AJC Interreligious Experts Play Central Role at Global Vatican-Jewish Summit

March 3, 2011 – Paris – AJC interreligious leaders addressed the opening and closing plenary sessions of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee (ILC) meeting in Paris this week. The conference theme was “Forty Years of Dialogue: Reflections and Future Perspectives.”

The ILC, founded 40 years ago, is official body through which the Vatican dialogues with Jews. AJC, the premier global Jewish advocacy organization, has played a central role in advancing Catholic-Jewish relations over the decades.

Rabbi David Rosen, AJC International Director of Interreligious Affairs, addressed the historic transformation in the Catholic-Jewish relationship over the past forty years. Rosen’s remarks served to frame conversations during the four-day ILC conference, which focused on Catholic-Jewish relations in the United States, Europe and the Middle East.

Rosen also is immediate past chairman of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), which together with the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews comprise the ILC membership.

“The ILC has played a historic role in advancing the global Catholic-Jewish relationship, helping with the establishment of Israel-Vatican relations, and combating anti-Semitism,” said Rosen. “However, the achievements in this regard and the new role of Israel and Israeli bodies in this relationship, requires the ILC to place greater priority on common ethical action and outreach to other religions, especially Islam.”

Rabbi James Rudin, AJC's senior interreligious advisor and former IJCIC chair, offered the Jewish perspective on the future of Catholic-Jewish relations. Rudin called for increased focus on Catholic communities in South America, Africa and East Asia; expanded programming to engage Catholic and Jewish youth; and more effective use of technology and new media as tools for Catholic-Jewish engagement.

The Catholic delegation attending the ILC gathering was led by Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.

As part of the program, the Catholic and Jewish leaders planted a tree in memory of Ilan Halimi, a French Jew killed by an anti-Semitic gang in 2006, and visited the Drancy internment camp, from which French Jews were transferred to death camps by the Nazis.

In addition to Rabbis Rosen and Rudin, AJC’s delegation included Rabbi Noam Marans, Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations; Lisa Palmieri-Billig, representative in Rome and liaison to the Vatican; and Rabbi Randall Brown, interreligious relations officer at AJC Los Angeles.
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