Jewish leaders have expressed their confidence in Pope Benedict XVI, saying that the first two weeks of his papacy show “good signs” that he will continue the work of Pope John Paul II regarding Jewish-Christian relations.
“Clearly, Benedict has gone out of his way to demonstrate that his commitment to Catholic-Jewish relations is as strong, if not stronger, than his predecessor,” Rabbi David Rosen, director of Interreligious Affairs for the American Jewish Committee, told Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a May 5 article.
Leaders noted that Pope Benedict first expressed his commitment the day after he was elected. He wrote to Rome’s Chief Rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, and other Jewish leaders, inviting them to his papal inauguration and pledging to further Jewish-Catholic relations.
Four days later, during his homily at the inaugural mass, Pope Benedict singled out the Jews for recognition.
When Pope Benedict served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he had expressed his view that the Church’s relationship with Judaism is different from relationships with other religions, Rosen told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
“He sees Judaism as the authentic foundation of the Church,” he said.
Rosen noted that the writings of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger address the responsibility of Christians — “if not the responsibility of the Church itself” — for anti-Semitism and the Holocaust.
David Kertzer of Brown University agreed that Pope Benedict’s communication with Jewish leaders early in his papacy was “a good sign.”
The report said Jewish leaders would watch for signs about the future of Jewish-Catholic relations this fall, with celebrations of the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, the Vatican II document that rejected all forms of anti-Semitism and the charge that God punishes the Jewish people for Jesus’ death.