WASHINGTON (June 1, 2007)-- The spring 2007 meeting of the twice-yearly Consultation between delegates of the National Council of Synagogues and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (BCEIA) was held On May 15, 2007 at Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City. After the meeting the following communique was issued:
The morning session began with prayer led by Catholic co-chair Cardinal William H. Keeler. Rabbi Joel Zaiman is the Jewish co-chair. The session was devoted to a presentation, "Resolving the North Ireland Catholic/Protestant Conflict," by Senator George Mitchell, head of the U.S. delegation to Northern Ireland to help facilitate the peace talks, which were concluded successfully. Senator Mitchell took the group through the main phases of the talks, drawing out the implications of his experience that might be useful in other situations of long-standing conflict, such as Israeli-Palestinian relations.
At the luncheon, tributes and testimonials were given by Jewish and Catholic leaders in honor of Dr. Eugene Fisher, on the occasion of his retirement from the Conference after thirty years of involvement in Catholic-Jewish relations on the national and international levels. The National Council of Synagogues presented Dr. Fisher with a tsedakah box (charity box) inscribed in his name, and noting that in Hebrew tsedakah means both charity and righteousness.
In the afternoon, Judge Janine Geske, Former Supreme Court Justice of the State of Wisconsin and Director of the Center for Conflict Resolution of the University of Marquette gave a presentation on "Conflict Resolution," citing cases not only from Northern Ireland but also between Israeli Jews and Palestinians between people who had lost loved ones in the conflict there.
The Exchange of Information session discussed matters of mutual concern such as a possible Motu Proprio on the Tridentine (pre Second Vatican Council) Mass and what its implications might be for Catholic-Jewish relations, the status of the relationship in the new pontificate, and the lack of progress in Israel in implementing the 1993 Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel.
Catholic Participants: Cardinal William H. Keeler, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Bishop Basil Losten, Msgr. Donald Beckman; Reverends Drew Christiansen, Lawrence Frizzell, James Loughran, James Massa, and Guy Massie; Judge Janine Geske and Senator George Mitchell. Staff: Dr. Eugene Fisher.
Jewish Participants: Rabbis Alvin Berkun, Moshe Birnbaum, Jerry Davidson, Lewis Eron, Joel Meyers, Dan Polish, Robert Slosberg, Jonathan Waxman, Jeffrey Wohlberg, and Joel Zaiman; Dr. Ruth Langer, Sarrae Crane, Judith Hertz, and Jacob Stein. Staff: Rabbi Gil Rosenthal.