Jewish leadership, Vatican discuss collaboration on common interests

The Vatican and European Jewish leadership discussed their mutual interests in combating racism and what they perceive as a disappearing freedom of religion.

September 3, 2017 15:50
2 minute read.
Pope Francis and Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt

Pope Francis and Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, September 2017. (photo credit: L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO - SVF)


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Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, has said that the Jewish rabbinic leadership has several common causes with the Catholic Church and the Vatican and that improved relations will help improve collaboration on those issues.

The rabbi spoke to The Jerusalem Post after he led a delegation to Pope Francis on Thursday to present a Jewish perspective on Catholic Jewish Relations on the fiftieth anniversary of Nostra Aetate, in which the Catholic Church repudiated the notion of the collective guilt of the Jewish people for Jesus’s death in 1965.

Alongside Goldschmidt and the CER were rabbis from the Rabbinical Council of America, a large modern-Orthodox rabbinical association in the US, and rabbis from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

Goldschmidt and his delegation presented the pope with a document entitled ‘Between Jerusalem and Rome’ that sets out an approach for the two faiths to work together on issues of common concern, and commits to deepening dialogue and partnership with the Catholic Church in the future.

Speaking to the Post, the rabbi noted those common causes ranged from what he described as the curtailment of religious freedom in Europe, or the attempts to do so, racism, and radical Islam.

His comments regarding religious freedoms refer to the several attempts in various countries to restrict or ban circumcision and shechita, or religious slaughter.

Goldschmidt said that the Vatican has been working with the Conference of European Rabbis for several years on such matters.

The rabbi also emphasized the importance of both religious communities and leaders tackling the scourge of Islamist violence, saying that the two could help “counties and societies take the right decisions to make sure the future of Europe is safe without becoming racist or endangering human rights.”
The 'Between Jerusalem and Rome’ document “calls upon the Church to join us (the Rabbinate) in deepening our combat against our generation's new barbarism, namely the radical offshoots of Islam, which endanger our global society and does not spare the very numerous moderate Muslims It threatens world peace in general and the Christian and Jewish communities in particular. We call on all people of good will to join forces to fight this evil.”

Goldschmidt noted that the issue of Israel and Jerusalem remained a challenge for Jewish-Vatican relations, but said that he was certain Pope Francis is very cognizant of the fact that Christians in Israel are safer than anywhere else in the Middle East.

He also said that he felt the pontiff and the Vatican could help bring about “a fair solution to the conflict.”

In Pope Francis’ address to the assembled rabbis, he paid tribute to “a fruitful moment of dialogue” between the two religions, and noted that in the five decades since the Nostra Aetate the communities have been able to draw closer, “grown in mutual understanding and deepened our bonds of friendship.”

Continued the pontiff, “may the Eternal One bless and enlighten our cooperation, so that together we can accept and carry out ever better his plans, “plans for welfare and not for evil”, for “a future and a hope.”

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