(Vatican Radio) Catholics, Jews and Muslims in the UK must work more closely together to maintain the relevance of faith in the public square. That’s the view of the Chief Rabbi of the UK and the Commonwealth, Ephraim Mirvis, who met with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Thursday. The Jewish leader was accompanied by the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, to underline the increasingly good working relationship between members of the two faith communities.
The South African born Chief Rabbi took up his new post two years ago, in September 2013. For two decades he has also served on the steering committee of the Conference of European Rabbis and is well known for his interfaith work with the Council of Christians and Jews.
Following the papal audience, the Rabbi and the Cardinal also held talks at the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism and visited the Cardinal Bea Centre for Judaic Studies at Rome’s Gregorian University. They also came to Vatican Radio to talk with Philippa Hitchen about their shared concerns for peace in the Middle East and for the role of faith communities in Britain today…
Rabbi Mirvis says he brought greetings from the Jewish community in the UK and throughout the Commonwealth and expressed "our admiration for him as a truly outstanding and inspirational spiritual leader" of our time.
He shares details of the gift he brought for the Pope, a special set for apple and honey that Jews use during their New Year celebrations. He explains the symbolism of bitterness experienced in the past and the hopes of moving forward, with God's help, "in a sweet manner". This gift, he adds, is also an "expression of our thoughts as regards the background to our visit and how, thanks to (the Second Vatican Council document) Nostra Aetate, we are moving very much forward".
Cardinal Vincent Nichols says that during their brief visit to Rome, the two leaders have seen "the practical unfolding of Nostra Aetate", both within the Pontifical Council's work of fostering dialogue with the Jewish world and through the academic rigour of the Gregorian University.
Discussing the increase in secularism in the UK today, the Chief Rabbi notes that "at the same time there is a passion for religion and so many people do appreciate that in our materialistically driven culture, we have a thirst for spirituality and religion has so much to give".
Rabbi Mirvis adds that there is a great need for increased interfaith dialogue - traditionally this has been primarily between Christians and Jews, he says, but "now it is of great urgency that we include dialogue with the Muslim world as well".....