Pope recalled for building bridge with Jews and Israel
Pope John Paul II will forever be remembered, among so many other things, as the Supreme Pontiff who both brought the relationship of the Church with the Jewish people to a whole new level, and who established diplomatic relations, and signed treaties, with the State of Israel.
Franciscan Fr David Jaeger, a member of the Vatican Delegation who negotiated, on behalf of John Paul II, the 1993 Fundamental Agreement with the State of Israel, said that the impact of the Holy Father on the perception of Jews was indicated by a 2000 poll that had the majority of Israelis declaring that he was their favourite candidate for Chief Rabbi of Israel!
"In just a very few days of presence on Israel's television screens, this particular Vicar of Christ completely transformed the whole approach that the majority of the Israeli public have towards the Church and to her leaders," he said. John Paul II, in effect, introduced the Israeli public to a whole new concept of faith and religion."
"In him, the Israeli secular majority saw something new: a religious leader who was not preaching nationalism, extremism, xenophobia, violent expansion, or theocratic clericalism, but universal charity, justice, mercy, inclusion, equality, liberty for all."
The signing of the treaties, on the one hand, and the enormous good will generated by the Pope's personal presence, on the other hand, together laid a solid foundation for the new relationship between the Church and Israel, and offered great hope for the future security and effectiveness of the Catholic Church in the Jewish State.
Fr Jaeger said that with the passing of John Paul II, the "great work that he began" still remains to be completed.
The Pope, the bridge with the Jews and Israel (AsiaNews.it 3/4/05)
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4 Apr 2005