(PRWEB) April 4, 2005
By Sr. Margherita Marchione - No Pope throughout history did more than Pope John Paul II to create closer relations with the Jewish community, to oppose anti-Semitism, and to make certain that the evils of the Holocaust never occur again.
Pope John Paul II visited the Chief Rabbi at the Synagogue in Rome in 1986 and declared that "the Jews are our dearly beloved brothers," and indeed "our elder brothers in faith." He requested forgiveness for past sins by Christians against Jews. He established full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel. Relations between the Catholic Church and Jewish people are presently marked by mutual respect and understanding.
ÂPeaceÂ was the clear message John Paul II gave on March 25, 2000, the last day of his stay in Jerusalem: ÂThe honor given to the ÂJust GentilesÂ by the state of Israel at Yad Vashem for having acted heroically to save Jews, sometimes to the point of giving their own lives, is a recognition that not even in the darkest hour is every light extinguished. That is why the Psalms and the entire Bible, though well aware of the human capacity for evil, also proclaims that evil will not have the last word.Â
The Pontiff assured the Jewish people that the Catholic Church was motivated by the Gospel law of truth and love, and was deeply saddened by the displays of anti-Semitism. The Catholic Church rejects racism in any form as a denial of the image of the Creator inherent in every human being.
ÂJews and Christians share an immense spiritual patrimony, flowing from GodÂs self-revelation. Our religious teachings and our spiritual experience demand that we overcome evil with good. We remember, but not with any desire for vengeance or as an incentive to hatred. For us, to remember is to pray for peace and justice, and to commit ourselves to their cause. Only a world at peace, with justice for all, can avoid repeating the mistakes and terrible crimes of the past.Â
Like that of his predecessors, throughout his pontificate, the voice of Pope John Paul II has been heard again and again as he pleaded for courageous workers willing to serve and suffer, in the footsteps of Christ, for peace. On Palm Sunday, March 28, 1999, he declared to a crowd in St. PeterÂs Square: ÂThe Pope stands with the people who suffer, and cries out to all: it is always time for peace! It is never too late to meet and negotiate!Â In his Easter message, he pleaded: ÂPeace is possible, peace is a duty, peace is a prime responsibility of everyone!Â On May 3, he stated: ÂI raise my voice again, in the name of God, that this attack of man against man come to an end, that the instruments of destruction and death be stopped, that all channels of aid be activated to help those who are forced to flee their land amid unspeakable atrocitiesÂ Â
When Pope John Paul II visited the United States in January, 1999, he stated: ÂIf you want Peace, work for Justice. If you want Justice, defend Life. If you want Life, embrace the TruthÂthe Truth revealed by God.Â No Pope throughout history did more than Pope John Paul II to create closer relations with the Jewish community, to oppose anti-Semitism, and to make certain that the evils of the Holocaust never occur again.
A survivor of both Nazi and Communist oppression himself, John Paul II has consistently praised Pope Pius XII for his heroic leadership during World War II. In fact, he defended Pius XII during a meeting with Jewish leaders in 1987, recalling Âhow deeply he felt about the tragedy of the Jewish people, and how hard and effectively he worked to assist them during the Second World War,Â and led the cause for his canonization.
Catholic apologetics must address the subject of Pope Pius XII and the Jewish Holocaust. To promote the Truth, Jews and Catholics should join forces. Relations between the Catholic Church and Jewish people are presently marked by mutual respect and understanding.
An historian of the highest caliber, Sister Marchione is a member of the Religious Teachers Filippini and holds a Ph.D from Columbia University, was a Fulbright scholar, and author of more than 50 books.
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