We seek to keep you literally "updated" on movement in terms of truth and justice in the Middle East in general with a particular eye on Palestine. The links below will take you to various articles and websites that offer the perspective of leaders in the religious, NGO, and human rights communities. Additionally, Al-Bushra, ever vigilant, provides links to regular reporting as well as opinion pieces by journalists. The dates given here indicate when the link was posted; the most recent posting is at the top. Check the article itself for the date the information was released by the source.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pope Addresses American Jewish Community; Rabbi David Rosen Comments

VATICAN CITY, February 13, 2014 (Zenit.org)

Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address to a delegation from the American Jewish Institute this morning.

* * *
Dear friends,

I welcome you here today. Your organization, which on various occasions has met with my venerable Predecessors, maintains good relations with the Holy See and with many representatives of the Catholic world. I am very grateful to you for the distinguished contribution you have made to dialogue and fraternity between Jews and Catholics, and I encourage you to continue on this path.

Next year we will commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of the Second Vatican Council Nostra Aetate, which today constitutes for the Church the sure point of reference for relations with our "elder brothers". From this document, our reflection on the spiritual patrimony which unites us and is the foundation of our dialogue has developed with renewed vigour. This foundation is theological, and not simply an expression of our desire for reciprocal respect and esteem. Therefore, it is important that our dialogue be always profoundly marked by the awareness of our relationship with God.

In addition to dialogue, it is also important to find ways in which Jews and Christians can cooperate in constructing a more just and fraternal world. In this regard, I call to mind in a particular way our common efforts to serve the poor, the marginalized and those who suffer. Our commitment to this service is anchored in the protection of the poor, widows, orphans, and foreigners as shown in Sacred Scripture (cf. Ex 20:20-22). It is a God given duty, one which reflects his holy will and his justice; it is a true religious obligation.

Finally, in order that our efforts may not be fruitless, it is important that we dedicate ourselves to transmitting to new generations the heritage of our mutual knowledge, esteem and friendship which has, thanks to the commitment of associations like yours, grown over these years. It is my hope therefore that the study of relations with Judaism may continue to flourish in seminaries and in centres of formation for lay Catholics, as I am similarly hopeful that a desire for an understanding of Christianity may grow among young Rabbis and the Jewish community.

Dear friends, in a few months I will have the joy of visiting Jerusalem, where – as the Psalm says – we are all born (cf. Ps 87:5) and where all peoples will one day meet (cf. Is 25:6-10). Accompany me, please, with your prayers, so that this pilgrimage may bring forth the fruits of communion, hope and peace. Shalom!

Rabbi David Rosen: Meeting With Francis Was Like Family Reunion
Notes Significant Developments in Judeo-Christian Relationships
By Junno Arocho Esteves

ROME, February 13, 2014 (Zenit.org)

Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee's Director for the Department of Interreligious Affairs, described his meeting today with Pope Francis as feeling like a “family reunion.” The rabbi spoke on today’s audience with the Holy Father in a press conference held at Vatican Radio’s headquarters.

Also present were Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, and Fr. Norbert J. Hoffman, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Relations with the Jews. Twenty members of the American Jewish Committee who attended today’s audience with the Pope were at the press conference as well.

Regarding the significance of today’s meeting, Rabbi Rosen said that Judeo-Christian relations have continued to thrive since the publishing of Nostra Aetate. That Second Vatican Council document, he said, marked a turning point in the perception of Jewish people.

The rabbi remarked that although such pontiffs as John XXIII, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI had taken Judeo-Christian relations to new heights, many believed that no pope after Benedict would “understand the Jews, the significance of the Shoah, or be interested in relations with Jews.”

“There has never been a pope who has had as much intimacy, as much personal friendship, as much engagement with the Jewish community as Pope Francis,” Rabbi Rosen said.

The most important aspect of today’s meeting, he noted, was not what was said but rather what was experienced and felt in the meeting.

“That of course is the amazing power of Pope Francis, this charism that has enveloped him since he has ascended to the pontificate,” Rosen said.

“But it has a special significance in terms of the Jewish-Catholic relationship because we are not only coming to a friend but somebody who sees us as friends. And therefore, in a sense, it was a kind of family reunion. That was the feeling, it was a special family meeting.”

Despite what theological differences Jews and Catholics may share, Rosen said that this sense of seeing the Jewish people not just as the roots of Catholicism but as family has brought a unique affection and warmth that he said was “powerful”.

Shortly after the audience, Rosen said that he, alongside members of the American Jewish Committee, met with Cardinal-designate Pietro Parolin, the Vatican Secretary of State, and Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. While they discussed several theological differences between them, Rosen said that nevertheless those main theological points have been addressed.

While acknowledging that anti-Semitism is a problem that cannot be “fixed overnight”, Rosen said that the teachings of the Catholic Church affirm the validity of the Jewish community.

“Today, the official teaching of the Church is not only categorically opposed to anti-Semitism, but has defined it as a sin against God and man. The problems in terms of Jews as seen as rejected, that is not the teaching of the Catholic Church,” he said.

Before concluding his remarks, Rabbi Rosen reiterated Pope Francis’ final point in his address: the education of younger generations on the importance of Judeo-Christian relations. The relationship between the Jewish community and the Catholic Church in the United States, he noted, is one such example.

“Many here will tell you that [in the United States], not only are there close relationships with the Catholics, but probably the Catholic Church is seen as the closest friend of the Jewish community,” he said.

Regarding the Pope’s upcoming visit to the Holy Land, Rabbi Rosen said that although he would have wished the trip would be much longer, he was certain that the Holy Father “would do everything that has to be done.”

“Everybody is excited!” he said. "No matter how short, it is a guaranteed success. It will be received wonderfully and leave a greater hope for the future and that’s what we need in the Middle East.”

“Pope Francis’ visit”, he concluded, “will be an inspiration to the people of the Holy Land.”

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