A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH

JEWISH-CATHOLIC COMMISSION TO STUDY WORLD WAR II


Will Analyze Vatican Documents on this Period of History

VATICAN CITY, 23 NOV 1999 (ZENIT).

The names have been released of the six scholars—three Catholic and three Jewish—who will constitute a joint team to study the 11 volumes of Vatican documents relating to the Second World War. In particular, the Commission will analyze the Catholic Church’s relation with the Jews during those very complex years of world history.

The initiative to create this institution was published on October 18 of this year, by the Vatican’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, which is presided by Cardinal Edward I. Cassidy, and the International Jewish Committee for Inter-Religious Consultations (IJCIC), chaired by Seymour D. Reich.

The IJCIC is comprised of the American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, the Israel Jewish Council on interreligious Relations, World Jewish Congress and organizations representing the major branches of Judaism: Orthodox Union and Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox);

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative), and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations and Central Conference of America Rabbis (Reform).

According to information from the Vatican Press Office, the three Catholic members of this study Commission are Eva Fleischner, Professor Emeritus at Montclair State University in New Jersey; Jesuit Fr. Gerald Fogarty, of the Department of Religious Studies of the University of Virginia; and Fr. John Morley, expert on the Holocaust, of Seton Hall University of New Jersey.

The three Jewish scholars are Michael Marrus, Professor of History and Law at the University of Toronto; Bernard Suchecky, Research Director at the Free University of Brussels; and Robert Wistrich, Professor of History and Hebrew Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The six experts will analyze the material in the archive published by the Vatican between 1965 and 1981, in the hope that the doubts that some have expressed on the Church’s role during that period of history, will be finally cleared up, thanks to this joint examination.

According to the Vatican press release, the scholars "are also expected to raise relevant issues that its members feel have not been satisfactorily resolved by the documentation already available. They may also draw on the knowledge and assistance of other specialists, including colleagues and associates. Following its review, the joint team will issue a report on its findings and conclusions."

Cardinal Cassidy and Mr. Reich pointed out that, if questions still remain, "further clarification will be sought". They also acknowledged that the arrangement was unusual, if not unprecedented. The Cardinal, who originally had suggested the joint team approach, thanked IJCIC as "a most valuable partner in promoting a new understanding and relationship between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people."

Mr. Reich, called the work of the joint team Catholic-Jewish of scholars "a useful first step in resolving the Vatican’s role during the Holocaust and advancing the Catholic-Jewish relationship". ZE99112320

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