U.S. Catholics and Orthodox Jews Air Concerns

Mideast Violence and «The Passion» Discussed at Meeting

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WASHINGTON, D.C., MARCH 15, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A just and peaceful solution to the strife in the Holy Land was a major topic of discussion at a recent meeting of delegates of the Catholic Church and Orthodox Judaism.

The meeting in New York was attended by representatives of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, the Union of Orthodox Jewish Organizations, and the Rabbinical Council of America.

It continued a series of twice-yearly meetings that began in 1987 following a visit of John Paul II to the United States and his historic meeting with representatives of the American Jewish community.

Of special concern to the Catholic delegation was the plight of Christians in the Holy Land and what might be done to assist them, a concern warmly received by the Jewish delegation.

A second area of mutual concern, raised by the Jewish side, was the possible impact of the film, «The Passion of the Christ,» which had not yet been released when the Jan. 29 meeting took place.

Without commenting on the film itself, which none had seen, the delegates agreed that the often-tragic history of Passion Plays over the centuries legitimized such concerns in the present.

The two sides reaffirmed their commitment to stand together to fight anti-Semitism wherever it might arise.

It was noted that in cities across America, Jews and Catholics are developing educational programs on the proper understanding of Church teaching in this area.

Bishop William Murphy called the attention of the group to a new publication of the U.S. bishops’ conference, The Bible, the Jews and the Death of Jesus: A Collection of Catholic Documents, as a helpful resource.

The two groups agreed to establish a subcommittee to develop a joint statement on aid to schools to be presented for discussion at their next meeting on Sept. 9.

They will also take up shared concerns over recent attempts to redefine what both understand as the sacred institution of marriage.

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