I have had the privilege of participating in several conferences organized by the Sant’Egidio community, and there is no question of their significant contribution to awareness and understanding among religions - through productive dialogue and individual face-to-face meetings between leaders of various religions, especially between Jewish and Christian ones.
First of all, I would like to express my appreciation to the honorable panelists of this important dialogue.
“Then those who revered G-d spoke with one another an G-d listened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written down before Him of those who revere the Lord and respect His Name.” (Malachi 3:16)
The Jewish-Christian dialogue is a special one for Jews and is an imperative for Christianity. As the late Pope John Paul II described it, “Christianity’s relationship with Judaism is unique and unlike the relationship that Christianity has to any other religion.”
Beyond this most basic need for dialogue is the responsibility we have to the values we believe in. We have an obligation to engage others who believe in these values in order to pursue them together.
Furthermore, the Jewish-Christian dialogue is essential for overcoming bigotry and prejudice. It is part of an imperative to work together for the values we share.
We are blessed to live in a unique historic era in terms of the relationship between Jews and Christians, and the Jewish and Catholic communities in particular.
In my opinion, the most dramatic development in recent years has been the establishment of a bilateral commission for dialogue between the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See, which was the direct outcome of the visit of Pope John Paul II to the Holy Land in the year 2000. This bilateral commission involving some the most important leaders of the religious establishment in Israel and of the Catholic Church. It is a crowning achievement of the dialogue, since the historic Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and the official declaration of Nostra Aetate. The basis for our discussions is religious, moral, and value-based from the perspective of religious leaders - without ignoring our basic differences.
I consider this conference to be an excellent opportunity to make our special relationship public, and to make it known to our communities worldwide.
I would like to thank the community of Sant’Egidio which is doing such an important work to draw hearts closer and to reach world peace.
Let us march together to friendship!