The two delegations agreed on the importance of “compassionate palliative care and maximal effort to alleviate pain and suffering.” Their joint declaration cited the October 2019 joint declaration of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders that rejected active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide while promoting palliative care.
Chairing the Catholic delegation was Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity. He was joined by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa OFM; Archbishop Adolfo Tito Yllana, the apostolic nuncio to Israel; Italian theologian Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto; Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem; Msgr. Pier Francesco Fumagalli, a consultor for the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews; and Father Norbert J. Hofmann SDB, secretary of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
Rabbi Rasson Arussi, director general of the Chief Rabbinate, headed the Jewish delegation. Joining him were U.K.-born Rabbi Eliezer Simha Weisz, who now serves on the Council of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate; Rabbi Prof. Avraham Steinberg, a medical ethicist and pediatric neurologist; Rabbi David Rosen, a former Chief Rabbi of Ireland who is International Director of Interreligious Affairs at the American Jewish Committee; Rabbi Gidon Shlush of New York; and Yehudah Cohen and Oded Wiener, who are both former directors general of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
The Catholic presentation at the meeting highlighted the guiding principles for treating the terminally ill. It began with Pope Francis’ caution regarding contemporary cultural context that is, in the pontiff’s words, “progressively eroding the understanding of that which makes human life precious.”
The joint statement said the presentation reaffirmed “the dignity of every human being, which for Jews and Catholics flows from the religious affirmation of the sanctity of human life.”
The deliberations expanded on the topic of the 2006 bilateral commission meeting topic, which was human life and technology in light of “the far-reaching advances in medical science.”