United States: Jewish-Catholic conferences in New York

Source: FSSPX News


 On March 27 and 28, the third Jewish-Catholic conference took place in New York. Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop emeritus of Paris, and rabbi Israel Singer, president of the World Jewish Congress were the impetus for these conferences which started in 2004. Around thirty participants met for this dialogue between orthodox Jews and the highest authorities of the Catholic Church.

 In actual fact, no fewer than 15 French bishops and archbishops were in New York this year: Cardinals Jean-Marie Lustiger and Jean-Pierre Richard, archbishop of Bordeaux; Mgr. Bernard-Nicolas Aubertin, bishop of Tours, Mgr. Olivier de Berranger, bishop of Saint-Denis, Mgr. Francis Deniau, bishop of Nevers, Mgr. Maurice Gardès, bishop of Auch, Mgr. Guy de Kérimel, bishop coadjutor of Grenoble, Mgr. Robert Le Gall, bishop of Mende, Mgr. Jean-Christophe Lagleize, bishop of Valence, Mgr. Jean Legrez, bishop of Saint-Claude, Mgr. Gaston Poulain, bishop emeritus of Périgueux, Mgr. Michel Santier, bishop of Luçon, Mgr. Louis Sankalé, bishop of Nice, Mgr. Guy Thomazeau, bishop of Montpellier, Mgr. André Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris, Mgr. Stanislas Lalanne, general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference. Also present were Cardinal Peter Erdö, archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, and prelates from Spain, Germany, Uruguay and Argentina.

 On the morning of March 27, the participants visited an Orthodox Jewish yeshiva (rabbinical school) at the Kraft Center in Harlem, directed by rabbi Weiss. During this visit they had discussions in private with the Jewish students on a Talmudic text, according to Talmudic study methods, which lasted three quarters of an hour. “We welcome you, declared rabbi Weiss, in the name of the Lord. May peace and mutual understanding increase in the midst of our respective traditions.” “There are differences which cannot be overcome. However, we have the same task of working for a better world.”

 Cardinal Lustiger, speaking “for the first time” in a yeshiva, spoke about relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people over the past 40 years since the Conciliar declaration Nostra aetate, up until the prayer of John Paul II at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem in 2000… in order to recall how much the Christianized West, after having received the Bible from the Jews, had been “marked by the Jewish presence far beyond the presence of the Jews themselves.” After 2000 years of tragedies and persecution, “this is not about a new strategy nor is it a simple desire to be neighborly,” he explained, “but more a realization of our debt with regard to the Jews from whom they (the Catholics) have received the very substance of their faith” (sic). “The key to confidence,” he continued, “lies in meeting with great respect for those who hold the most demanding positions in religious matters. This fundamental work which is only beginning, and which for the moment is merely the fact of well-informed Christians, will require one, two or perhaps three generations in order to expand to everyone.” Rabbi Israel Singer described these meetings with Catholics as “revolutionary events.”

 The April 6 edition of Le Figaro reported the end of the visit: “The meeting finished with the chanting of Psalm 122, evoking peace on Israel. David Weiss, Israel Singer and Cardinal Lustiger held hands with their neighbors, a vast chain was formed, the volume increased, so did the warmth. A dance began, arms on shoulders. Everyone danced in time. Everyone hoped that things would no longer be like before.” The accompanying photo showed Cardinal Lustiger surrounded by rabbi Weiss and a Jewish student. For the occasion, he had hidden his pectoral cross inside his cassock.

On March 28, the participants visited other yeshivots belonging to the Loubavitch Jewish orthodox movement, one of the most represented movements since one rabbi in two comes from there.