United States: Second Judaeo-Catholic Symposium in New York

Source: FSSPX News


Between February 28 and March 1st, in New York, more than 40 cardinals, bishops and rabbis from around the world took part in the 2nd Judaeo-Catholic Symposium. The first Symposium took place last year, organized by Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger the then archbishop of Paris and Rabbi Israel Singer, president of the World Jewish Congress. “This meeting, which had seemed impossible, is a gift from God,” said Cardinal Lustiger.

This year, the Symposium brought together twice the number of participants, as many from Jewish circles as Catholic, with everyone agreeing emphatically, that the “Covenant of hope” is a new stage in Judaeo-Catholic relations. “We are no longer at a stage of rapprochement, we are working together,” said Fr. Patrick Desbois, secretary of the Episcopal Committee for relations with Judaism, the mainspring of this Symposium, in an interview given to RCF (network of Christian Radio in France), thus emphasizing that Catholics and Jews had passed, since Vatican II, from reconciliation to specialist dialogue, and were now working together.

 In a communiqué, the Symposium organizers highlighted several of these joint ventures: food centers in Argentina and Brazil destined for the most needy and co-directed by priests and rabbis, joint initiatives in Africa for providing care for Aids victims, and the search for the communal graves of the Jewish victims of the Einsatzgruppen Nazis in the Ukraine during the last war, under the aegis of a Judaeo-Catholic foundation.

 “Never again must religions be at the service of war,” said the communiqué, which specified that “this Covenant of hope is not directed against anyone. On the contrary, it makes an appeal to all religious leaders and above all to Muslim leaders, so that on a world level, we can say and certify that religions no longer serve wars, but rather hope and peace.”

 Among the participants at this Symposium were Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for the Unity of Christians, Cardinals Godfried Daneels of Brussels, Claudio Hummes of Brazil, Theodor E. McCarrick of Washington, and Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana. A delegation of eight French prelates also followed the proceedings, led by Cardinal Lustiger and Mgr. Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux and president of the French Bishops Conference. On the Jewish side, more than 30 rabbis were present including Rabbi Goldschmidt of Moscow, Rabbi Bleich of the Ukraine, Rabbi Bernheim of France and several American rabbis.

 At the close of this 2nd Symposium, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop emeritus of Paris, gave a positive account of the meeting. This spectacular rapprochement between Catholics and Orthodox Jews comes from the fact, he explained, that “the crisis of contemporary civilization demands a deeper fidelity on the part of men and women who believe that God, our Creator, is He who gives us the Commandments of life. This is common to Jews and Christians, and our interlocutors have understood this.” “They consider that in this strategic situation of the new world civilization, we have a task to accomplish in this domain. It can show the practical face of solidarity and aid to the poorest, but it also touches on the very vision of man and all challenges which that represents.”

 In conclusion, the cardinal, who is of Jewish origin, considered that it was not a matter of an alliance of religions in general, but it was more a rediscovery of the biblical sources of the vision of man. This rediscovery allows Christians and Jews to approach different religions and to see how men in vastly different, and sometimes opposed, conditions are nonetheless able to make a common and very useful contribution in helping to resolve the problems of the world today.

 Cardinal Walter Kasper, for his part, expressed a fervent wish that the work initiated in New York between the Catholic and the Orthodox Jew authorities would not be short-lived, but continue through time. It is the first time that an official representative of the Holy See has participated at such a meeting. The organizers emphasize that it was totally in keeping with the way mapped out by John Paul II, the first pope to go to a synagogue, in Rome, 1986, and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem in 2000. These were not merely visits, but “groundbreaking moves,” they stressed, adding that it was not a political or media initiative, but a profound interreligious dialogue.