THESSALONIKI, Greece — Jewish and Orthodox Christian leaders plan to form a joint commission to broaden interfaith dialogue and examine Jewish concerns in Eastern Europe, a top Jewish envoy said.
The new panel was announced at a conference in Thessaloniki on relations between Jews and Orthodox Christians. The move would greatly expand high-level Jewish-Christian contacts, which have been dominated by the Vatican.
"It would be a significant step," said Israel Singer, chairman of the World Jewish Congress. "The lines of communication between the Jewish communities and Christians would be stronger."
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, spiritual head of the world's 200 million Orthodox Christians, has urged Orthodox churches to show greater openness and abandon deep-rooted suspicions toward others.
He planned to visit a Jewish memorial in Thessaloniki, which was a center of Jewish culture in Europe before World War II. Only a tiny Jewish community remains.
"Fanaticism is, at its base, insecure and scared people who are not deeply convinced in the truth of their own faith," Bartholomew said.