Lauder calls for religious faiths to fight antisemitism, xenophobia

WJC president to address Rome conference on coexistence tomorrow

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November 6, 2019 17:29
3 minute read.
Lauder calls for religious faiths to fight antisemitism, xenophobia

World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder speaks at the Kyiv Jewish Forum. (photo credit: JEWISH CONFEDERATION OF UKRAINE)

As antisemitism and violence against other religious communities continues to rise across the globe, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) is set to host a conference on Friday in Rome that addresses interreligious dialogue and coexistence.

At the conference, entitled “Human Fraternity: A Jewish Reflection for Common Coexistence,” WJC president Ronald S. Lauder will address the meeting taking place at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Other speakers will include Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and Father Nuno da Silva Gonçalves, rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University.

According to the WJC, the initiative for this conference “was born following the co-signing of the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together by Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar, in February in Abu Dhabi.”

The document’s introduction makes it clear that its aim is “to be a joint declaration of good and heartfelt aspirations. It is a document that invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings, brothers and sisters.”

One of the main declarations in the document states that “religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood.

“These tragic realities are the consequence of a deviation from religious teachings. They result from a political manipulation of religions and from interpretations made by religious groups who, in the course of history, have taken advantage of the power of religious sentiment in the hearts of men and women in order to make them act in a way that has nothing to do with the truth of religion.”

A second important declaration focuses on the silence of the international community in the face of poverty and unequal distribution of natural resources.

“We... affirm that major political crises, situations of injustice and lack of equitable distribution of natural resources – which only a rich minority benefit from, to the detriment of the majority of the peoples of the earth – have generated, and continue to generate, vast numbers of poor, infirm and deceased persons,” it states. “This leads to catastrophic crises that various countries have fallen victim to despite their natural resources and resourcefulness of young people which characterize these nations.

“In the face of such crises that result in the deaths of millions of children – wasted away from poverty and hunger – there is an unacceptable silence on the international level.”

Speaking prior to Friday’s conference, Lauder said in a statement that the “recent rise in incitement and violence against Jews and members of other religious communities and minorities underscores for us just how essential interfaith dialogue and cooperation are in progressing toward our vision of a more peaceful and secure world for all peoples.”

He expressed his deep appreciation for “the relationships I have been so fortunate to build with representatives of the Catholic Church, chief among them Pope Francis and Cardinal Ayuso, and sincerely admire the efforts that they are making on a daily basis to ensure that coexistence remains an achievable goal.

“Antisemitism and xenophobia are not just problems facing the targeted victims. These are obstacles that we must confront and overcome together.”

Other participants at the conference will also include representatives of the Catholic clergy, members of Jewish communities and Jewish youth movements and the rectors of additional pontifical universities and faculties.


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