Italian Jewish leaders drop Church boycott


ROME (JTA) — Italian Jewish leaders will drop their boycott of the Catholic Church’s annual celebration of Judaism.

Italian rabbis pulled out of this year’s Jan. 17 "Day of Judaism" over the Vatican’s reintroduction last year of a Good Friday Latin prayer that appeared to call for the conversion of Jews. The decision to drop the boycott comes after they received assurances that the Church does not actively try to convert Jews.

The Italian Bishops Conference said in a statement that the agreement to resume participation came at a meeting that Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the president of the Italian Bishops Council, held Tuesday with Rome Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni and Rabbi Giuseppe Laras, the president of the Italian Rabbinical Assembly.

"There was a common belief that the resumption of this celebration will help mutual understanding and render collaboration for the growth of love towards God and neighbors more fruitful," the statement said.

At the meeting, the statement said, Bagnasco offered Rosh Hashanah greetings and also underscored "in the most absolute way" that the Church has not changed its policy toward the Jews.

"The Conference of Italian Bishops reiterated that it is not the intention of the Catholic Church to work actively for the conversion of the Jews," the statement said.

Bagnasco also expressed concern about continuing incidents of anti-Semitism that he said must be countered.

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