John Paul II, Pope
Brasile 14/10/1991It is particularly satisfying for me to be able to greet Rabbi Henry Sobel, and the other representatives of the Jewish community of Brazil. I thank you from the depth of my heart for the great courtesy you have shown in arranging this meeting. I am deeply moved by your gracious gesture in giving me this beautiful present.
I perceive in it a genuine expression, truly symbolic, of the links which exist between the Catholic Church of Brazil and your Jewish Community.
But over and above this gesture Divine Providence decreed that this historic moment, this meeting, should strengthen the spirit of brotherhood and esteem which is founded not only on mutual respect, but on unity of faith in the one true God.
Today, twenty years after the Second Vatican Council, the Declaration Nostra Aetate still shows the radical transformation in Jewish-Christian Relations. My hope, therefore, is that this dialogue will grow ever stronger reinforced by the Word of God. The latter, received in our hearts with genuine desire to render it more effective in our lives, opens our eyes to recognise in all our brothers the face of the one Creator God. Sharing together with common veneration, much of Sacred Scripture, we must be united in receiving it, in reflecting upon it and putting it into practice in the service of all, especially those most in need.
Inter-religious dialogue invites all local churches, among them the Brazilian church, constantly to renew efforts to move away from certain preconceived ideas which still persist in many places. We have to show, faced by today's world where faith is subjected to many severe tests, the profound truths of faith in our God and Lord who, in this way must become known and loved by all who believe in him. In worshipping the one, true God, we discover our true spiritual roots — this awareness is really the closest link uniting Christians with the Jewish people. This common root likewise makes us love this people because, as the Bible says "The Lord loved Israel for ever". (1 Kings 10:9) God has established with her a covenant which has never been broken, placing in her the messianic hopes of the whole human race.
I am happy to know that, thanks to the National Commission for Catholic-Jewish dialogue, our contacts and collaboration have become much deeper in Brazil in recent years. The Commission includes Catholic and Jewish members in all the main States of the Federation and possibly will extend in future to other towns. I hope this dialogue will continue to be the means of building up mutual esteem and appreciation of the spiritual inheritance which draws together Jews and Christians. From my heart I bless all the efforts made towards this end.
I express my desires and raise my prayers to the Lord for peace in the entire world, especially in that Holy Land to which I extend this greeting. May our Jewish brothers who have been "brought out from the peoples, and gathered from the countries, and brought into their own !and" (Ez. 34/13) the !and of their fathers, live in peace and security on the mountains of Israel under the protection of God their true Shepherd.
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