In what has been hailed as a turning point for Catholics involved in inter-faith talks, the Wellington Council of Christians and Jews met on June 16 to consider two documents outlining a basis for relations between the two religions.
Professor Paul Morris gave a summary of the relationship from the beginnings of Christianity, emphasising that it took 400 years for the two faiths to finally separate and noting various phases of closeness and distance subsequently.
The Ten Points of Seelisberg came about as church leaders and a few surviving chief rabbis met in 1947 to address the fact of Christian anti-semitism having been a contributing factor to the Holocaust. It was a call to Christians to remember the Jewish roots of their faith and to avoid anti-Jewish teachings.
Sixty-two years later the International Council of Christians and Jews has produced another document, the 12 Points of Berlin, which includes a call to Jews as well as to Christians and to all people of goodwill.
After an outline of the content of these documents, the gathering of more than 50 people broke into four groups to discuss what might be missing from the documents and what can be done to further good Jewish-Christian relations on the general premise that any friendship, respect and understanding among different groups in society can only make the world a better place.
Among the suggestions were continuing to hold meetings such as that evening’s, fostering individual friendships among people of different faiths, supporting teaching about religion in schools and other institutions such as nursing and police schools.
The meeting ended by agreeing unanimously to endorse, with a few comments, the 12 points, which are due to be adopted by the International Council of Christians and Jews at their conference in Berlin early July 2009.
Sr Catherine Jones says this evening was a turning point for the Catholics who took part in the discussions and enjoyed the hospitality of the Wellington Jewish community.
‘We realise that each small step towards mutual understanding and respect is a move towards making the Reign of God real in our city. We are committed to continuing the dialogue.’
Janet Salek, is a member of the Wellington Jewish community and Catherine Jones smsm represents the Catholic community in ongoing inter-faith talks.