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Jewish leaders OK Catholic conversion statement

Jewish leaders are welcoming a revised statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that rejects suggestions that interfaith dialogue could lead to the conversion and baptism of Jews.

American Jewish organizations had raised concerns that a document released by the bishops in June reversed earlier statements and indicated that dialogue between Catholics and Jews could be used as an opportunity to proselytize.

“Here is this instance where the document was released without consultation with the Jewish partners in June,” said Rabbi Eric J. Greenberg, director of interfaith policy at the Anti-Defamation League. “That raises concerns about our level of communication, which needs to be addressed.”

Earlier this month (Oct. 2), the bishops issued a new statement affirming that Jewish-Catholic dialogue “has never been and will never be used by the Catholic Church as a means of proselytism.”

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Greenberg called the clarification a historical moment for the bishops. But the Jewish leaders remain concerned about a rollback in Jewish-Catholic relations since the death of Pope John Paul II in 2005.

“The need for consultation and continuing dialogue is crucial,” Greenberg said.

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