On March 16, 1998, the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews published We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah. The publication of that document represents the confluence of two of the major historical developments of the last half century, in both of which the American Jewish Committee was actively engaged. The first of these developments is the transformation of the Catholic Church's relations with world Jewry. A major milestone in that development was the issuance by the Second Vatican Council in 1965 of Nostra Aetate, wherein the church deplored "hatred, persecution and display of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews at any time and from any source" while calling for "the promotion of mutual understanding and respect." The American Jewish Committee played an important behind-the-scenes role in the formulation of the Vatican statement. The second line of historic development is the continuously mounting interest in the Holocaust.
It was against this background that the American Jewish Committee invited His Eminence Edward Cardinal Cassidy, the principal architect of the document, to address a plenary session of the Committee's Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., on May 15, 1998. Cardinal Cassidy accepted the invitation, traveled from Rome to Washington for the occasion, and gave a spirited defense of the document before a large and rapt audience. Equally spirited responses to his remarks were presented by Martin S. Kaplan, chairman of the American Jewish Committee's Interreligious Affairs Commission, and by Rabbi A. James Rudin, director of AJC's Interreligious Affairs Department. In light of the importance of this occasion and the care and thoughtfulness that marked all three presentations on that May morning, we have reproduced them in their entirety here.