Jewish and Roman Catholic leaders reviewing their dialogue over the past four decades expressed concern on Wednesday that younger generations had little idea of the historic reconciliation that has taken place between them. The two faiths must keep this awareness alive at a time when the last survivors of the Holocaust are dying and both the Catholic and Jewish worlds are changing in significant ways, they said at the end of a four-day interfaith conference.
The International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee (ILC) met in Paris to discuss the future of the dialogue begun after the Catholic Church renounced its anti-Semitism and declared its respect for Judaism at the Second Vatican Council in 1965.
“We have new generations for whom the problems between Judaism and Christianity, especially the Shoah, are history,” said Cardinal Kurt Koch, the top Vatican official for relations with Jews. “We can’t leave that to history.” Rabbi David Rosen of the American Jewish Committee said: “Today most young Catholics have no comprehension of how tragic the relationship in the past between Jews and Catholics was. Jews were viewed as the enemies of God, in league with the devil, responsible for the tragedies of the world,” he said, but the Church now saw them as “dearly beloved elder brothers.”
The closed-door talks took up the question of increasing contacts with Muslims without setting out any new initiatives. “We spoke about a trialogue of Catholics, Jews and Muslims because we have a lot in common,” Koch said. “But there are also problems. Some terms don’t always mean the same thing for us.”