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Local Jews, Catholics commemorate 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate declaration

FARGO - Jewish and Catholic leaders in Fargo came together Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a doctrine by the Catholic Church to improve relations with non-Christian religious groups.

Father Luke Meyer talks about the history of anti-semitism during the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate ate Temple Beth El Synagogue in Fargo, N.D. on Saturday, October 10, 2015. Carrie Snyder / The Forum
Father Luke Meyer talks about the history of anti-semitism during the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate at Temple Beth El Synagogue in Fargo, N.D. on Saturday, Oct.10, 2015. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

FARGO – Jewish and Catholic leaders in Fargo came together Saturday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a doctrine by the Catholic Church to improve relations with non-Christian religious groups.

In October 1965, Pope Paul VI issued the Nostra Aetate declaration, and the Second Vatican Council overwhelmingly voted in support of the decree. Nostra Aetate, which is Latin for "in our time," was issued to try and build better relationships and understanding with other religious groups.

The service Saturday at the Temple Beth El Synagogue in Fargo included Hebrew and English hymns from the book of Psalms, and Fargo Diocese Bishop John Folda, Rabbi Janeen Kobrinsky and others from both faiths shared the history and Jewish and Catholic perspectives of the Nostra Aetate declaration.

Folda said interfaith cooperation and relationship strengthening is a good step forward for the Catholic faith because of historical ties.

"Our faith communities have so much in common, we're challenged in so many similar ways," Folda said. "Really, it's the only way to go. I think that many of our scholars on the Catholic side recognize this and really put a great deal of priority and energy into this."

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The Nostra Aetate addressed the strong ties between Catholics and Jews, and specifically that not all Jews should not be blamed for Jesus' death, that anti-Semitism is wrong in all forms and that Jews should not be presented as "rejected or accursed by God."

The service came together after Steve Hunegs, the executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas reached out to the temple. It was the first of its kind in Fargo, Rabbi Kobrinsky said.

"I believe this is the first time a bishop has graced our sanctuary," she said.

"We plan to have an ongoing dialogue, especially around the booklet that Pope Francis wrote his friend the rabbi before he was pope," Kobrinsky added, referring to the book "On Heaven and Earth," written by Pope Francis before he became the church's leader, which is based on conversations he had with his friend Rabbi Abraham Skorka.

The Nostra Aetate event isn't unique to Fargo. Folda said other similar services have taken place across the world to commemorate the declaration made by Pope Paul VI.

"It's an important moment for us," he said. "This is kind of a local expression of that worldwide observance."

Related Topics: FAITH
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