US Catholics Issue Response on Jewish Dialogue

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued a response to Jewish leaders on Monday addressing their concerns about a June 18 document that "led to misunderstanding and feelings of hurt among members of the Jewish community."

The response included a statement outlining six new principles for Catholic-Jewish dialogue, as well as a letter informing Jewish leaders that amendments would be made to the June 18 document "A Note on Ambiguities Contained in 'Reflections on Covenant and Mission,'" which allegedly characterized dialogue between the two groups as a means for Catholic evangelism.

The point was clarified in Monday's statement, which said, "Jewish-Catholic dialogue, one of the blessed fruits of the Second Vatican Council, has never been and will never be used by the Catholic Church as a means of proselytism – nor is it intended as a disguised invitation to baptism."

"In sitting at the table, we expect to encounter Jews who are faithful to the Mosaic covenant, just as we insist that only Catholics committed to the teachings of the Church encounter them in our dialogues," it continues

"We remain deeply committed to dialogue and friendship with the Jewish people, who are, in the words of Pope John Paul II, 'our elder brothers and sisters in the faith,'" the statement concluded. "Our shared witness to the faithfulness of God, and to the peaceable kingdom to which the Most High calls us, is for the sake of healing the world."

The statement and letter were signed and authored by USCCB President Cardinal Francis E. George; William H. Keeler, retired archbishop of Baltimore and the USCCB's liaison to the Jewish community; Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, chairman of the Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs; Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., chairman of the Committee on Doctrine; and Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., co-chair of the USCCB-Orthodox Union/Rabbinical Council of America Consultation.

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