Vatican City (Fides Service) – On January 16 Pope John Paul II granted a private audience to Chief Rabbi of Israel Jona Metzgher, Chief Rabbi of Israel Slomo Amar and Oded Wiener, Director General of Chief Rabbinate, who have come to Rome for a special Concert for Reconciliation which will take place in the Paul VI Audience Hall on Saturday 17.
The Pope welcomed the Chief Rabbis warmly. It was the first time he received them in the Vatican. He had met them on his visit to the Holy Land in 2000 “In the twenty-five years of my Pontificate I have striven to promote Jewish-Catholic dialogue and to foster ever greater understanding, respect and cooperation between us” the Pope said and he added “Indeed, one of the highlights of my Pontificate will always remain my Jubilee Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which included intense moments of remembrance, reflection and prayer at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial and at the Wailing Wall.” He said that the official dialogue established between the Catholic Church and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel “is a sign of great hope”. And he concluded: “We must spare no effort in working together to build a world of justice, peace and reconciliation for all peoples. May Divine Providence bless our work and crown it with success!”
In their addresses the Rabbis thanked the Pope for his words in the past against anti-Judaism and for instituting the Day of Judaism in the Catholic Church. The Rabbis asked the Pope to exercise his influence to contrast the growing wave of terrorism which strikes innocent people and threatens reconciliation and they expressed concern for the grieving families of prisoners of war and soldiers who have disappeared asking him to exercise his moral influence to help them.
(S.L.) (Fides Service 16/1/2004 – lines 20; words 274)