New York, NY, June 3, 2008 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed assurances from the Vatican that the Catholic Church remains fully committed to promoting and deepening relations with the Jews through a dialogue marked with "profound respect, sincere esteem and cordial friendship."
Those words were conveyed in a recent letter from Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, the Vatican's Secretary of State, to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. His letter was written to address concerns that had been raised by Catholic and Jewish leaders about the re-introduction of a Latin Good Friday prayer for Jews in the 1962 Roman Missal recently reformulated by Pope Benedict XVI.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
Cardinal Bertone's reaffirmation of the Catholic Church's commitment to promote and develop relations with Jews marked by "profound respect, sincere esteem and cordial friendship" is a profoundly important step forward.
His Eminence affirms the theological explanation of the Latin prayer recently published by Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, as representing "a commonly held" Vatican understanding of the prayer as precluding any conversionary activities toward Jews before the End of Time.
It is encouraging that Cardinal Bertone refers to the prayer as "For the Jews," which presumably is now to be understood as the official title of the prayer, and not "For the Conversion of the Jews," which was the title given the prayer in official Vatican publications since it was promulgated in July 2007.
We look forward to expanding and deepening the Catholic-Jewish dialogue on this and other issues of mutual concern at the November conference between the Vatican Commission on Religious Relations with the Jews and the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, and at other conferences.
In the May 14 letter to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, Cardinal Bertone also called attention to the Vatican's most recent efforts at outreach to Jews, including the Pope's historic visit to a synagogue during his recent trip to the United States, and noted that the Holy See's commitment to a "respectful and loving dialogue" remains a priority.