Rome Assembly of Dignitaries of All Religions Hears Jewish Plea

The hope that the Ecumenical Council, when it resumes its session this year, will act favorably on the memorandums submitted by Jewish organizations asking for the elimination of anti- Jewish elements from Catholic dogma and for the condemnation of anti-Semitism was expressed here last night at a fraternal assembly of representatives of all major religions held at the Pro Deo University under the chairmanship of Cardinal Bea, head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Unity of Christians, who developed the agenda for the Ecumenical Council.

The hope was voiced by Judge Sergio Piperno, president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities. He told the 500 religious dignitaries–Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Moslem, Buddhists, Taoist and others–that “truth and charity, the latter understood as a form of justice, are the basic principles of Jewish teaching.” He quoted Maimonides to the effect that “the knowledge of truth removes hatred and incomprehension between various groups.”

“This chosen assembly,” he said, “is an example of what can be achieved when the voice of the Lord gathers us in a fraternal feast.” He expressed “hearty and fraternal appreciation of their work” to Pope John XXIII, to Cardinal Bea who is known for his friendship to Jews, and to all participants in the Ecumenical Council. “We hope that the subject treated in this assembly will find its high and noble coronation during the Ecumenical Council.

Cardinal Bea told the assembled religious leaders that his Secretariat would propose to the Ecumenical Council a program for every individual’s freedom of conscience. He called religious compulsion, and particularly the religious wars of the past, an “aberration of the principle of love and truth.” The theme of the assembly was “love and charity and truth as the way to the harmony of individuals and groups.”

The 500 delegates met to eat a symbolic dish of fraternity and Jewish unleavened bread. They included also diplomatic representatives of Israel, the United Arab Republic, Ireland and other countries.

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