U.S. Catholic And Jewish Leaders Meet to Mend Fences

February 26, 2009

Author: Adelle M. Banks

Source: Religion News Service


In the wake of controversies that have roiled longtime Jewish-Catholic relations, leaders from both faiths announced the launch of a new permanent dialogue between Catholics and Jews in the United States.

The joint project of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center and the Anti-Defamation League, announced here Thursday (Feb. 26) comes at a time of significant tension between the Vatican and the international Jewish community.

Jewish organizations are outraged that Pope Benedict XVI readmitted into the church in January leaders of the Society of St. Pius X, including Bishop Richard Williamson, who has denied that millions of Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

Twenty-eight leaders joined for Thursday’s launch at the John Paul Center, with plans to determine by May who will be included in the forthcoming dialogue. Hugh Dempsey, deputy director of the center, said it will include a wide range of Jewish organizations, scholars, and rabbinical associations as well as the Vatican and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the dialogue began as leaders marked 30-days since the death of interfaith relations pioneer Rabbi Leon Klenicki. Klenicki retired in 2001 as the ADL’s liaison to the Vatican.

But Thursday’s meeting was also intended to respond to what he called the recent “mini-crises,” Foxman said.

“We were concerned that they not build into a major crisis,” he said.