VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II encouraged bonds of friendships between Catholics and Jews, as he received 18 delegates of the Anti-Defamation League in audience.
Today’s meeting was characterized by the moving testimony of ADL president Abraham Foxman, who told the Pope that he owed his life to a Polish Catholic woman who risked her life by forging documents to impede his being sent to Nazi concentration camps.
Foxman, who was also grateful for the help he received at the time from a Polish priest, expressed his admiration for John Paul II’s moral authority, and for all he has done for the Jews.
The ADL president said that Karol Wojtyla had defended Jews in his youth, and mentioned the Pope’s historic visit to Rome’s synagogue, as well as his tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
With these gestures, Foxman added, a “new era” has opened “in relations between Catholics and Jews after centuries of mistrust,” Vatican Radio reported.
For his part, the Pope said that “the Catholic Church and the Jewish people continue to enjoy close bonds of friendship.”
“It is my fervent prayer that men and women will work together to eradicate all forms of racism in order to build a society that promotes truth, justice, love and peace,” he said. “Upon all of you I invoke the divine gifts of strength and joy.”
The Holy Father concluded his brief address in English with his traditional wish for peace: “Shalom!”
According to the Anti-Defamation League’s charter, the organization’s immediate objective “is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people.”
The ADL’s “ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens,” the charter adds.