Israeli Rabbinate-Vatican Commission

Dialogika Resources

A Shared Vision of Social Justice and Ethical Conduct

(4th Meeting Grottaferrata-Rome, 17-19 October 2004; 2-4 Cheshwan 5765)

Joint Statement

1. The fourth meeting of the respective high ranking delegations took place in Grottaferrata (Rome) on the theme of A Shared Vision of Social Justice and Ethical Conduct in an atmosphere of amity and cordiality. This encounter was pursuant to the successful previous three meetings in Jerusalem and Rome which had addressed the themes: The Sanctity of Human Life and Family Values; The Relevance of Central Religious Teachings in the Holy Scriptures we share, for Contemporary and Future Society.

2. In their opening welcomes, the chairmen of the delegations Cardinal Jorge Mejía and Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, expressed their satisfaction and joy that the meetings continue in a spirit of prayer and with a deepening relationship of friendship and collaboration between the members of the delegations, which holds great promise for the future.

3. The bilateral committee reiterated its commitment to the principle declarations of the previous meetings which included a call for mutual respect of our different religious identities; and affirmed a common rejection of any attempts to persuade people to reject their own heritage. The committee similarly reiterated the past declarations' condemnations of violence and terror in the name of religion as desecration of religion itself; as well as of resurgent manifestations of anti-Semitism, which Pope John Paul II has described as "a sin against God and humankind".

4. Deliberations of the current meeting focused on the inseparable relationship between Faith and Social Justice based on the belief that all human moral values have their source in God and are rooted in the Biblical teaching that each and every human person is created in the Divine Image (Gen 1: 26). Accordingly, our respective religious traditions categorically reject moral relativism.

5. Furthermore, Biblical teachings require that the goal of justice (zedek umishpat) must be pursued through the ways of human beneficence and compassion (chesed vrachamim). This demands that we strive to go beyond the letter of the Law (lifnim mishurat hadin) for the wellbeing of society as a whole.

6. Accordingly, the Joint Committee called for special attention to be given to the challenges of poverty, sickness and marginalisation; the inequitable distribution of resources to combat these; the challenges of globalisation without human solidarity; the need for peaceful resolution of conflicts; and our responsibilities in the face of the spectre of terrorism in all its manifestations.

As people of Faith and moral heritage we are called to respond to the consequences and implications of these as well as the social crisis caused by extreme individualism and materialism. In this regard, special mention was made of abuse of sexuality and of economic exploitation, which lead to new forms of modern slavery, including trafficking in women and children that desecrates the dignity of the human person.

7. As believers in the One God whose name is Peace, prayer was offered up to Him to bring an end to war, bloodshed, violence and suffering in the world - and in particular in the Holy Land. The members of the Joint Committee accordingly called upon their communities and leaders throughout the world to similarly intensify prayer and work for the promotion of peace and harmony everywhere.

8. As this meeting took place on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews (on October 22nd 1974); the committee took the opportunity to express its appreciation for the role that the Commission has played in the implementation of Nostra Aetate (n. 4) and the subsequent statements and documents advancing Catholic-Jewish reconciliation, cooperation and understanding.



From our meeting in Grottaferrata (Rome), October 17-19, 2004, we issue this declaration.

Conscious of the fact that there is not wide enough awareness in our respective communities of the momentous change that has taken place in the relationship between Catholics and Jews; and in light of our own committee's work and our current discussions on a shared vision for a just and ethical society; we declare:

1. We are not enemies, but unequivocal partners in articulating the essential moral values for the survival and welfare of human society.

2. Jerusalem has a sacred character for all the children of Abraham. We call on all relevant authorities to respect this character and to prevent actions which offend the sensibilities of religious communities that reside in Jerusalem and hold her dear.

3. We call on religious authorities to protest publicly when actions of disrespect towards religious persons, symbols and Holy Sites are committed, such as the desecration of cemeteries and the recent assault on the Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem. We call on them to educate their communities to behave with respect and dignity towards people and towards their attachment to their faith.

Grottaferrata (Rome), October 19th, 2004 - MarCheshvan 4th, 5765

Chief Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen
(chairman of Jewish delegation)
Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejìa
(chairman of Catholic delegation)
Rabbi Rasson Arussi  Cardinal Georges Cottier, O.P.
Chief Rabbi Yossef Azran Archbishop Pietro Sambi
Chief Rabbi David Brodman Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo
Chief Rabbi David Rosen Msgr. Pier Francesco Fumagalli
 Mr Oded Weiner Msgr. Ambrogio Spreafico
  Fr. Norbert J. Hoffman, S.D.B.