Seeking New Ways for Catholic-Jewish Dialogue

A Bishop and a Rabbi View a Work in Progress

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ROME, JAN. 16, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A bishop and a rabbi met to talk about the need to find new ways to advance the dialogue between Catholics and Jews.



Bishop Rino Fisichella, rector of the Lateran University and president of the Rome Diocese's Commission for Ecumenism and Dialogue, and Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni of Rome spoke at a conference at the school on Thursday.

The conference was held in preparation for the Day of Dialogue with Jews, which the Church in Italy will observed on Saturday.

Bishop Fisichella said that the conference served "not only to recall that we are friends and brothers, but also to make visible the relationship of friendship."

The speaker gave as an example the commitment made by some Christians in Italy to attend prayers in the synagogue, as a gesture of solidarity after the bloody attacks on two synagogues in Istanbul, Turkey. "We want to further our relationship of friendship," he said.

For his part, Rabbi Di Segni addressed the objective difficulties posed by this dialogue, particularly in the field of theology.

"There has been notable theological progress in Christian theology's view of Judaism. The document on the Jewish Scriptures, an unprecedented event, gives importance to rabbinic exegesis," he said, referring to the Pontifical Biblical Commission's document "The Jewish People and Their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible."

However, "reciprocity at the theological level does not exist," the rabbi said. "Among politicians there can be discussions that lead to a solution, not so among theologians."

"Christianity is born from Judaism and, with notable efforts, can introduce elements of Jewish spirituality," he said. "The contrary is not possible."

Yet, Rabbi Di Segni took note of the theme of the Day of Dialogue: "They Will Serve the Lord With One Accord," and added: "We are moved to work to see how it is possible to realize this ideal."