News in Christian-Jewish Relations:  October 2000


This month:



Comments by Pope John Paul II on Dominus Iesus -  October 1, 2000

With the Declaration Dominus Iesus - Jesus is Lord - approved by me in a special way at the height of the Jubilee Year, I wanted to invite all Christians to renew their fidelity to him in the joy of faith and to bear unanimous witness that the Son, both today and tomorrow, is "the way, and the truth, and the life" (Jn 14: 6). Our confession of Christ as the only Son, through whom we ourselves see the Father's face (cf. Jn 14: 8), is not arrogance that disdains other religions, but joyful gratitude that Christ has revealed himself to us without any merit on our part. At the same time, he has obliged us to continue giving what we have received and to communicate to others what we have been given, since the Truth that is has been given and the Love which is God belong to all people.

With the Apostle Peter, we confess that "there is salvation in no one else" (Acts 4: 12). The Declaration Dominus Iesus, following the lead of the Second Vatican Council, shows us that this confession does not deny salvation to non-Christians, but points to its ultimate source in Christ, in whom man and God are united. God gives light to all in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation, granting them salvific grace in ways known to himself (Dominus Iesus, VI, nn. 20-21). The Document clarifies essential Christian elements, which do not hinder dialogue but show its bases, because a dialogue without foundations would be destined to degenerate into empty wordiness.

The same also applies to the ecumenical question. If the document, together with the Second Vatican Council, declares that "the single Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church", it does not intend thereby to express scant regard for the other Churches and Ecclesial Communities. This conviction is accompanied by the awareness that it is not due to human merit, but is a sign of God's fidelity, which is stronger than the human weaknesses and sins solemnly confessed by us before God and men at the beginning of Lent. The Catholic Church - as the Document says - suffers from the fact that true particular Churches and Ecclesial Communities with precious elements of salvation are separated from her.

The document thus expresses once again the same ecumenical passion that is the basis of my Encyclical Ut Unum Sint. I hope that this Declaration, which is close to my heart, can, after so many erroneous interpretations, finally fulfill its function both of clarification and of openness. May Mary, whom the Lord on the Cross entrusted to us as the Mother of us all, help us to grow together in our faith in Christ, the Redeemer of all mankind, in the hope of salvation offered by Christ to everyone, and in love, which is the sign of God's children.


Letter of Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah about the actual situation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories - October 2, 2000

To our brothers, sons and daughters, priests, religious, men and women, and all our faithful. 

Brothers and sisters,

Peace upon you from God our Father, and Jesus Christ our Savior, and may the love of the Holy Spirit fill your hearts and minds. Amen.

We read in the Gospel of Saint Luke about some bloody incidents which took place in the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, as follows: "It was just about this time that some people arrived and told him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with that of their sacrifices. At this he said to them: Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than any others, that this should have happened to them? They were not, I tell you. No; but unless you repent you will all perish as they did" (Lk 13:1-3).

The lesson is clear: penitence will save from bloodshed. Penitence means to see God and all God's children; it means to imitate God in his love and justice in all relations between persons and peoples.

In light of this penitence, we see that the present events which we experience in these days, invite us to raise our prayers to God, and to ask him to enlighten the minds of those who are responsible of our government in this land, and to give also to us light and strength to know how to chose and to make our destiny as we want it to be, in this confused and troubled world, where good is mingled with evil, and in which justice is often lacking in our human society.

The painful and bloody events which we are living today, following the provocation of religious feelings in the Haram Al-Sharif (the Noble Mosque) tells one thing: the Palestinian people claims for life and freedom. And he will have life and freedom, sooner or later. We hope it will be sooner than later. Because violence cannot be the guide of life in this Holy Land. Justice is the only guide and symbol. It is high time for every leader in this land to understand that. It is not in vain that the situation came suddenly to this explosion. Those young and old who are offering their lives are not doing it to aggress anybody: they are only defending their holy places, their freedom and their life. Blood today is crying to God claiming for justice and human dignity.

The only way of coming back to quite times is to go back to the peace talks, and to see how to go back to the situation which was prevailing before 1967. The way of quieting the situation is to understand that Holy Places cannot be touched, and cannot be subject of any bargaining. To dispose soldiers, military cars and even missiles will not bring tranquility and order, only justice will. And the way of justice was already open in the peace talks, and was on the point to reach its aim: it should be resumed. Enough bloodshed. The people should be given his right to live and to self-determination. The Palestinian State must be born and have stability which allows it reorganizing its own affairs, external and internal. The Holy City should be the city of reconciliation, after installing justice in it: Palestinian Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine, as the West Jerusalem the capital of Israel. And above all that, it should remain the "holy city", and its holiness protected and respected by its own governors, and by the requirements which its sanctity imposes on the entire international community. We call upon our political leaders Palestinians and Israelis to continue their search of a just peace, and we call upon the international community to help both parties to reach what is just and right according to the international legitimacy. We hope that the leaders of this land, as well as the international community, will understand that: then every one will enjoy tranquility; all the region will have peace, security and tranquility, as no injustice will remain weighing upon the Palestinian people who has so far suffered so much.

Brothers and sisters, for that we pray, and we call upon you to pray and to contribute in reaching tranquil times, for the glory of God and of man in this land which God has blessed. We ask God Almighty to give you light and strength, and to give all the leaders in this land light and strength to do what is right and what is just. For all we pray, for Palestinians and Israelis, for Christians, Moslems and Jews, may God inspire justice and reconciliation in the hearts and minds of all. Amen.

Jerusalem, 2 October 2000.

+ Michel Sabbah

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem


Statement by the Israel Interfaith Association on the Current Violence in Israel and the Palestinian Authority - October 4, 2000

Members of the Israel Interfaith Association - Jews, Christians, Muslims and members of other religious communities - express their deep sorrow and pain for the fact that the most sacred place for the Abrahamic religions, a symbol for the source of their one belief and to what unites them - Jerusalem the city of peace - turned to be one of the causes for a long eruption of violence and blood shed, in total contradiction to the spirit of the Abrahamic religions and to their commandments in regard with the relations between all those created in the image of G-d. 

We call upon the leaders of all Abrahamic religions and to the heads of their communities to take a leading position in stopping the deterioration. We call upon everyone to return and bond to the fundamental values common to all of us, values of the sanctity of life and love to all creatures. 

Being aware of these fundamental values and respectful to all their true adherents, we call upon all the leaders to find the way to open and sincere dialogue, with mutual respect and ways of peace, on all the problems on the agenda, with true effort to promote their solutions. 

We call upon all our brothers and sisters children of Abraham to join us in our prayer that our leaders and heads will soon find the way to dialogue, which is the true way for joint citizenship in our country and in the whole world.

The Israel Interfaith Association, with its over 1300 members from all religions in Israel, is working over 40 years for the cultivation of relationship of understanding between members of the different religions and for the promotion of their cooperation for the promotion of relations of true peace among all those created in the image of  G-d and for building a brighter future. 


Emergency Appeal by the Israel Interfaith Association - October 12, 2000

The EMERGENCY APPEAL TO RELIGIOUS AND POLITICAL LEADERSbelow, which was adopted by the ICCI Executive Committee today, will appear in HaAretz in English in Israel tomorrow. 

An Emergency Appeal to Religious and Political Leaders

As men and women of faith, affiliated with the three monotheistic religions in Israel --Judaism, Christianity and Islam -- we address this appeal to religious and political leaders on both sides of the conflict because we are urgently concerned about the escalating spiral of violence in Israel and Palestine, with a growing number of injured and dead.

Firstly we appeal to religious leaders in the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities in this land at all levels. We ask them to raise their voices for sanity and for peace. We appeal to them to speak prophetically and courageously to their followers:

Secondly, we appeal to the political leaders -- on both sides of the conflict -- to return to the path of peace, through the peace process. We remind them that achieving peace will not merely be a victory for the political leaders, but also for the peoples in the region who strive to live in dignity and with security. To achieve peace, it will be necessary for each side to stop blaming each other and to abide by agreements already reached. Rather, it is essential to re-engage in confidence-building measures that enable the development of cooperation and trust. The Peace Process begins with the basic idea of respect for the life of each and every member of the two peoples. Rather than continuing to engage in violence and counter-violence, it is urgent for political leaders on both sides to open their minds and hearts to the human, political, religious and civil rights and aspirations of the other as well as to those of their own people.


Wounded Peace: Conflict in the Holy Land

Bernard Cardinal Law
Chairman, Committee on International Policy
United States Catholic Conference

October 16, 2000

A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation:
Rachel weeping for her children, and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more. 
(Jer.31:15 in Mt.2:18)

The violence that has swept the Holy Land these last days has gravely wounded hopes for peace in the Middle East, and has left a disturbing number of victims, especially children. All the victims and their families, Palestinian and Israeli alike, need our prayers. Their suffering is tragic testimony, if any were needed, to the importance of today's summit meeting and other efforts to end the violence and revive the peace process. 

This is not a time for blame and recrimination. It is a time to break the escalating cycle of violence, and to uncover the embers of hope that remain for a just peace. It is a time for moral leadership, at every level of Israeli and Palestinian society, that can look beyond the crisis of the moment lest hatred and revenge today poison the opportunities for peace tomorrow. 

Support must be given those who, in the midst of conflict, stand against violence and for the peace which the Holy Land should symbolize. As Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah reminds us:

"This is a holy land, a land of faith and prayer. It is written nowhere that it should remain a land of hatred and blood. On the contrary, in the mercy of God, this land is determined to be a land of redemption and love."

Religious leaders bear a special obligation to work unceasingly for peace, especially when religious symbols are under attack and are used to provoke and incite. We have been distressed by attacks on shrines and places of worship in the Palestinian Territories and Israel, beginning with Joseph's Tomb, and including, among others, attacks on mosques in Tiberias and Jaffa, a Catholic church in Beit Hanina, and a synagogue in Jericho. As children of the one God, with a common love for the Holy Land, our respect for the holy sites demonstrates our reverence for God among us. 

Today's summit and the many other political initiatives to end the violence and restart the peace process should be a reminder of the importance of the Holy Land for all humanity, and how vital the peace of Jerusalem is to the peace of the world. At the same time, the failure to reach a political settlement and the violence of recent weeks remind us that peace cannot be achieved without justice and justice cannot be secured by violence. The peace process must satisfy the particular, legitimate, and reasonable aspirations of both peoples, and must respect principles of justice. 

A first step is for leaders on both sides to do more to escape the cycle of violence, including unequivocally condemning and effectively controlling mob violence, especially of their own people; halting the excessive use of force; and avoiding other actions that further exacerbate the conflict. It would also be helpful if both sides could work together to establish an international commission, whose members would be mutually agreed upon, to examine the cause of the current violence and to search for ways to avoid such bloodshed in the future. 

With our Holy Father, we "pray to God that the people and leaders of the region may return to the path of dialogue and rediscover the joy of feeling themselves to be children of God, their common Father." We pray especially for men and women who, despite the odds, work to help Israelis and Palestinians regain the road to peace together. Blessed are they "who guide our feet into the way of peace." (Is.1:16; Lk.1:19)