October 3, 2023 — Rome, Italy
American Jewish Committee (AJC), the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people, today announced its sponsorship of an historic international conference, New Documents from the Pontificate of Pope Pius XII and Their Meaning for Jewish-Christian Relations: A Dialogue Between Historians and Theologians. AJC is the only global Jewish organization among the sponsors, which include, among others, three official Vatican Dicasteries, the U.S. and Israeli Embassies to the Holy See, the Italian Jewish Community, and the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues.
It is organized by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem, the Pontifical Gregorian University and its Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies, Saint Leo University, and CDEC – the Milan Jewish Contemporary Documentation Center.
“AJC fully and enthusiastically supports this groundbreaking conference, noting that the agenda, in line with Pope Francis’ courageous and fearless directives to always search for the truth, includes some of the most significant issues still open for discussion in the dramatic transformation of Catholic-Jewish relations of recent decades,” said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC’s Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations. “We are hoping that the welcomed opening of World War II archives related to Pope Pius XII helps to clarify our understanding of the Church’s choice of actions during the Holocaust and will provide answers to key questions: How did and does this history affect the theological and interreligious perspectives of the post-Shoah and post-Vatican II Church? What are the implications for Catholic-Jewish relations today? Judaism lays great value on memory. We are taught to remember both positive and negative events and use them as our reference for present and future actions.”
AJC has a long and distinguished history of interreligious relations, in particular with the Vatican and its institutions. This will be AJC’s second sponsorship of a groundbreaking international conference organized at the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Cardinal Bea Center, with which AJC enjoys a long and fruitful relationship. In 2019, AJC was a sponsor of the University’s academic conclave on the Pharisees. Pope Francis concluded that conference with his powerful statement: “One of the most ancient and most damaging stereotypes is that of a ‘Pharisee,’ especially when used to cast Jews in a negative light.”
AJC’s relations with the Vatican are based on a willingness to address a troubled past and to build a more positive future. In 1965, Vatican II’s revolutionary “Nostra Aetate” document abolished the infamous “deicide” accusation and nearly two millennia of the “teaching of contempt.” It initiated a Catholic-Jewish sibling relationship of friendship, mutual respect, common moral goals, and a commitment to fighting all forms of antisemitism.
AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel, and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit www.ajc.org.