NEW YORK (Sep. 23)
Jewish leaders here hailed today the provisional vote of approval by the Ecumenical Council at the Vatican for the draft declaration on freedom of conscience.
Morris B. Abram, president of the American Jewish Committee, called the provisional vote “heartening” and said that, if the declaration received final approval, it could “lead to a better under standing among the great religions living side by side in our world” and that it would “foster mutual respect among men of every faith.”
Rabbi Seymour J. Cohen of Chicago, president of the Synagogue Council of America, lauded the vote and said that Jews looked forward to the time “when religious liberty will be granted to all men in every part of the world.” Rabbi Cohen, who is also chairman of the American Jewish Conference for Soviet Jewry, added that “we regret that, in this decisive hour, there are still many men and women who cannot worship God freely and unafraid.” He said he was certain that the vote in Rome “will focus man’s attention on the continuing struggle for religious liberty in every part of the world.”
The Council fathers voted 1,907 to 224 Tuesday to accept the document which sets forth the right of every individual to worship in accordance with the dictates of his conscience. A Council spokesman said that the vote, which marked a defeat for a conservative effort to shelve the document, barred any major revisions. The document is of special interest to Jews for its implied rebuke to Soviet suppression of such rights for Soviet Jewry and for its implied warning of restraint to the Catholic Church in countries where it is the official state church.