WASHINGTON (May 7, 1998) -- The National Council of Synagogues and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs have issued a joint statement entitled "Reflections on the Millennium."
In the statement, Catholic and Jewish leaders pledge to deepen mutual respect for the two faith traditions each of which, in the words of Pope John Paul II, "carry with them the echo of thousands of years of searching for God."
They said they were united in their concern to overcome the spread of religious indifference and would work together to bring a positive collective image of religious affiliation to the American public.
"In this country, blessed with an ongoing dialogue between Catholics and Jews of depth and substance, we have the opportunity to apply our institutional and academic resources to the task it mandates to look anew at the long history our peoples share, and to seek by joint studies a healing of memory in order to frame a common understanding upon which to base educational programming for future generations," the statement said. "While much work remains to be done in this regard, we note as well that a solid beginning has been made since the Second Vatican Council, a record of achievement which offers hope for further progress toward mutual understanding."
The statement was developed at a May 4-5 meeting in Baltimore of the consultation of the National Council of Synagogues and the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The co-chairs of the consultation are Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore and Rabbi Mordecai Waxman, President of the National Council of Synagogues (NCS). The two leaders began the Consultation in 1987 as a follow-up to the meeting in Miami between Pope John Paul II and leaders of American Jewry.
Dr. Eugene Fisher, director of Catholic-Jewish Relations for the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said "It is hoped that the present statement will help spark responsible creativity in local communities throughout the country as they seek ways in which the passing of the 20th century may be commemorated in ways that will ensure a brighter future for the next thousand years of Catholic-Jewish relations."
The constituent bodies of the National Council of Synagogues are the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Rabbinical Assembly, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.
Previous statements made by the Consultation were on topics such as moral values in public education (1990), the evil of pornography (1993), and a joint condemnation of holocaust denial (1994).
The Catholic-Jewish Consulation meets twice yearly. The meeting in Baltimore discussed a range of social issues of common concern. It took up as well the Holy See's recent statement We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah, discussing ways in which its mandate for joint historical studies and for holocaust programs in Catholic education could be implemented both nationally and on the local, diocesan levels.