Archbishop of Canterbury meets Chief Rabbis in Jerusalem
Oct. 31, 2007
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, today held talks in
Jerusalem with Israel's Chief Rabbis. The Archbishop, accompanied by
Bishop Suhail Dawani (Bishop in Jerusalem) and Bishop Michael Jackson
(Bishop of Clogher), held the second in a series of annual discussions
with Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger of Israel,
accompanied by the Chief Rabbi of Haifa Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen. The
first in the series was held at Lambeth Palace on 5 September 2006.
Dr Rowan Williams said "These conversations are an invaluable
opportunity to cement the relationship between our communities, and to
build on the opportunities that inter religious cooperation provides.
Our shared scriptural understanding led us to reaffirm our understanding
of the Sanctity of Life. Dialogue and mutual respect are the seed beds
within which understanding and common cause can flourish, sometimes, by
the grace of God, in the most unpromising of circumstances."
Discussions also touched on recent inter religious developments in the
Holy Land and the wider region. The fruits of the first meeting of the
Anglican Jewish Commission in July were noted with pleasure. Further
work was requested on such themes as environment and ecology, science
and technology, and education. The work of the Council of Religious
Institutions of the Holy Land was welcomed and the significance of its
forthcoming meeting in Washington was highlighted. The Chief Rabbis
congratulated the Archbishop on becoming a Co-President of Religions for
Peace and endorsed its role in deepening the religious contribution to
the well being of society.
A record of the discussion is contained in the Communiqué (full text
below) issued this afternoon at the conclusion of the meeting.
Notes to editors:
Full text of the Communiqué is below:
The Second Meeting of the Chief Rabbis of Israel and the Archbishop of
Jerusalem 31st October 2007
The second meeting of the Chief Rabbis of Israel and the Archbishop of
Canterbury took place in Jerusalem on 31st October 2007 according to the
provisions of the Joint Declaration signed by them on 5th September
2006/12th Elul 5766.
The Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Chief Rabbi
Shlomo Amar and Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger of Israel met to take further
their friendly relationship and the mutual interests of the people of
They welcomed The Rt Revd Michael Jackson, bishop of Clogher and Rabbi
Shear Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa, as leaders of their
delegations to the Anglican Jewish Commission and the Rt Revd Suhail
Dawani as the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem.
"We recall our meeting in Lambeth in September last year and the
historic nature of the declaration which we signed together. We reaffirm
all that we said in that declaration and have today taken forward our
relationship and our work towards greater understanding and mutual
respect between our communities.
"Since that meeting there have been further developments in the Holy
Land and in the wider region, some positive and some worrying. We are
very concerned about the
wellbeing of the ever increasing numbers of refugees from Iraq and about
the plight of religious minorities, in particular Christian communities
in Iraq and elsewhere in the region; we call for the release of hostages
and in particular for the release of Ehud Goldwasser, Eldad Regev, and
Gilad Shalit. Continuing use of aggressive language by President
Ahmedinajad of Iran towards Israel is wholly unacceptable to us. We also
note, however, the renewed energy towards a comprehensive peace in the
region and the many initiatives, religious and secular, being taken to
overcome divisions and to seek reconciliation. In particular in this
respect, we commend the work of the many organisations that seek to work
together from different perspectives for the common good.
"We are very pleased that the first meeting of the Anglican Jewish
Commission of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbinate of
Israel took place in July in a positive atmosphere. The papers provided
for that meeting and the discussions that took place on its theme of the
sanctity of human life were constructive and insightful. They revealed a
depth of mutual agreement, rooted in our shared scriptural heritage,
that human life is a gift from God to be valued from conception to the
natural ending of life. Between the beginnings of life and its ending,
human life is to be nurtured and enabled to flourish and all violence
against other human beings is to be deplored as a defacing of the image
of God in humanity. We affirm this understanding and wish to encourage
Jews and Anglicans around the world to engage together on this basis.
"We have asked the Anglican Jewish Commission to take forward their work
at their next meeting and in particular to consider the themes that have
been discussed by us today
"We discussed together some recent developments and initiatives by
religious leaders and scholars which aim to strengthen the means by
which religious communities can co-operate with each other in the search
for a world more attuned to the love of God for creation.
"In particular we welcomed the recent meeting of religious leaders held
at the invitation of the St Egidio community when the Archbishop of
Canterbury and Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger were able to meet together with
His Holiness Pope Benedict and with the leaders of many other religious
traditions. We look forward to additional opportunities that further the
important work of universal religious solidarity. Such solidarity
requires us to insist that each others' places of worship, and those of
other religions, be regarded by all as sacrosanct and therefore
"We also noted with gratitude and appreciation, the further work of the
Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land as well as the
Inter-religious Coordinating Council of Israel, an affiliate of the
World Council of Religions for Peace.
In this connection the Chief Rabbis of Israel were particularly pleased
to know that the Archbishop of Canterbury has accepted the invitation
from Religions for Peace to become a Co-President of its World Council
and congratulated him on his work for inter religious peace.. We believe
that these are very positive developments which are a clear sign of
determination to create structures that can advance principled
cooperation and moral solidarity among the Christian, Jewish, Islamic
and other religious communities.
"In this connection, we noted the recent letter from Muslim scholars and
religious leaders to the Christian Churches. The 'Common Word', though
addressed to Christian Churches, also makes clear its respect for Hebrew
scripture in citing directly from the Book of Deuteronomy and in
acknowledging the inspiration that this provided for their understanding
of the Quranic teachings on the unity and love of God and of neighbour.
In promoting these values we commit ourselves and encourage all
religious leaders to ensure that no materials are disseminated by our
communities that work against this vision. We have agreed that in
responding to the Common Word, it will be important to consider
carefully together how the perspectives of Christians and Jews are
properly held together.
"At the end of our meeting we give thanks to God for the sacred gift of
life and for stirring up in our hearts the desire to see God's will for
good fully expressed in human lives. We restate our concern for all
hostages and for the many innocent victims of violence; we pray for
peace and for peacemakers; we reaffirm our commitment to each other and
our firm intent to continue this dialogue on the basis of mutual respect
under God. We look forward keenly to our meeting in Lambeth in 2008.