Visit to Synagogue Shows Dialogue Goes On, Says Aide

Vatican Spokesman Calls Pope’s Historic

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COLOGNE, Germany, AUG. 19, 2005 ( Benedict XVI’s visit to the synagogue of Cologne was «an event of extraordinary historic significance,» says a Vatican spokesman.

Joaquín Navarro Valls, director of the Vatican press office, said that it was Benedict XVI himself who decided to include the symbolic visit in his first international apostolic trip, which made him the second modern Pope to visit a synagogue. Pope John Paul II visited Rome’s synagogue in 1986.

The Vatican spokesman mentioned the difficulties that arose in July, when representatives of the Israeli government accused John Paul II and Benedict XVI publicly of not having condemned terrorist attacks against Jews.

The Holy See reacted in a long communiqué which cited John Paul II’s numerous pronouncements against such terrorist acts, and Benedict XVI’s condemnation of all such acts of violence.

«This incident has been clarified, but it is important to make a distinction between an incident at the diplomatic level and one at the level of interreligious relations,» Navarro Valls said.

«The images of the Pope in the synagogue show that the dialogue is not closed,» he stated.

In regard to Benedict XVI’s future international trips, his spokesman commented that «for the time being, there are no other trips on the agenda, though the Pope has received many invitations. This does not mean, however, that within a span of time the agenda might be full.»

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