Second day visit of Pope Benedict XVI in Jerusalem

The two Israeli Chief Rabbis gives Pope Benedict XVI a Jewish Menora Gift

The two Israeli Chief Rabbis gives Pope Benedict XVI a Gift


Left-Right: Pope Benedict XVI shaking hand with Sephardic Chif Rabbi Shlomo Amar, Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger


Isaac Alon/IPM:       MAY 12, 2009 – This morning the Pope travelled from Temple Mount to the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall, a fifteen-metre high fragment of the wall which originally supported the western side of the esplanade of the Temple in Jerusalem.

The Chief Rabbi read a Psalm in Hebrew, and the Holy Father another in Latin. Having then stood for a few moments in silence, the Pope placed a piece of paper containing a prayer into a crevice on the wall, just as John Paul II did in 2000.

Benedict XVI then moved on to the “Hechal Shlomo” (House of Solomon) Centre, so-called because it has a form that recalls Solomon’s Temple. It is the headquarters of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel, of the Sephardi and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbis, and of the Supreme Religious Court.

In his discourse, the Pope thanked the two rabbis – Shlomo Amar and Yona Metzger – for “the desire they have expressed to continue strengthening the bonds of friendship which the Catholic Church and the Chief Rabbinate have laboured so diligently to forge over the past decades”. He also gave assurances of his own “desire to deepen mutual understanding and co-operation between the Holy See, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and Jewish people throughout the world.

“A great source of satisfaction for me since the beginning of my pontificate”, he added, “has been the fruit yielded by the ongoing dialogue between the Delegation of the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews and the Chief Rabbinate of Israel’s Delegation for Relations with the Catholic Church”.

After highlighting how goodwill on both sides “has already paved the way to more effective collaboration in public life”, he went on: “Jews and Christians alike are concerned to ensure respect for the sacredness of human life, the centrality of the family, a sound education for the young, and the freedom of religion and conscience for a healthy society. These themes of dialogue represent only the initial phases of what we trust will be a steady, progressive journey towards an enhanced mutual understanding”.

“In approaching the most urgent ethical questions of our day, our two communities are challenged to engage people of good will at the level of reason, while simultaneously pointing to the religious foundations which best sustain lasting moral values”.

The Pope took the opportunity to repeat “that the Catholic Church is irrevocably committed to the path chosen at Vatican Council II for a genuine and lasting reconciliation between Christians and Jews“. At the same time “the Church continues to value the spiritual patrimony common to Christians and Jews and desires an ever deeper mutual understanding and respect through biblical and theological studies as well as fraternal dialogues”.

I am confident that our friendship will continue to set an example of trust in dialogue for Jews and Christians throughout the world. Looking at the accomplishments achieved thus far, and drawing our inspiration from the Holy Scriptures, we can confidently look forward to even stronger co-operation between our communities – together with all people of good will – in decrying hatred and oppression throughout the world”.

At the end of the ceremony in the “Hechal Shlomo” Centre, the Pope travelled to the Upper Room or Cenacle, site of the Last Supper.


~ by wherenwhen on May 12, 2009.

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