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Photo: Reuters
Israelis praise Pope John Paul II
Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters
Sharon: friend of the Jewish people
Photo: Reuters
Metzger: great innovator
Photo: Government Press Office
Israel and Jewish world mourn Pope
Pope John Paul II hailed as friend of Jewish people who fought anti-Semitism and encouraged peace; Sharon: Pope said Israel is holy to many but promised to the Jews
JERUSALEM - Israeli religious and political leaders praised Pope John Paul II on Sunday as a principled leader whose leadership helped bring Jews and Catholics together and recalled his visit to the Jewish State in 2000.
 
"(The Pope was) a man of peace, a friend of the Jewish people and pushed forward a historical reconciliation between Israel and the Vatican," said Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "The world has lost one of the most important leaders of our time."
 
Sharon added that he had once met with the Pope, and said he told him that "the land of Israel is holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims but was promised only to the Jews."
 
Meanwhile, it was decided to set up a special committee tasked with commemorating the Pope in Israel, in light of his efforts to bring Jews and Christians together.

 

The Tourism Ministry is also set to distribute a DVD and a booklet with photos of the Pope’s visit to Israel in 2000 among priests and churches around the world.

 

The Pontiff had traveled to Israel on a millennium pilgrimage, where he met with survivors of the Nazi Holocaust at the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem and put a prayer note into the Western Wall.
 

President Moshe Katsav said the late Pontiff “blazed new trails in the name of reconciliation and brotherhood between peoples and religions. 

 

Vice Premier Shimon Peres said the Pope was a “true spiritual leader, whose leadership was not limited to his own followers.”

 

“John Paul II represented the very best that mankind has to offer,” Peres said. “His abilities and personality allowed him to transcend the Catholic dogma to represent the universal partnership of all mankind. In every step he took and every place he went, he tried to encourage peace and brotherly love.”  

 

The Anti-Defamation League said that the Pontiff always defended the Jews, even before he became Pope.

 

"In word and deed, John Paul II worked tirelessly to repair the Church's painful 2,000 year history with the Jewish people," the group said in a statement.

 

Rabbi Lau: One of the "most pro-Jewish" Popes 

 

Former Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau said “With the exception of John XXIII, there has never been as pro-Jewish a Pope as John Paul II. In addition to his contribution to the fall of communism and the crumbling of the iron curtain—something that allowed hundreds of thousands of Jews to return to their heritage and even come to Israel - we must remember that the Pope contributed to combating anti-Semitism in 120 countries he visited.”

 

Current Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger told Ynetnews: “John Paul II was an innovator with regard to his relations with the Jewish people.”

 

He said the Pope’s 1986 visit to the Great Synagogue in Rome was “historic”, and said that since then, Italian schoolchildren have been required to visit the Jewish museum and to learn what a synagogue is.

 

"He was a Pope for the ages," the U.S. Union for Orthodox Jewish Congregations said. "We fervently hope that the good will between the Jewish and Catholic communities that was engendered by the historic steps taken by Pope John Paul II will resonate among us in perpetuity and that his memory will be a constant inspiration for world peace and harmony."

 


First published: 03.04.05, 10:13
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