The International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee, the primary vehicle for dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and worldwide Judaism, will meet in Baltimore next month "to discuss issues of mutual concern," Archbishop William H. Keeler announced yesterday.
Bringing together about 50 scholars and religious leaders, the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations will be holding its joint meeting in the Western Hemisphere for the first time.
It will be held May 4-7 at St. Mary's Seminary and University in Roland Park.
Baltimore was selected as the site after Archbishop Keeler extended an invitation to the group last year.
Rabbi Joel Zaiman of Chizuk Amuno Congregation, a Conservative Jewish synagogue in Pikesville, joined Archbishop Keeler in making the announcement yesterday at the Catholic Center. He underlined the importance of the dialogue that began 21 years ago after the Second Vatican Council encouraged Catholics to engage in "mutual understanding and appreciation" of the Jewish community.
"The wall between the Roman Catholic Church and the Jewish community has begun to crumble and too few people are aware of that fact," said Rabbi Zaiman. The dialogue "is something that would have been unheard of 30 years ago," he said.
Archbishop Keeler said that the influence of the dialogue can be clearly seen in the church's teaching on Jesus in its seminaries, universities and schools where "a very significant effort has been made to present his work in the context of the Jewish community in which he lived and worked."
Next month's gathering will be the panel's 14th. All of its previous meetings were in Europe, except for the 1976 meeting, which was held in Jerusalem. The committee last met in 1990 in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
The primary work of this meeting will be to continue a discussion that began in Prague about the Holocaust, the Nazi murders of 6 million Jews, Archbishop Keeler said. The discussions are intended to lay the groundwork for a future Vatican document on the Holocaust.
The group will also deal with questions relating to anti-Semitism, and there will be addresses by educators from both religions.
One session, with lectures by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago and Dr. Joseph Burg, a former minister of Religious Affairs for the Israeli government, will be open to the public. Their appearance will take place at St. Mary's Seminary at 8 p.m. on May 4.