AJC Calls Papal Apology

March 13, 2003

AJC Calls Papal Apology

March 13, 2000 -  NEW YORK -- The American Jewish Committee welcomes the formal call for forgiveness issued yesterday in Rome by Pope John Paul II, calling it a potential milestone in Catholic-Jewish relations.

"While we were disappointed that there was no specific mention of the Holocaust, we are hopeful that the Pope's words will be quickly translated into concrete programs," said Rabbi A. James Rudin, AJC's Interreligious Affairs Director. "This is especially important in the vital areas of teaching, preaching, liturgy and all other forms of Church life."

Rabbi Rudin continued: "The Pope's deeply personal words of regret represent a potentially historic milestone in the Roman Catholic Church's effort to eradicate anti-Semitism from its midst and to confront the errors of the past."

Since he became the Pope in , John Paul II has vigorously opposed anti-Semitism and has been at the forefront of building mutual respect and understanding between Catholics and Jews. In he declared that the Holocaust "remains an indelible stain on the history of the [th] century." He has repeatedly condemned anti-Semitism, labeling it a "sin" against God and humanity, and in the Pope spearheaded the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the State of Israel.

Coming just a week before his visit to Israel, John Paul's call for forgiveness is a timely reminder of the Church's long and often troubled relationship to Jews and Judaism and his efforts to overcome that painful past.

"The American Jewish Committee looks forward to working cooperatively with the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the world in strengthening positive and constructive relations between our two faith communities," Rabbi Rudin said.

Contact: Kenneth Bandler (212) 891-6771 PR@ajc.org


        Lisa Fingeret Roth (212) 891-1385 rothl@ajc.org
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