Source AP ©

Anti-Semitism to be key issue in Vatican

Roman Catholic bishops will discuss the ways of fighting anti-Semitism next year in Vatican.

An entire section of a preparatory document released by the Vatican on Friday is devoted to the Church's relationship with Jews, noting the "close associations of the two in faith" and calling for efforts "to overcome every form of anti-Semitism."

The 60-page document, which was approved by Pope Benedict XVI, outlines the suggested topics and includes a questionnaire to be answered by local bishops.

After asking if priority is given to dialogue with the Jews, the questionnaire calls on bishops to investigate the use of biblical texts to "ferment attitudes of anti-Semitism."

"Much has already been done, but everything must be done to dispel every shadow," the synod's general-secretary, Bishop Nikola Eterovic, said during a news conference to present the agenda for the October 2008 meeting.

The 1965 document of the Second Vatican Council, "Nostra Aetate," marked a new era in Catholic-Jewish relations. It deplored anti-Semitism in every form and repudiated the "deicide" charge that blamed Jews as a people for Christ's death.

Subsequent landmarks have included visits to synagogues by Popes John Paul II and Benedict.

The general theme of the meeting is an examination of the way scripture is studied and taught in the Church, and how the word of God can be influential in contemporary society.

In particular, while the document encourages individual and group study of the Bible, it warns against the dangers of an arbitrary or literal interpretation of the Scriptures, which it says could lead to fundamentalism.

During the synod, bishops from around the world gather in Rome for two weeks to discuss the pre-established theme in general sessions and private groups. The body of bishops has no decision-making power, but can only present suggestions to the pope, who will then decide on them.

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