Film Reflects the Evolving Judeo-Christian Dialogue

"I Am Joseph, Your Brother" Presented in Rome

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ROME, OCT. 25, 2002 (Zenit.org).- A rabbi's documentary film on John Paul II's pilgrimage to Israel focuses on some of the critical points in Catholic-Jewish interreligious dialogue.



Rabbi Ron Kronish's film "I Am Joseph, Your Brother," which was presented in Rome this week, aims to reflect the changes in relations between the two religions.

The film includes pictures of the Vatican Secret Archives and of Yad Vashem, the Israeli national memorial dedicated to Holocaust victims.

The documentary is forthright in its handling of thorny issues: the Holocaust, accusations against Jews about blood sacrifices, and Pope Pius XII's alleged silence.

The film also includes statements of Catholic students on Jews, and Jews' comments on Catholics. In the latter, reference is made to the Jews' statement "Dabru Emet," published in 2000, which marks the new era of mutual recognition.

The documentary's title is inspired by Pope John XXIII's words to a Jewish delegation that visited him in the Vatican. He addressed them with ease and said: "I am Joseph, your brother." This phrase marked the start of a new era between Catholics and Jews, after decades of mutual misunderstandings.

Using pictures from the archives and interviews with scholars, nuns, Jews and Catholics, the director has consulted the most representative documents on Jewish-Christian relations.

"Nostra Aetate," the Vatican's recognition of the state of Israel in 1994, and the document "We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah" are all referred to in the film.

During the film's presentation, Rabbi Kronish said that he wanted to offer a Jewish point of view on the past 40 years of relations with the Church.

He said that today we are in a "new era of dialogue," which has passed from persecution to cooperation. A good part of the film is dedicated to the Second Vatican Council.

For his part, German Salesian Father Norbert Hoffman, the new secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, explained after the film's showing that "we discover our identity by talking with others," hence the need for Catholics to meet with their "elder brothers," the Jews.

Amos Luzzato, president of the Union of Jewish Communities of Italy, recalled his relation with Pope John XXIII, and said that the dialogue cannot be limited to pure friendship. In this connection, he encouraged those present to address difficult topics, and opposing views, in order to go forward and grow.

Lastly, historian Alberto Melloni said that "anti-Semitism is a sin," and stressed the importance of the years preceding "Nostra Aetate," in regard to the Christian view of the Jewish people.

The film premiered in Europe on the occasion of the forthcoming celebration of the declaration "Nostra Aetate" (Oct. 28, 1965). The film is a joint endeavor of Tal-El Productions of Jerusalem and the U.S. bishops' conference, which will be shown at the Religion Today festival in Trent.

The film may be requested from the headquarters of Israel's Interreligious Council (www.icci.co.il). The council comprises Christians, Muslims and Jews. Its activities include joint Jewish-Arab programs on issues of faith, peace, environment and education.

The film was presented in the Palazzo Barberini of Rome in the context of activities organized in the Italian capital with the World Conference for Religion and Peace, in cooperation with the Community of Sant'Egidio, the Judeo-Christian Friendship, and SIDIC (Information and Documentation Service on Jews and Christians).