2009-02-12 15:12:30

Pope Benedict XVI Receives American Jewish Delegation

(12 Feb 09 - RV) Pope Benedict XVI today received a delegation from the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations. Chris Altieri reports…
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations came into being more than a half century ago, and now represents over 50 national Jewish agencies.
The Conference works to build consensus among and advocate in behalf of the American Jewish community on questions of national and international importance.
One of the leaders representing the Conference of Presidents this Thursday was Rabbi Arthur Schneier, who hosted the Holy Father at Park East Synagogue in April of last year, and addressed the Pope on behalf of the Conference…
The first papal visit to an American synagogue was another expression of your outreach to the Jewish community. Today the Presidents Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations delegation enjoys your hospitality at a trying moment in Catholic-Jewish relations. We thank you for this encounter that will help bring healing and mutual understanding.
A Holocaust survivor, Rabbi Schneier thanked the Holy Father for recent statements reiterating his support for the Jewish people and his unequivocal condemnation of anti-semitism in all its forms…
Thank you for understanding our pain and anguish and your firm statement expressing “unquestioned solidarity” with the Jewish people and condemning Holocaust denial.
Pope Benedict also fondly recalled his visit to the Park East Synagogue, which he visited last Spring just a few hours before the start of Passover.
Now, I am glad to have this opportunity to offer you hospitality here in my own home. Such meetings as this enable us to demonstrate our respect for one another. I want you to know that you are all most welcome here today in the house of Peter, the home of the Pope.
The Holy Father said the two-thousand-year history of the relationship between Judaism and the Church has passed through many different phases, some of them painful to recall.
Now that we are able to meet in a spirit of reconciliation, we must not allow past difficulties to hold us back from extending to one another the hand of friendship. Indeed, what family is there that has not been troubled by tensions of one kind or another?
The Pope said the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration Nostra Aetate marked a milestone in the journey towards reconciliation, and clearly outlined the principles that have governed the Church’s approach to Christian-Jewish relations ever since.
The Church is profoundly and irrevocably committed to reject all anti-Semitism and to continue to build good and lasting relations between our two communities.
The Pope went on to say the hatred and contempt for men, women and children that was manifested in the Shoah was a crime against God and against humanity.
It is beyond question that any denial or minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable and altogether unacceptable.
Pope Benedict XVI said the the terrible chapter in our history that was the Shoah must never be forgotten.
It is my fervent prayer that the memory of this appalling crime will strengthen our determination to heal the wounds that for too long have sullied relations between Christians and Jews. It is my heartfelt desire that the friendship we now enjoy will grow ever stronger, so that the Church’s irrevocable commitment to respectful and harmonious relations with the people of the Covenant will bear fruit in abundance.
The Holy Father also said he is preparing a trip to Israel, the land where he said the roots of our faith are found. RealAudioMP3

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