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A four-day summit in Cape Town between the Vatican and world Jewish leaders including a delegation from the chief rabbinate of Israel has led to the endorsement of a statement condemning Holocaust denial and pledging cooperation in the fight against anti-Semitism and religious fanaticism.
"We again recall the words of Pope John Paul II that anti-Semitism is a sin against God and humanity," the 19th International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee stated at the conclusion of its Nov 4-7 meeting.
The conference between members of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) and the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with Jewry explored common responses to HIV/AIDS under the theme "Dignifying the Divine Image", and reviewed progress in relations since the last meeting in 2004 in Buenos Aires.
Under the leadership of Cardinal Walter Kasper and Rabbi David Rosen, president of the IJCIC, over 50 Jewish and Roman Catholic leaders including Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yonah Metzger of Israel, Rabbi Israel Singer of the World Jewish Congress, and the chief rabbis of South Africa and Poland along with Cardinals Wilfred Napier of South Africa and Theodore McCarrick of Washington also explored ways of reaching out and strengthening moderate voices within Islam.
"The relationship between Catholics and Jews is one of the most remarkable positive transformations in human history," Rosen said. "We have been able to go from transforming our tragic past relationship to working together for the betterment of humanity in keeping with the biblical imperative to sanctify the divine name," he noted at the close of the meeting.
"Care of the sick and less fortunate" was seen as a divinely commanded obligation for both communities, as all men "were created in the divine image", the joint declaration said.
While conceding Jews and Roman Catholics held different ethical stances on "possible prevention strategies" for HIV/AIDS, such as the use of condoms, they were united in "calling for unrestricted palliative care and appropriate attention for all those suffering, threatened and victimized by this tragic pandemic."
The Cape Town declaration also "deplored the rise of radical fundamentalist rhetoric, often coated in religious sentiment and terminology," agreeing on the necessity of including Muslims in future conversations as "combating extremist influences necessitates reaching out to and strengthening the voice of the predominant moderate voices in every culture.
The consultation further agreed "to expand and intensify cooperation between our communities to condemn and respond to and denounced the upsurge in "Holocaust denial" while reaffirming the "right of the Jewish State to live in security and peace."
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