American Catholic bishops and B'nai B'rith have developed a continuing joint working group designed to study issues of concern to Catholics and Jews.
Dr. Eugene J. Fisher, secretary for Catholic Jewish Relations of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, described the work of the staff-level group to delegates of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, which met here this week.
Fisher called the group a forward step in Christian-Jewish dialogue.
Such dialogue today, said Fisher, is "getting into things that have separated us for two millenia. For two thousand years, there was no dialogue: only monologue shouted in the night," as allusion to anti-Semitic attacks of a few decades ago.
Fisher said the joint working group meets periodically to deal with issues such as "parochial school education, the Middle East, abortion, proselytising, intermarriage, anti-Semitism, and ethnicity."
He pointed out that Jews and Catholics in this country immigrated to the United States at roughly the same period in American history and, though they landed in different ghettoes, share many common problems.
"We make up two of the 'K's' of Ku Klux Klan and our churches and synagogues generally not defamed in the same waves of anti-foreigner sentiment," Fisher said.
The Catholic leader said it is the aim of the study group "to get ahead of situations before they develop, rather than merely reacting to crises without having the chance to see the question from the other side."
In another Anti-Defamation League session, Irwin Suall reported that there is "more activity and visibility" on the part of the Ku Klux Klan in recent years. He estimated that in the last two years Klan membership increased about 20 per cent, to an estimated total today of about 8,000 persons nationwide.
Saull said the ADL, which he said has been monitoring the Klan for decades, estimates that Klan influence is multiplied because "there are five sympathizers to each dues-paying member."
He said "the Klan is still a small organization that represents no threat to the republic but in certain situations it is capable of engaging in violence that can be a threat to local communities."
He cited as examples anti-busing demonstrations in recent years in Detroit, Boston and Louisville.