Therefore We Declare

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.

Islam and the West in Europe: Encounter or Clash?

The latest report by the Pew Research Center offers surprising data on the evolution of religions: Christianity currently represents 31.2 percent of the world’s population and Islam 24.1 percent. It is estimated that by 2060 Christianity will reach 31.8 percent, against 31.1 percent reached by Islam. The statistics predict that by mid-century the two religions will have roughly the same number of followers as well as that, together, they will comprise nearly 63 percent of the world’s population.

The evolution of each of the two religions and their mutual relationship is therefore of great interest for the social debate in the West.

From an essay by Javier Maria Prades López at Oasis. . .

Copts and Muslims of Egypt

“In our visual era, which images are to be trusted? Those of Tahrir Square in January and February, where Muslims and Copts displayed their brotherliness, the other was accepted, and National Union was sacred? Or, conversely, those of last October 9th, with raging six-ton armoured vehicles, mercilessly crushing and killing Coptic protesters? The images of burnt churches?” An historian glances through Egypt’s recent history . . .

Towards an “Inculturation” of Islam

“The interest with which the Catholic Church is following the dynamics of the inclusion of residents and citizens of the Muslim religion into the European context, both at individual and community levels, was confirmed during the meeting of delegates for relations with Islam from the European Bishops’ Conferences. It is a complex process not lacking in ambiguities, from which emerges the challenge – which becomes reality – of the gradual inculturation of Islam in Europe, . . .” A brief report on a conference last spring.

"Is religion the opium of the people?”

“Islam gives a structure to society and society structures itself around what Islam represents. This role changes according to the historical context and to the tensions affecting the world, but it never disappears. What is happening today in our world is precisely this, in other words a reformulation of the Islamic religious identity in relation to life’s great questions today.” More here, from Islamic scholar Khaled Fouad Allam

The paradox of a society of differences

“The plural society of the early part of the 21st century is characterised by a fundamental contradiction, namely the concurrent exaltation of cultural differences and the equality of differences. The culture of globalisation comes with the idea that we are all different, and yet all equal. . . The question then becomes, Have we really reached a point in history in which society has no distinct theological matrix, but has instead fragmented in many matrices that cannot be comparatively evaluated, or between which there can be no communication or learning?” The entire piece