VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2010 (VIS) - The Bilateral Commission of the Holy See and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel released a communique at the conclusion of their 17-20 January meeting in Rome. The text, written in English, highlights how during this meeting, the ninth since its creation, the commission participated "in the historic visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the great synagogue in Rome.
"At this event", the communique adds, "the Pope categorically reaffirmed the commitment of the Catholic Church to dialogue and fraternity with the Jewish people, as well as unequivocally condemning anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism. He also highlighted the significance of the work of the bilateral commission itself, about to hold its meeting on the subject of Catholic and Jewish teaching on creation and the environment, wishing it a 'profitable dialogue on such a timely and important theme'. Similarly Riccardo Di Segni, chief rabbi of Rome, in his words on this occasion emphasised the mutual obligation of Christians and Jews to work together to protect the environment in keeping with the biblical charge.
"However, the meeting also took place in the shadow of the catastrophic tragedy in Haiti. Indeed, the aforementioned gathering in the synagogue, opened with a minute of silence in solidarity with the victims. The members of the commission expressed their prayers for the victims and for the recovery of the survivors and applauded the international rescue and aid for the reconstruction of Haiti.
"During the course of the meeting the members attended the moving presentation of Fr. Patrick Desbois at the Pontifical Gregorian University that highlighted the work of 'Yachad in Unum' to locate and memorialise the unidentified sites in Eastern Europe of mass murder during the Shoah. The commission urged the respective religious communities to support and publicise this very important work, in order to learn from the tragedies of the past to protect and respect the sanctity of human life everywhere so that atrocities will never reoccur".