Jewish-Catholic Dialogue

BUDAPEST, Hungary, NOV. 13, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Catholic and Jewish youth delegates gathered in a special meeting before participating in the liaison committee meeting to strengthen relations between the two religions.

This was reported by the joint declaration of the 20th meeting of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, which took place Sunday through Wednesday in Budapest.

The location was chosen to emphasize the theme of the meeting: the role of religion in civil society today and the current state of Jewish-Catholic relations in Eastern Europe.

The committee recognized the “growing friendship and mutual understanding” between the two creeds, which can become “a sign of hope and inspiration for our troubled world. The new spirit of friendship and caring for one another may be the most important symbol that we have to offer to our societies.”

To illustrate this hope, the committee noted the “first ever gathering of a group of young leaders” from both religions.

Religion in society

The theme of religion in civil society was addressed by Jozsef Schweitzer, retired chief rabbi and former Rector of the Rabbinical Seminary of Budapest, and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, D.C..

The rabbi spoke of the historical struggle both creeds have experienced to maintain traditions in moments when the civil society outlawed the religion’s public expression.

The cardinal reflected on the “benefits of religious institutions for civil societies, including transcendent moral values, charitable works, and cultural treasures through various media.”

Although society rejects these religious values, “they remain crucial for the well-being of the individual and society,” the panel pointed out. “Every society must respect and defend human dignity and human rights.”

They called on state leaders to protect society against extreme forms of religious prejudice. As religious leaders, they committed themselves to the responsibility of promoting respect and dialogue among members of their traditions, especially among the youth.

“The present economic crisis makes us aware of the unity and interconnectness of the whole human family,” they stated. “Blame for the current crisis should not be assigned to any particular religious, economic, social, ethnic or national group. […] We seek to deliver a message of hope that invites everyone to be recommitted to the goal of economic justice and human solidarity.”

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