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Reform Jewish Movement Encouraged by Amendment of Catholic Interfaith Dialogue Principles

Pelavin: “We are equally committed to real and meaningful dialogue with our Catholic friends, and are confident that future engagements will flourish following the principles of this amended doctrine.”

Contact: Kate Bigam or Liz Piper-Goldberg
202.387.2800 | news@rac.org

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 8, 2009 – In response to the release of a “Statement of Principles for Catholic-Jewish Dialogue,” by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Mark Pelavin, Director of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs of Reform Judaism, issued the following statement:

We are encouraged by amendments released this week by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to “A Note on Ambiguities Contained in ‘Reflections on Covenant and Mission,’” which, in its prior form, suggested that Jewish-Catholic dialogue could be used as a means for proselytism by Catholics.  The “Note,” which was issued in June, raised our concern, as well as that of other member organizations of the National Council of Synagogues that believe in the importance of dialogue to build relationships based on mutual respect.

The new statement from the bishops, issued in response to a letter from the National Council of Synagogues, affirms the sanctity of the Jewish covenant, the fact that “Jewish-Catholic dialogue, one of the blessed fruits of the Second Vatican Council, has never been and will never be used by the Catholic Church as a means of proselytism—nor is it intended as a disguised invitation to baptism,” and the value the Catholic Church places upon “dialogue and friendship with the Jewish people.” Further, the USCCB recognized the importance of distinguishing when its statements are matters of internal theological opinion, rather than teachings of the Church.

We are equally committed to real and meaningful dialogue with our Catholic friends, and are confident that future engagements will flourish following the principles of this amended doctrine. As a Movement, we regard interfaith engagement as indispensable to the attainment of mutual understanding in a robust, pluralistic society. The work of social justice, including protecting the environment and advocating for health care reform, can often best be accomplished through interreligious efforts, and honest, open dialogue is the platform for our two communities to partner toward the repair of the world.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1,800 Reform rabbis.



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