Nisan 30, 5765
ROME - Pope Benedict XVI
said yesterday that Roman Catholics and Jews could continue dialogue and
look with "confidence" toward the future.
Benedict made the comments in a note prepared for the 90th birthday of Elio Toaff, the former chief rabbi of Rome who welcomed Pope John Paul II on a historic visit to Rome's synagogue in 1986.
Benedict also thanked Toaff for his work toward forging good relations between Jews and Catholics, and said he remembered "with joy" Toaff's reception of John Paul at Rome's synagogue in 1986.
The pope's note was delivered to Toaff at birthday celebrations in Rome by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who leads the Vatican's office for relations with Jews, officials said.
Toaff said at the celebrations that he hoped ties between Roman Catholics and Jews would continue under the new pope, calling John Paul's 1986 visit one of the "signals that have carried on reinforcing themselves, and that I hope will continue with his successor Benedict XVI."
Toaff was one of only two living people mentioned in John Paul's will, along with the late pope's private secretary.
"I have always believed that I was an intermediary between the various religions because whoever believes in God has a relationship with all those who think in the same way," Toaff was quoted as saying.
Jews widely admired John Paul II for his unstinting efforts to promote Jewish-Catholic reconciliation, including his ground-breaking visit to Rome's main synagogue in 1986 and his 2000 visit to Israel.