Jews and Catholics Defend Conscience
Stress Need for States to Recognize Minorities
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JERUSALEM, MARCH 20, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Jewish and Catholic delegations dedicated to improving relations between the two religions concluded a recent meeting with a call to respect religious freedom and the role of the conscience.
The bilateral commission meeting of the Delegation of the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel's Delegation for Relations with the Catholic Church considered "The Freedom of Religion and Conscience and Its Limits."
They met March 11-13 in Jerusalem. Cardinal Jorge Mejía and Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, chairmen of the respective delegations, presided over the meeting.
The concluding document of the meeting states: "The human capacity to choose is a manifestation of the divine image in which all people are created and is foundational for the biblical concept of human responsibility and divine justice."
It continues: "Moreover freedom of choice is derived from God and therefore is not absolute, but must reflect divine will and law.
"Accordingly human beings are called to freely obey the divine will as manifested in Creation and in his revealed word."
"The idea of moral relativism is antithetical to this religious worldview and poses a serious threat to humanity," the Jewish and Catholic representatives asserted. "Even though the Enlightenment helped bring about a purification from the abuse of religion, secular society still requires religious foundations to sustain lasting moral values.
"Critical among these is the principle of the sanctity of human life and dignity. Ethical monotheism affirms these as inviolable human rights and therefore can provide inspiration in this regard for society at large."
The delegations considered that it is "legitimate for a society with a predominant religious identity to preserve its character, as long as this does not limit the freedom of minority communities and individuals to profess their alternative religious commitments, nor to limit their full civil rights and status as citizens, individuals and communities."
The declaration concludes with an appeal to all religious and political leaders "to work determinedly to promote peace, dignity, security and tranquility in the Holy Land for all its peoples and for the world as a whole."