Message from the pope on the centenary of the synagogue of Rome

Source: FSSPX News


Regretting that he was not able to be there in person at this ceremony, the pope was represented by Cardinals Camillo Ruini, vicar general of Rome, and Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and of the Commission of the Holy See for religious relations with Judaism.

In his message, read by Cardinal Ruini, the pope added: “We still have many roads to tread: that of the God of justice and peace, of mercy and reconciliation, who calls for collaboration in our contemporary world, divided by conflicts and enmity.” John Paul II paid particular attention to the situation in the Holy Land, where “the violence continues to bring bloodshed,” deploring “the overflow of innocent blood spilt by the Israelis and the Palestinians.” “Together we can do much, not only in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, but also in Rome,” continued the pope, “for those who are suffering, marginalized, for immigrants, foreigners, for the weak and the destitute. With the values of the defense of human life and the dignity of all human persons, we can intensify our fraternal cooperation in a concrete way.”

Furthermore, John Paul II was insistent on the relations between “the bishop of Rome” and the Jewish community in Rome, “the most ancient in western Europe, with a determining role in the diffusion of Judaism in the continent.” Greeting the “elder brothers” of Christians, “citizens of Rome for more than 2000 years, well before Peter and Paul arrived here,” the pope stressed the “particular role of this celebration for the religious, cultural and social life of the Italian capital.”

John Paul II, noting “the profound bonds between the Church and the synagogue”, also talked of the “relations marked by incomprehension, refusal and suffering” between the two confessions. He recalled that dialogue had long been sought, calling for a better understanding between Jews and Christians, at Vatican II and in the constitution Nostra Aetate (October 28, 1964), which laid the foundations for Judeo-catholic dialogue, founded on ecumenism and “the refusal of anti-Semitism”.

“These friendly relations, reinforced and developed, see us united in the commemoration of all the victims of the Shoah,” declared the pope, citing in particular the rounding up of Jews in Rome in 1943 and the role of Christians, “the just gentiles”, and of the Holy See, who came to their aid during the Holocaust. However, “the Church does not hesitate to condemn the absence of her children in all eras,” underlined John Paul II, recalling that the Church had asked pardon for these faults, in particular during the great Jubilee in the year 2000.

John Paul II was the first pope to visit the synagogue of Rome, on April 13, 1986.