In: Jews in Dialogue
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Numerous documents attest to the Jewish involvement in both intercultural and interreligious dialogue in the postwar era. Many of these documents, like Dabru Emet (2000), To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven (2015) or Between Jerusalem and Rome (2017), are widely known and easily accessible online. We have thus decided to limit the Appendix to a few texts that we have deemed less well-known and that pertain specifically to the issues raised in this volume’s articles. In this way, the Appendix is designed as a tool of contextualization for the material presented in the first part of the book, especially with regard to the relations between the State of Israel and the Catholic Church. We chose this angle for three main reasons.

The first reason is its value as example: among the many aspects of Jewish engagement in dialogue, the relations with the Catholic Church hold a privileged place. These relations are very formalized and include both religious and political elements. Moreover, the main Jewish body governing formal interreligious dialogue—the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (hereafter: IJCIC)—was created in response to the Catholic Church’s Nostra Aetatae (1965), with the specific purpose of representing Jews to the Vatican. This was later extended to other religions, but the dialogue with the Catholic Church served as a model for the dialogue with other traditions.1

The second reason is illustrative. The Appendix’s aim is to provide context for the problems raised in Part One, which, in more than half the cases, deal with Jewish-Christian relations in the State of Israel. We thus felt a need to provide the reader with documents that shed light on the complexities analyzed by Catane, Mallek, and Frimer, Maoz and Ron.

The third reason is functional. Our fields of specialization give us insights into the challenges of Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Catholic relations, and so we followed our own judgement and expertise in choosing texts.2 We trust that introducing our perspectives (reflected in these selections) will enrich the volume and allow for a deeper understanding of the topics raised throughout the book. Moreover, it is our hope that the Appendix will spark further interest in Jewish attitudes on religious and cultural otherness.

Document 1 The Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel or “Fundamental Accord”

The Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel (“Fundamental Accord”) is a document that inaugurated diplomatic relations between the State of Israel and the Vatican.3 Signed on 30 December 1993 and ratified in 1994, the document expresses mutual commitment of both parties to upholding the freedom of religion and conscience. The Agreement regulates the Catholic Church’s presence in Israel (addressing issues such as property rights and tax exemptions for the Church within Israel). The Knesset, however, have not fully implemented the Agreement in Israeli’s domestic legislation. This has become a source of discontent on the Catholic side, as before 1948 (under the Ottoman Empire and the British Mandatory Administration) the properties of the Church had special legal and tax status. Despite these continued objections on the Catholic side, the Agreement was a milestone in the relations between the Vatican and the State of Israel and serves as a basis for all formal relations between the two bodies. As such, we present it in the Appendix to contextualize problems raised especially in Yaron Catane’s article on the relations between the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See.


The Holy See and the State of Israel,

Mindful of the singular character and universal significance of the Holy Land;

Aware of the unique nature of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, and of the historic process of reconciliation and growth in mutual understanding and friendship between Catholics and Jews;

Having decided on 29 July 1992 to establish a “Bilateral Permanent Working Commission”, in order to study and define together issues of common interest, and in view of normalizing their relations;

Recognizing that the work of the aforementioned Commission has produced sufficient material for a first and Fundamental Agreement;

Realizing that such Agreement will provide a sound and lasting basis for the continued development of their present and future relations and for the furtherance of the Commission’s task,

Agree upon the following Articles:

Article 1

§ 1. The State of Israel, recalling its Declaration of Independence, affirms its continuing commitment to uphold and observe the human right to freedom of religion and conscience, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other international instruments to which it is a party.

§ 2. The Holy See, recalling the Declaration on Religious Freedom of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dignitatis humanae, affirms the Catholic Church’s commitment to uphold the human right to freedom of religion and conscience, as set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in other international instruments to which it is a party. The Holy See wishes to affirm as well the Catholic Church’s respect for other religions and their followers as solemnly stated by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council in its Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra aetate.

Article 2

§ 1. The Holy See and the State of Israel are committed to appropriate cooperation in combatting all forms of antisemitism and all kinds of racism and of religious intolerance, and in promoting mutual understanding among nations, tolerance among communities and respect for human life and dignity.

§ 2. The Holy See takes this occasion to reiterate its condemnation of hatred, persecution and all other manifestations of antisemitism directed against the Jewish people and individual Jews anywhere, at any time and by anyone. In particular, the Holy See deplores attacks on Jews and desecration of Jewish synagogues and cemeteries, acts which offend the memory of the victims of the Holocaust, especially when they occur in the same places which witnessed it.

Article 3

§ 1. The Holy See and the State of Israel recognize that both are free in the exercise of their respective rights and powers, and commit themselves to respect this principle in their mutual relations and in their cooperation for the good of the people.

§ 2. The State of Israel recognizes the right of the Catholic Church to carry out its religious, moral, educational and charitable functions, and to have its own institutions, and to train, appoint and deploy its own personnel in the said institutions or for the said functions to these ends. The Church recognizes the right of the State to carry out its functions, such as promoting and protecting the welfare and the safety of the people. Both the State and the Church recognize the need for dialogue and cooperation in such matters as by their nature call for it.

§ 3. Concerning Catholic legal personality at canon law the Holy See and the State of Israel will negotiate on giving it full effect in Israeli law, following a report from a joint subcommission of experts.

Article 4

§ 1. The State of Israel affirms its continuing commitment to maintain and respect the “Status quo” in the Christian Holy Places to which it applies and the respective rights of the Christian communities thereunder. The Holy See affirms the Catholic Church’s continuing commitment to respect the aforementioned “Status quo” and the said rights.

§ 2. The above shall apply notwithstanding an interpretation to the contrary of any Article in this Fundamental Agreement.

§ 3. The State of Israel agrees with the Holy See on the obligation of continuing respect for and protection of the character proper to Catholic sacred places, such as churches, monasteries, convents, cemeteries and their like.

§ 4. The State of Israel agrees with the Holy See on the continuing guarantee of the freedom of Catholic worship.

Article 5

§ 1. The Holy See and the State of Israel recognize that both have an interest in favouring Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land. Whenever the need for coordination arises, the proper agencies of the Church and of the State will consult and cooperate as required.

§ 2. The State of Israel and the Holy See express the hope that such pilgrimages will provide an occasion for better understanding between the pilgrims and the people and religions in Israel.

Article 6

The Holy See and the State of Israel jointly reaffirm the right of the Catholic Church to establish, maintain and direct schools and institutes of study at all levels; this right being exercised in harmony with the rights of the State in the field of education.

Article 7

The Holy See and the State of Israel recognize a common interest in promoting and encouraging cultural exchanges between Catholic institutions worldwide, and educational, cultural and research institutions in Israel, and in facilitating access to manuscripts, historical documents and similar source materials, in conformity with applicable laws and regulations.

Article 8

The State of Israel recognizes that the right of the Catholic Church to freedom of expression in the carrying out of its functions is exercised also through the Church’s own communications media; this right being exercised in harmony with the rights of the State in the field of communications media.

Article 9

The Holy See and the State of Israel jointly reaffirm the right of the Catholic Church to carry out its charitable functions through its health care and social welfare institutions; this right being exercised in harmony with the rights of the State in this field.

Article 10

§ 1. The Holy See and the State of Israel jointly reaffirm the right of the Catholic Church to property.

§ 2. Without prejudice to rights relied upon by the Parties:

a) The Holy See and the State of Israel will negotiate in good faith a comprehensive agreement, containing solutions acceptable to both Parties, on unclear, unsettled and disputed issues, concerning property, economic and fiscal matters relating to the Catholic Church generally, or to specific Catholic Communities or institutions.

b) For the purpose of the said negotiations, the Permanent Bilateral Working Commission will appoint one or more bilateral subcommissions of experts to study the issues and make proposals.

c) The Parties intend to commence the aforementioned negotiations within three months of entry into force of the present Agreement, and aim to reach agreement within two years from the beginning of the negotiations.

d) During the period of these negotiations, actions incompatible with these commitments shall be avoided.

Article 11

§ 1. The Holy See and the State of Israel declare their respective commitment to the promotion of the peaceful resolution of conflicts among States and nations, excluding violence and terror from international life.

§ 2. The Holy See, while maintaining in every case the right to exercise its moral and spiritual teaching-office, deems it opportune to recall that, owing to its own character, it is solemnly committed to remaining a stranger to all merely temporal conflicts, which principle applies specifically to disputed territories and unsettled borders.

Article 12

The Holy See and the State of Israel will continue to negotiate in good faith in pursuance of the Agenda agreed upon in Jerusalem, on 15 July 1992, and confirmed at the Vatican, on 29 July 1992; likewise on issues arising from Articles of the present Agreement, as well as on other issues bilaterally agreed upon as objects of negotiation.

Article 13

§ 1. In this Agreement the Parties use these terms in the following sense:

a) “The Catholic Church” and “the Church”—including, inter alia, its Communities and institutions;

b) “Communities” of the Catholic Church—meaning the Catholic religious entities considered by the Holy See as Churches sui iuris and by the State of Israel as Recognized Religious Communities;

c) “The State of Israel” and “the State”—including, inter alia, its authorities established by law.

§ 2. Notwithstanding the validity of this Agreement as between the Parties, and without detracting from the generality of any applicable rule of law with reference to treaties, the Parties agree that this Agreement does not prejudice rights and obligations arising from existing treaties between either Party and a State or States, which are known and in fact available to both Parties at the time of the signature of this Agreement.

Article 14

§ 1. Upon signature of the present Fundamental Agreement and in preparation for the establishment of full diplomatic relations, the Holy See and the State of Israel exchange Special Representatives, whose rank and privileges are specified in an Additional Protocol.

§ 2. Following the entry into force and immediately upon the beginning of the implementation of the present Fundamental Agreement, the Holy See and the State of Israel will establish full diplomatic relations at the level of Apostolic Nunciature, on the part of the Holy See, and Embassy, on the part of the State of Israel.

Article 15

This Agreement shall enter into force on the date of the latter notification of ratification by a Party.

Done in two original copies in the English and Hebrew languages, both texts being equally authentic. In case of divergency, the English text shall prevail.

Signed in Jerusalem, this thirtieth day of the month of December, in the year 1993, which corresponds to the sixteenth day of the month of Tevet, in the year 5754.


For the Holy See For the Government of the State of Israel

Additional Protocol

1. In relation to Art. 14 § 1 of the Fundamental Agreement, signed by the Holy See and the State of Israel, the “Special Representatives” shall have, respectively, the personal rank of Apostolic Nuncio and Ambassador.

2. These Special Representatives shall enjoy all the rights, privileges and immunities granted to Heads of Diplomatic Missions under international law and common usage, on the basis of reciprocity.

3. The Special Representative of the State of Israel to the Holy See, while residing in Italy, shall enjoy all the rights, privileges and immunities defined by Art. 12 of the Treaty of 1929 between the Holy See and Italy, regarding Envoys of Foreign Governments to the Holy See residing in Italy. The rights, privileges and immunities extended to the personnel of a Diplomatic Mission shall likewise be granted to the personnel of the Israeli Special Representative’s Mission. According to an established custom, neither the Special Representative, nor the official members of his Mission, can at the same time be members of Israel’s Diplomatic Mission to Italy.

4. The Special Representative of the Holy See to the State of Israel may at the same time exercise other representative functions of the Holy See and be accredited to other States. He and the personnel of his Mission shall enjoy all the rights, privileges and immunities granted by Israel to Diplomatic Agents and Missions.

5. The names, rank and functions of the Special Representatives will appear, in an appropriate way, in the official lists of Foreign Missions accredited to each Party.

Signed in Jerusalem, this thirtieth day of the month of December, in the year 1993, which corresponds to the sixteenth day of the month of Tevet, in the year 5754.


For the Holy See For the Government of the State of Israel

Conventio rata est ab Israelis Statu anno 1994 die XX mensis Februarii, eodemque die Apostolica Sedes de hac re est edocta. Comprobatio ab Apostolica Sede facta est die VII mensis Martii anno 1994, atque Status Israelis edoctus est die X eiusdem mensis, quo die Conventio ipsa auctoritatem incepit.

Document 2 Agreement between the State of Israel and the Holy See Pursuant to Article 3 (3) of the Fundamental Agreement between the State of Israel and the Holy See (also referred to as the “Legal Personality Agreement”)

The “Legal Personality Agreement”, signed on 10 November 1997, was a follow-up document to the “Fundamental Accord.”4 It establishes the legal status of the Catholic Church and its institutions within the legal system of the State of Israel and provides the means for practical application of the Fundamental Agreement from 1993.5

Article 1

This Agreement is made on the basis of the provisions of the “Fundamental Agreement between the State of Israel and the Holy See”, which was signed on 30 December 1993, and then entered into force on 10 March 1994 (hereinafter: the “Fundamental Agreement”).

Article 2

Recalling that the Holy See is the Sovereign Authority of the Catholic Church, the State of Israel agrees to assure full effect in Israeli law to the legal personality of the Catholic Church itself.

Article 3

The State of Israel agrees to assure full effect in Israeli law, in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, to the legal personality of the following:

  1. these Eastern Catholic Patriarchates: the Greek Melkite Catholic, the Syrian Catholic, the Maronite, the Chaldean, the Armenian Catholic (hereinafter: the “Eastern Catholic Patriarchates”);

  2. the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, id est the Latin Patriarchal Diocese of Jerusalem;

  3. the present Dioceses of the Eastern Catholic Patriarchates;

  4. new Dioceses, wholly in Israel, Eastern Catholic or Latin, as may exist from time to time;

  5. the “Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land”.

  6. The Holy See states, for the avoidance of doubt, that the listing in par. 1 does not prejudice in any way the established order of precedence of the Heads of the various entities, according to their personal rank and as it is fixed by traditional usage and accepted by them.

  7. For the avoidance of doubt, it is stated that the question of assuring full effect in Israeli law to the legal personality of any new cross-border Diocese is left open.

  8. For the purposes of this Agreement, a Parish is in integral part of the respective Diocese, and, without affecting its status under the canon law, will not acquire a separate legal personality under Israeli law. A Diocese may, subject to the canon law, authorise its Parishes to act on its behalf, in such matters and under such terms, as it may determine.

  9. In this Agreement, “Diocese” includes its synonyms or equivalents.

Article 4

The State of Israel agrees to assure full effect in Israeli law, in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, to the legal personality of the Custody of the Holy Land.

Article 5

The State of Israel agrees to assure full effect in Israeli law, in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, to the legal personality of the following, as they exist from time to time in Israel:

  1. the Pontifical Institutes of Consecrated Life of the kinds that exist in the Catholic Church, and such of their Provinces or Houses as the Institute concerned may cause to be certified;

  2. other official entities of the Catholic Church.

Article 6

  1. For the purposes of this Agreement the legal persons referred to in Articles 3–5 (hereinafter, in this Article: “legal person”), being established under the canon law, are deemed to have been created according to the legislation of the Holy See, being Sovereign in international law.


  1. the law which governs any legal transaction or other legal acts in Israel between any legal person and any party shall be the law of the State of Israel, subject to the provisions of sub-paragraph (b).

  2. Any matter concerning the identity of the head, of the presiding officer or of any other official or functionary of a legal person, or their authority or their powers to act on behalf of the legal person, is governed by the canon law.

  3. Without derogation from the generality of sub-paragraph (b), certain kinds of transactions by a legal person concerning immovable property or certain other kinds of property, depend on a prior written permission of the Holy See in accordance with Its written Decisions as issued from time to time. Public access to the aforesaid Decisions will be in accordance with the Implementation Provisions.


  1. Any dispute concerning an internal ecclesiastical matter between a member, official or functionary of a legal person and any legal person, whether the member, official or functionary belongs to it or not, or between legal persons, shall be determined in accordance with the canon law, in a judicial or administrative ecclesiastical forum.

  2. For the avoidance of doubt it is stated that the provisions of 2(a) shall not apply to disputes referred to in the above sub-paragraph (a).

  3. For the avoidance of doubt, it is stated:

  4. a legal person, whose legal personality is given full effect in Israel, is deemed to have consented to sue and be sued before a judicial or administrative forum in Israel, if that is the proper forum under Israeli law.

  5. Sub-paragraph (a) does not derogate from any provision in Articles 6–9.

Article 7

The application of this Agreement to any legal person is without prejudice to any of its rights or obligations previously created.

Article 8

For the avoidance of doubt, nothing in this Agreement shall be construed as supporting an argument that any of the legal persons to which this Agreement applies had not been a legal person prior to this Agreement.

If a party makes a claim that such a legal person had not been a legal person in Israeli law prior to this Agreement, that party shall bear the burden of proof.

Article 9

Should a question with regard to the canon law arise in any matter before a Court or forum other than in a forum of the Catholic Church, it shall be regarded as a question of fact.

Article 10

The terms “ecclesiastical” and “canon law” refer to the Catholic Church and Its law.

Article 11

1. Without derogating from any provision, declaration or statement in the Fundamental Agreement, the ecclesiastical legal persons in existence at the time of the entry of this Agreement into force are deemed as being legal persons in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement, if listed in the ANNEXES to this Agreement, which are specified in par. 4.

2. The ANNEXES form, for all intents and purposes, an integral part of this Agreement.

3. The ANNEXES will include the official name, respective date or year of establishment in the Catholic Church, a local address and, if the head office is abroad, also its address.


1. ANNEX I lists the legal persons to which Article 3(1)(a, b, c, e) and Article 4 apply, as the case may be;

2. ANNEX II lists the legal persons to which Article 5(a) applies;

3. ANNEX III lists the legal persons to which Article 5(b) applies.

Article 12

The other matters on which the Parties have agreed are included in the Schedule to this Agreement, named “Implementation Provisions”, which forms, for all intents and purposes, an integral part of this Agreement, and references to the Agreement include the Schedule.

Article 13

This Agreement shall enter into force on the date of the latter notification of ratification by a Party.

Done in two original copies in the Hebrew and English languages, both texts being equally authentic. In case of divergence, the English text shall prevail, except where explicitly provided otherwise in the Schedule.

Signed in Jerusalem this 10th day of the month of November in the year 1997, which corresponds to the 10th day of the month of Heshvan in the year 5758.

Document 3 A Special Announcement by the Israeli Embassy to the Holy See regarding Christians in the Holy Land

This announcement documents statistics concerning the Christian presence in the Holy Land.6 Its serves to contextualize the articles dealing with the issue of Jewish involvement in interfaith dialogue within Israel. The announcement’s date of issue is not clear.

The Christian Population in the State of Israel

In light of repeated insinuations implying that the number of Christians in the State of Israel is diminishing,7 table Iexcerpted from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics—is proof of the contrary. It demonstrates that the rate of population increase amongst Israeli Christians is more or less on par with that of Israeli Jews, with whom they share socio-economic characteristics.

Table 1
Table 1

Christian presence in Israel 1949–2007

Variances can be found in the early 1950s vis-à-vis the Jewish population, thanks to the mass arrival and absorption of refugees from Arab countries and Europe following the War of Independence. Another variance occurred after the Six Days War, with the rise and population shifts of Moslem and Christian population to Israel. A third and most dramatic set of variances occurred in the 1990s, during the massive immigration from the former states of the Soviet Union that brought about an accelerated rise in Jews and Christians. This immigration included a large number of Russian Christians for whom Israel was originally conceived of as a way station; many, however, chose to remain here and become full-fledged citizens—serving in the military forces and integrating into the State’s society and economy, regardless of their religion.

Table II describes the dispersal of Christians throughout the State of Israel. The increased rate of population rise in the major economic areas (Tel Aviv, the central region, Haifa.) during the period 1995–2008 may be ascribed to the influx of non-Arab Christians—primarily foreign workers and Russian immigrants.

Table 2
Table 2

Distribution of Christians in Israel

Table 3
Table 3

Christian presence in Jerusalem 1988–2008

The Christian Population in Jerusalem

Table III details the population of Jerusalem over the past ten-year period. Once again, the steady rise in Christian population reflects that of the Jewish population. The drop in 1995 may be ascribed to the transfer of some areas to Palestinian Administration control—an event that has caused a drop in the Christian population throughout such areas due to political, social and para-military activities within the PA and beyond the control of the State of Israel.

Document 4 Rabbi David Rosen’s Address from 2011

Rabbi David Rosen, one of the leaders of the Jewish-Christian dialogue effort, delivered this address in 2011.8 In it, he outlines the history of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee (ILC) and the challenges that come with its role and mission. This body is resposible for the dialogue conducted on official channels between the Catholic Church and Jewish communities across the world, united under the auspices of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC). The document illustrates the development, in recent decades, of Jewish dialogue with the Church.

Cardinal Augustin Bea recalls in “The Church and the Jewish People”9 how on 18 September 1966 Pope John XXIII charged the newly formed Secretariat for Christian Unity with the task of addressing the relationship with the Jewish People.

As Cardinal Jorge Mejía has noted,10 from that moment on, relations with Judaism were treated by the Catholic Church in a manner without parallel to any other religion. Placing the responsibility for relations with the Jewish People under the same authority dealing with relations with the rest of the Christian world affirmed the Church’s unique relationship “with Judaism as distinct and separate from relations with other religions, despite the structure and thrust of the declaration Nostra Aetate”.11

It was that Office for Catholic-Jewish relations in the Secretariat for Christian Unity—to be succeeded in 1974 by the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews presided over by Cardinal Johannes Willebrands—which sought a representative Jewish body as an official interlocutor that would at least structurally unify the different Jewish bodies claiming to represent the Jewish People to the Church and would legitimately represent the diversity of contemporary Jewry.

Indeed, establishing an umbrella agency bringing the different Jewish organizations together which ultimately took the form of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations was arguably one of the remarkable miracles that was initiated by the Catholic Church in modern times!

The initial meeting led to the formation of the International Catholic Jewish Liaison Committee, and the Jewish side was represented and made up of just five representatives—including the predominant persons of Gerhart Riegner, Marc Tannenbaum and Henry Siegman (the latter being the only participant of that meeting alive today). This meeting in Rome produced a historic memorandum of understanding issued on December 23rd 1970, with a preamble which declared:

In the relationship between Catholics and Jews the concerns of both groups are religiously based but they extend over the whole complex of what people do wherever they live. A model of the practical development of this relationship must therefore be based on a structure which has religious faith as its premise. It must be so organized as to respect absolutely the integrity of both our faiths and it finds its justification in a shared responsibility based on biblical faith towards one another and towards the world.12

The memorandum identified a major concern to be that of combating antisemitism through eliminating from educational materials and liturgy anything offensive and incompatible with the teachings of Nostra Aetate; and it committed the parties to promoting mutual understanding, in particular through education. In this regard, the memorandum called for special attention to be given to the ways in which the relationship between religious community, people and land, are conceived in the Jewish and Christian traditions respectively.

In addition, the memorandum declared the focus of the ILC to be the promotion of justice and peace in the world, as well as of human freedom and dignity; the fight against poverty and racism and all forms of discrimination; the protection of human rights, both of individuals and groups; and in particular the promotion and safeguarding of religious liberty.

The ILC was also to focus on “ways in which Judaism and Christianity, as communities deriving from the biblical faith in one God as Creator, concerned with the fate of this world, can face together the problems besetting religion in the modern age.”13 The memorandum suggested that “at a later stage studies might be undertaken of the common heritage of Jews and Christians in order to further the understanding both of each other and of their common responsibility to humanity and the world.”14 Not least of all, the memorandum declared that the purpose of the ILC was also to address Judaism and Christianity’s relations with other world religions—especially Islam.

The preliminary meeting of the ILC recommended convening annually for the purpose of fostering mutual exchanges between the two faiths and encouraging exchange of information and advancing cooperation in areas of common concern and responsibility. Such annual meetings continued until 1985, but since 1990 have been held every two years. The first actual meeting of the ILC accordingly took place the year after the preliminary meeting, and was held here in Paris in 1971.

Some of the goals of the memorandum of understanding were initially pursued vigorously. Despite the fact that the memorandum did not mention the State of Israel as such, the undertaking to explore “the ways in which the relationship between religious community and land are conceived”15 in the respective traditions, was the focus of the first substantive ILC thematic discussions that took place in Marseilles in 1972 and Antwerp in 1973. These set the stage for the repeated and ongoing call from IJCIC to the Holy See through the ILC, for official recognition of the State of Israel and for the establishment of bilateral diplomatic relations. Similarly the educational tasks were addressed in Madrid in 1978; in Regensburg in 1979; in Vatican City in 1998; and in New York in 2001.

While combating Antisemitism was a constant theme, it took a while before the ILC formally directly addressed the subject, which it did quite dramatically in 1990 in Prague. Cardinal Edward Cassidy’s comment that the fact “that Antisemitism has found a place in Christian thought and practice calls for an act of teshuvah (repentance) and of reconciliation on our part…”16 was not only contained in the concluding statement of the 13th ILC, but was also repeated by Pope John Paul II when he received ILC delegates later that year in Rome for a special celebratory meeting on the 25th anniversary of Nostra Aetate (Nevertheless interestingly, this phrase spoken by John Paul II, was omitted from the official published text of the Pope’s remarks).17 The subject of Antisemitism was pursued at the 1994 meeting in Jerusalem; and of course the subject featured prominently as well at the 1998 ILC in Rome which took place a week after the promulgation of “We Remember—A reflection on the Shoah.” Subjects that flowed from a shared ethical heritage and moral responsibility were addressed over the years including religious freedom; the challenges of secularism; the sanctity of life; human rights; youth and faith. The ILC also discussed and issued joint documents on the environment, the family, holy sites and education.

However a new stage developed in the 2004 and 2006 meetings in which ethical themes were not only addressed conceptually, but also were taken to a new dimension of joint cooperation. At the 2004 Buenos Aires meeting on Tzedek and Tzedakah, and at the Cape Town meeting on Dignifying the Divine Image—focusing on healthcare and the challenge of HIV/AIDS; Jewish and Catholic philanthropy and social services were brought together to become greater than the sum of their different parts and to cooperate in addressing the financial crisis in Latin America in the former; and at the latter, the challenges arising from the AIDS pandemic.

Interestingly enough, it was almost forty years before consideration was given to the recommendation of the 1970 memorandum of understanding that the ILC address Jewish and Christian relations with other religions—especially Islam. The trilateral meeting in Seville in December 2009 initiated by the ILC together with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, was the first step in this direction.

A critical dimension of the Jewish-Christian relationship, not specifically addressed in the memorandum of understanding, but courageously confronted at the 1977 ILC, was the subject of Mission and Witness—i.e. whether the Church should seek to proselytize among Jews.

The use of post factum editorial intervention to which I have made reference, perhaps reflecting some tension within the Vatican corridors themselves, was already evident in the wake of this meeting. The late Dr. Geoffrey Wigoder, a past-chairman of IJCIC noted that the remarkable presentation of Professor Tommaso Federici had been endorsed by Cardinal Willebrands. However Fredericci’s bottom line that the logical conclusion of Nostra Aetate must be to reject any attempt to call on Jews to accept the Christian faith, as they were already in a covenantal relationship with God—a position subsequently reiterated by the third President of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, Cardinal Walter Kasper—was omitted from the official Vatican publication of Fredericci’s text.18

As we know, this question of the exact meaning of Nostra Aetate for Christology let alone for an understanding of the nature of the Divine Covenant with the Jewish People itself, remains a key debate within the Church with naturally profound bearing on the bilateral relationship. Indeed it has been germane to a number of issues that have preoccupied the ILC over the years, not least of all and most recently in the matter of the prayer for the Jews in the Tridentine Latin liturgy for the Triduum.

This then brings me to some of the controversies and difficulties both in the bilateral relationship and within our respective bodies that have challenged the ILC over the years. The most heated of these have not surprisingly related directly or indirectly to the Shoah and the Second World War period. I will not review all of these, but if I am not mistaken there have been two particularly difficult periods—in the late 1980’s and the late 1990’s.

Arguably the principle source of tension in the late eighties stemmed from the establishment of the Carmelite convent in Auschwitz and the reactions to it. This was compounded by the papal reception of Kurt Waldheim.19 The consequences of these tensions were both a hiatus in the meetings of the ILC, but also the Papal commitment to produce a document on the Church and the Shoah.

However these issues and the question of how most appropriately to address them also led to tensions within IJCIC. These compounded what some of the constituent members felt were unnecessary restrictions by the U.S. Orthodox members on the scope of the ILC’s deliberations.

As a result, two of IJCIC’s principal members—AJC and ADL—resigned from the consortium in 1989, and together with the American Jewish Congress formed the Council for International Interreligious Relations that declared its intention to partner with the Holy See in addressing all issues of mutual concern in a respectful manner, and also to pursue serious theological dialogue as well.

It was a mark of the standing that Dr. Gerhart Riegner had in Rome, that he—and arguably only he—was able to persuade the Holy See’s Commission to abandon its intention to work with this new body and to affirm that IJCIC was and would remain the Vatican’s only official Jewish partner, thus eventually leading to the return to IJCIC of AJC and ADL.

The eventual papal intervention in the Carmelite convent controversy, led to the wind down in that controversy and the ILC sought to overcome the negative fallout and misunderstandings by initiating first ever ILC travel mission in 1991, specifically to central/eastern Europe, to Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary to meet with the leadership of both Catholic and Jewish Communities. The meetings in Poland included a memorial visit to Auschwitz/Birkenau.

However this joint mission was not simply born out of the desire to repair damaged bridges, but far more out of a recognition—highlighted by the Carmelite convent affair—of the widespread ignorance in Central and Eastern Europe of the work of the ILC and the achievements in Catholic-Jewish reconciliation over the preceding decades. It was this same concern that led the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews to recommend holding the twentieth ILC in Budapest, Hungary, in 2008, sensing a need to reinvigorate Catholic-Jewish relations in central and eastern Europe.

The second hiatus in the late nineties was attributed by Cardinal Cassidy, the then-president of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews—to what he described as “a bitter campaign of serious accusations against Pius XII” that he identified as coming from within the World Jewish Congress and determining IJCIC’s approach which he described as “aggressive”.20 The canonization of Edith Stein in 1998 further compounded the crisis. The Vatican’s unwillingness to cooperate with a body that it saw as confrontational had an inevitable impact, and in late 1998 Cardinal Cassidy reported that the bilateral relationship with IJCIC had ceased, declaring the latter to no longer exist.

However IJCIC was reconstituted in November 2000 (now a body of some twelve members following on from the dissolution of the Synagogue Council of America some years beforehand), and under the leadership of Seymour Reich sought a way out of the confrontational impasse with the Holy See through the establishment together with the CRRJ of an International Catholic-Jewish Historical Commission. This promising initiative which started well, ended in dissolution and acrimony, with accusations and counter accusations. It became evident that there had been expectations that in the end could not be delivered and also that the project had floundered on the rocks of institutional politics. While official explanations focused on the technicalities of access to the Vatican secret archives, they probably reflected the unbridgeable differences with regards to perceptions pertaining to the period of the Shoah. Nevertheless the ILC survived this crisis.

Of course, the essence of this controversy remains and retains its combustibility for the bilateral relationship and the future of the ILC itself. While IJCIC has continued to call for open scholarly access to the Holy See’s secret archives from the Shoah period; reassurances have come from Rome that ultimately this will be forthcoming. Nevertheless, it seems clear to me that this issue will remain one in which very different perspectives are maintained on each side and that the best we will be able to achieve is to respectfully agree to disagree.

In the meantime, in the early nineties, other dramatic developments in Catholic-Jewish relations occurred that fundamentally affected IJCIC’s role and purpose and inevitably impacted on the ILC.

While both IJCIC and the CRRJ (Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews), in keeping with the original memorandum of understanding, had seen the challenge of combating Antisemitism as being central to the mandate of the ILC; IJCIC viewed the commitment to mutual respect as inextricably related to the State of Israel and saw it as its responsibility to lead the call for the establishment of bilateral relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel, using, as I have mentioned, the ILC meetings as a platform for this call. While the CRRJ reiterated that this matter was outside the purview of its competence—i.e. its mandate; it nevertheless agreed in due course to include this call in ILC concluding declarations.

The negotiations between the Holy See and the State of Israel following the Madrid Peace Conference in 1991 and the eventual signing of the Fundamental Agreement between the two at the end of 1993 leading to full bilateral relations, eliminated this matter from the ILC agenda; and naturally meant that there was no longer any need for IJCIC to continue its previous role as advocate for the State of Israel which could now fully do this for itself. However the fact that the Fundamental Agreement included a joint commitment of the Holy See and the State of Israel to work together to combat Antisemitism and other forms of racism and intolerance, as well as to promote mutual understanding among nations, respect for human life and dignity, and to promote peaceful conflict resolution; meant that this bilateral relationship inevitably encroached on areas defined by the ILC as within its own purview and mandate.

Moreover with the historic visit of Pope John Paul II to Israel as part of his pilgrimage in the year 2000—a visit substantially facilitated by the establishment of full bilateral relations—a formal interreligious dialogue was initiated by the Holy See with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel which was also conducted by the Vatican under the auspices of the Pontifical Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.

This is not the place to dwell on the significance, limitations, strengths and weaknesses of this bilateral commission which I have addressed elsewhere. However regardless of people’s likes or dislikes, there is no question that not only are the friendships between the members remarkable, but that the Vatican holds this bilateral commission in very high regard. (As reflected in Pope Benedict XVI’s speeches during his papal visit to Israel in 2009 and on his visit to the Rome synagogue the following year).21 Moreover this bilateral commission has also proved to be a most valuable channel for communication and advocacy as was evidenced in particular in the clarifications received both concerning the Latin Mass referred to before and the brief crisis in relations with the Vatican over the affair with Bishop Williamson and the Society of St. Pius X.

To be specific, the fact that the relationship with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel is a relationship with a state organ—and also functions under the purview of the Papal Nuncio—provides direct access to the Secretariat of state which IJCIC does not have by definition of the character of the ILC.

In addition, John Paul II’s visit to Jerusalem highlighted the remarkable contribution of his pontificate to confronting the evil and challenge of renascent Antisemitism. Besides his designation of this bigotry as “a sin against God and man”;22 his liturgy of seeking forgiveness which became far more widely known as a result of the placing of his prayer at the Kotel during his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, both enshrined the commitment of the Holy See to combating Antisemitism all the more profoundly into the fabric of the Church and made this profoundly evident to the world at large.

All this meant that some prominent past aspects of the focus of the ILC (and especially for IJCIC) have lost their relevance to greater or lesser degrees. This has made the field of social ethical cooperation; the expansion of engagement to other faith communities; and the development of Jewish and Catholic Emerging Leadership with its integration into the ILC that began in Budapest in 2008 leading to the gathering in Castel Gandolfo in June 2009 and continuing now here in Paris; all the more critical to the métier of the ILC, which continues as a remarkable testament to the blessed transformation in our times of relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish People.

Document 5 A Common Declaration on the Family International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee 15th Meeting—Jerusalem

Published in 1994—the International year of the Family—the Declaration highlights the special role of the family as a locus of the transmission of moral and religious values.23 It acknowledges a world-wide crisis of the family and seeks remedies in the shared biblical tradition. The Declaration reminds us that the family’s nature and character result from the covenant that God made with both the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and through them with their offspring.

Jewish and Christian understandings of the family are based upon the biblical description of the dual creation of the human being—man and woman—in God’s image, and on the dual nature of God’s covenant with the Patriarchs and Matriarchs—as with Abraham and Sarah together. We affirm the sacred value of stable marriage and the family as intrinsically good. We also stress its value in transmitting the religious and moral values from the past to the present and to the future.

The Jewish People and the Catholic Church represent two ancient traditions that have supported and been supported by the family through the centuries. We can, today, make together a solid contribution to the overall discussion of these themes in this International Year of the Family.

The family is humanity’s most precious resource. Today it is faced with multiple crises throughout the world. So that families can meet the obligations placed on them and respond to the challenges facing them, they should have the support of society.

The family is far more than a legal, social or economic unit. For both Jews and Christians, it is a stable community of love and solidarity based on God’s covenant. It is uniquely suited to teaching and handing on the cultural, ethical, social and spiritual values that are essential for the development and well-being of its members and of society. The rights and obligations of the family in these areas do not come from the State but exist prior to the State and ultimately have their source in God, the Creator. Family and society have living, organic links. Ideally, they will function to complement each other in furthering the good of humanity and of each person.

Parents, who gave life or have adopted their children, have the primary obligation of bringing them up. They must be the principal educators of their children. Families have an essential right to exercise their responsibilities regarding the transmission of life and the formation of their children, including the right to raise children in accordance with the traditions and values of the family’s own religious community, with the necessary instruments and institutions.

Appropriate marriage preparation and parent formation programmes can and should be developed by each of our religious communities on the national and local levels. These can assist parents to meet their responsibilities to each other and to their children, and guide the children to meet their obligations to their parents. Religious communities need to create a variety of support systems for families, just as many of our respective religious rituals have done so effectively over the centuries.

The family should provide a place in which different generations meet to help each other to grow in human wisdom. It should enable family members to learn to accommodate individual rights to other requirements of social life within the larger society. Society, for its part, and in particular the State and international organization, have an obligation to protect the family by political, social, economic, and legal measures that reinforce family unity and stability, so that the family can carry out its specific functions.

Society is called upon to support the rights of the family and of family members, especially women and children, the poor and the sick, the very young and the elderly, to physical, social, political and economic security. The rights, duties and opportunities of women both in the home and in the larger society are to be respected and fostered. In affirming the family, we reach out at the same time to other persons such as unmarried persons, single parents, the widowed and the childless, in our societies and in our Churches and Synagogues.

In view of the worldwide dimension of social questions today, the role of the family has been extended to involve co-operation for a new sense of international solidarity.

While Jews and Catholics have significant differences in perspective, we also have a solid ground of shared values upon which to build our common affirmation of the essential role of the family within society. In turn, these values will only be fully realized through concrete applications in differing cultures and societies. We offer this declaration to our own communities and to other religious communities in the hope that it may be of service to them in their efforts to respond to the challenges which the family is facing today.

Document 6 International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee A Common Declaration on the Environment International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee 16th Meeting—Vatican City

This document is an example of Jewish engagement in interreligious dialogue with the goal of finding common answers to the most pressing questions of our times.24 The Declaration builds on numerous biblical references to shed light on the common bases of Judaism and Catholicism, and should be read in the light of the mounting and alarming data on climate change. It is a joint effort to articulate a religious understanding of the relation between humans and the land they inhabit, based on values shared by adherents of both traditions: respect and responsibility for God’s creation. The ILC issued the document on March 25, 1998 after the 16th meeting of the Committee in the Vatican.

Across the world people are becoming increasingly aware that certain forms of human activity are leading to environmental damage and seriously limiting the possibility of a sustainable development for all. Climate change, air and water pollution, desertification, resource depletion, and loss of biodiversity are among the consequences. While many have contributed to this damage, all must learn to live in a way which respects the integrity of the delicate balance that exists among the earth’s ecosystems. Nor can we ignore the relation between the effect on the environment of population increase in certain areas and of heightened economic expectation among peoples.

Governments, commerce, industry, and agriculture must also collaborate if individuals and communities are to be able to exercise their right to live in a sound and healthy environment.

Concern for the environment has led both Catholics and Jews to reflect on the concrete implications of their belief in God, Creator of all things. In turning to their sacred scriptures, both have found the religious and moral foundations for their obligation to care for the environment. While they may differ in interpretations of some texts or in their methodological approaches, Jews and Catholics have found such broad agreement on certain fundamental values that they are able to affirm them together.

1. All of creation is good and forms a harmonious whole, rich in diversity (Genesis 1–2)

God created everything that exists, each according to its kind. “And God saw that it was good.” Nothing, therefore, is insignificant; nothing should be recklessly destroyed as if devoid of purpose. Modification of species by genetic engineering must be approached with great caution. Everything is to be treated with reverence, as part of a whole willed by God to be in harmony. It was a willful act of disobedience that first broke this harmony (Genesis 3:14–19).

2. The human person—male and female—is part of creation and yet distinguished from it, being made in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:26)

The respect due to each person, endowed with a God-given dignity, allows for no exception and excludes no ones. Life is precious. We are to affirm it, to promote it, to care for and cherish it. When harm is done to the environment, the lives of both individuals and communities are profoundly affected. Any social, economic, or political activity that directly or indirectly destroys life or diminishes the possibility for people to live in dignity is counter to God’s will.

3. The human person, alone of all creation, has been entrusted with the care of creation. (Genesis 1:26–30; 2:15–20)

The human person has an immense responsibility, that of caring for all of creation. No person or group can use the resources of this earth as proprietor, but only as God’s steward who destined these goods for all. Assuring that individuals and communities have access to what is necessary to sustain life in dignity is an expression of this stewardship, as is a reverent and moderate use of created goods.

4. Land and the people depend on each other. (Leviticus 25; Exodus 23; Deuteronomy 15)

We all depend on the land, source of our sustenance. While human activity renders the land productive, it can also exhaust it, leaving only desolation. In the Jubilee Year, a time for God, liberty is to be proclaimed throughout the land, debts forgiven, and slaves freed. Also the land is to lie fallow so that it, too, can be restored.

A recognition of the mutual dependence between the land and the human person calls us today to have a caring, even loving, attitude towards the land and to regulate its use with justice, the root of peace.

5. Both Jews and Catholics look to the future, a time of fulfillment

Our responsibility for all that dwells in the earth and for the earth itself extends into the future. The earth is not ours to destroy (cf. Deut 20:19), but to hand on in trust to future generations. We cannot, therefore, recklessly consume its resources to satisfy needs that are artificially created and sustained by a society that tends to live only for the present. We also need to act, together whenever feasible, to assure that sound practices, guaranteed by law, are established in our countries and local communities for the future preservation of the environment.

Care for creation is also a religious act. Both Catholics and Jews use water, fire, oil, and salt as signs of God’s presence among us. As part of God’s creation, we offer its fruits in prayer and worship, and the Psalmist does not hesitate to summon all of creation to join in praising God (Psalms 96, 98, 148).

Respect for God’s creation, of which we are a part, must become a way of life. We therefore call upon our respective religious communities and families to educate children, both by teaching and example, to fulfill the trust that God has confided to us.

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof;

the world and those who dwell therein (Ps 24:1)


See “International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations,”, accessed May 21, 2019. The Document 4 of the Appendix where David Rosen elaborates on the history of IJCIC and its role.


Therefore, the responsibility for the mistakes is solely ours.


The text is quoted from the following online sources:,, accessed May 27, 2019. For the analysis of both the Fundamental Accord and the Legal Personality Agreement, see Mordechay Lewy, “From Denial to Acceptance: Holy See—Israel Relations” (Keynote address at the Holy See and Israel Conference Center for Christian- Jewish Learning, Boston College, June 17–18, 2009), Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations 4, no. 1 (2009),, accessed June 24, 2019; Bartłomiej Secler, “Twenty Years of Diplomatic Relations between Vatican City State and Israel,” Review of Nationalities. Jews 6 (2016): 115–34, DOI: 10.1515/pn-2016–00.


Many church dignitaries use the term Holy Land in not only its pure theological—religious sense, but also when they describe socio-demographical implications of political conflicts. We would like to point out that the term Holy Land lacks any modern geographical or political definition. Hence it would be wrong to refer to the Holy Land as a general entity in which any persecution of Christians or immigration occurs. The Holy Land may embrace all those places that witnessed the events described in either the Old or New Testaments. This would also mean Turkey, Egypt and Iraq, in addition to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. Therefore, to speak about the persecution or immigration of Christians from the Holy Land is doing an injustice to Israel and Jordan, as those countries have never hosted such occurrences. As shown above, the presence of Christians in Israel and in Jerusalem has not only remained stable since 1967, but is increasing in real terms (original note quoted from the website).


The text is available on, accessed May 27, 2019. However, the version given here includes a few minor corrections introduced by the author in June 2019.


Augustin Bea, The Church and the Jewish People (London: Chapman, 1966), 22.


Jorge Mejía, “The Creation and Work of the Commission for Religions Relations with the Jews,” in The Catholic Church and the Jewish People, ed. Philip A. Cunningham, Norbert J. Hofmann, and Joseph Sievers (New York: Fordham University Press, 2007), 153.










Kurt Waldheim was a politician and diplomat. He served as the fourth Secretary General of the United Nations (1972–1981) and the President of Austria (1986–1992). In 1986 it was revealed that he had served in the Wehrmacht during the Second World War in Greece and Yugoslavia as an intelligence officer. The World Jewish Congress disclosed that he was implicated in Nazi mass murders in these countries: Waldheim rejected the allegations. To learn more about the Waldhein Affair see Simon Wiesenthal, “The Waldheim Case” in Contemporary Jewish Writing in Austria: An Anthology, ed. Dagmar C. G. Lorenz (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999), 81–95 (editors’ note).

Jews in Dialogue

Jewish Responses to the Challenges of Multicultural Contemporaneity. Free Ebrei Volume 2



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