.- During his first audience with Jewish leaders, Pope Benedict XVI assured on Thursday that the Catholic Church remained fully committed to continued dialogue with the Jewish community and to fighting anti-Semitism. This morning ,Pope Benedict welcomed a high-level delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Inter-religious Consultations (IJCIC), noting that the meeting "takes place during this year which marks the fortieth anniversary of the Declaration 'Nostra Aetate' of the Second Vatican Council, whose teaching has served as the basis of the Church's relationship with the Jewish people since then."
He remarked that "the Council affirmed the Church's conviction that ... the beginnings of her faith are already to be found in Abraham, Moses and the prophets" and it "called for greater mutual understanding and esteem between Christians and Jews and deplored all manifestations of hatred, persecution and anti-Semitism".
"At the very beginning of my pontificate, “he added, “I wish to assure you that the Church remains firmly committed, in her catechesis and in every aspect of her life, to implementing this decisive teaching."
"The history of relations between our two communities has been complex and often painful, " the Holy Father acknowledged, "yet I am convinced that the 'spiritual patrimony' treasured by Christian and Jews will lead to 'a future of hope'. "
"At the same time, remembrance of the past remains for both communities a moral imperative and a source of purification in our efforts to pray and work for reconciliation, justice, respect for human dignity and for that peace which is ultimately a gift from the Lord himself. "
"Of its very nature,” he added, “this imperative must include a continued reflection on the profound historical, moral and theological questions presented by the experience of the Shoah."
"After this meeting, we are confident that under the leadership of Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church will continue to build upon its growing relations with the Jewish community," said Edgar M. Bronfman, President of the World Jewish Congress.
"For many years, then Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, provided the theological framework for the changes that took place between the Church and the Jewish people during the reign of Pope John Paul II," said Rabbi Israel Singer, Chairman of the World Jewish Congress.
"Together, we have provided aid to the destitute in Argentina, cared for Holocaust-era mass graves in Eastern Europe, and now we pledge to work together to bring much needed relief and education to Africa, a continent suffering from the plague of AIDS," he said, speaking of the joint humanitarian initiatives undertaken by the Church and the Jewish community.