Catholic-Jewish Panel Puts a Focus on Families and Human Life

Holy See and Chief Rabbinate of Israel Had 1st Meeting

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2003 ( The search for peace and the promotion of religious values was the main issue of the first meeting of the Mixed Commission for Catholic-Jewish Dialogue.

The new institution, composed of a delegation of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and by a delegation of the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with Judaism, met in Villa Cavalletti, Grottaferrata, near Rome, from Feb. 23-27.

The Jewish delegation was headed by Rabbi Shar Yishuv Cohen, while Cardinal Jorge Mejía, archivist and librarian of the Holy Roman Church, chaired the Catholic delegation.

The final statement on the meeting, issued by the Vatican press office today, emphasized that the «dialogue must consist of truth and honesty, in respect for our different religious identities.»

«We are dialoguing as people of faith having common spiritual roots and patrimony. Dialogue is a value in itself and excludes any intention of converting,» the document clarified.

In their commitment to promote peace and religious values, Catholics and Jews stressed two fundamental areas: the «sanctity of human life» and «family values.»

«Every human life is holy, sacrosanct and inviolable,» it said. «According to Leviticus 19:2, God’s holiness constitutes an essential imperative for moral behavior: ‘You shall be holy for I am Holy, the Lord your God!'»

«Any attack against the life of a human being runs contrary to the will of God, is a desecration of God’s name, directly opposed to the teaching of the prophets,» the statement continued. «Taking any human life, including one’s own, even in the name of God, is sacrilegious.»

Because of this, they added, terrorist «violence everywhere in the world is a contradiction of faith in God, the Creator of man, who cares for man and loves him.»

In regard to the promotion of family values, Jews and Catholics recognized the «great value» of marriage «in the religious perspective,» as «God has blessed this union and sanctified it.»

It said: «The institution of the family stems from the will of the Almighty who created human beings in the image of God; ‘male and female He created them.'»

«Family and home unity provide a warm and protecting surrounding that nurtures children and ensures their proper education, in keeping with tradition and beliefs. The family unit is the basis for a wholesome society,» the representatives said in their statement.

«In such a perspective, we cannot agree to alternative models of couples’ union and of the family,» they concluded.

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