ROME (Nov. 9)
Pope John Paul II, who invited representatives of all faiths to a “day of prayer for peace” in Assisi last month, was himself invited Thursday to lead a day of prayer against war and terrorism in Jerusalem.
The occasion was a Papal audience which concluded the second International Catholic-Jewish Theological Colloquium attended by about 70 Catholic and Jewish scholars from Israel, the U.S., West Germany and Rome. The three branches of Judaism — Orthodox, Conservative and Reform–were represented. The invitation to the Pope was extended by Nathan Perlmutter, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, one of the organizers of the colloquium.
The ADL, he told the Pontiff, was “deeply honored to be represented in your day of prayer and peace in Assisi. Perhaps what is needed in addition to a day of prayer for peace is a day in which we contemplate the evil of terrorism, and as the site for such prayers against the scourge of terrorism and war, where more appropriate than in the city of peace, Jerusalem, led by whom, more appropriately, than by your prophetic voice of peace.”
Rabbi Leon Klenicki, director of the ADL’s Interfaith Department and one of the speakers at the colloquium, told reporters later, “John Paul didn’t reply to the suggestion, but his face clearly expressed pleasure. He lingered a while to chat with us.”
Other organizers of the colloquium, which was conducted at the Domus Mariae Convention Center here, were the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Centro Pro Unione and Sisters of Zion (SIDIC), in cooperation with the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
BROAD AREAS OF GENERAL AGREEMENT
Only basic faith commitments defining Christian and Jewish identities were firmly “off limits” for discussion. Otherwise, the papers read and discussed covered a wide range of theological and historical subjects. The atmosphere was lively and there were broad areas of general agreement. Where distinct differences emerged, they were accepted without question.
Three main points that emerged from papers and discussion were: a deepening sense of common Biblical roots; a joint positive and negative evaluation of liberation theology; and acceptance of Israel in all its human and political imperfections, as the first stage of Jewish national and universal redemption, an ongoing process in the alliance between God and humankind.