Proselytizers must not coerce, Catholic-Jewish dialogue group agrees
Published: December 1, 2009
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Proselytism must never involve coercion or manipulation, agreed Jewish and Catholic leaders at a fall dialogue session in New York. "Any effort to lead a person to faith that tramples on human freedom betrays a lack of respect for human dignity," said Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory of Atlanta, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. The fall consultation between the USCCB and the National Council of Synagogues featured talks by Rabbi Alan Brill of Seton Hall University in South Orange, N.J., and Father Arthur Kennedy of St. John's Seminary in Brighton, Mass., on how Christians and Jews view dialogue and witness. The consultation also included discussion of a Statement of Principles for Catholic-Jewish Dialogue issued by the USCCB in October and of Middle East issues, particularly Israel's policy on visas for religious workers. The October statement, endorsed by five USCCB leaders, said dialogue "has never been and will never be used by the Catholic Church as a means of proselytism -- nor is it intended as a disguised invitation to baptism." Msgr. Robert L. Stern, secretary-general of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association, reported on the status of the 147,000 Christians who reside in Israel and the 30,000 to 40,000 who live in occupied territories.
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