Jeremy Jones attends Catholic/Jewish liaison meeting in Warsaw

April 19, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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Jeremy Jones has returned to Australia after participating in the international Catholic Jewish Liaison Committee (ILC) in Warsaw, Poland.

Jewish and Catholic leaders at Treblinka

Jewish and Catholic leaders at Treblinka

Jones is Director of International and of Community Affairs of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council. The Committee is the highest level inter-religious meeting to take place on a regular, formal basis.
The ILC  convened for an intensive consideration of “The Other in Jewish and Catholic Tradition: Refugees in Today’s World”.
The Catholic delegation, selected by the Pontifical Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews, met with appointees of the International Jewish Committee for Inter-religious Consultations (IJCIC).
Jeremy Jones participated as a nominee of the American Jewish Committee. Jones, the first Australian to ever represent IJCIC, acted as  Co-Chair (with a Catholic nominee) of the ILC Working Group on Combating Antisemitism.
Jewish and Catholic leaders from Europe, the Middle East, North and South America and Australia, together with civil and elected officials from Poland and Israel, engaged in serious, engaging and productive  discussions “with no participants hesitating to express strong, always well-informed opinions”, Jones said.
Jeremy Jones with Cardinal Kurt Koch

Jeremy Jones with Cardinal Kurt Koch

The opening plenary session included impressive speeches from religious figures Cardinal Kurt Koch from the Vatican and Poland’s dynamic Chief Rabbi Michael Shudrich, with the highlight being a session recognising and applauding Polish non-Jews  who had risked their lives to save Jewish people during the Shoah.

The group visited the Nazi murder camp Treblinka, for a ceremony conducted by Rabbi David Rosen, which was “at once emotionally uplifting and emotionally crippling”, Jeremy Jones said.
“To walk that site with a Sister of Zion nun who devotes her life to good relations with Jews, a Canadian-born Catholic theologian who has reshaped many attitudes to Jews and with young Jewish men and women who live in today’s Poland, to visit monuments devoted to devastated and destroyed Jewish communities with men and women whose extended families had been murdered at Treblinka, and singing psalms,  while together fighting back tears, with Catholic leaders from Europe and West Asia, was a memorable experience” Jones added.
IJCIC’s official statement noted “The Jewish and Catholic leaders committed to ongoing dialogue as a model for intergroup understanding around the world.  Mr. Martin L. Budd, Chair of IJCIC said, “The ILC is an opportunity to renew and create Catholic-Jewish relationships at the highest levels.  There was added poignancy to this meeting, given the religious strife in the world today and the Polish venue, an inseparable part of an evolving Catholic-Jewish history.””
The Joint Declaration, the final record of the meeting, highlighted: “Although the last 50 years have largely seen unprecedented openness between our two communities in many places, not least on the international level, the last few years have witnessed a surge of problematic developments impacting both.  After addressing how our respective traditions encourage us to help the other, we focused on how our two communities now find themselves in the position of being “other.” Anti-Semitism in both speech and action has resurfaced in Europe and elsewhere, and persecution of Christians, most notably in much of the Middle East and parts of Africa, has reached levels not seen in a long time.  Participants emphasized that antisemitism is real and takes many forms. It is a danger not only to Jews but also to democratic ideals. Improved and revitalized educational programs are necessary to combat it. The participants noted that the persecution of Christians has increased every year between 2012 and 2015. They recognized the obligation to raise consciousness across the world regarding this problem and acknowledged the moral responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless “.
Jeremy Jones concluded: “The energy and commitment of all delegates is a good reason to believe that the second “fifty years” since the adoption of Nostra Aetate will see the mature, deep Jewish-Catholic relationship lead to even greater cooperation in the interests of all people”.
While in Warsaw, Jones also spoke at the prestigious Collegium Civitas on Racism and Response to Racism in Contemporary Australia, addressed Hillel Warsaw on Australian Jewry today and Interfaith Dialogue in Australia and Asia, met with Muslim, Jewish and Christian leaders in interfaith activity, prominent civil society leaders including Poland’s Presidium Member Czeslaw Bielicki, President of Forum for Dialogue Andrzej Folwarczny, leaders of the Never Again Foundation and Australia’s Ambassador to Poland Paul Wojciechowski.

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