Catholics and Jews Show Different Faces toward Interfaith Dialogue ; Eye on Religion

Article excerpt

At the heart of interfaith dialogue is how religions view one another. The past year has chalked up several interfaith milestones, which have begun putting to rest centuries of misunderstanding and animosity between Christians and Jews, and drawn some Christian churches closer together.

Two statements issued over the past week, though, are likely to leave their mark on the dialogues in very different ways.

The Roman Catholic Church seemed to go against the grain of its own efforts of recent years. Shortly after beatifying Pope Pius IX, whom many Jews consider anti-Semitic, the Vatican issued a pronouncement reasserting its primacy as the one true church and road to salvation, and relegating other Christian churches to a "gravely deficient situation." It seemed to many Protestants and Catholics to be a retreat from the spirit of the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s, which sparked greater ecumenical activity.

Meanwhile, Jewish scholars at the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies in Baltimore, Md., released a statement endorsed by more than 150 rabbis from all Jewish denominations calling on Jews to reevaluate their perceptions of Christians and Christianity.

Responding to Christian steps to revise views of Judaism and apologize for past mistreatment of Jews, the theological statement titled Dabru Emet (Speak the Truth) is "unprecedented in Jewish history," the group says. It also challenges some widely held views in the Jewish community. The statement discusses eight points:

*Jews and Christians worship the same God.

*They seek authority from the same book - the Bible.

*Christians can respect the claim of the Jewish people upon the land of Israel.

*Both accept the moral principles of Torah. …