AJC Cosponsoring Visit of Mexican Bishops to Poland, Israel

June 13, 2005
New York - The American Jewish Committee, together with the Mexican Jewish community, is bringing a delegation of Mexican and American Latino bishops to Poland and Israel, a new initiative to advance Catholic-Jewish understanding.

Cardinal Norberto Rivera, the Archbishop of Mexico City, and bishops from several Mexican cities — Ecatepec, Gudalajara, Hermosillo, Oaxaca, Texcoco and Tijuana — are participating. The Rev. James A. Tamayo, bishop of Laredo, Texas, and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Hispanic Affairs, is one of the U.S. Latino bishops going.

The trip, which will take place from June 18 to 29, is a joint project of AJC's Latino and Latin American Institute and Tribuna Israelita, the political affairs agency of the Mexican Jewish community, an AJC international partner. For decades AJC has spearheaded American Jewish outreach to the Catholic Church. AJC has a longstanding relationship with the Polish government, and frequently sponsors educational seminars to Israel for diverse groups from the U.S. and Europe.

"This visit of Mexican and U.S. Latino bishops to both Poland and Israel will contribute to deepening their understanding of the two main pillars of the contemporary Jewish experience, the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel," said Dina Siegel Vann, director of AJC's Institute on Latino and Latin American Affairs. "We hope to expand this initiative to include Catholic leaders from across Latin America."

The initiative comes during the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the proclamation that radically changed the Catholic Church approach towards Jews, and the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz and defeat of Nazi Germany.

The delegation will follow a path similar to one taken annually by thousands of Jewish high school students in programs such as March of the Living. In Poland, they will visit the sites of Nazi concentration and death camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau, Majdanek and Belzec. AJC, in partnership with the Polish government, dedicated last year a permanent memorial and museum at Belzec.

In Poland, they will meet with Polish Foreign Minister Daniel Adam Rotfeld, Catholic and Jewish religious leaders, and Israel's ambassador to Warsaw.

In Israel, they will tour both Jewish and Christian holy sites, and meet with former Chief Rabbi Meir Lau, representatives of the Holy See, and a range of Israeli Arabs and Jews.
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