VATICAN CITY, JAN. 29, 2002 ( In a message sent to the first meeting of European leaders of Judaism and Catholicism, John Paul II urged a new push in relations between the two religions.

The two-day initiative in Paris ended today. Organized by the European Jewish Council, its motto was "After Vatican Council II: The Furthering Relations Between Jews and Catholics Under the Pontificate of John Paul II."

In his message, the Bishop of Rome applauded the spirit of the summit, which he regarded as a continuation of religious leaders´ Day of Prayer for Peace, held in Assisi last Thursday.

"Following the painful events that have marked the history of Europe, especially during the 20th century, it is wise to give new impulse to our relations, so that the religious tradition that has inspired the culture and life of the Continent, will continue to be part of its soul," the papal message states.

The Holy Father´s letter was read at the opening meeting in the Paris Town Hall by Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.

"It corresponds to us to transmit our riches and common values to the new generations so that man will never again despise his brother in humanity and wars and conflicts will never again be unleashed in the name of an ideology that despises a culture or religion," the Pope explains.

"On the contrary, the different religious traditions are called to place their patrimony at the service of all, in the hope of building the common European home together, in justice, peace, equality and solidarity," John Paul II adds.

"Jews and Christians maintain special relations. The message that comes to us from the God of the Covenant with Moses, the patriarchs and prophets, belongs to our common patrimony and calls us to collaborate together," the message continues, which was warmly received by the Jewish leaders at the Paris meeting.

John Paul II proposed the Second Vatican Council declaration "Nostra Aetate" as the compass for future relations between Catholic and Jews.