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"Italy Resumes the Day of Jewish-Christian Reflection"

Unofficial translation from an article by Zenit:

In the wake of the protests over the publication of the "Oremus et pro Iudaeis"

ROME, Tuesday, September 22, 2009 ( .- The Day of Jewish-Christian Relations on January 17 will again be jointly celebrated by Catholic and Jews in Italy.

This is the result of a meeting held on Tuesday between the President of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco with Rabbis Giuseppe Laras, President of the Italian Rabbis, and Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Rome.

In 1990, in fact, the CEI began this initiative in coordination with authorities and representatives of the Jewish world, which also extended to Europe after the ecumenical meeting in Graz (Austria) in 1998, the prelude to the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity (18-25 January).

The general theme of the Day since 2005 has been a decade-long program of reflection on the "Ten Words" or Ten Commandments revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Next year reflection will resume on the fourth commandment (second according to the Jewish numbering): "Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day."

According to a statement of the CEI, in this period that began with Rosh Ha-Shanah ― which besides being the Jewish New Year is also the first of the ten days of penitence that ends with Yom Kippur (Day of Forgiveness) ― the Cardinal wanted to extend his best wishes to the two rabbis and to all Italian Jews.

"During the meeting, "says the statement, "the Cardinal reiterated his personal esteem and that of the Bishops of the Episcopal Conference for the Italian Jewish Communities."

Bagnasco then said he "understood the reactions of concern" by Jews ― the cause of the non-celebration of the day last year ― over the change in Benedict XVI's prayer for the Jews ("Oremus et pro Iudaeis") recited in the liturgy of Good Friday before Vatican II, which will be used only by the communities that celebrate that form of the Latin rite.

The new formulation calls on God to "enlighten" the hearts of Jews to "acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior of all men."

Cardinal Bagnasco said that "there is not, in the strongest terms, any change in the attitude the Catholic Church has developed toward Jews, above all beginning with the Second Vatican Council," and "it is not the intention of the Catholic Church to operate actively for the conversion of Jews."

The cardinal, the note continues, "has expressed his concern about the outbreaks of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism which, from time to time, continue to appear, stressing the need for careful supervision" and the need for deeper ties of "friendship" and "mutual respect" to "root out those elements that can promote anti-Jewish attitudes."

"The path taken in recent decades," continues the statement, "was extraordinary and full of fruit for all."

"At the end of the meeting," the note concludes, "The two parties requested the favor in every way, whether at national or institutional basis, for opportunities to meet: faith in the God of the Fathers, received as gifts, makes Christian and Jewish believers responsible for building a society based on respect for the teaching of God."