The Kishreinu initiative, according to the World Jewish Congress, “will serve as the Jewish community’s response to the Nostra Aetate Declaration of the Second Vatican Council.”
Nostra aetate, the council’s declaration on the relation of the Church to non-Christian religions, was a watershed in the history of Christian-Jewish relations.
The document said the Church “rejects nothing that is true and holy” in other religious traditions and encouraged “dialogue and collaboration with the followers of other religions, carried out with prudence and love and in witness to the Christian faith and life.”
In his remarks to the World Jewish Congress executive committee, Pope Francis noted that “from the time of the Second Vatican Council, your Congress has been in dialogue with the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, and for many years has sponsored meetings of great interest.”
“We, Jews and Catholics, share priceless spiritual treasures,” he added.
The Kishreinu initiative was launched during a Nov. 22 meeting in the Vatican’s Synod Hall prior to the audience with Pope Francis.
World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder said he was grateful to the Catholic Church during a time of increasing anti-semitic acts and rhetoric around the world.
“We don’t ignore it. We don’t forget. But we look forward, together. And what could possibly be better for all the children of God to live together in peace, harmony, and in the house of the Lord, forever,” he said.
“Those of us here today,” he said, “are eager to promote our bond with the Catholic Church. Today, we launch the process of ‘Kishreinu,’ [which] reinforces the common future of our two people. It presents a new stage in the Catholic-Jewish bond.”
Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, said “with our shared heritage, we have a common responsibility to work together for the good of humankind, refuting antisemitism and anti-Catholic and anti-Christian attitudes, as well as all kinds of discrimination, to work for justice, solidarity, and peace, to spread compassion and mercy in an often cold and merciless world.”