Jerusalem rabbi notes positive Jewish reaction to election of Benedict XVI

The Rabbi of Jerusalem, David Rosen, a key player in Jewish-Christian dialogue in recent years, said this week the reaction of the Jewish people to the election of Pope Benedict XVI “has been positive because Benedict XVI’s attitude regarding dialogue and his condemnation of anti-Semitism have always been very clear.”

Speaking to the Italian daily Avvenire, the rabbi stated that the election of Benedict XVI is also cause for hope for everyone, and he expressed his confidence that “this Pope will continue down the path begun by John Paul II.”

Rosen says he does not see any major theological issues that need to be confronted nor does he think much more be expected since the publication of the 1998 document “We Remember.”  He indicated that his greatest hope “is that Benedict XVI would call for the teachings of Nostra Aetate and of subsequent documents to be included in Catholic education, and especially, in clergy formation programs.

Rosen recalled various meetings with the current Pontiff.  “The first time I saw him was 15 years ago, and the last was in Assisi in 2002, during the World Day of Prayer for peace.  In 1994 we organized a congress in Jerusalem which was attended by 600 Christian and Jewish leaders from around the world.”  “Cardinal Ratzinger was the keynote speaker.  I remember perfectly his first words: ‘The history of the relationship between Catholics and Jews has been full of tears and blood.  The need for reconciliation and reestablishing the relationship between them is more urgent than ever’,” he added.

Rosen also pointed out the imprimatur and important introduction Cardinal Ratzinger gave to a publication by the Pontifical Biblical Commission on the importance of the Jewish people and their scriptures for Christianity. 

“He said that since Judaism is part of the very roots of Christian faith, it is not in the same category.  This is a very interesting statement.  When I saw him the first time, 15 years ago, we talked a lot about theology.  And suddenly he said, ‘Everything that is of religious significance to you is also so to me, because you are my roots,” Rosen recalled.

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