Jewish communities are not always present - as well as for Jewish communities in Israel and other parts of the world which sometimes have little contact with Christians.

Since our last meeting the Catholic-Jewish dialogue has lost one of its principle supporters with the death of Pope John Paul II. On this occasion, we wish to respectfully remember his historic contribution throughout his pontificate to the advancement of the dialogue between the Church and the Jewish People, and between the Holy See and the State of Israel. The ILC participants were pleased to note the increasing effectiveness of the dialogue, including the dialogue between the Pontifical Commission on Religious Relations with the Jews and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, which testify to the need felt on both sides to consolidate open and productive exchange on the great questions facing religious belief in the present world circumstances....

The ILC also focused on specific issues that followed from the deliberations at the 18th meeting: in particular, the need to expand and intensify cooperation between our communities, to condemn and respond to resurgent anti-Semitism, bigotry and terrorism. We again recall the words of Pope John Paul II that anti-Semitism is a sin against God and humanity.

The delegates resolved to adopt a widespread program of education to make known the significant developments that have taken place in Jewish-Catholic relations since Vatican II. They pledged to conduct these educational efforts in both Jewish and Catholic communities and to mobilize the resources of their respective religious and communal organizations to make this a significant part of their joint and separate agendas. They agreed that different programs must be provided for different age groups, cultural contexts and for the two religious communities recognizing that education holds the key to mutual respect and joint moral leadership that have become the basis of their relationship.

The ILC delegates deplored the rise of radical fundamentalist rhetoric, often coated in religious sentiment and terminology, and they agreed to work for serious, multilateral, interreligious dialogue. We determined to work together towards Pope Benedict XVI`s vision of fruitful interfaith dialogue that promotes authentic respect among cultures and religions. In this context the ILC discussed ways to engage in dialogue among Jews, Christians and Muslims, in some form of trilateral dialogue born out of recognition that while there is an obligation to stand up against the violent and prejudicial abuse of religion, combating extremist influences necessitates reaching out to and strengthening the voice of the predominant moderate voices in every culture.

At the same time as we face the terror of pestilence and poverty we face the terror of human violence and hatred. In this context we condemn Holocaust denial and reaffirm the commitment to the right of the Jewish State to live in security and peace.