The Pope meets delegation
from Israel's Chief Rabbinate
The Holy Father met today with a delegation from the Grand Rabbinate of Israel and from the Commission for Religious Relations
with Judaism headed by Cardinal Walter Kasper.
Cardinal Kasper leads in Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Haifa, and head of the Israeli delegation.
At Benedict XVI's invitation, Rabbi Cohen became the first Jew to address a Catholic bishops' synod last October.
Here is the address the Pope delivered in English:
Pope tells rabbis that dialogue
of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel,
Dear Catholic Delegates,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you, the delegation of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, together with Catholic participants led by the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
The important dialogue in which you are engaged is a fruit of the historical visit of my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II to the Holy Land in March 2000.
It was his wish to enter into a dialogue with Jewish religious institutions in Israel and his encouragement was decisive to attaining this goal. Receiving the two Chief Rabbis of Israel in January 2004 he called this dialogue a "sign of great hope".
During these seven years not only has the friendship between the Commission and the Chief Rabbinate increased, but you have also been able to reflect on important themes which are relevant to the Jewish and Christian traditions alike.
Because we recognize a common rich spiritual patrimony a dialogue based on mutual understanding and respect is, as Nostra Aetate (n. 4) recommends, necessary and possible.
Working together you have become increasingly aware of the common values which stand at the basis of our respective religious traditions, studying them during the seven meetings held either here in Rome or in Jerusalem.
You have reflected on the sanctity of life, family values, social justice and ethical conduct, the importance of the word of God expressed in Holy Scriptures for society and education, the relationship between religious and civil authority and the freedom of religion and conscience.
In the common declarations released after every meeting, the views which are rooted in both our respective religious convictions have been highlighted, while the differences of understanding have also been acknowledged.
The Church recognizes that the beginnings of her faith are found in the historical divine intervention in the life of the Jewish people and that here our unique relationship has its foundation.
The Jewish people, who were chosen as the elected people, communicate to the whole human family, knowledge of and fidelity to the one, unique and true God. Christians gladly acknowledge that their own roots are found in the same self-revelation of God, in which the religious experience of the Jewish people is nourished.
As you know, I am preparing to visit the Holy Land as a pilgrim. My intention is to pray especially for the precious gift of unity and peace both within the region and for the worldwide human family.
As Psalm 125 brings to mind, God protects his people: "As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from this time forth and for evermore".
May my visit also help to deepen the dialogue of the Church with the Jewish people so that Jews and Christians and also Muslims may live in peace and harmony in this Holy Land.
I thank you for your visit and I renew my personal commitment to advancing the vision set out for coming generations in the Second Vatican Council's declaration Nostra Aetate.
between Catholics and Jews
is 'necessary and possible'
Vatican City, March 12 (AsiaNews) - Dialogue between the Catholic Church and Jews is "necessary and possible," and the Pope hopes that his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, expected to take place in May, can contribute to this, "so that Jews and Christians and also Muslims may live in peace and harmony in this Holy Land."
During his trip, "my intention is to pray especially for the precious gift of unity and peace both within the region and for the worldwide human family."
Benedict XVI made these remarks today at an audience with a delegation from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and from the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
The Pope met the Jewish rabbis today, after an episode during which the Grand Rabbinate of Israel said it was "suspending" relations with the Catholic Church because of the Williamson case, but issued a statement a few days later to say they nad not suspended the relations at all.
However, the episode did lead to a two-week delay in the regular meeting between the Grand Rabbinate representatives and the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
The Pope expressed his gratitude and desire to renew "my personal commitment to advancing the vision set out for coming generations in the Second Vatican Council's declaration Nostra Aetate
Also today, Benedict XVI expressed his gratitude to the Jews in a letter to the bishops of the whole world made public today, where he pointed out that "our Jewish friends" have understood better than many Catholics the meaning of the lifting of excommunication for the Lefebvrists.
For the Rabbinate, today's encounter with the Pope "marks a positive change in the renewal of dialogue between us," The statement was made according to chief rabbi Shear-Yashuv Cohen, who stressed the 'clear and unequivocal statements condemning denial of the Holocaust' made by the Pope.
The rabbi also expressed his "profound concern about the clearly anti-Semitic nature of the text proposed for the UN conference" on racism, Durban 2.
The rabbis asked the Pope for an open criticism of the UN statement from the Vatican.
"We appreciate," he said, "the constructive role of the Vatican observer in the attempt to resist the distorted declaration, and we hope that the Holy See will make its voice heard in deploring this attack on the Jewish state."