Rome, Italy, Jan 17, 2010 / 16:47 pm
The anticipation reached a crescendo as the Holy Father entered the great Synagogue Sunday afternoon in Rome. The occasion was celebrated by kind words from all involved hoping for continued solidarity and dialogue, with only brief mention of Pope Pius XII after all.
Rome has seen a second Pope enter the Tempio Maggiore, or Great Synagogue, of Rome as Benedict XVI paid a visit to the Jewish community on Sunday afternoon. At some points of the program he was visibly moved.
Before entering the synagogue, the Pope and members the Pontifical family were met on a nearby street by the President of the Jewish Community of Rome, Riccardo Pacifici; President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Renzo Gattegna, and other members of the Jewish community. The three leaders and their retinues paid homage to Jewish Romans killed in the Holocaust in 1943 and a small child killed outside of the Tempio Maggiore in 1982. Flowers were left at monuments remembering the dead.
On their way to the synagogue, the group also made a stop to greet Rabbi Emeritus Dr. Elio Toaff, now in his mid-nineties, the man who was Chief Rabbi of Rome when Venerable Pope John Paul II visited the site in 1986. The encounter was a happy one, with Pope Benedict showing great joy at meeting the man who was held in such high esteem by his predecessor.