ROME, OCT. 31, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Ángel Kreiman, the grand rabbi of Chile from 1970 to 1990, says he believes that “we have arrived at a new stage in the relationship between Jews and Christians.”
The former international vice president of the World Council of Synagogues gave this perspective in an interview with ZENIT in Rome.
He was attending the commemorative ceremony last Thursday to mark the 40 years since the publication of the Second Vatican Council declaration “Nostra Aetate.”
The meeting, to which Benedict XVI sent a special message, was organized by the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, presided over by Cardinal Walter Kasper.
“Forty years are very important,” recalled the rabbi, former executive of the International Council of Christians and Jews, in his interview. “During 40 years the Jewish people, who were enslaved in Egypt, were in the desert before entering the Promised Land.”
“Forty years after ‘Nostra Aetate’ we are entering a promised land, in which for Catholic bishops and priests, preaching, the teaching of Jesus’ Judaism, and of the Judaism of Peter and Paul, of the apostles, of the Jewish life of the first Christians, is a theological foundation,” he said.
Since 1994, Rabbi Kreiman has presided over a foundation for interreligious dialogue and Judeo-Christian joint study. The foundation is dedicated to his wife, Susy, who was killed in the July 1994 terrorist attack in Buenos Aires against the Central Jewish Community Office, which she headed.
According to this rabbi of the Israeli Congregation of Argentina, “The Catholic Church’s support of Judaism is not like that of one country for another, based on material power. Christians’ support of Judaism is a religious spiritual force.”
Israel’s “best ally”
Assessing these four decades, the rabbi said: “They have been 40 very fruitful and positive years. Both relations between Jews and Catholics, as well as relations between the Holy See and Israel, have increased so much.
“On the Christian side, I think the only limitation has been to indicate the dialogue with Jews as important but not urgent. Now, it is clear that the dialogue with Jews is not an option but an obligation. It is for Catholic people to accept the Jewish people as the original alliance.”
In this context, the rabbi said he believes that “the developments in the theological dialogue are very encouraging. It is time to recognize the differences better to respect one another reciprocally, accepting one another as we are, loving one another precisely for what we are.”
“The limitation of these 40 years has been that there has been no talk of theology in the dialogue, in preaching and in catechesis,” he contended.
“It is a question that also affects Jews, who must understand that dialogue with younger brothers, the Christians, is important, with whom we share faith in one God, known in the universal world,” Rabbi Kreiman continued. “For observant rabbis it is time to begin to think that the Church is not an enemy of Israel, but its best ally.”
In this dialogue, he noted, “it is not only about saying that Christians and Jews are friends, that Jews are not accused of deicide; it must be said that Judaism and Christianity are the foundation of the struggle against paganism. … The paganism of our time is expressed in the forms of terrorism, secularism, materialism and racism.”