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National Council of Synagogues, BCEIA, Meet Again in Ongoing Consultation; Issue Joint Communique

June 8, 2005

WASHINGTON – A meeting of the ongoing Consultation between representatives of the National Council of Synagogues and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs was held at the Jewish Theological Seminary on May 11, 2005. Co.chaired by Cardinal William H. Keeler and Rabbi Joel Zaiman of Baltimore, the Consultation has been meeting twice yearly since 1987. Represented on the Jewish side were Conservative, Reconstructionist, and Reform Judaism. The meeting opened with prayers for Pope John Paul II.

Presentations on "The Sources of Authority in the Jewish and Catholic Traditions" were made by Rabbi Eugene Borowitz of the Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion and Father James Loughran, S.A. of the Graymoor Ecumenical Institute. Rabbi Borowitz went through the five stages of development of authority in Judaism from biblical through rabbinic to "post.modern" understandings. Father Loughran located the primary source of religious authority in Catholic understanding in the workings of the Holy Spirit, as transmitted in Scripture and Tradition, and how our understanding of these has developed over time. Another source of authority raised in the discussion of both tradition is our respective liturgies. Modernity and secularism challenged both traditions, and mysticism is a source in both of spiritual creativity that needs to be treated with respect and caution.

The afternoon session was devoted especially to the issues of peace and security for Israel and the Palestinians, with special attention devoted to the difficult situation in which Christians in the area find themselves as a minority. Some progress, it was noted, has been made in developing the implementing legislation called for by the 1993 Fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel.

Jewish Participants:
Rabbis Joel Zaiman, Gil Rosenthal, David Sandmel, Jonathan Waxman, Eugene Borowitz, Ruth Langer, Moses Birnbaum, Richard Hirsh, Joel Meyers, Alvin Berkun, and Paul Menitoff; Jacob Stein, Judith Hertz, and Mark Pelavin.

Catholic Participants:
Cardinal William Keeler; Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Bishops John Nevins, Basil Lostin, Gerald Walsh, Dennis Madden; Msgr. Robert Stern, Reverends Drew Christiansen, SJ, James Loughran, SA, Charles Parr, Lawrence Frizzell; Drs. Dennis McManus and Eugene Fisher.

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