Sunday, May 15, 2005

The right noises

Say what you will about his past, the new Pope is certainly making an effort to reach out to the Jewish community:
Pope Benedict XVI has told the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican he intends to visit the main synagogue in Cologne, Germany, in August, becoming the second pontiff in history to visit a Jewish place of worship... The pope is planning to make the visit to the synagogue during a planned trip to Cologne for World Youth Day in August.
This, after he invited Rome's chief rabbi to his April 24 installation Mass and made specific mention of "a great shared spiritual heritage" with Jews, and sent a letter of birthday greetings to the former chief rabbi of Rome who received John Paul during his 1986 visit, saying Catholics and Jews can continue dialogue and look with "confidence" toward the future.
These may be repeats of gestures the previous Pope already made, but they do signal that he is serious about keeping up with the spirit of reconciliation with the Jewish community and has the Jewish community high up on his agenda already at this early stage. He is making all the right noises. The question, which there is probably still plenty of time to settle, is whether we will see anything beyond symbolic gestures during his pontificate.

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