On 22nd of this month the Jewish community celebrate the festival of Pesach. Often Passover falls round about the same time as Easter but this year it is a month later. This is because every few years the Jews have a leap year, but this one has an extra month and not just an extra day to bring the lunar calendar into line with their agrarian festivals. The Vatican doesn't send greetings to the Jewish community because relations with Jews does not come under the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue but under the Pontifical Council for Ecumenism. This, of course shows the familial relations that we have with our Jewish brothers and sisters. However, our committee sends its own greetings in the name of the Bishops of Scotland and indeed the whole Catholic community. Here is this year's letter:
This year you are celebrating the festival of Pesach at a time when we are all aware of how much the world we live in needs deliverance from poverty, war, injustice and the horror of terrorism. The festival of Pesach is a constant reminder to both our communities of the saving power of our God and that good can, and we believe will, prevail. This means that we have to work together to make God’s justice a reality in our world. If in the past we have done this in isolation from one another, we now have opportunities to get to know one another better and work together for the common good. Our Committee for Interreligious Dialogue exists to do just that.
This year is a special one for the Catholic Church. Pope Francis has designated it a Holy Year of Mercy. In announcing this Holy Year the Pope spoke of the need to foster an encounter with world faiths and prayed that the year might “open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better.” He prayed that this would “eliminate every form of close – mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination.”
This year has also been marked by the recent statement from the Vatican entitled ‘The Gifts and the Calling of God are Irrevocable’ and the Orthodox Rabbinic Statement on Christianity, entitled ‘To Do the Will of Our Father in Heaven: Towards a Partnership between Jews and Christians’. These are indeed hopeful signs and consolidate the good relations between us. I hope and pray that we can make these a reality here in Scotland.
On my own behalf and on behalf of the Scottish Bishops as well as the Committee for Interreligious Dialogue I am delighted to send you and the whole Jewish community in Scotland greetings for a happy Pesach.
With all good wishes,
Yours very sincerely,
+ Mario Conti
We have received several replies. One correspondent wrote,
Many thanks for your good wishes for Pessach. I hope sincerely that wishes expressed in Archbishp's Conti's letter will come true. Our fractured wold needs healing by every possible means. Celebrating our feast of deliverance seems the right festival to pray for the deliverance of all who suffer.
And another: It is a great joy to receive such a wonderful message from Archbishop Conti. Please pass on my good wishes and thanks to him for his continuing support for interreligious dialogue and friendship between our communities.