On July 19th., the Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes was remembered on occasion of his 120th birth anniversary. He saved the life of thousands of refugees from the Nazi persecution, most of them Jews.
The event was organized by the IRWF and took place at the Museum of the Jewish Heritage in New York. Among the attendees was Sousa Mendes’ granddaughter, Mrs Fleischhaker Abranches, in representation of his family.
An active catholic and father of fourteen children, Sousa Mendes is a hero of humanity. As Portuguese consul in Bordeaux (France), from late 1939 to June 1940, he issued countless visas which allowed thousands of people, both Jews and not, to escape from the horror of World War II. Thanks to Sousa Mendes’ courage, more than 30,000 thousand people survived the Holocaust.
Sousa Mendes’ humanity came at a high price for him. His defiance of the Portuguese government, which had commanded him not to issue permits to either Jewish or anti-Nazi refugees, cost him his position. Sousa Mendes was dismissed from the PortugueseDiplomatic Service, and his name was banished for decades in his own country. He had to spend the rest of his lifetime in abject poverty. Sousa Mendes died on April 3rd 1954. His good reputation had not been restored yet.
In 2004, on occasion of his 50th death anniversary, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation and the Angelo Roncalli International Committee organized a number of simultaneous religious services in churches and synagogues in more than 30 different countries.
On July 3rd 2005, a delegation from the Interreligious Coordinating Council of Israel (ICCI) traveled to Cyprus for the study seminar ”Interreligious Reconciliation: Learning, Dialogue and Action”. The Israeli delegation, including rabbis, priests and Muslim kadis, met Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot religious leaders that are involved in a common effort to reach a pacific settlement in the divided island.
Israeli ambassador at the Vatican, Mr Oded ben Hur, confirmed that Israeli Minister of Communications , Mrs Dalia Itzick, delivered a letter from Prime Minister Mr Ariel Sharon to Pope Benedict XVI inviting the Pontiff to visit to the Jewish State.
According to an Israeli radio station that interviewed the Minister of Communications, the Pontiff may have said during the meeting: ”I have a very busy schedule of visits to foreign countries, but Israel is a priority.”
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) has built the website: www.bialikencastellano.com with the aim to render (????) Jaim Najman Bialik’s poetry accessible to Spanish-speaking readers. The project was launched by Mr. Baruj Tenembaum – the founder of IRWF – and it is supported by the efficiency and dedication of Ms Belkis Rogovsky, the coordinator.
The Hebrew national poet’s work is obviously interesting for the Jewish people – both in Israel and the Diaspora – but it is also interesting for Christian sectors aiming to regain Jewish religion as part of their own line of faith.
A postgraduate degree in interreligious, ecumenical and cultural dialogue will be launched next academic year. According to information provided by the Higher Institute of Religious Sciences, Barcelona, the programme includes studies of Abrahamanic religions (Judaism and Islam), Eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism), African and Afro-American religions, and new religions like New Age. It also includes studies of interreligious dialogue, ecumenism and cross-cultural faith, among other issues.
This postgraduate degree is one of the two specialisations offered by the Masters Degree in Religious Sciences – the other specialisation is Biblical Theology – and it is aimed at students with a degree.
The Argentinean documentary film ”Legado, yo nunca me fui de mi pueblo” (Legacy, I never left my village) will be awarded a prize in Berlin for its humanitarian message of intercultural and interfaith friendship. The film has been produced by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation (IRWF) and its associated institutions Argentinean House in Jerusalem and the Angelo Roncalli International Committee. The IRWF requested filmmakers Vivian Imar and Marcelo Trotta to direct the film, also helping to find the descendants of Jewish ancestors of the Diaspora in different countries. The film focuses on a little known story about Argentinean life in the Pampas, where Jewish immigrants settled near the 20th century after fleeing from the persecutions in Europe.
The prize will be awarded from the Evangelic Church in Berlin, a Christian religious community. The jury emphasizes the achievements made by the IRWF, which sponsored the film with donations from descendants of the Diaspora. Because the prize is awarded by a Christian institution in Berlin, the award has a strong symbolic meaning, in that it reinforces the cause of Judeo-Christian dialogue and harmony in the place where the Nazis administered the genocide that mass murdered millions of Jewish people.
The Interreligious Meeting Association organized the first interreligious women’s peregrination on July 14th-15th. The pilgrimage aimed for the study of Druse religion. The event included visits to the Druse village El Carmel and the Prophet Jehtro’s tomb in Galilea.
The book was presented during an event held in the foreign press room in Rome. The author of the book, the Italian Vaticanist Giovanni Battista Brunori, shared the presentation talk with Bishop Rino Fisichella, President of Pontific University of Letran; Benedetto Carucci Viterbi, Rabbi of the Roman Jewish Community; Mauro Mazza, TG2 RAI director; David Meghnagi, Professor at Rome 3 University; and Lisa Palmieri, correspondent in Rome for the Jerusalem Post newspaper.
The book analyzes various themes of interest for Christians and Jews, notably the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the role of Pope Pio XII during the Nazi persecution of Jews, and the resurgence of anti-Semitism around Europe.
The Mexican Primate, Cardinal Norberto Riviera Carrera, visited the State of Israel, Holy Land, in June together with other Mexican Bishops.]]>
For the first time, the IRWF remembered a Catholic Cardinal as per the Hebrew Calendar on 3 of v 5765 (August 2005).
Every year, the IRWF remembers the birth of the Argentine ex-Primate Cardinal Antonio Quarracino at his tomb in the Chapel ”Virgen de Luján” at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral, next to the mural commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, the Embassy of Israel and AMIA.
The IRWF continues its campaign for the collection of 100,000 signatures in order to know the destiny of the Swedish diplomat who made of solidarity and civic courage his own flag by saving thousands of Jewish people from Nazism.
This campaign is addressed to good-willed men and women from all religions, races and nationalities in order to endorse a petition to be presented to the Russian Government and to the United Nations claiming for a solution to the disappearance of Raoul Wallemberg in the hands of the Soviet Army in 1945, being this event one of the most controversial cases of all human history.
Pope Benedict XVI (born in Germany) set up a precedent at being the first Pope to visit a synagogue in the country where European Holocaust had been planned and implemented. During his recent visit to Cologne’s Synagogue in Germany, the Pope committed himself to spread a condemning message against anti-Semitism during his papacy. The Pope said: ”the Catholic Church confirms its support to tolerance, respect, peace and friendship among the different cultures, people and religions”. Abraham Lerer, Jewish representative and President of Cologne’s Jewish Community, invited Pope Benedict XVI to continue with the opening of the Vatican Archives corresponding to Holocaust times in order to allow a better understanding of the role played by the Catholic Church during those obscure years in the History of Humanity.
The movie ”Legacy: I never left my village” sponsored by the RWIF and directed by Vivian Imar and Marcelo Trotta has been exhibited at the Coliseum cinema of the city of New York on August 23rd. The movie, based on an idea of IRWF’s founder, Baruj Tenembaum, is the result of more than 10 years of work. During this time, both directors gathered material and interviewed the protagonists in their own environment without recurring to re-enactments or actors. It is a story focused on a little known chapter of the Argentine life in the ”pampas”, where many Jewish immigrants had established when escaping from the European persecutions at the beginning of the 20th century.
One of the most remarkable aspects of the movie is its message of love and human understanding, the solidarity among Jewish ”gauchos” and the Argentine Catholics who welcomed them with their widely open arms and hearts.
On August 9th, the Catholic, Jewish and Muslim communities subscribed a joint declaration ratifying their total identification to the peace cause, and their rejection to terrorism and any other act of fundamentalism. Buenos Aires’ Archbishop, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the President of the Islamic Center, Mr Omar Helal Massud, the President of the Argentinean Jewish Mutual Association (AMIA), Mr Luis Grynwald and the Vicepresident of the Argentinean Jewish Associations (DAIA), Mr León Cohen Bello, attended this ceremony.
On August 23rd, thousands of pilgrims gathered to pay posthumous homage to Brother Roger Schutz, founder of the Christian Ecumenical Community in Taize, France. Brother Roger, 90 years old, was assassinated by a mentally unbalanced woman when he was celebrating Mass in the Reconciliation Church. Apart from his inter-religious activity Brother Roger had protected Jewish chased by Nazism during World War II.
Translation: Cristina Mendez]]>
Due to the 50 anniversary of the Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes’ death, who saved thousands of people, mostly Jews, persecuted by Nazism, the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation has launched a call to religious leaders of all confessions to celebrate commemorative services in memory of Consul Sousa Mendes in their own congregations. The IRWF initiative has found a wide support in the world, and many messages of adhesion from priests, rabbies and pastors have been received. The religious services took place on June 17 in churches and synagogues of more than 30 countries. Tens of religious, cultural and educational activities took place in the five continents. Among many other countries that joined the remembrance were France, the United States, the Vatican, China and Israel. In New York took place a mass dedicated to Sousa Mendes. The religious ceremony was held in the church of Our Lady of Fatima, in Yonkers and was in charge of Monsignor Celestino Migliore, Vatican Representative to the UN. Among the many people present that fully occupied the temple were Goncalo de Santa Clara Gomes, Portugal Ambassador to the UN, Alexandre Manuel Galvao Mexia de Almeida Fernandes, General Consul of Portugal to New York, Sheila Abranches and Aristides Mendes, Sousa Mendes’ relatives and tens of representatives of the Portuguese community in New York, in traditional clothing. At the end of the service took place a reception in which Mrs. Abigail Tenembaum, vice-president of the Wallenberg Foundation, presented the Sousa Mendes award to John Crisostomo, distinguished Portuguese activist dedicated to promote the life and dee! ds of the Portuguese savior. In Rome, on the other hand, a mass was celebrated in the Basilica of Saint Mary in Trastevere. The ceremony was in charge of Cardinal Renato Martino, President of the Peace and Justice Commission of the Vatican. In the course of the prayers, Cardinal Martino included an invocation for the peaceful coexistence among people and communities of different beliefs, races and religions, as well as a word against anti-Semitism and racial discrimination. Before the end of the ceremony, the special envoy of the IRWF, Rabbi Ablin, was invited by the high Vatican prelate to address the audience. During his message, Ablin informed of the decision of granting the Sousa Mendes award to Cardinal Martino, who expressed his satisfaction by standing up due to people’s applause. In Bordeaux, the city in which Sousa Mendes carried out his rescue deed, the ”Sousa Mendes 50 anniversary Medal” was presented to Father Bernard Jacques Riviere, due to his long and successful dedication to promote the deed of the former Portuguese consul. The Wallenberg Foundation received thousands of adhesions to the unprecedented initiative. It is worth mentioning those belonging to the Prime Minister of Portugal, H.E. Jose Manuel Durao Barroso; the US congressman, Toma Lantos; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Elie Wiesel; Mayor of Yonkers, Phil Amicone and Raoul Wallenberg’s niece, Louis von Dardel, among other international personalities.
The Department of Compared Religions of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Interreligious Coordination Council of Israel sponsored the presentation of the Sir Sigmund Sternberg Award for interreligious dialogue. In the ceremony that took place on June 10, the researcher Yosi Klein Ha-Lei, from the Shalem Institute, spoke about the subject ”Judaism, Christianity and Islam”.
Last May 10, a solemn service was held in the central synagogue of Rome due to the 100 anniversary of that house of prayers. During the occasion, the General Vicar of Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, read a message belonging to Pope John Paul II, in which it is stated that the Catholic Church rejects anti-Semitism in all its expressions clearly and definitely. The message points out that ”it is not enough to condemn the hostility against the Jewish People but it is also necessary to strengthen friendship, esteem and fraternal relation”.
The Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, was received by King John Charles I of Spain, due to his recent visit to the Iberian Peninsula. Later the Jewish Religious Dignitary had a fraternal meeting with the Primate of the Spanish Church, Monsignor Antonio Canizares.
The Tantur Institute for Theological Studies organized between May 23 and 26 an international symposium about the subject ”forgiveness and its dimensions”. The subject was analyzed from the theological perspectives of Protestantism, Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Judaism. The participants of the symposium were: Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Pontific Council to promote Christian unity; Dr. Sarah Coakley from Harvard Divinity School; Dr. Katharyn Johnson from Louisville Presbyterian Seminary; Dr. L. Gregory Jones from Duke University School; Dr. Miroslav Volf from Yale Divinity School and Dr. Gustavo Gutierrez from the University of Notre Dame.
In preparation to the call of Parliament of Religions of the World in the month of July in Barcelona, a preparatory symposium took place in Jerusalem. The event was organized by the Council for the Parliament of Religions of the World in collaboration with the Association for Interreligious Encounter. The Agenda of the meeting was about the different issues to be discussed in Barcelona, with special attention to two aspects: the growing religious violence and the right to have access to clean water. The symposium counted with the participation of the Main Rabbi of Haifa, Shear Yashuv Cohen, the Vatican Nuncio in Israel Pietro Sambi, the Secretary General of the Sufi Council in Holy Land Sheik Abd-E-Sallam Manasra, representative of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Lutheran Bishop and distinguished community leaders.
The note entitled ”The Church states: we have saved too many Jews” expresses: ”The Church helped rescue too many Jews during the Second World War”. That is expressed in a letter written by a Bishop in the year 1943, which was published yesterday by the Vatican (6/28/2004). The Bishop complains in his letter about the preferred treatment to the Jewish race. ”The missive was published, in the context of the war fought by the Catholic Church against the accusations that it did not act to stop Nazism and the Jews extermination machine, after the Pope ordered to reveal the sections of the Vatican file that had been kept in secret until now”. ”The letter that has been published by the Vatican Nuncio in Rumania, Andrea Casullo, on July 21, 1943 and was addressed to Cardinal Luiggi Mangilione, at that moment responsible for the Ministry of Foreign Relations in the Vatican. Casullo pointed out in his letter, that diverse circles expressed their dislike for the preferred treatment that the Vatican gives to the Jewish Race, among them a Catholic Bishop named Pacce.” ”The latter expressed, as it is read in the letter, that his German parishioners accuse the Church to treat Jews, enemies of the German People, in a preferred manner. Casullo addressed the Vatican to consult the way in which he should act, though it is not known whether he received an answer or not”. ”Thousands of additional documents have been published by the Vatican with the intention of proving the action of the Church to help families so they could find relatives after the war”.]]>
The calendar, illustrated with drawings of the Jewish, Christian and Moslem religious traditions, points out and explains the festivities of each creed. Details related to the illustrations and the price established to sell it to the public, can be consulted in the website of the association: www.israel-interfaith.co.il
A group of volunteers of the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation who search for people that helped Jews persecuted by the nazi regime during the Holocaust, honored a grandmother named Lela Sopianac, a Croatian woman who has just turned 90. She hid forty jewish families during theWorld War II in her house in Zagreb. This grandmother arrived in Argentina in 1940, escaping from the nazis. Due to her activity saving Jews, she was sent to a concentration camp together with her husband. As a result of all the tortures inflicted on her, she lost a kidney and the thumb of her right hand. While they were taking her to the frontier between Croatia and Italy to execute her, she managed to escape and emigrate to Argentina. Lela says: ”My house was open to all my brothers, you can’t say he is Jewish and the other one is a Christian. One must apply God’s word, which is only one for everybody”.
Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Archbishop of Mexico City, lead a group of Mexican eclesiastical dignitaries who recently visited Poland and Israel, on a trip dedicated to study and try to experience personally the tragedy of the Holocaust, which eliminated a third of the Jewish population. Furthermore, the purpose of this trip was to fortify the bonds between the Spanish speaking Jewish communities in Mexico and the eclesiastical hierarchy of that country. The group of visitors included various bishops coming from the Mexican cities of Durango, Texcoco and Guadalajara.
The community of San Egidio (Saint Egidio), renowned religious community near to the Vatican, recently oganized a meeting of Christian, Moslems and Jewish religious leaders in Lyon, France. The Archbishop of Lyon, Philippe Brabarin, was one of the co-organizers of this event attended by The Great Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger; The Minister of the State Department of France, Nicolás Sarkozy; the ex-Minister of the European Parliament, Simone Veil; and the President of the University Al-Azhar of Cairo, Ahmad Al-Tayeb.
On September 13th., King Abdullah of Jordan gave a conference at the American Catholic University, a day after he had met with the Pope Benedicto XVI. During this meeting he had pleeded for the recovery of the Islamic faith by the moderate sections of Moslems, from the hands of the violent extremism who wants to get hold of that religion, trying to justify, in this way, its violent objectives.
On September 11th., the Interreligious Coordinating Council of Israel (ICCI) called for an interreligious service of prayer and remembrance for the victims of violence in the United States, the Middle East and in the whole world. This ceremony, which took place in the Shimshon Center of the Movement for the Progressive Judaism in Jerusalem, counted with the presence of diplomats and a large public.
Translation: Pablo Freinkel and María Pensavalle]]>
Delegations of the Vatican and the State of Israel reestablished negotiations for the application of the fundamental agreement that rules its relations. Said agreement, subscribed on December 30, 1993, inaugurated the diplomatic relations between both States. The Vatican delegation presided by Monsignor Gianfranco Galloni, Secretary of the Apostolic Nunciature to Israel and the Israeli delegation presided by the diplomat Gadi Golan, considered among other issues, the fiscal statute of the Church, eventual restitution of ecclesiastic properties and State participation in the support of the social activities carried out by the Church for the local population.
The Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, inaugurated lastJuly 5 the XVIII International Encounter of the Catholic-Jewish relations Committee, where 53 participants dealt with the relations among faiths in the world order.
The importance of the Catholic delegation is marked by the presence of three Cardinals: William Kasper, president of the Pontific Council for Religious Relations with Judaism; Jorge Mejía who presided that commission for a decade since 1977, and William Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore. It also counted with the presence of Monsignor Michael Fitzgerald, President of the Pontific Council for inter religious dialogue.
The Jewish delegation was headed by Rabbi Israel Singer, director of the World Jewish Congress and it was integrated by other three former ambassadors of Israel to the Holy See and distinguished Rabbis of the different tendencies within Judaism.
The Paul Carus award, created by the Council of the Parliament of the Religions of the World with the Blouke Carus family, with the aim of distinguishing the contribution to inter religious dialogue, was presented by Bishop Meledo Baker Ochola II and the initiative of religious leaders ocholi for peace in Uganda. The award was granted in the Parliament of Religions of the World that takes place in the context of the 2004 Barcelona Forum.
The International Institute of Education has created the ”Victor J. Goldberg for Peace in the Middle East” award that will be presented annually to two people, a Muslim Arab and an Israeli Jew, who carry out in conjunction a work for peace in the Middle East. For further information log on to: www.iie.org
The Cristiandad de España Publishing House has recently published the text ”Judeo-Christianity Theology” by Cardinal Jean Danielou. The sources, the intellectual atmosphere and the institutions of the origins of Christian Theology are analyzed in that work. Jean Danielou was ordained Pope Paul VI and was Professor of the Paris Catholic Institute.
The 2004 Asis award for Peace has been presented by Father Vicenzo Coli, guard of the Basilica of San Francisco, an Israeli educator, Angela Edna Caló Livné, and a Palestine educator, Samar Sahar. Sahar has dedicated her life to work with children and runs the ”Jeel-Al-Amal Home” in Betania, the most important institution to help children in Palestine. Angela Caló Livne lives in a kibutz in the northern Israel and works as a teacher in multicultural schools, having created the ”Rainbow” theater composed by young Jews, Arabs Christians, Muslim Arabs and Druses.
The Ansar-El-Suna Muslim Association has founded the Islamic Cultural Center ”The Rachman” in Nazareth. Said Center, including a mosque, gives information for imams, Muslim religion leaders, and offers some courses of Islamic formation for people in general. The Ansar-El-Suna Association works for a moderate and tolerant Islam, and its members participate in different inter religious activities.
The Museum of the Lands of the Bible in Jerusalem carries out a project of coexistence among Jewish and Muslim children called ”Abraham’s image”. In that program participate 130 students of the Paula Ben Gurion elementary School and the El-Tzal School of Eastern Jerusalem. The children explore their respective genealogical trees to find the name ”Abraham” or ”Ibrahim” in them, they study the cultures of the Ancient Middle East and track common elements in the Jewish and Muslim religious tradition.]]>
On August 4, a series of tribute ceremonies for the 92th birthday of Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat, who saved thousands of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust took place in several cities all over the world. The public ceremonies were sponsored by the IRWF and took place in Nueva York, Buenos Aires, Jerusalem, Santiago de Chile, Miami and Budapest.
Two ceremonies took place in Jerusalem. A tribute in the Wallenberg explanade, Jerusalem forest, took place in the afternoon. Speaches were delivered by Dr. Mario Ablin , IRWF Vicepresident, and Andreu Hajder, Hungarian professor saved by Wallenberg. The ceremony also included a poetic and musical act. That same evening another ceremony took place and was attended by numerous people and several speaches were delivered by the Swedish Ambassador in Israel, His Excellency Mr Robert Rydberg , and the business representative of Hungary, Mr. Csaba Czibere. During the event taped messages delivered by the Chief Rabbi of Israel, H.E Rabbi Yona Metzger and the President of Yad Vashem, Prof. Shevaj Weiss. The ceremony was closed with the performance of musical and poetic exhibitions. The event took place in the Jerusalem Bnei Brith site and organized by the IRWF together with the Reut Movement, the Raoul Wallenberg Honorary Committee and Jerusalem Work Group.
The deans of four pontifical universities – Monsignor Remo Fisichella de la Lateranense, Father Franco Imoda de la Gregoriana, Mariano Fazio de la Santa Cruz y Monsignor Giuseppe Cavalloto de la Urbaniana – visited Israel. During their visit they contacted the authorities of the Jerusalem Hebrew University, Tel Aviv and Bar Ilan Universities. The purpose of the visit was to foster greater cooperation between the academic institutions of both countries.
”Missioners of the Unity” the Ecumenic Center in Madrid, related with the Oriental and Ecumenic Studies at the Salamanca Pontifical University offers a 100 academic hours course containing an introduction to ecumenic and biblical theology. Said course forms part of the degree named: Expert in ecumenic theology and Interfaith dialogue, studied at the Salamanca University.
Rabbi David Goldberg belonging to the Liberal Movement (not orthodox), was awarded the British Empire Order from Queen Elizabeth II for his contribution to interfaith relations.
Kedem Group (Voices for Religious Reconciliation), patronized by the Israel Interfaith council coordinator, composed by 14 religious leaders (seven rabbies and seven imams), said group participated of an interfaith seminar in Bosnia Herzegovina during the month of July , the purpose of the meeting was to gather religious leaders of different faiths for the shared studies of texts and mutual dialogue.
The Theological and Pastoral Institute for Latin America and the Caribbean (ITEPAL), in cooperation with the department for the CELAM common ecclesiastical dialogue has given a course of interfaith and ecumenic dialogue adequate for the challenges and demands of this issue. The course was delivered by theologs from Chile, Panama and Colombia.
The Israel Interfaith Association organized a symposium last July 8 under the title of ”At the entrance of the Eden Garden, a search for G’d in other’s religion”.
The meeting was patronized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation , the writer Yossi Klein Halevi , researcher Mohammad Hourani from the Hartman Institute and Dr. Michael Krupp delivered speaches in the name of the organizing organization.
The newspaper The New York Times point out an unusual fact; an elderly Catholic religious woman, the Dominic Mary Rose Thering live in a Third Age home of the Jewish community , The ”Metro West Jewish Center of New York”. The religious, who consecrate all her life to fight against Anti-Semitism, is internee in the medical center of this home.
The Vatican has raised the secret about documents from the World War II period related to the activity of the Holy See in relation to war prisoners. Among these documents there is a letter of the Rumanian Bishop dated in July 21st 1943 where the prelate complaints about the excessive concern of the Vatican about the fate of the Jews. Is possible that the exposed documentation serve for enlighten more completely the attitude of Pope Pius XII in relation to the Nazi regime, that is a controversial subject. In Jewish academic circles is said that Pope Pius XII didn’t pay attention to the Nazi persecution against the Jews, and avoid intervening on behalf of them.
American Jewish leaders express their restlessness respect to a possible outbreak of Anti-Semitic attitude among Hispanic immigrants that recently arrive to USA. A recent poll point out that a 44% of the recent Hispanic immigrants is ”contaminated” with Anti-Semitic attitudes, that they bring from their origin countries. Abraham Fox, Anti-defamation League’s representative, advice that this percentage duplicate the percentage of the Hispanic people that born in USA.
In occasion of the closure of the International Link Committee between Catholics and Jews, that was celebrated in Buenos Aires in July, was presented the book ”Ecumenism and interfaith dialogue in the third millennium way (2000-2003), printed by New City in collaboration with the ”Episcopal Commission of Ecumenism, relations with Judaism, Islam and religions” of the Argentinean Episcopal Conference.]]>
The Council of Churches of South Africa together with Jewish and Buddhist religious leaders, headed an intereligious campaign on behalf of the victims of the tsunami in south-east Asia. The Great Rabbi Warren Goldstein declared that ”This interreligious initiative is part of the South African dream of union and dissimilarity. This initiative shows the relevance and importance of religion as a central force in South Africa, a profoundly religious country”. An interconfessional delegation presided by the Bishop of the Methodist Church, Ivan Abraham, will travel this month to Sri Lanka and India.
The Interreligious Council of Israel along with the moslem Association El Rafah have created the ”Kedem Institute for Reconciliation”. The inauguration of this new interconfessional setting was celebrated on 30 December. A symposium with the presence of religious leaders of Israel and from abroad was held. Among the it is worth mentioning the Vatican´s Nuncio in Israel, Archbishop Pietro Sambi; professor Marc Gopin from the University George Mason of the USA; the Khadi from Jaffa, Abed El Hakim Samarah and the head of the Greek-Catholic community of Seferam, Father Nadeem Shakour.
Pope John Paul II received 160 rabbis and jewish liturgical singers from Israel, the United States and Europe, in the biggest private audience granted by a Pope to jewish religious leaders. During the event that took place on 18 January, the Pope remembered that ”this year we celebrate the 40th. anniversary of the declaration Nostra Aetate of the II Vatican Council that has contributed enormously in strengthening the Jewish-Catholic dialogue”. The rabbis, members of the foundation ”Pave the Way”, thanked the Pope for ”all his efforts accomplished to reconcile the two religions and demolish the walls of hatred in his 26 years of tenure”. The delegation was integrated by former Great Rabbi of Europe, Samuel Sirat, the president of the counsil of rabbis of New York, Adam Mintz and the Rabbi of the Great Synagogue of Rome, Joseph Arbid, among others.
On 13 January, Jewish, Moslems and Christians shared a common prayer before the tomb of the Prophet Samuel (Nebi Samuel). This meeting was organized by the ”Interterfaith Encounter Association” and the ”Abu Sukkar Center for Peace and Dialogue”. After the prayer, the believers were entertained by the Mukhtar (Dignitary) from the neighbourly arab village. The speakers were Mr.Suliman Al-Kahtib and Doctor Iehuda Stolov, directors of both institutions and sponsors of the meeting.
On 18 January an interreligious service took place in honour of the memory of Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, in the Methodist Church of Attleboro. The service was conducted by Rachel Garvin and counted with the attendance of representatives of different religious confessions. The ceremony was closed by the president of the Wherton College, Ronald A.Crutcher, the first afroamerican to occupy this position.
On 11 January Israel´s Interreligious Council sponsored a seminary on the thematic ”Bicultural and Bireligious Education”, conducted by arab teachers Amin Khalaf, director of the center ” Hand in Hand”, and Abdelsalaam Najjar, director of the Nevé Shalom-Wahat Al-Salaam Center.
Brazilian diplomat, Luiz Martín de Souza Dantas, who saved hundreds of Jewish refugees during the Holocaust, was remembered on the 50th anniversary of his death. The homage was organized by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation together with the General Consulate of Brazil in New York. The brazilian diplomat, inspired by what he himself called ”a christian feeling of piousness”, granted visas to hundreds of Jews and other ” undesirables” persecuted by the Nazi regime. Thanks to Souza Dantas entire families found a safe haven in Brazil. During the ceremony, which took place in the General Consulate of Brazil in New York, the book ”Quixote in the darkness”, written by Brazilian historian Fabio Koifman, was presented.
A group of academics and professors of the ”College Nazareth” of Pittford have recently founded the ”Center for Interreligious Studies and Dialogue” to promote academic research and to accumulate information related to the interreligious thematic.The executive director of the Iman Mohammed Shafiq Center announced that the institution is preparing a catalog on themes of social science seen from the perspective of the different religious confessions. The center is also going to initiate a cycle of specialization for teachers of humanistics on the subject of interreligious dialogue.
On 30 December the group ”Women’s Interfaith Encounter” from Israel, held an interreligious meeting during which a study session on the thematic of ”feminine leadership”, seen from the point of view of the Islam, Judaism, Christianity and the Drusean religion took place. This meeting was held in a bedouin tent in the drusean village Shibli, at the foot of Mount Tabor.
Translation: María Pensavalle]]>
The Jewish Community of Berlin and the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation co-support in past February 25th a ceremony in the course of which was given a price to Rabbi Dr. Nathan Peter Levinson for his extensive and tireless action in pro of the interfaith dialogue. The price was given by the founder of the IRWF, Mr. Baruch Tenembaun. Rabbi Levinson was founder of the Heidelberg Jewish Studies University, for 20 years was co-President of the German Council of Christian-Jewish Cooperation and from 1976 was President of the International Christian-Jewish Council, from which is at present Honorary Vice-president.
Speech held by Rabbi Stein at a celebration to honor the person and work of Rabbi Professor Dr. Nathan Peter Levinson
In March 27th is the 100 anniversary of Raul Soldi´s birth, the great Argentinean artist, who throughout his prolific carrier performed a huge and varied pictorial creation in oleo, water color, ink and mono-copy. One of the most important Raul Soldi´s works is the fresco dedicated to the Lujan Virgin in the Annunciation Basilica in Nazareth. From the inauguration of the work were past nearly forty decades, throughout them thousands and thousands of pilgrims have appreciated the Raul Soldi´s creation, with its implicit message of tolerance and dialog spirit.
On last January 4th was established the Association for the Interfaith Dialog of the Madrid Community in which are presented the different religious communities and the lay movements of the Spanish capital. Among other activities the association schemed to make an encounter on April 8th and 9th about ”Religious freedom and lay state” and another on May 28th against violence.
The Center for the Christian-Jewish Understanding of the Sacred Heart University in USA prepares a symposium that will take place in the next September in the Gregorian Pontifical University of Rome in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Vatican Declaration Nostra Aetate, historic declaration that refers to the relations between the Catholic Church with the non Christian religions.
Between January 3 and 6 took place in Brussels a significant meeting between Jewish and Muslims religious leaders. The event joint more than 250 imans and rabbis for analyze the common roots of the peace ideal between individuals and communities of both religious traditions. The participants, who come from five continents search ways of understanding in the context of the different centers of interfaith tension that affect the different regions of the world.
Between January 2nd and 16th took place in the San Ignacio community of Florence, Italy, a Jewish-Christian meeting. This annual interfaith meeting takes place since the Episcopal Conference of 1990. In this opportunity the Jewish participants where lead by Rabbi Jose Levy.
The German Bishops Conference declared that the convalescence and healing process of the atrocities committed by the Nazism continues. The German Episcopate makes this declaration in the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. The Catholic dignitaries remembered the victims of the Nazi genocide and advise with regard the emergence of new anti-Semitic tendencies.
The Spanish Government have created the ”Pluralism and Convivence” Foundation, whose task is to help the minority religious confessions —Muslim, Jewish and Protestant —with a budgetary contribution directly from the State estimated for the year 2005 in three million Euros. The Foundation, which will have its seat in the Justice Ministry, is established for contributing to the support of cultural, formative and social integration projects. The objective, said the Justice Minister, is ”to promote a major and more equalitarian development of the religious liberty”.
Cardinal Jean Marie Lustiger, Archbishop of Paris, in the capacity of Pope’s envoy, read the past January 27th a message of John Paul II during the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz, Poland, where have participated thirty State Chief. For John Paul II Auschwitz is ”is the tragic fruit of the programmed hatred”, added that ”in those days we have to remember the millions of peoples that without blame endure inhuman suffering and where exterminate in the gas chambers and crematories”.
The Israel Interfaith Council organize on March 7th a seminary intended to analyze the future of the Christian communities in Galilee, with the intervention of the Campus Elias President, Professor Raid Mualem and the Director of the Christian Jewish Relationship Center of Jerusalem Mr. Daniel Rosing.
The Raoul Wallenberg International Foundation get ready for give a price to the Catholic religious woman Rose Thering in acknowledge to her tireless work for promote the Christian-Jewish understanding. The Sister Rose’s life was told in the documental film ”The Constantine Sword”, based in the James Carroll’s best seller.]]>
Last february the Holy See-Israel Bilateral Commision resumed its meetings. The issues under negotiations are a tax exemption for ecclesiastical properties and access by the Church to Israeli tribunals. The legal expert of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, Father David Jaeger considered the atmosphere of the bilateral meeting as very positive. In turn the Israeli Ambassador to the Holy See, Oded Ben Hur stressed Israel?s good will and serious intentions of arriving at a positive conclusion of the agreement.
The Instituto del Verbo Encarnado (The Incarnated Word Institute) has inaugurated, the Center For Study and Dialogue ”Unus Dominus” in El Cairo, Egypt, to promote interreligious dialogue in the Middle East. The ”Instituto del Verbo Encarnado” is an Argentine religious congregation of Diocese Law founded in 1984.
The Israel Interfaith Association organizes courses for the study of Arabic language with the purpose of thus improving inter-religious relations between Jews and Arabs in the Holy Land. The programme has been created by Elias Falah, a Christian Arab from the town of Sakhnin in the Galilee.
The Israeli Ambassador of Israel to the Vatican went to Gemelli Polyclinic Hospital in Rome, where Pope John Paul II was hospitalized to deliver a message from the Great Rabbi of Israel, Hon. Shlomo Amar to the Pontiff where he expressed his desire of a swift recovery for the Pope.
The Service towards Ecumenic and Interreligious Dialogue, affiliated to the Argentine Episcopal Commission, organizes the course ”Interreligious Dialogue, Forty Years from the Declaration Nostra Aetate ”, which will be taught from March to July. FUNDAR is a private organization directed by Professor Jose A. Amadeo.
A group of Cardinals of the Catholic Church, several of them from Asiatic and Latin American countries, recently visited the prestigious New York Orthodox Jewish University. The visitors were received by the Chancellor, Norman Lamm, in spite of protests raised by certain ultra-orthodox student circles.
Pope John Paul II’s new book, ”Memory And Identity” is an ”interior biography” according to Joaquin Navarro Valls, spokeman for the Holy See. The book is the result of conversations between Pope John Paul II and the Polish philosophers Josef Tischner and Krzyzstof Michalsk in the gardens of Castelgandolfo. In the entire book the problem of evil is presented, not in its physical but in its moral dimension. That which is derived from free human decisions.
The Interfaith Association of Israel is organizing a symposium concerning the issue ”Religion and Violence” in the Conrad Adenauer Centre of Jerusalem on April 3 and 4. Among other panel members are the Rabbi of Haifa, Shear Yashuv Cohen, The Greek Orthodox Archbishop, Aristachos, and the leader of the Islamic Movement of Israel, Sheik Nimir Darwish.
The eminent Swiss theologian Hans Kung shall receive the ”Peace Prize” instituted by Japan for his contribution to world peace and the promotion of interreligious co-operation.
Translation: María Lía Macchi]]>
The Conclave of Cardinals consecrated Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the new Pontiff of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI. The new pope is considered a continuer of Pope John Paul II, as regards his identification to the conservative current of Catholicism. The first German Pope of German ascent since the XI-th century has been in charge since 1981 of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Church, an organisms destined to care for theological orthodoxy in Catholicism. As concerns the interreligious area, and especially regarding the relationship with Judaism it is believed that Benedict XVI will continue the Catholic attitude towards Judaism inaugurated by his predecessor John Paul II. In this sense Rabbi David Rosen considers that the then Cardinal Ratzinger was responsible, in his capacity as President of the Pontifical Commission of Biblical Studies, for the wording of the most important document in Judeo-Christian relationships, a paper that underlines the theological centrality of the Jewish People and their Sacred Texts towards the study of Christianism. That paper expresses that the Jewish non acceptance of Jesus as the Redeemer must not be understood as an act of refusal of God but as part of a plan of the Divinity to remind us that the redemption of the whole of Humanity has not been yet fulfilled. Moreover, regarding the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the State of Israel, the contribution of the new Pope has been remarkable. It is to be noted that in recent years Cardinal Ratzinger visited Israel several times and even spoke at a Jewish-Christian Symposium which took place in Jerusalem. The Raoul Wallenberg International Foundation has had the honor of inviting Cardinal Ratzinger -and has repeated this invitation after his election as Pope- to visit the commemorative mural of the Holocaust set up by the Foundation in the Vaterunser Church in Berlin on September 2004.
The recently elected Pope Benedict XVI will have to face, as religious leader of the Catholic Church, difficult problems that threaten Humanity at the beginning of the Third Millennium. Among other urgent issues, the Vatican must direct the Church regarding the following subjects: Medical and Bioethical affairs regarding abortion, clonation, birth control and euthanasia. Participation in the power of the Church between the Pope, Vatican Burocracy, the bishops and various Catholic Organizations; globalization and its impact on the middle and poor classes; the role of women in a Patriarchal Church that sustains that Jesus did not authorize their ordination; relations with the Islam, Judaism and the other Christian Churches.
Spanish theologian Juan José Tamayo has presented his book ”Fundamentalismo y diálogo entre religiones” (Fundamentalism and Dialogue Between Religions) edited by Trotta, in the Fundación Cives (Cives Foundation) of the Spanish League of Education and Popular Culture. The book analizes interculturism as an antidote for fundamentalism, exploring the relationshipbetween Christianism and Islam. The author is Director of Chair of Theology and Science of Religions in the Carlos III University of Madrid.
On the 13th of April the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation sponsored the Premiere of the film ”Raoul Wallenberg, Buried Alive” in the City College of New York. The movie, directed By David Harel, reconstructs the history of the young Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat, who, inspired by an unmovable faith and a undestroyable personal heroism saved more than 100,000 Hungarian Jews from certain death in Nazi extermination camps.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was soon to become Pope Benedict XVI, presided over the mass celebrated on occasion of the burial of Pope John Paul II which included the participation of a large number of cardinals, bishops, priests and an enormous multitude of believers. The religious service was also attended by kings, heads of state, prime ministers and dignitaries of other churches -Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Protestant and Evangelic, as well as representatives of Jewish and Islamic organizations.
The National Meeting for Peace organized by the Argentine Episcopal Commission on Ecumenism held an interreligious celebration on the explanade of the Law School of the National University of Buenos Aires on April 18th, during which pidgeons and balloons with peace messages were released. The Chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Ecumenism, Monsignor Justo Laguna affirmed that that meeting ”is permeated by the spirit of Assisi” referring to the meeting that Pope John Paul II held in 1986 with religious leaders from all over the world to elevate a joint prayer for peace. Bishop Laguna spoke at the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation in Jerusalem on February 1999, on which occasion he presented, together with Rabbi Mario Rojzman the book ”Todos los caminos conducen a Jerusalem y también a Roma” (All roads lead to Jerusalem and also to Rome).
The Interreligious Coordinating Council of Israel has sponsored the conference that Rabbi David Rosen gave on April 14 on the subject ” Unleash thy Vengeance: Confronting Problematic Texts”. The subject expounded upon refers to the Pessach Haggadah text that invokes Divine wrath upon those Gentiles that persecuted Jews throughout History, an issue that was analyzed by Rabbi Rosen from an interreligious point of view.
The distinguished Rabbi, Irving Greenberg from New York, former Chairman of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, asserted that the late Pope John Paul II was the best pope in History as regards the Jewish People. According to Greenberg, John Paul II established three theological facts of great transcendency: the assertion of Judaism as a religion based upon a valid alliance with the Divinity, the admission that the Holocaust was a theological turning point (combined with the recognition that Christians must repent for having spread out hateful images about Jews throughout the course of History) and the diplomatic recognition of the State of Israel.
Three organizations have begun a pilot project to promote interrreligious dialogue in humble suburbs of Jerusalem. They are the associations ”Spring for Democratic Education” and ”Interreligious Encounter” and the foundation ”Relief Friendship”, who will try to bring together groups from different religions by means of the teaching of their respective religious texts, encouraging joint study and shared liturgical practices, without causing a loss of identity of each participating group. On April 13th, the first meeting took place in the neighborhood of Guilo, in the Southern district of Jerusalem, near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem.
Translation: María Lía Macchi]]>