AJC Interreligious Affairs Director Leads International Jewish Meeting with Pope

November 1, 2008 - Rome - Rabbi David Rosen, international director of interreligious affairs for the American Jewish Committee (AJC), led an international Jewish delegation that met with Pope Benedict at the Vatican to discuss critical current issues in Catholic-Jewish relations. Beatification of Pope Pius XII and opening the Vatican archives covering the World War II period topped the agenda.

The Pope told one of the participants that he would "seriously consider delaying" the process of beatification of Pope Pius XII, said Rabbi Rosen, who headed the delegation in his capacity as president of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC).

While a Vatican official later remarked that the Pope's comments did not indicate any commitment, Rabbi Rosen said the exchange with Benedict was open and warm. "What the Pope was saying is he understands the complexities and sensitivities of the Jewish people," said Rosen.

Addressing the Pope on behalf of international Jewry, Rabbi Rosen pressed for the opening of the archives.

Recognizing that some Christians saved many Jews during the Holocaust, Rosen reiterated "our respectful call for full and transparent access of scholars to all archival material from that period, so that assessments regarding actions and policies during this tragic period may have the credibility they deserve both within our respective communities and beyond.”

Rosen, who was the first person to be made a Papal Knight Commander by Pope Benedict and is the only Israeli and Orthodox rabbi to be so honored by the Vatican, expressed solidarity with Christians facing brutal violence and persecution in different parts of the world, for which the Pope expressed his deep gratitude.”

AJC remains hopeful that any decision regarding beatification of Pope Pius XII will await the full opening of the archives and their examination by independent scholars.

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