Simposio organizzato dalla Commissione teologico-storica 
del Grande Giubileo dell'anno 2000


Card. Roger Etchegaray

For more than a year, under Fr. Cottier's guidance, the Historical-Theological Commission has carefully prepared this Colloquium which, thanks to the large number of qualified participants, leaves us indeed hopeful that its works will be successful. We will be able to assess their importance on the long path of reconciliation between Christians and Jews. Analyzing «The roots of anti-Judaism in the Christian milieu» means stressing the limits but also the depths of the research planned. Starting from anti-Judaism rather than from anti-Semitism means centring our study on religious motivations which, since they touch the conscience, are much more significant and determinative than simple racial or political motivations.

Exactly thirty-two years ago (28 October 1965) the Second Vatican Council with the Declaration Nostra Aetate, «sounding the depths of the mystery which is the Church» (n. 4), gave a remarkable boost to dialogue between Christians and Jews. In spite of all our efforts, this dialogue will remain fragile or too superficial until we question ourselves more decisively about the religious nature of the bond that unites the two communities «on a level of one's own identity», as John Paul II said at the beginning of his papacy (12 March 1979) and Magonza (17 November 1982). This Colloquium, with a purely exegetic, theological and historical purpose, is situated at the very heart of this problem. Your task is not an easy one, because it involves examining the all too frequently antagonistic relations between Judaism and Christianity, as well as penetrating through a thick deposit of questions that have accumulated over the centuries, from the New Testament texts onwards.

In this area, as in many others, John Paul II has invited us to purify our memory in order to cross with a lighter step the now imminent threshold of the Year 2000, which should shine with the sun of compassion that has risen since the birth of Christ the Redeemer. The fraternal attention we direct here to the Jewish religion cannot let us forget that the Church is equally attentive to other world religions, and especially to the Islamic religion which also honours the God of Abraham.

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