Text size

Catholic and Jewish scholars will try to enlist the Catholic Church to an open fight against anti-Semitism in a dialogue that opens in Buenos Aires tomorrow. It is the first time that the dialogue, held by delegates representing the two religions every three years, will take place in a South American country that is a bastion of the Catholic Church.

Each delegation has 25 members, including senior religious figures, scholars and experts on Vatican and Jewish relations. The Catholic side is headed by Cardinal Walter Casper, commissioner for the Church's relations with the Jews, and has 10 other cardinals from the United States and other countries. The Jewish delegation consists of rabbis and representatives of large American Jewish Organizations and six Israeli delegates including Minister Nathan Sharansky and Rabbi Sh'ear Yashuv Cohen, formerly Haifa chief rabbi. The rabbis represent the three religious streams in American Jewry.

Entitled "Justice and Charity," the dialogue will last until Thursday and was initially planned to deal with formulating a joint plan for both religions to alleviate poverty caused by the economic crisis in Argentina. However, following the incidents of anti-Semitism in Europe, both sides agreed to hold a serious debate on anti-Semitism and formulate a way to make the Catholic Church part of the struggle against it.

"The dialogue in Buenos Aires is part of a global effort against anti-Semitism," said Ilan Steinberg, director of the World Jewish Congress on Friday. "The dialogue will be a sequel to the conference on anti-Semitism organized by the European Commission in Brussels, to the declaration against anti-Semitism made at the world conference in Berlin, and to the seminar against anti-Semitism in the UN two weeks ago."

The dialogue is being held as the Jewish community in Buenos Aires prepares to mark the 10th anniversary of the terror attack that wrecked the building of the Jewish community offices in the city.