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Comments for entry From the World Jewish Congress' website
From the World Jewish Congress' website
Early contacts in 1945 by WJC's Dr. Kubowitsky at an audience with Pope Pius XII failed to bring about a rectification of the prevailing attitude of the Catholic Church towards the Jews.
Then, in 1965 with the accession of Pope Joh XXIII, Jewish hopes were raised with the Pope's announcement of the deletion from the Good Friday liturgy of the phrase "perfidi Judaei", literally the "unbelieving Jews". He also directed Cardinal Bea, Head of the Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, to formulate an understanding and harmonious relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jews.
After much internal debate, The Declaration on the Revelation of the Church to the Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate) was adopted and then promulgated by the Vatican in October of 1965.
All this was stage-setting for the most exciting progress ever made between the Vatican and Judaism that flowed forth from a meeting between a WJC-lead delegation to the Vatican in 1969 when Pope Paul IV declared, "that opportunities will be developed for the cooperation of the Church with the Jewish People in the service of common human causes".
This was followed in 1970 by the historic first formal meeting between representatives of the Holy See and World Jewry - in which the WJC took a prominent role - and laid the foundation for an ongoing relationship and the setting up of a permanent Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee.
Three areas presented major difficulties in the newly established Catholic-Jewish relationship:
the Church's attitudes to our common history,
the Church's stance on respect of the Mission to the Jews
the Church's position regarding the State of Israel
In the ensuing years since this historic WJC-initiated opening and dialog established with Paul IV and his liberally-oriented Vatican, the World Jewish Congress has continued to work with subsequent Popes and their staff in our efforts to nurture and enhance this critically important inter-religious connection.
When visiting Auschwitz, Pope John Paul II made important statements on the sufferings of the Jews and the theological misconceptions concerning the Jews.
But of course the hopeful path to mutual respect and reconciliation between Jews and the Church has not always been without its set-backs and troubles. In 1982 WJC's permanent representative to Rome delivered a formal communication to the Vatican expressing the deep shock of organized Jewry at the announcement that Pope John Paul II would receive Yassir Arafat.
Then in 1985 a Vatican-issued note suggesting the correct way to present Jews and Judaism was regarded by the WJC and other leading Jewish organizations as a retreat from earlier Catholic statements. The president of WJC asked all Jewish communities to seek clarification from their local bishops on their interpretation of the Vatican Notes.
The long journey towards respectful and mutual dialogue with the Church continues to this day. Even after the extremely disappointing suspension of the Catholic-Jewish Holocaust Historian's commission due to the Church's reluctance in 2001 to fully open their historical archive of the 20th Century, progress has still been made. In early 2002 European Catholic and Jewish leaders met in Paris as a part of (delayed) follow-up to the Pope's March 2000 visit to the Holy Land. Among other subjects, the participants dealt with the issue of rising anti-Semitism and the attacks on Jewish schools and synagogues in France. European Jewish Congress President Henri Hajdenberg opened the conference by praising the Pope for his recognition of the significance of the Holocaust and of the establishment of the Jewish State, adding "the end of conflict means that Jews and Catholics can at least discuss their differences serenely together".
Echoing this sense of growing common ground the statement of the Catholic participants of the Paris Conference said, "Aware of our historical responsibilities with respect to the Jews, we take this opportunity to firmly re-affirm our unconditional rejection of all anti-Semitism, secular or religious. Christianity must never be used to justify violent words or actions against Jews. We undertake to dispense a just and respectful education about the Jews and about Judaism to future Christian generations, so that the principles of Vatican II may be forever adhered to not only in the hearts, but also in the acts of all. We pray that peace may come to Jerusalem!"
Author: Von Cello Eintrag from 30.03.2008
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