The first International Meeting of Rabbis, Cardinals and Bishops, organized by the Neocatechumenal Way took place in Israel last week.
The meeting, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate and the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, saw the participation of 120 Rabbis, 7 cardinals and 20 bishops from around the world. Also present were an estimated 400 priests, itinerant catechists and laity belonging to the Neocatechumenal Way.
Among the cardinals present at the meeting were Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy of the Holy See; Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; Cardinal Josef Cordes, President Emeritus of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.
The historic event was led by Kiko Argüello, Carmen Hernandez and Fr. Mario Pezzi, the initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way, along with Fr. Rino Rossi, director of the Domus Galilaeae International Center where the meeting was held.
Pope Francis expressed his support and closeness to those present in Galilee in a message sent to participants.
“I hope that your encounter will be an occasion to strengthen the bonds of fraternity which you share, and to deepen your commitment to making known the cry of the innocents trough the language of music,” he said.
“In union with you, I ask the Lord to hear this cry and to heal the afflictions of all who suffer. So too I pray that hearts may be opened to the plight of the innocents throughout the world.”
The Suffering of the Innocents
During the meeting, participants listened to a symphony performed by the Orchestra and Choir of the Neocatechumenal Way. Entitled “The Suffering of the Innocents”, the musical piece served as homage and an act of reconciliation with those who suffered during the Holocaust.
“The Suffering of the Innocents” has been performed by the Neocatechumenal Way in various venues around the world, including the Lincoln Center in New York, the Bechar Gerard in Jerusalem, and in 2013, it was performed in front of 15,000 in Auschwitz.
According to communique released by the Neocatechumenal Way, the event saw the discussion of various themes relevant to Jewish-Christian dialogue.
“Throughout the course of the four days, the participants spoke about some common challenges: the salvific mission of the Jewish people and of the Catholic Church in today’s world; the transmission of faith to the next generation; the contrast between the Judeo-Christian anthropology and those anthropologies which hold as premise the negation of God; and the resurgence of anti-Semitism and xenophobic fundamentalism,” the communique stated.
A Shared Commitment to the Presence of God in the World
At the conclusion of the meeting, the rabbis released a final statement, expressing their gratitude and admiration for the international gathering.
“We were impressed by how, in the Neocatechumenal Way, faith is been transmitted to the children, by how families are rebuilt and by how people come to know the Scriptures and the roots Christianity: the faith of Abraham, the passage of the Red Sea, the Exodus, the history of salvation. From this a great respect and love for the Jewish people is born,” the message stated.
The rabbis expressed their commitment “to the presence of God in the world”, as well their concern for the poor, respect for creation and strengthening families.
Concluding their message, the Rabbis said that the meeting foreshadowed “a new spring, the birth of something new in the relationship between Judaism and Christianity.”