web analytics
July 7, 2015 / 20 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Home » News & Views

Benedict’s Papacy: Close Jewish Relations With Occasional Serious Bumps

Pope Benedict XVI in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial during a visit to Israel in May 2009. The pope announced this week that he would resign at the end of the month.

Pope Benedict XVI in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial during a visit to Israel in May 2009. The pope announced this week that he would resign at the end of the month.

ROME – Pope Benedict XVI’s eight-year reign as head of the world’s 1 billion Catholics sometimes was a bumpy one for the Vatican’s relations with Israel and the wider Jewish community. But it was also a period in which relations were consolidated and fervent pledges made to continue interfaith dialogue and bilateral cooperation.

Both elements were evident in the tributes that flowed from Jewish leaders following the surprise announcement Monday that due to his advanced age and weakening health, Benedict would step down on Feb. 28.

“There were bumps in the road during this papacy,” Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement. “But he listened to our concerns and tried to address them, which shows how close our two communities have become in the last half century and how much more work we need to do together to help repair a broken world.”

The German-born Benedict, 85, is the first pope to resign since the 15th century. He announced his decision at a meeting of cardinals at the Vatican.

The pope’s brother told the German news agency DPA that Benedict had been weighing the decision for months. Still, his resignation came as a shock.

“There were moments of divergence, inevitable because of the essential and irreconcilable differences between the two worlds,” said Riccardo Di Segni, the chief rabbi of Rome. “But there was always a positive will to compare and construct.” Under Benedict’s leadership, the Vatican “has been a clear voice against racism and anti-Semitism and a clear voice for peace,” Israeli President Shimon Peres said in a statement. “Relations between Israel and the Vatican are the best they have ever been, and the positive dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people is a testament to his belief in dialogue and cooperation.”

Less than two weeks earlier, in fact, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, had said that after years of fitful negotiations, Israel and the Vatican were “on the verge” of resolving outstanding bilateral issues and finalizing the Fundamental Agreement governing relations between the two states.

Benedict was elected pontiff in April 2005 following the death of Polish-born Pope John Paul II. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he had been a close friend and adviser to the charismatic John Paul II, who had made fostering better relations with the Jews a cornerstone of his nearly 27-year papacy.

“For Jews and Israel, Benedict’s papacy has meant a consolidation and confirmation of the developments and achievements during John Paul II’s papacy,” Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s international director of interreligious affairs, told JTA.

Benedict’s own personal history also helped shape this commitment. Born in Bavaria, he grew up in an anti-Nazi Catholic family but, like all teenagers, was obligated to join the Hitler Youth organization and was conscripted into the German army. Eventually he deserted.

As pope, Benedict met frequently with Jewish groups and visited synagogues in several countries. His first trip abroad as pontiff was to his native Germany, where he made a point of visiting the synagogue in Cologne and issued a strong condemnation of anti-Semitism and “the insane racist ideology” that led to the Holocaust. The visit marked only the second time a pope had visited a synagogue. Benedict later visited synagogues in Rome and New York.

He also confronted his troubled past in Poland in 2006 when he visited Auschwitz and, declaring himself “a son of Germany,” prayed for victims of the Holocaust, as well as on a pilgrimage to Israel in 2009 when he visited Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and met with Holocaust survivors.

As a young theologian in the 1960s, Benedict attended the Second Vatican Council, which aimed to liberalize the Church. In 1965, the council promulgated the Nostra Aetate declaration that opened the way to Catholic-Jewish dialogue. Benedict repeatedly reaffirmed commitment to Nostra Aetate’s teachings. Still, several issues that emerged during his tenure called that commitment into question, casting a shadow over Catholic-Jewish relations.

These included the revival of a pre-Vatican II Good Friday Latin prayer that called for the conversion of Jews, moving the Holocaust-era Pope Pius XII one step closer to sainthood and reaching out to a breakaway group, the Society of St. Pius X, in an effort to bring it back into the mainstream Catholic fold. In doing so, Benedict revoked the excommunication of four of the movement’s bishops, one of whom turned out to be a Holocaust denier.

Vatican officials said a conclave of cardinals will be convened in March to elect a new pope. But there is no clear indication as to who might be picked, or from what country or continent he might come. Vatican observers said that since all the cardinals eligible to vote for a new pope had been appointed either by John Paul II or Benedict, whoever is elected would probably follow similar overall policies.

Like John Paul II, Benedict is a doctrinal conservative, staunchly opposed to female priests, gay marriage, abortion, birth control and divorce.

The next pope will have to deal with fallout from scandals that tainted Benedict’s reign, from continuing accusations of sex abuse by priests to a security breach that saw Benedict’s butler leaking the pope’s private papers to a reporter. It remains to be seen, however, whether fostering Jewish-Catholic relations will receive less attention under a younger and possibly non-European pope without the historic memory of the Holocaust and Vatican II.

(JTA)

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Benedict’s Papacy: Close Jewish Relations With Occasional Serious Bumps”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Russia Steps Up in U.S.-led Nuclear Talks with Iran
Latest News Stories
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Russian FM Lavrov met in Vienna with Iran’s Zarif in an unsuccessful bid to break a deadlock in nuclear talks.

Israeli Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel  takes in the annual cherry picking festival at kibbutz Rosh Tzurim in Gush Etzion.

When it comes down to it, it’s really about the milk. Minister Ariel just cut the price by nearly 5 percent.

Oketz is the IDF elite canine unit, trained to operate in every combat contingency.

The IDF plans to form a new elite commando unit.

Right to Left: Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe "Boogie" Ya'alon, Knesset Chairman Yuli Edelstein, President Reuven Rivlin, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife Sarah, Israeli Minister Ofir Akunis and Chairman of the Zionist Camp Party, Isaac Hertzog attend a ceremony marking one year since Operation Protective Edge at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in Jerusalem.

Israeli leaders and families of fallen IDF soldiers gather to mark one year since Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.

Tel Aviv has closed a deal to build its Light Rail with a Chinese firm that is doing business with Iran.

F.A.O. Schwarz is closing its iconic flagship store on NYC’s Fifth Avenue due to rising rent prices.

Some Chareidi Jews wore sackcloth (and probably ashes) yesterday, while praying at the Kotel on the 17th of Tammuz, a fast day.

The Shin Bet arrested six Negev Bedouin as budding members of a new ISIS terror cell.

The EU is warned that terrorists infiltrating among migrants via the Mediterranean Sea.

“Unfortunately, there are those who seek to exploit the sanctity of Ramadan, and distort its meaning in favor of … terrorism.”

In his first public comments following the tenure extension crisis, Rabbi Riskin delivered up some harsh criticism of the Chief Rabbinate.

Instead of accepting reality, the President is trying to hold on to an illusion.

He wants to show everything is “business as usual,” which everyone knows is not.

The Palestinian Authority Jawwal mobile phone company is back in business in Gaza after Hamas allowed it to resume operations following last week’s forced shutdown. Hamas claimed that Jawwal, part of the Paltel conglomerate run b one of Mahmoud Abbas’ closest confidantes, owed taxes. The terrorist organization did not explain why it was allowing Jawaal […]

Jordanian authorities seized 100 pounds of explosives carried by a member of an Iranian-backed group.

Police closed in on a ring of Israeli and Palestinian Authority Arabs who smuggled eggs and sold to supermarkets in urban centers in Israel. The gang raked in more than $2.5 million a year in the operation that stamped the eggs with forged approval. Police investigator Shai Kovnator noted, “The phenomenon of smuggling eggs from […]

More Articles from Ruth Ellen Gruber
Pope Benedict XVI in the Hall of Remembrance at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial during a visit to Israel in May 2009. The pope announced this week that he would resign at the end of the month.

ROME – Pope Benedict XVI’s eight-year reign as head of the world’s 1 billion Catholics sometimes was a bumpy one for the Vatican’s relations with Israel and the wider Jewish community. But it was also a period in which relations were consolidated and fervent pledges made to continue interfaith dialogue and bilateral cooperation.

ROME – Always uneasy, the relationship between the Vatican and the Jewish community took another sour turn recently when Pope Benedict XVI announced he was rescinding the excommunication of a bishop who denies the Holocaust.

ROME – Always uneasy, the relationship between the Vatican and the Jewish community took another sour turn recently when Pope Benedict XVI announced he was rescinding the excommunication of a bishop who denies the Holocaust.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/benedicts-papacy-close-jewish-relations-with-occasional-serious-bumps/2013/02/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: