Rome Pope Benedict XVI marked the 40th anniversary of a landmark Vatican document on relations with Jews by calling Thursday for a renewed commitment for Catholics and Jews to deepen their bonds and work for the good of all humanity.
Benedict issued a message that was read out during a commemoration of the "Nostra Aetate" document of the Second Vatican Council, in which the Catholic Church deplored anti-Semitism and repudiated the "deicide" charge that blamed Jews as a people for Christ's death.
Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo di Segni, told The Associated Press that he had refused to attend the ceremony because of the presence of one of the keynote speakers, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, a Jewish convert to Catholicism.
"It's not a protest but an invitation to reflect on the meaning of dialogue" between religions, Di Segni said in a telephone interview.
"What is dialogue? If it means losing one's identity and crossing over to the other side, then it's not dialogue," he said.
Cardinal Walter Kasper, who hosted the event, said he did not want to comment on the absence of Di Segni and other European rabbis at the ceremony, saying only that he had received a letter from Di Segni and "he didn't mention Cardinal Lustiger."