Israel’s and Britain’s chief rabbis as well as the World Jewish Congress praised Pope Benedict XVI Monday following his surprise announcement that he is stepping down at the end of the month.
“During his period (as pope), there were the best relations ever between the church and the chief rabbinate and we hope that this trend will continue,” said a spokesman for Israeli chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger “I think he deserves a lot of credit for advancing inter-religious links the world over between Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”
The pope angered Jews in 2009 when he refused to enter the Yad VaShem Holocaust Museum and Memorial because of a negative depiction of Pope Pius XII.
Britain’s Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who welcomed the pope in Britain two years ago, said, “I saw him to be a man of gentleness, of quiet and of calm, a deeply thoughtful and compassionate individual who carried with him an aura of grace and wisdom. I wish him good health, blessings and best wishes for the future.”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder stated, “The papacy of Benedict XVI elevated Catholic-Jewish relations onto an unprecedented level.”