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On March 21, 2000, His Holiness Pope John Paul II is due to arrive in Israel for a five-day pilgrimage that will take him to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and other places in Galilee associated with the birth of Christianity two millennia ago. For the pope, this will be the realization of a long-held and oft-expressed wish, and he will be warmly welcomed, not only by the Government of Israel but also - as evidenced by a recent Gallup Poll - by the people of Israel. And the reason is not hard to find:
Texts and background
This pope, more than any other before him, has taken a long series of bold steps along a path already charted, before him, by Pope John XXIII - the path of historic reconciliation with the Jewish people, on the basis of the Church's unflinching acknowledgment of its own role in paving the way, over the centuries, for what Pope John Paul II himself called "those unspeakable crimes" of the Nazi regime in the middle of the last century of the second millennium.
As the pope justly pointed out in an address at the Vatican on April 7, 1994, we must recognize that "antisemitism, xenophobia and racial hatred... were the seeds" of those Nazi crimes, and Catholics and Jews must now work together to resist "the many new manifestations" of these seeds in the world today. That was merely one of many occasions on which the pope expressed himself in these and similar terms.
Moreover, long before the Holy See dispatched its first diplomatic envoy to Israel, in 1994, Pope John Paul II gave full recognition (April 20, 1984) to Jewish nationhood, by right, in the Land of Israel:
For the Jewish people who live in the State of Israel and who preserve in that land such precious testimonies to their history and their faith, we must ask for the desired security and the due tranquillity that are the prerogative of every nation . . .
The pope comes to the Holy Land invoking the name of Jesus - and that of Father Abraham. By the very same token, he was able to make his now-famous proclamation, during his historic visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome on April 13, 1986:
With Judaism, we have a relationship that we do not have with other religions. You are our dearly beloved brothers; in a certain way, indeed, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.
Again invoking the name of our common ancestor, Pope John Paul II, writing to the Jews of Poland on the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, issued this simple yet eloquent and most meaningful appeal (as reported in L'Osservatore Romano, August 17, 1993):
As Christians and Jews, following the example of the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing to the world (cf. Gen. 12:2 ff.). This is the common task awaiting us. It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews, to be first a blessing to one another.
To which we would add but one word: Amen!
Christians and Israel - Winter 1999/2000
Visit to Israel by Pope John Paul II: Photographic Highlights
Schedule for Pope John Paul II's Visit to Israel
Foreign Ministry Spokesman statement on Papal Visit - January 12, 2000
Prime Minister Barak Welcomes Pope's Visit - January 13, 2000
Chief Rabbis' Greetings to Pope John Paul II - March 20, 2000
Welcome ceremony at airport: Address by President Weizman - March 21, 2000
Welcome ceremony at airport: Address by Pope John Paul II - March 21, 2000
Greetings by Chief Rabbis Lau and Bakshi Doron at Hechal Shlomo - March 23, 2000
Greetings by Pope John Paul II at Hechal Shlomo - March 23, 2000
Remarks by Pres Weizman following Meeting with Pope John Paul II - March 23, 2000
Remarks by Pope John Paul II at Meeting with President Weizman - March 23, 2000
Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial: Address by Prime Minister Barak - March 23, 2000
Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial: Address by Pope John Paul II - March 23, 2000
Speech by Chief Rabbi Lau at Interreligious Meeting at the Pontifical Institute, Notre Dame - March 23, 2000
Speech by Pope John Paul II at Interreligious Meeting at the Pontifical Institute, Notre Dame - March 23, 2000
Letter placed by Pope John Paul II at the Western Wall
Minister Melchior's Speech to Pope John Paul II at the Western Wall - March 26, 2000
Agreements between Israel and the Holy See
Fundamental Agreement between the State of Israel and the Holy See - December 30, 1993
Legal Personality Agreement between the State of Israel and the Holy See - November 10, 1997
Israel in Brief
Jewish Festivals in Israel
Tourist Sites of Special Interest
The Christian Communities of Israel
130,000 Christians in Israel - March 20, 2000
Christians and Israel - Winter 1999/2000
Dining in the Holy Land - 2000 Years Ago
Christians and the Return to the Promised Land - Ariel 109
Archaeological Sites in Israel No. 5: Sites of Christian Significance
Jerusalem - Christian Architecture through the Ages
The Source: A photographic exhibit
Relations between Jews and Christians throughout two millennia of history have been characterized by complexity, diversity, and strong sentiments. The ongoing dialogue between these two religions, which share common roots in the city of Jerusalem, have aroused a wide diversity of views. The articles presented here, on the occasion of the historic visit by Pope John Paul II to Israel, reflect a range of views on the subject as expressed by prominent public figures. The articles appear without comment.
The Pope Goes to Israel - by Seymour Reich
John Paul II and the Jews - by Sergio Itzhak Minerbi
Jerusalem, in Time and Eternity - by Marcel-Jacques Dubois
Nazareth: The Flower of the Galilee - by Marcel-Jacques Dubois
Bethlehem: The Star of David - by Marcel-Jacques Dubois
Bienvenido a Israel Juan Pablo II - por Rafael Eldad, Embajador de Israel en el Perú
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Lau: Pontiff's Request for Forgiveness Disappointing - March 13, 2000
The Visit of the Pope to the Holy Land - by Sergio Itzhak Minerbi
The Impact of the Papal Visit to Israel - by Rabbi David Rosen
Additional Material available at the Israel Information Center
Catholics and Jews: A New Millennium - Anti-Defamation League. Compiled by Rabbi Leon Klenicki and Rabbi David Rosen. Selected texts.
Forgiveness for 2,000 Years - Ha'aretz, March 3, 2000
Mea Culpa: The Pope Apologizes for His Church - The New York Times, March 12, 2000
Israel Information Center
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