The organizations launched this initiative as part of a joint celebration of the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the Declaration issued by the Second Vatican Council which rejected antisemitism and underscored the importance of the Jewish roots of Christianity. The first dialogue session involved a combination of clergy and scholars, with six-person delegations from each faith community. Themes addressed included the substantial role of Nostra Aetate in transforming Catholic perceptions of the Jewish community, the deep significance of the State of Israel to the Jewish people, and the importance of acknowledging painful history while embracing mutual respect and working together to build a common future.
“Jews must recognize that contemporary Catholicism was profoundly changed by Vatican II and that the historic denigration and demonization of Jews has been eliminated from Catholic teaching,” said Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl, Co-Chair of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus. “Catholics must comprehend that contemporary Jews and Judaism can only be understood through the twin experiences of the horrors of the Holocaust and the creative existence of the State of Israel. While differences between our two faith communities still exist, we have moved from disputation to dialogue, persecution to partnership, and confrontation to cooperation.”
The Most Reverend John A. Boissonneau, Auxiliary Bishop of Toronto and the CCCB Co-Chair of the dialogue, explained that “Nostra Aetate was one of the most precious gifts of the Council, it reset the course for Catholic – Jewish relations. Nostra Aetate gave Catholics an authoritative teaching that confirmed the spiritual bond between Jews and Christians and emphatically denounced unambiguously that antisemitism was incompatible with the Gospel of love and ‘foreign to the mind of Christ’ (n 5).” The new dialogue resulted in the CCCB and CRC issuing a joint declaration committing them to further discussion and cooperation in a range of activities. In addition to deepening ties between their Jewish and Catholic communities, and educating them about the changed nature of the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, the two organizations agreed to work together on public policy issues of common cause. As examples of such issues, the declaration cited social justice and religious freedom as well as the need to “oppose antisemitism and all forms of hatred.”
The Jewish delegation to the dialogue is composed of Dr. Robert Daum, Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl, Dr. Victor Goldbloom, Rabbi Reuben Poupko, Dr. Adele Reinhartz, and Dr. Norman Tobias. The Catholic delegation is composed of Bishop John A. Boissonneau, Archbishop Paul-André Durocher, Sister Anne Anderson, C.S.J., Father Martin Moser, O.M.I., Sister Eileen Schuller, O.S.U., and Father Hervé Tremblay, O.P.
The Canadian Rabbinic Caucus, a body of Canadian rabbis representing synagogues across the spectrum of Jewish religious practice, is an affiliate of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). As the advocacy agent of the Jewish Federations of Canada, CIJA is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of Jewish life in Canada by advancing the public policy interests of Canada’s organized Jewish community.
The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops is the national assembly of the Bishops of Canada. It was founded in 1943 and officially recognized by the Holy See in 1948. After the Second Vatican Council (1962–65), it became part of a worldwide network of Episcopal Conferences, established in 1965, as an integral part of the life of the universal Church.