Remarks During Meeting With Israel's Chief Rabbis

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Pope John Paul II

Città del Vaticano       23/03/2000

"I have always wanted to be counted among those who work on both sides to overcome old prejudices and to secure ever wider and fuller recognition of the spiritual patrimony shared by Jews and Christians," Pope John Paul II said March 23 in brief formal remarks during a meeting with Israel's leading rabbis at the ceremonial offices of the chief rabbinate. "We hope that the Jewish people will acknowledge that the church utterly condemns anti-Semitism and every form of racism as being altogether opposed to the principles of Christianity," he said. During the meeting attended by numerous rabbis, the pope, Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, a native of Poland and a Holocaust survivor, and Chief Sephardic Rabbi Eliahu Bakshi-Doron also met privately for 15 minutes in the rabbinate's library. At the conclusion of the event, the chief rabbis presented the pope with a copy of the Jerusalem Bible, inscribed with the words: "A souvenir of the historical visit of Pope John Paul II in the holy city of Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, and the meeting with the chief rabbis of Israel.'' The pope's remarks to the meeting follow.
It is with deep respect that I visit you here today and thank you for receiving me at Hechal Shlomo. Truly this is a uniquely significant meeting which - I hope and pray - will lead to increasing contacts between Christians and Jews, aimed at achieving an ever deeper understanding of the historical and theological relationship between our respective religious heritages.

Personally, I have always wanted to be counted among those who work on both sides to overcome old prejudices and to secure ever wider and fuller recognition of the spiritual patrimony shared by Jews and Christians. I repeat what I said on the occasion of my visit to the Jewish community in Rome, that we Christians recognize that the Jewish religious heritage is intrinsic to our own faith: "You are our elder brothers" (cf. address at the Synagogue of Rome, April 13, 1986, 4). We hope that the Jewish people will acknowledge that the church utterly condemns anti-Semitism and every form of racism as being altogether opposed to the principles of Christianity. We must work together to build a future in which there will be no more anti-Judaism among Christians or anti-Christian sentiment among Jews.

There is much that we have in common. There is so much that we can do together for peace, for justice, for a more human and fraternal world. May the Lord of heaven and earth lead us to a new and fruitful era of mutual respect and cooperation for the benefit of all! Thank you.

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