From a letter, Between Jerusalem and Rome: Reflections on 50 Years of Nostra Aetate, sent to Pope Francis by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel (CRI), the Conference of European Rabbis (CER), and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), representing the vast majority of the world’s Orthodox Jews.
Despite the irreconcilable theological differences, we Jews view Catholics as our partners, close allies, friends and brothers in our mutual quest for a better world blessed with peace, social justice and security.
We understand our Jewish mission to include being a light unto the nations, which obliges us to contribute to humanity’s appreciation for holiness, morality and piety. As the Western world grows more and more secular, it abandons many of the moral values shared by Jews and Christians. Religious freedom is thus increasingly threatened by the forces of both secularism and religious extremism. We therefore seek the partnership of the Catholic community in particular, and other faith communities in general, to assure the future of religious freedom, to foster the moral principles of our faiths, particularly the sanctity of life and the significance of the traditional family, and “to cultivate the moral and religious conscience of society.” One of the lessons of the Shoah is the obligation, for Jews as well as gentiles, to combat antisemitism in particular, especially in light of once again growing antisemitism. These lessons have to be expressed both in the educational and in the legal spheres of all nations, without compromise.
Furthermore, as a people who suffered from persecution and genocide throughout our history, we are all too aware of the very real danger facing many Christians in the Middle East and elsewhere as they are persecuted and menaced by violence and death at the hands of those who invoke God’s Name in vain through violence and terror.
We condemn hereby any and all violence against any person on account of his beliefs or his religion. We similarly condemn all acts of vandalism, wanton destruction, and/or desecration of the hallowed places of all religions.
We call upon the Church to join us in deepening our combat against our generation’s new barbarism, namely the radical offshoots of Islam, which endanger our global society and does not spare the very numerous moderate Muslims. It threatens world peace in general and the Christian and Jewish communities in particular. We call on all people of good will to join forces to fight this evil.
Despite profound theological differences, Catholics and Jews share common beliefs in the Divine origin of the Torah and in the idea of an ultimate redemption, and now, also, in the affirmation that religions must use moral behavior and religious education — not war, coercion, or social pressure — to influence and inspire.