VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The improved relations between Jews and Catholics prove that openness and humility can transform even the most poisonous rapport between religions into genuine fraternal respect, a leading rabbi said.
“If such a bad relationship — which it was unfortunately for most of 2,000 years — can be such a wonderful relationship today, then there is no relationship, no matter how bad and how poisoned, that cannot be transformed and made into a blessed one,” Rabbi David Rosen said at a Vatican news conference Oct. 28.
The rabbi, international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee, was among several religious representatives who were present earlier at an interreligious general audience with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square.
Members of the Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, Jain and Sikh faiths were in Rome attending a conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s document, “Nostra Aetate.” The conference Oct. 26-28 was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations With the Jews.
Rabbi Rosen told journalists that “Nostra Aetate” was revolutionary in healing the divide between Catholics and Jews, and the document continues to be a sign of hope for peace and reconciliation between the world’s religions, he said.
In fact, the vastly improved relationship between Christians and Jews, he said, serves as a call “to address our relationship with all other religions.”
Swami Chidananda Saraswati, a Hindu religious ascetic, told journalists that he was “touched by the spirit of ‘Nostra Aetate,'” and said the declaration also represents “the spirit of Hinduism.”
For example, “when I read ‘Nostra Aetate,’ it repeatedly mentions respecting the values, the culture, respecting each other’s dignity and going about religious expressions very carefully, not treading on anyone’s foot,” he said.
Rasoul Rasoulipour, a Muslim and professor of literature and human sciences at the University of Kharamzi in Tehran, Iran, said the conciliar document was a shifting point in the history of religions and changed the church’s approach from “concepts to persons, from beliefs to believers.”
Rasoulipour said he admired Pope Francis’ humility, and added that “all religious leaders from different traditions and religions have to learn from him.”
Samani Pratibha Pragya, a follower of Jainism, said she was moved by the pope’s humility when he asked her to pray for him. She also described the interreligious meeting as a garden with a collection of different flowers that displays “the beauty of mankind.”
Brinder Singh Mahon, a representative of the Sikh religion, called the day’s general audience with the pope a “humbling experience” that serves as a reminder for all world religions to do more to bring people together.
Help us keep you informed -- CatholicPhilly.com can't do it without youDuring CatholicPhilly.com's fall donation campaign, you have a way to help us deliver the kind of news you need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live. Every household's costs keep rising, and we're no different. We make sure your dollars in any amount go a long way toward continuing our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month. Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can -- a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: