Jewish-Catholic Panel Agrees on Religion-State Ties

Should Be One of Collaboration, Say Leaders After Jerusalem Meeting

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JERUSALEM, JULY 12, 2005 ( Jewish and Catholic leaders meeting in Jerusalem agreed that the relationship between states and religions must be one of collaboration, not antagonism, respecting the autonomy of each.

This was the conclusion of the bilateral commission meeting of the delegations of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s Delegation for Relations with the Catholic Church. The meeting was held June 26-28.

The meeting, which focused on «The Relationship between Religious and Civil Authority in the Jewish and Christian Traditions,» served to underline the right of every individual and community to religious liberty.

«The relationship between religion and State must be based on reciprocity, mutual respect and cooperation,» stated the Catholic and Jewish delegations in a final communiqué.

«Legislation for the promotion of particular religious values is legitimate when done in harmony with the principles of human rights,» both sides acknowledged. «Religious values are crucial for the well-being of the individual and society.»

«The purpose of civil authority is to serve and provide for the welfare of the people through respecting the life and dignity of every individual,» the communiqué said.

To protect society

Highlighting the importance of democracy, the participants emphasized that «it is essential to legally protect society from extreme individualism, exploitation by vested interest groups and insensitivity to the cultural and moral values of religious traditions.»

On the first day of the meeting, Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar of Israel expressed «his fervent support for the dialogue to emphasize profound shared values of the two Traditions, while not ignoring the distinctions that make us different faith communities,» explained the communiqué.

The Jewish delegation was led by Chief Rabbi Shaer Yashuv Cohen. The Catholic delegation was headed by Cardinal Jorge Mejía and included Cardinal Georges Cottier, theologian of the Pontifical Household.

Given that it was the first meeting held since the death of Pope John Paul II, the chairmen of the bilateral commission, «fruit of his initiative,» made special mention «of his historic contribution to Catholic-Jewish reconciliation.»

They also expressed their appreciation «for the commitment to continue to promote these bilateral relations, on the part of his successor Pope Benedict XVI.»

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