Catholic-Jewish national  Dialogue

December 10, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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The “Annual Conversation” between representatives of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the Executive Council of Australian Jewry has now convened eighteen times, with the 2015 session convened at Sydney’s Mary Mackillop House.

Getting together

Getting together

Honorary Life Member and former president of the ECAJ Jeremy Jones who Co-Chairs the Conversations with Archbishop Christopher Prowse of Canberra and Goulburn, informed the Bishops of the significance of the number eighteen, as “chai”, meaning “Life”, and why we should now consider the Annual Conversations as mature and well-established in the lives of the national Jewish and Catholic bodies. Raymond Canning, Executive Secretary of the Bishops Commission for Ecumenism and Interreligious Relations, noted this was an appropriate occasion to pay tribute to Denise Sullivan, a pioneer of the Annual Conversations.
The Conversation opened with readings of Psalm 116 by Rabbis Ben Elton, of The Great Synagogue, Sydney (in Hebrew), and Archbishop Prowse (in English). It was noted that the Pope John Paul II and the Jewish delegation led by the late Leslie Caplan had opened their formal dialogue 29 years earlier in Sydney with this psalm.
The participants then shared brief reflections on how their lives had been enriched through contact with the other faith, with Melkite Bishop Robert Rabat sharing stories of his life in Lebanon and Australia, Rabbis David Freedman and Ben Elton their experiences in the UK, Bishop Gerard Hanna and Bill Arnold on life in rural Australia, Peter Wertheim, ECAJ Executive Director, and Rabbi Alon Meltzer talking of the perceptions of Catholics from Jews of different generations and Bishop Bill Wright noting that the relationship in Australia made it possible to discuss both areas of common concerns and issues which may appear to be obstacles to dialogue.
Jeremy Jones, who is Director of International and of Community Affairs for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, presented an outline of the complexities of the topic chosen for the Conversation, “Religious Intolerance”, which manifests itself through intolerance within faiths, of one faith for another or others, of secular society of religion and in a number of other ways.
All the participants then contributed to the wide-ranging discussions, in an open, frank but constructive and collegial way.
Archbishop Prowse concluded the meeting with an overview of Religious Intolerance as manifested  in contemporary Australia, with all participants agreeing that there were many areas for cooperation and mutual support.

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