Pope's visit to Roman synagogue confirmed

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI

.- Despite the negative reactions from some members of the Jewish community following his recent declaration of Pope Pius XII as Venerable, Pope Benedict XVI will pay a visit to the synagogue of Rome. The visit has been confirmed by the Jewish community of Rome for January 17.

The visit will take place at the Tempio Maggiore synagogue in Rome as part of a series of encounters between Jews and Catholics aimed at developing and reinforcing the relationship between members of the two faiths.

Riccardo Di Segni, Cheif Rabbi of Rome, said it will be an "event fundamental for dialogue."

President of all Italian Jewish communities, Renzo Gattegna, called it a "welcome and significant visit" and expressed his "wish and hope that the future holds always greater comprehension, friendship and fraternity for our communities."

Questions about the visit taking place surfaced when members of the Jewish community protested Pope Benedict's Dec. 19 declaration recognizing the "heroic virtue" of Pope Pius XII, a move that advances his process of beatification.

The issue has not lost momentum among Jews in the Italian capital, but it appears that it will not be an obstacle to the papal visit this month.

The date of the encounter is particularly significant to Roman Jews as it coincides with the commemoration of Mo'ed di Piombo (Leaden Mo'ed), the day in 1793 that a fortuitous storm put out fires started by anti-Semites in the Jewish ghetto of Rome.  Celebrations continue to have great meaning for the community as a remembrance of their will to survive persecution and anti-Semitism.

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