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BENEDICT XVI: NEWS, PAPAL TEXTS, PHOTOS AND COMMENTARY

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5/20/2009 3:51 PM
 
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Here is another assessment of the Pope's Holy Land pilgrimage - from a most unusual perspective - and cited by Sandro Magister on his bloghttp://img490.imageshack.us/img490/2376/settcielorednak7.png

R.A. Segre is the journalistic name of Dan Vittorio Segre, born in 1922, whom Sandro Magister describes as "one of the legendary figures of 20th century Judaism - Zionist, combatant and diplomat (for Israel), and founder of the Institute for Mediterranean Studies at the University of Italian Switzerland where the teaches international relations".


I, a Jew, tell you:
'This is a great Pope'

by R. A. Segre
Translated from

May 15, 2009


If, as everyone hopes, the Pope's pilgrimage ends without incident, the Israelis will heave a huge sigh of relief at all levels: political, military, theological and protocolar.

By the very fact that it was made at all, the pilgrimage was already a great success for the Israeli government, but only time will let us measure its real impact.

Three elements already emerge clearly.

First, the personality of Benedict XVI.

At the start, he may have seemed awkward as Pope, a bit uncertain, obfuscated in the media by the explosive extroversion of his predecessor, burdened by his German origin in a land which has had a tragic history with Germany that remains raw

[I do not think that his German origin has affected how Italians view him at all - he was already quite known to them after more than 20 years of residing in Rome in a high-profile position.

But some circles like the British media, and those Jews who dislike him, would like to make the world believe that being German and having grown up in Nazi Germany, he is tainted, and they continue to refer to 'questions about his past in the Hitler Youth and the German military' - especially in all of their stories during his recent trip to Israel]
.

But he has been able to present himself - and thus create another local and international image - in a way he could not have done so without being Pope.

It is the image of a servant of the divine, of an anti-star, who asks, in the words of a daily Jewish prayer, to be 'dust to all'. About which Jewish commentators hasten to add: " It is not written anywhere that this dust may be stamped down on."

And the Pope has not allowed himself to be 'downtrodden' and exploited by those Jews who demanded that he should make an apology for the German uniform he wore as a youth nor by the petulant Palestinians who demanded that he should denounce Israel.

The image that the Pope leaves behind in Israel is that of a man of faith who was awaited with some suspicion but greeted with respect and understanding.

What he said in favor of Palestinian sovereignty and about the walls that divide (around hearts more than between territories) is shared by many.

His condemnation of anti-Semitism, his clear lack of intention to proselytize either Jew or Muslim to Christianity, his denunciation of every manipulation of religion to justify violence and divisions, were much appreciated, along with his concern for the future of Christians not only in Israel where their numbers are coming down, but in the rest of the world, including the Islamic world where persecution of Christians is the order of the day.

In comparison with the pilgrimage made by John Paul II, the figure of Benedict XVI was at the center of the political and media scene without dominating it.

But he had an educative effect on a nation - and beyond its frontiers - where ignorance of Christianity and prejudices against it have ancient roots.

The Church of Rome appeared in all its ritual and spiritual grandeur in comparison to other churches. Benedict XVI placed into evidence the linguistic, historical adn liturgical interweaving between Judaism and Christianity, while making it clear that in Christianity as well as in Judaism, the Jew, Jesus of Nazareth, was apolitical.

He wished for the Christians of the Middle East a point role as vehicles for peace not hostility.

Finally, this papal visit gave Israelis - who are took caught up in their daily problems of security - a pause to appreciate the immense human, cultural and religious patrimony of their land, and the responsibility to share and defend it with others.

It is, after all, a nation which, with all its problems and faults, has transformed itself into one of the few laboratories researching a solution to two world problems - the return of religion to public life and politics, and the collaboration between tradition and modernity - in the democratic context of freedom.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/21/2009 12:35 AM]
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