Argentinian Rabbis meet Pope to mark Day of Jewish-Catholic dialogue
(Vatican Radio) A delegation of Argentina’s top Jewish leaders are in the Vatican
this week to celebrate the annual day of Jewish-Catholic relations, traditionally
marked in a number of European countries on January 17th. The annual celebration was
first introduced in Italy in 1990 to remember the Jewish roots of the Christian faith,
to celebrate the dialogue with Judaism that has been going on since the Second Vatican
Council and to further encourage such dialogue and contact through practical activities.
Abraham Skorka, who worked very closely together with Cardinal Bergoglio when he was
Archbishop of Buenos Aires, is heading the delegation of Jewish leaders who met privately
with Pope Francis on Thursday. Rabbi Skorka is also giving a talk at the Pontifical
Gregorian University on the progress made in Catholic-Jewish dialogue over the past
50 years, focusing especially on his Latin American perspective.
But how much
can this close friendship between the Pope and the Rabbi help to further the wider
relationship between Catholics and Jews in different parts of the world? Philippa
Hitchen put that question to Fr Norbert Hofmann from the Vatican’s Commission for
Religious Relations with Judaism:
says the Day of Judaism is celebrated in Italy, Poland, Austria and the Netherlands
and today we have another occasion to celebrate the relationship through the Pope’s
meeting with the delegation from Argentina…..he says they’ll have lunch together at
the Santa Marta guesthouse where the Pope lives before Rabbi Skorka gives his talk
at the Gregorian University…..
Fr Hofmann notes that it’s a deep friendship
between Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka, who edited a book together with the former
Cardinal Bergoglio…….he says this friendship is a stimulus for the dialogue in Argentina
and Latin America but also on a worldwide level too….
Speaking of Pope Francis’
planned visit to Israel, Jordan and Palestine in May of this year, Fr Hofmann says
in Jewish tradition, when one does something three times, it becomes part of a solid
and significant tradition. Though Pope Paul VI made a first pilgrimage to the Holy
Land, this forthcoming visit will be the third state visit to Israel by a pontiff,
so it is very significant and the Jewish people are very happy to welcome Pope Francis.
Given the character of the Holy Father, he adds, there are bound to be some significant
gestures on this journey….