A light in the darkness

November 24, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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A power failure and an order to evacuate the building, did not deter the 19th “Annual Conversation” between Australia’s Catholic Bishops and a delegation from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry taking place in Sydney this week.

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Held at the ECAJ offices the ECAJ office, the conversation featured a full, frank and constructive discussion on “The Catholic Church, Israel and the Palestinians”, as well as surveying interfaith relations in Australia and the region.

The Conversations, which commenced under the ECAJ Presidency of Diane Shteinman in 1998, are Co-Chaired by Jeremy Jones and Archbishop Christopher Prowse.

Jeremy Jones opened the meeting by noting that 30 years earlier, Pope John Paul II met with a Jewish delegation, led by Leslie Caplan (z.l.), where the Jewish community emphasised the significance of Israel to Jews and to Judaism, while the emphasis of the Pontiff’s presentation had been on antisemitism, which he, for the first time in Church history, labelled as sinful.

Jones then gave an historic overview of the relationship of the Catholic Church to antisemitism, Zionism, Judaism, the modern State of Israel, as well as to the Arab World and to Islam. This led to an informed and informative discussion, involving all rabbis, bishops and lay people present.

The second part of the meeting was a discussion of the way religious groups, and others, can work together on matters of common concerns, particularly in the context of an international response of racism. The meeting sent a note of support to the “Connecting Actions” conference in Europe, which brought coalitions of faith groups together to exchange ideas and discuss strategies.

“The loss of electric power during the meeting might have led to physical darkness, but there was an over-abundance of light and enlightenment throughout the discussion”, Jeremy Jones said.

The Jewish participants in the meeting were Jeremy Jones (Co-Chair), Rabbis Ben Elton, Jeffrey Kamins, Alon Meltzer and Jacqueline Ninio, Mr Bill Arnold from Canberra and Alex Ryvchin and Julie Nathan from the ECAJ professional staff.

 

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