Rabbis call on Vatican to join fight against 'radical offshoots of Islam'
Conference of European Rabbis
Rabbinic organizations from across Europe, the United States, and Israel called on the Catholic Church to join their fight against "radical offshoots of Islam" at an audience with Pope Francis on Thursday, at a meeting in which the Jewish groups expressed their keenness to collaborate with their Catholic "allies".
"We call upon the Church to join us in deepening our combat against our generation's new barbarism, namely the radical offshoots of Islam, which endanger our global society and does not spare the very numerous moderate Muslims," read a document drafted by the organizations entitled 'Between Jerusalem and Rome: Reflections on 50 Years of Nostra Aetate'.
"It threatens world peace in general and the Christian and Jewish communities in particular. We call on all people of good will to join forces to fight this evil," the statement continued.
The Nostra Aetate declaration, which was drafted and promulgated by Pope Paul VI on October 28, 1965, was designed to draw unity between the Church and non-Christian religions.
The document was presented to Pope Francis by Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt of the Conference of European Rabbis alongside other delegates. It was signed by representatives of the Conference of European Rabbis, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, and the Rabbinical Council of America.
Rabbi Goldschmidt afterward told i24NEWS that the Pope was "extremely responsive" during the meeting, which he also noted was a rare display of unity between geographically disparate Jewish groups.
"It is a fruitful meeting, an historic meeting and also a meeting which united the Jewish people," Rabbi Goldschmidt said in an interview. "I told Pope Francis when we presented the document that it's hard to get Europeans, Israelis and Americans to be in anything, and if they're Jewish it's even more difficult."
He also said that the fight against radical Islam needed to be waged by Jews, Christians - whose adherents number an estimated 2.2 billion - and moderate Muslims working together.
"We have to fight this stream, this radical stream, this mutation in Islam. By supporting, on one hand, the moderate Muslims all over the world, and to also further the interfaith dialogue with the Muslim world, and on the other hand to do everything to separate this radical, very dangerous strain, which is a menace for us and for mankind."
A representative from the Holy See, Father Norbert Hofmann, said the presentation of the document was the culmination of years of dialogue between the two religions since the publication of Nostra Aetate.
"I was very surprised and was very happy that Catholics are called allies, friends, partners of the Jewish people and I was very happy to hear the will to intensify our collaboration in several fields," said Father Hoffman, who steers Catholic relations with Jews as Secretary to the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews of the Holy See.
"The dialogue with the Jewish people is very important for us, because Christianity has Jewish roots. So we as Christians can understand ourselves only as relative to Judaism," Father Hoffman added.
However the letter also recognized some shortcomings in the broader Christian attitudes toward Judaism, urging other Christian churches to follow the Vatican's lead in its handling of anti-Semitic teachings.
"We ordinarily refrain from expressing expectations regarding other faith communities' doctrines," the consortium of Jewish organizations wrote.
"However, certain kinds of doctrines cause real suffering; those Christian doctrines, rituals and teachings that express negative attitudes toward Jews and Judaism do inspire and nurture anti-Semitism. Therefore, to extend the amicable relations and common causes cultivated between Catholics and Jews as a result of Nostra Aetate, we call upon all Christian denominations that have not yet done so to follow the example of the Catholic Church and excise anti-Semitism from their liturgy and doctrines, to end the active mission to Jews, and to work towards a better world hand-in-hand with us, the Jewish people."
Rabbi Goldschmidt also remarked to i24NEWS that "Some of the eastern Christian denominations have not made changes in their liturgy, like the Catholics did and afterwards the Protestants, so there is still a lot of work to be done".
Polina Garaev, i24NEWS' Europe correspondent, contributed reporting from the Vatican.
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The socialist pope may be more toward the far left than one may wish.
This does not bode well for the western world.