Pope Appeals to Catholics and Jews to Work Together for Peace

Receives a Delegation of World Jewish Congress

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II received a delegation of Jewish leaders and appealed to Jews and Catholics to work together for peace in a world threatened by violence.

The Pope received 15 representatives of the World Jewish Congress and of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations at the Vatican today. The visit, he said, attests to the good relations arising between Catholics and Jews after the Second Vatican Council.

«Even if today’s world is often marked by violence, repression and exploitation, these realities do not represent the last word about our human destiny,» the Holy Father said in his address. «God promises a new heaven and a new earth.»

«We know that God will wipe away all tears, and that mourning and pain will be no more. Jews and Christians believe that our lives are a journey towards the fulfillment of God’s promises,» he said.

«In light of the rich common religious heritage we share, we can consider the present as a challenging opportunity for joint endeavors of peace and justice in our world,» he continued.

John Paul II added that the «defense of the dignity of every human being made in the image and likeness of God, is a cause which must engage all believers. This sort of practical cooperation between Christians and Jews requires courage and vision, as well as trust that it is God who brings forth good from our efforts.»

Before concluding, the Pope encouraged the Jewish organizations to continue with their «commitment to bring help to suffering children in Argentina,» afflicted by the consequences of the country’s economic crisis.

After the audience, the Jewish representatives said that the meeting with the Holy Father helped to promote dialogue, especially touching the ongoing controversy over Pope Pius XII’s role during World War II.

World Jewish Congress chairman Israel Singer said they were seeing eye to eye on the archives issue. «I wouldn’t normally say this, but we agreed on everything,» he told Reuters.

Before the audience the Jewish leaders said that they now have a better appreciation of the complexities involved in opening the Vatican archives and did not want the issue to block progress on interfaith dialogue.

Since Feb. 15, researchers have access to the correspondence between the Holy See’s nunciatures in Munich and Berlin, contained in the archives of the Vatican Secretariat of State, and in the Vatican Archives for the period of Pius XI’s pontificate, 1922 to 1939.

These documents are of great interest because they cover Eugenio Pacelli’s work, first as apostolic nuncio in Germany, and then as Vatican secretary of state. In 1939 he became Pope Pius XII.

Historians examining this material are discovering aspects of Pacelli’s assistance to Jews and his instructions to the Nazi government to desist from persecuting Jews.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2005, the Vatican will open the archives that cover relations with Germany during Pius XI’s pontificate.

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