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Archbishop to Welcome Chief Rabbinate to Lambeth

Thursday 27th July 2006

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has announced today that he is to welcome the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to Lambeth Palace in September.

Chief Rabbis Amar and Metzger will travel to London for a special meeting with Dr Williams, during which a joint declaration will be signed, establishing a new joint dialogue process.

The dialogue, which will be developed in the coming years, is intended to bring a further important strand to the range of relationships between the Archbishop and other religious leaders and institutions internationally, and in particular in the Middle East. It is similar to the Anglican dialogue with Al Azhar established in 2002 and builds on relationships developed in the Alexandria Process. This latest initiative has been welcomed by the bishops of the Anglican churches of the region.

The dialogue will cover a range of subjects of mutual interest, will lead to better understanding and appreciation and to a strengthening of wider inter religious relationships in the region and beyond.

The Archbishop will welcome the Chief Rabbis to Lambeth Palace on 5th September 2006 and the joint declaration will be signed in the presence of leaders of the Jewish and Christian communities and the main Christian Jewish dialogue organisations in the UK.

Dr Williams said that he was encouraged by the development:

"I am delighted that we are now able to establish this important dialogue which enables religious leaders to discuss matters of concern. The more we are able to develop ways of listening to one concerns and interest, the better our understanding will be of one another's hopes and fears."


Notes for editors


For some years now, there have been discussions between the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the office of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel about the possibility of creating a framework for a continuing process of dialogue.

These discussions have culminated in agreement on a meeting between Archbishop Rowan Williams and Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar and Chief Rabbi Yonah Metzger to meet on 5th September 2006 at Lambeth Palace for the signing of a joint declaration between them on the formation of a framework for a continuing dialogue.

The discussions have their historical roots in the development of Jewish Christian relations particularly since the foundational document 'Nostra Aetate' of the Second Vatican Council in 1965. They include the recommendations of the Lambeth Conferences of 1988 and 1998; the joint declaration by the Presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews on anti-Semitism in 2001; the work of the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury towards the Alexandria declaration in 2002; the strong support for the inauguration of a national Holocaust Memorial Day in the United Kingdom; and in the statements made by the Archbishop on those and other occasions.

The proposed dialogue finds its place within the universal approach to the development of relationships between the religious communities which has been characteristic of the past twenty years. It has often been observed that there is an increasingly significant role for religious leaders and communities to play in the complex affairs of a globalising world in which faith has a central place. Christianity and Judaism are world Faiths whose relationship with each other and with the other world Faiths, moulds and shapes the lives of many. The proposed dialogue will make its contribution to the wider dialogue of the religions of the world.

The office of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the office of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel each have both local and worldwide roles. This means that a relationship of dialogue between them has a positive potential for Jewish and Christian relationships in England and in Israel as well as in the wider world communities of which they are part.

The purpose of the meeting on 5th September and of subsequent meetings, is to provide new opportunities for dialogue. Dialogue has profound value in its own right and its purposes are mutual understanding and respect of each others' traditions and beliefs; the sharing of common concerns; the development of personal human relationships, and in all these things an openness to God's initiative. Neither evangelism nor conversion are amongst the purposes of the dialogue.

The Holy Land has a very special place in the heritage of Christians and Jews as indeed for Muslims. Whilst there is a longing for peace and justice, the Holy Land and its people, Jewish, Christian and Muslim, continue to suffer all forms of violence and its consequences. The partners in the proposed dialogue are committed to peace and justice in the Holy Land and believe that it is both a sign and a potentially fruitful action to that end.

In the process of dialogue, the partners will listen carefully to each other and will take note of such common experience and current situations that can form the basis for further discussion and reflection. These might include their respective relationships with national governance and the potential that this offers; common hopes for the good of society; concern to find ways in which younger generations will understand and appreciate their faith; the strengthening of the bonds of family and community. Discussion on all such matters will have at heart the imperative to seek ways to show the love of God in shared the times and places. The hope is that this dialogue will model ways in which mutual concern for peace, security and respect can be openly demonstrated.

The joint declaration will commit the partners and others in the wider communities, to further meetings in Jerusalem and at Lambeth.

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