Not a conflict of cultures but “a harmonious composition of differences” where the inexhaustible and infinite richness of God are brought to light, and greater commitment to dialogue and to getting to know one another more deeply is pledged.” This was the message read at the first international Jewish-Christian symposium promoted by the Focolare Movement, from May 23-26. The participants met at Castelgandolfo, on the theme “Love of God and neighbour in the Jewish and Christian traditions.”
Addressing the symposium, Cardinal Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, defined the developments in Jewish-Christian dialogue as “amazing.” After recalling the gestures of John Paul II, he mentioned how, immediately after his election, Pope Benedict XVI declared his intention to continue to pursue this dialogue. “I’ve known Pope Ratzinger for 40 years now,” Kasper said. “He has written much about Jewish-Christian relationships and made many important theological contributions. He has this dialogue very much at heart.” For the future, Pope Ratzinger pointed out three challenges to be faced: “We must do all we can to know each other,” deepen theological research, each on the other’s faith, and ‘collaborate’ in efforts to alleviate poverty, and uphold human values and the family.” All that has been accomplished needs to be transmitted to the new generations.
The symposium started on May 23 with Chiara Lubich’s welcoming message. The Focolare foundress related her personal experience. “I assure you,” she said, “that to me, it seems the Holy Spirit hovers over such meetings; and even more so in this one for Jews and Christians!” Giuseppe Zanghì, co-director of the Focolare Center for Interreligious Dialogue – observed that the “tone” of the symposium is one of “reciprocal openness in a listening attitude which leads to knowing one another at the very source of love,” that love among us where “the prophets’ promises of peace find their fulfilment.”
On the Jewish side, Ibraham Skorka, rector of the Latin American Rabbinic Seminary of Buenos Aires (Argentina), elaborated on “The concept of the human being.” Jack Bemporad, director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding of New York, and Gerard Rossé, biblical theologian, dealt on the theme “God’s presence and God’s silence.” Among the Catholic exponents were Piero Coda and Jesús Castellano.
The Focolare Movement’s dialogue with the faithful of the Jewish religion began several decades ago. Particularly important was the meeting of 1998 in Buenos Aires between Chiara Lubich and one of the largest Jewish communities of Latin America.
The participants of the symposium attended the General Audience at St. Peter’s Square.
Fabrizio Mastrofini – Avvenire – May 25, 2005