Dialogue: A Religious Exercise

More than merely a political tactic or a social nicety, Jewish-Christian dialogue is a fundamentally religious act, said participants in a Jewish/Christian dialogue in Rome.

Rabbi David Rosen, President of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations said, “When we respond to the divine in the other, we are revering and respecting God himself.” He went on to say “Jewish-Christian dialogue is not only essential for overcoming bigotry and prejudice; it is not only part of an imperative to work together for those values we share. It is, in effect, an expression of our awareness of the divine presence in our midst.”

“Dialogue is not a new and veiled form of proselytism,” Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews said. In dialogue, he added: “Jews become more perceptive and better Jews, and Catholics become more perceptive and better Catholics. Through dialogue they learn to understand better their common heritage, while at the same time, of course, they also learn to understand better their undeniable and well-known differences.”

Italian bishops have already designated January 17th as an annual day dedicated to Catholic-Jewish relations, and Pope Benedict XVI was encouraged by Rabbi Yona Metzger, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel, to make it a universal observation throughout the worldwide church.

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