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Archbishop in Jerusalem

Rt Rev Suheil Dawani, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rt Revd Michael Jackson at the Hall of Remembrance, Yad Vashem

Tuesday 23rd February 2010

On 22 February, the third day of his visit to the Holy Land, the Archbishop of Canterbury was received in a series of meetings by the three most senior heads of churches in Jerusalem: His Beatitude Theophilus III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem and members of the Holy Synod, His Beatitude Torkom II, Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem, and His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.

The already warm relations that exist between the various local Churches in Jerusalem were underlined, as was the common responsibility of the Church globally to confirm and strengthen the presence of vulnerable Christian communities in the Holy Land including in Jerusalem. Each encounter reiterated that everything possible needed to be done to ensure that the Christian communities in the Holy Land could continue to flourish and contribute to the wider good of all communities in the region.

Accompanied by the Bishop in Jerusalem, Rt Rev Suheil Dawani and Bishop Michael Jackson, co-chair of the Anglican Jewish Commission, the Archbishop led the Anglican delegation in the fourth meeting of the dialogue with the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

The meeting was characterised by a deepening sense of trust and openness, and a growing determination to work towards a greater mutual understanding between the faiths, and especially between the Jewish and Christian communities in the Holy Land.

This growing mutual respect and confidence was symbolised by the delegations together visiting Yad Vashem. Following a guided tour, members of the delegations stood together in a moment of reflection beside the eternal flame at the Hall of Remembrance. The Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishops Dawani and Jackson laid a wreath and prayed silently together.

A copy of the communiqué from the dialogue can be found below.

Following the visit to Yad Vashem the Archbishop was received by the President of Israel, Shimon Peres. In a forty minute meeting they discussed the current state of relations between Israel and Palestine, the contribution of Christian communities and their institutions – especially schools and hospitals - to national life, the importance of inter-faith dialogue, and a range of environmental issues including water.


Communiqué of the Fourth Meeting of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Archbishop of Canterbury

The fourth regular meeting of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Chief Rabbis of Israel took place at the Jerusalem offices of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel on 22nd February 2010 / 8th Adar 5770 in keeping with their joint protocol signed in 2006/5766

The Most Revd. Dr. Rowan Williams accompanied by the Rt. Revd. Michael Jackson, Bishop of Clogher and co-chair of the Anglican Jewish Commission; the Rt. Revd. Suheil Dawani, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem; and the Revd. Canon Guy Wilkinson, the Archbishop's Secretary for Inter religious Affairs, were welcomed by Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Rishon LeZion and Chief Rabbi of Israel, supported by Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa and co-chair of the Anglican-Jewish Commission; Rabbi David Rosen, Advisor to the Chief Rabbinate on Interreligious Affairs, Rabbi David Brodman, Rabbi Professor Daniel Sperber and Mr Oded Wiener, Director-General of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.

After initial warm greetings and expression of thanks to the Creator of the Universe for His Providence - in particular for the ongoing friendship between the principals and their respective colleagues – warm mutual appreciation was expressed for the work of the Anglican Jewish Commission whose most recent meeting had focused on the meaning and significance of Jerusalem in the Jewish and Christian traditions.

The Archbishop reflected on the presentations and on the concluding statement of that meeting and expressed his own hopes and prayers and those of his Church that the spirit of deep understanding and mutual respect that pervaded the substance and form of that meeting will soon be reflected on the ground between the different faith communities through a just and peaceful resolution of the conflict in Jerusalem and the Holy Land as a whole.

Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen responded, echoing the sentiments of the Archbishop and adding the hope that genuine peace and reconciliation will be one in which provision is made not only for the respect of separate holy sites of each faith, but also for open access to sites holy to more than one faith in a manner acceptable to all relevant parties. All present expressed gratification with the progress of the Dialogue to a degree that enabled honest and frank exchange in discussion of both convergent and divergent vital issues. This was considered of great significance in giving a renewed impetus for a continuation and deepening of the Dialogue.

Chief Rabbi Amar and Archbishop Williams offered their reflections on the theme of the forthcoming meeting in London of the Anglican Jewish Commission on creation and human responsibility for the environment. They spoke of their common understanding of the creation as a gift of the Creator entrusted to humanity. They emphasised that Scripture insists on the integrity of both the spiritual and material for any effective approach to environmental concerns.

Discussion also took place concerning the life and needs of the diverse Christian community in Jerusalem and the Holy Land and a clear commitment was made to find practical ways in which greater mutual understanding between communities could be brought about and to which the special relationship of the principals could contribute.

The deliberations concluded with a commendation of the work of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land and a commitment to continue the Dialogue and the work of the Anglican Jewish Commission.

Following the meeting the delegations went together to Yad Vashem. The Archbishop, with Bishop Suhail Dawani and Bishop Michael Jackson laid a wreath in recognition of the abiding significance of the Holocaust and as a commitment to the struggle against the continuing evil of anti Semitism and all racial hatred and bigotry.

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