Catholic World News News Feature
Rome's rabbi explains call for pause in dialogue April 08, 2008
The chief rabbi of Rome has explained his call for a pause in Catholic-Jewish dialogue by saying that the question of conversion-- raised anew by the revised version of the Good Friday prayer in the traditional liturgy-- is an issue that Jews cannot discuss.
"The moment we recognized Jesus Christ, we would no longer be Jews," Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni said in an interview with the Italian monthly magazine 30 Giorni. "There is no room for discussion of these subjects, because inevitably this would end in essential futility, at least in our view."
The Roman rabbi said that Catholic-Jewish dialogue has been profitable in addressing public issues on which both faiths can find common ground, such as the desire for world peace and the fight against poverty. But on questions of ultimate religious identity, he said, the dialogue founders.
Rabbi Di Segni stressed to 30 Giorni that he did not intend to break off relations with Catholics, nor did he wish for further conflict. "We have asked for a pause for reflection," he said, explaining that the pause might help both sides to define what they hoped to achieve through inter-religious talks.
The rabbi said that he acknowledged the efforts of the Catholic Church to forge friendly ties with Judaism. He said that as a practical matter he is not concerned about Catholic efforts to proselytize Jews, "because the reality of the facts shows us that the Church of today, as the people know it, no longer comes knocking at your door."