Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

AIJAC expresses sorrow at Pope's passing

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4 April 2005


The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council today expressed its sorrow at the passing of Pope John Paul II and conveyed its sincere sympathy to the Catholic World. Executive Director Dr Colin Rubenstein said, "The Pope will be remembered for his inspiring spiritual leadership in the cause of freedom and humanity. He achieved far more in terms of transforming relations with both the Jewish people and the State of Israel than any other figure in the history of the Catholic Church: he condemned antisemitism as a sin against God and humanity, acknowledging the Jews as 'our elder brothers'; in 1986 became the first Pope to attend a synagogue; and in 1993 established full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel. He has built a sound platform for further progress in the crucial area of inter-faith reconciliation and understanding."

AIJAC National Chairman Mark Leibler AC noted, "The Pope's official visit to Israel in March 2000 symbolised his outstanding achievements in advancing Catholic-Jewish relations and Christian-Jewish relations in general. On that momentous trip, he placed a note in the Western Wall asking the Jewish people for forgiveness for the crimes that have been committed against the Jews in the name of the Church, and showed great respect to the memory of Holocaust victims at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. Pope John Paul II will always be remembered with great reverence and fondness by the Jewish community."

For further information, contact AIJAC on (03) 9681 6660

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