Jewish Representative's Words of Gratitude to John Paul II

«Reconciliatory Acts Have Been a Hallmark of Your Pontificate»

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2005 ( Here is the greeting addressed to John Paul II today by Gary Krupp, president and founder of the Pave the Way Foundation, on behalf of some 160 rabbis and Jewish representatives, who were received in audience.

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Your Holiness:

We are a group of people who represent a cross section of Judaism, who have traveled here with the blessings of millions of our faith in order to thank you.

Soon after your ascension to the throne of St. Peter, you made a telling trip to Auschwitz in order to pay homage to victims of the Holocaust. You have defended the Jewish people at every opportunity, as a priest in Poland and during your twenty-six year pontificate. You have denounced anti-Semitism as a «sin against God and humanity.» This tone of reconciliation has been the corner stone of your papacy and its relations with the Jewish people.

On April 13, 1986, you became the first Pope since St. Peter to visit a synagogue. Upon presenting his credentials to you in June 2003, Israeli Ambassador Odded Ben-Hur expressed this enormous gesture best when he said, «On that day you took upon your shoulders the 2000-year-old Church, back to the first century synagogue of Capernaum, where Jesus used to pray, thus closing an historic circle.»

You moved the Holy See to initiate the process of normalizing of diplomatic relations with the State of Israel in 1992, the beloved biblical homeland of the Jewish people, symbolically acknowledging the existence of Eretz Ysrael yesterday, today, and forever.

Your pilgrimage to Israel and the Holy Land on March 21, 2000, was immortalized in the hearts and minds of the Jewish people around the world, when you placed your prayer asking for forgiveness in the Western Wall.

Your solemn remarks during your visit to the Hall of Remembrance, Yad Vashem, profoundly moved us and touched our hearts.

It is impossible to describe the emotional impact these milestones have had on Jews worldwide. Your Holiness, these reconciliatory acts have, in fact, been a hallmark of your pontificate as you have also tried to repair the ancient rifts in all of the religions in the world.

The Jewish Ethics of the Fathers beautifully captures, in verse, the love you have exhibited for all humanity. Rabbi Hillel says: «Be among the disciples of Aaron, by being a lover of peace, a pursuer of peace, a lover of all humanity and bringing them closer to religion.»

For your acts of love of all humankind and your implacable pursuit of peace and reconciliation of all faiths, Your Holiness truly is the personification of these ideals and spirit of Aaron, the high priest of ancient Israel.

In closing, you have referred to us, the children of Abraham, as your beloved elder brothers. My prayerful wish is that Jews, Christians, and Muslims, the three children of Abraham, may soon bond together in one common cause and voice to defend all humanity against those who defame God by committing wanton acts of violence in his holy name.

Your Holiness, thank you, thank you, thank you. Shalom, Shalom, Shalom.

[Original English text]

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