A delegation of young Catholic priests from Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay are now in the midst of week-long Jewish-Christian educational mission in Israel. The seminar is the result of a new partnership between the World Jewish Congress (WJC), the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Israel (CJCUC) and the Latin American Jewish Congress (LAJC). The goals of the project are to study the authoritative post-Second Vatican Council church teachings about Jews and Judaism, and to introduce the young priests to the people of Israel and Israeli life.
"As Pope Benedict XVI leaves the papal office today, his legacy of building bridges between Jews and Christians will continue in these young priests," said CJCUC founder and chancellor Rabbi Shlomo Riskin. "There is a profound need for the academic advances of the past half century of Jewish-Catholic dialogue to be brought down to the parish and synagogue levels," he added.
"As the center of gravity of the Catholic Church shifts to South America and Africa, it is vitally important to create new friendships between the future leaders of the Catholic Church in Latin America and the Jewish people," said David Nekrutman, the executive director of CJCUC.
"The World Jewish Congress, having long established good relations with the leadership of the Catholic Church for decades, is proud to be involved in this endeavor, together with Latin American Jewish Congress. These developing friendships will become increasingly important to both Israel and Latin America," declared Betty Ehrenberg, executive director of WJC-North America.
"We seek to achieve increased cooperation between future Latin American Catholic and Jewish leaders in the teaching of common values, mutual respect, and support for the Jewish State, which will add strength to our communities, " added Claudio Epelman, executive director of the Latin American Jewish Congress.
Entitled In Our Age For Our Future; the mission highlights the pivotal moment in the Church's modern history of Nostra Aetate ("in Our Age") in 1965. The declaration by the Second Vatican Council repudiated the charge of Deicide and condemned of all forms of anti-Semitism. Nostra Aetate created the path that led to formal relations between the Vatican and the State of Israel in 1993.
The program will feature a number of seminars each year and will set the stage for educational programs for Catholics and Jews that will foster a greater understanding of Judaism and Israel in the Latin American communities, through friendship and dialogue.
Pictured above, from left to right are: Fr. Jose Bravo, Chile; Fr. Gustavo Brianese, Argentina; Fr. Nelson Benitez, Argentina; Fr. Sergio Muratore, Argentina; Rabbi Dr. Eugene Korn, New York (CJCUC); Ari, Jewish National Fund; Fr. Rodrego Pires, Brazil; Fr. Luis Rifo, Chile; Fr. Daniel Cutri, Argentina; Fr. Gabriel Gonzalez- Merlano, Uruguay; Rabbi Daniel Zweig, Chile; Rabbi Anshel Kreiman, Jerusalem (CJCUC). Photo credit: Ofir Jacobson, tour guide.