On Eve of Papal Visit to Israel, Rabbinical Assembly Reflects on Catholic-Jewish Ties

Posted on: Monday May 19, 2014

In advance of the upcoming Papal visit to Israel on May 25th, the Rabbinical Assembly released a statement today offering reflection on Pope Francis’ commitment and engagement with the Conservative Movement, including his close relationship with Rabbi Abraham Skorka.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, Executive Vice President, said:

We are hopeful that the first visit by Pope Francis to the State of Israel, the Jewish homeland, will deepen ties between the Pope, the Vatican and the worldwide Jewish people. Just one year ago, I was privileged to be part of the first Jewish delegation to have an audience with Pope Francis, who is the first leader of the world Catholic community who comes to his knowledge of Judaism through enduring relationships with Jews and Jewish leaders. Escorting Pope Francis on this historic trip to the birthplace of the Abrahamic faiths are two longtime friends and collaborators: Conservative/Masorti Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Rector of the Conservative Movement’s Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano, and Omar Abboud, a respected leader of Argentina’s Muslim community. Pope Francis’ open engagement with ideas, even ones that differ from central Catholic ideals, is exemplified in the choice of Jewish interlocutor whose Conservative Jewish ideology embraces both tradition and change.  Traveling and being in dialogue with leaders of the Abrahamic faiths conveys a profound message that is the basis of Rabbi Skorka’s Conservative Judaism—that history leads us to a more mature understanding of our faith and our shared role in building a better world.

Rabbi William Gershon, President, added:

The Pope’s itinerary for his trip to Israel demonstrates his commitment to dialogue that builds understanding, exemplified by an itinerary that includes faith leaders representing the Muslim, Jewish, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox communities, as well as with Israeli political leaders. We hope that this visit will yield deeper understanding and appreciation, not only between Israel and the Vatican, but also among people of many faiths and convictions.  

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