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May 19, 2016 10:04 pm

Vatican Official: We Need to Learn More From Jews on Role of Shabbat, Family

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Shabbat candles. A Vatican official said the Catholic Church should learn from Jews about the centrality of Shabbat. Photo: wiki commons.

Shabbat candles. A Vatican official said the Catholic Church must learn from Jews about the centrality of Shabbat and family traditions. Photo: wiki commons.

A Vatican official insisted that the Catholic Church must learn from Jewish traditions about how to elevate the role of the family in society, the UK’s Jewish News reported on Wednesday.

“The most important thing we can learn from the Jewish people is first of all it’s a religion not of the synagogue but of the home, the family,” Cardinal Kurt Koch told the publication during a two-day symposium with leading theologians from both faiths.

The Cardinal, who is President of the Commission of the Holy See for Religious Relations with the Jews, said he is positive that Jewish survival is “rooted in the family” and the “clear tradition of Shabbat.” He also noted that “family and Shabbat are two main challenges for Christianity,” and that the Sunday “culture in Christianity is very weak.”

When asked about widespread anti-Israel sentiment that often evolves into antisemitism, Cardinal Koch urged the global community not to distinguish between the Jewish people and the Jewish state.

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“Not every critic of the politics of the state can be antisemitic because there are many critics in Israel. On the other side we cannot distinguish and say we have only a relationship with Jews as individuals and not as a people and the land,” he explained.

The Cardinal added, “Pope Francis says always it’s impossible to be a Christian and to be antisemitic. I hope this message is clear above all in our church in ecumenical relations and in society. Pope Francis is not tired of saying this.”

Eleven Catholic and Jewish leaders from around the world met in Cambridge to participate in the two-day symposium, which was organized by the Woolf Institute, an academic interfaith organization in the UK dedicated to studying relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims. Argentinean Rabbi Abraham Skorka, a close friend of Pope Francis, also attended the dialogue.

“One of the most important challenges of our time is interfaith dialogue,” he said, according to the report. “The best barrier we can build up against fanaticism is to demonstrate that the way of living is the way of dialogue. The bible is a book of dialogue. The pope applauds all those working for dialogue and reconciliation.”

The symposium comes four months after the release of a Vatican document that rejects any attempts to convert Jews and states the need for Christians to combat antisemitism. A year ago, The Times of Israel quoted Pope Francis as saying that “anyone who does not recognize the Jewish people and the State of Israel — and their right to exist — is guilty of antisemitism.”

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