COMMISSION FOR RELIGIOUS RELATIONS
WITH THE JEWS
WE REMEMBER: A REFLECTION ON THE SHOAH
At a press conference on March 16, 1998, Cardinal Cassidy, President of
the Holy See's Commission For Religious Relations With the Jews,
presented for publication the document, We Remember: A Reflection On
The Shoah. Joining him in the presentation were Bishop Pierre Duprey,
Vice President of the Commission, and Father Remi Hoeckmann, O.P., its
We publish here Cardinal Cassidy's presentation of the document, along
with Pope John Paul II's letter to the Cardinal about the document, and
the text itself.
Presentation by Cardinal
Edward Idris Cassidy
The Holy See has to date published, through its Commission for
Religious Relations with the Jews, two significant documents intended
for the application of the Second Vatican Council's Declaration Nostra
Aetate, n. 4: the 1974 Guidelines and Suggestions; and the 1985 Notes
on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in Preaching and
Catechesis in the Catholic Church.
Today it publishes another document, which the Holy See's Commission
for Religious Relations with the Jews has prepared at the express
request of His Holiness Pope John Paul II. This document, which
contains a reflection on the Shoah, is another step on the path marked
out by the Second Vatican Council in our relations with the Jewish
people. In the words which His Holiness wrote in his letter to me as
President of the Commission, it is our fervent hope "that the document
[...] will help to heal the wounds of past misunderstandings and
It is addressed to the Catholic faithful throughout the world, not only
in Europe where the Shoah took place, hoping that all Christians will
join their Catholic brothers and sisters in meditating on the
catastrophe which befell the Jewish people, on its causes, and on the
moral imperative to ensure that never again such a tragedy will happen.
At the same time it asks our Jewish friends to hear us with an open
On the occasion of a meeting in Rome on 31 August 1987 of
representatives of the Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations
with the Jews and of the International Jewish Committee on
Interreligious Consultations, the then President of the Holy See's
Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, Cardinal Johannes
Willebrands, announced the intention of the Commission to prepare an
official Catholic document on the Shoah. The following day, 1 September
1987, the participants in this meeting were received at Castel Gandolfo
by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, who affirmed the importance of the
proposed document for the Church and for the world. His Holiness spoke
of his personal experience in his native country and his memories of
living close to a Jewish community now destroyed. He recalled a recent
address to the Jewish community in Warsaw, in which he spoke of the
Jewish people as a force of conscience in the world today and of the
Jewish memory of the Shoah as "a warning, a witness, and a silent cry"
to all humanity. Citing the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt as a
paradigm and a continuing source of hope, His Holiness expressed his
deep conviction that, with God's help, evil can be overcome in history,
even the awesome evil of the Shoah.
We can read in the Joint Press Communiqué which was released at
that time, that the Jewish delegation warmly welcomed the initiative of
an official Catholic document on the Shoah, and expressed the
conviction that such a document will contribute significantly to
combating attempts to revise and to deny the reality of the Shoah and
to trivialize its religious significance for Christians, Jews, and
In the years following the announcement, the Holy See's Commission for
Religious Relations with the Jews engaged in a process of consciousness
raising and of reflection on several levels in the Catholic Church, and
in different places.
In the Guidelines and Suggestions for Implementing the Conciliar
Declaration Nostra Aetate, n. 4, published on 1 December 1974, the Holy
See's Commission recalled that "the step taken by the Council finds its
historical setting in circumstances deeply affected by the memory of
the persecution and massacre of Jews which took place in Europe just
before and during the Second World War". Yet, as the Guidelines pointed
out, "the problem of Jewish- Christian relations concerns the Church as
such, since it is when "pondering her own mystery" (Nostra Aetate, n.
4) that she encounters the mystery of Israel. Therefore, even in areas
where no Jewish communities exist, this remains an important problem".
Pope John Paul II himself has repeatedly called upon us to see where we
stand with regard to our relations with the Jewish people. In doing so,
"we must remember how much the balance [of these relations] over two
thousand years has been negative".2 This long period "which", in the
words of Pope John Paul II, awe must not tire of reflecting upon in
order to draw from it the appropriate lessonsÓ3 has been marked
by many manifestations of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism, and, in this
century, by the horrifying events of the Shoah.
Therefore, the Catholic Church wants all Catholics, and indeed all
people, everywhere, to know about this. It does so also with the hope
that it will help Catholics and Jews towards the realization of those
universal goals that are found in their common roots. In fact, whenever
there has been guilt on the part of Christians, this burden should be a
call to repentance. As His Holiness has put it on one occasion, "guilt
must always be the point of departure for conversion".
We are confident that all the Catholic faithful in every part of the
world will be helped by this document to discover in their relationship
with the Jewish people "the boldness of brotherhood".4
1 The letter of His Holiness is dated 12 March 1998.
2 Cf. Notes on the Correct Way to Present the Jews and Judaism in
Preaching and Catechesis in the Catholic Church (24 June 1985).
3 Speech delivered on the occasion of the visit of His Holiness to the
Synagogue of Rome (13 April 1986), 4: AAS 78 (1986), 1120.
4 Pope John Paul II in his address to the Diplomatic Corps on 15
LETTER OF POPE JOHN PAUL II
To my Venerable Brother
CARDINAL EDWARD IDRIS CASSIDY
On numerous occasions during my Pontificate I have recalled with a
sense of deep sorrow the sufferings of the Jewish people during the
Second World War. The crime which has become known as the Shoah remains
an indelible stain on the history of the century that is coming to a
As we prepare for the beginning of the Third Millennium of
Christianity, the Church is aware that the joy of a Jubilee is above
all the joy that is based on the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation
with God and neighbour. Therefore she encourages her sons and daughters
to purify their hearts, through repentance of past errors and
infidelities. She calls them to place themselves humbly before the Lord
and examine themselves on the responsibility which they too have for
the evils of our time.
It is my fervent hope that the document: We Remember: A Reflection on
the Shoah, which the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews
has prepared under your direction, will indeed help to heal the wounds
of past misunderstandings and injustices. May it enable memory to play
its necessary part in the process of shaping a future in which the
unspeakable iniquity of the Shoah will never again be possible. May the
Lord of history guide the efforts of Catholics and Jews and all men and
women of good will as they work together for a world of true respect
for the life and dignity of every human being, for all have been
created in the image and likeness of God.
From the Vatican, 12 March 1998.
JOHN PAUL II
COMMISSION FOR RELIGIOUS RELATIONS WITH THE JEWS
WE REMEMBER: A REFLECTION ON
I. The tragedy of the Shoah and the duty of remembrance
The twentieth century is fast coming to a close and a new Millennium of
the Christian era is about to dawn. The 2000th anniversary of the Birth
of Jesus Christ calls all Christians, and indeed invites all men and
women, to seek to discern in the passage of history the signs of divine
Providence at work, as well as the ways in which the image of the
Creator in man has been offended and disfigured.
This reflection concerns one of the main areas in which Catholics can
seriously take to heart the summons which Pope John Paul II has
addressed to them in his Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente:
"It is appropriate that, as the Second Millennium of Christianity draws
to a close, the Church should become more fully conscious of the
sinfulness of her children, recalling all those times in history when
they departed from the spirit of Christ and his Gospel and, instead of
offering to the world the witness of a life inspired by the values of
faith, indulged in ways of thinking and acting which were truly forms
of counter-witness and scandal".(1)
This century has witnessed an unspeakable tragedy, which can never be
forgotten: the attempt by the Nazi regime to exterminate the Jewish
people, with the consequent killing of millions of Jews. Women and men,
old and young, children and infants, for the sole reason of their
Jewish origin, were persecuted and deported. Some were killed
immediately, while others were degraded, illtreated, tortured and
utterly robbed of their human dignity, and then murdered. Very few of
those who entered the Camps survived, and those who did remained
scarred for life. This was the Shoah. It is a major fact of the history
of this century, a fact which still concerns us today.
Before this horrible genocide, which the leaders of nations and Jewish
communities themselves found hard to believe at the very moment when it
was being mercilessly put into effect, no one can remain indifferent,
least of all the Church, by reason of her very close bonds of spiritual
kinship with the Jewish people and her remembrance of the injustices of
the past. The Church's relationship to the Jewish people is unlike the
one she shares with any other religion.(2) However, it is not only a
question of recalling the past. The common future of Jews and
Christians demands that we remember, for "there is no future without
memory".(3) History itself is memoria futuri.
In addressing this reflection to our brothers and sisters of the
Catholic Church throughout the world, we ask all Christians to join us
in meditating on the catastrophe which befell the Jewish people, and on
the moral imperative to ensure that never again will selfishness and
hatred grow to the point of sowing such suffering and death.(4) Most
especially, we ask our Jewish friends, "whose terrible fate has become
a symbol of the aberrations of which man is capable when he turns
against God",(5) to hear us with open hearts.
II. What we must remember
While bearing their unique witness to the Holy One of Israel and to the
Torah, the Jewish people have suffered much at different times and in
many places. But the Shoah was certainly the worst suffering of all.
The inhumanity with which the Jews were persecuted and massacred during
this century is beyond the capacity of words to convey. All this was
done to them for the sole reason that they were Jews.
The very magnitude of the crime raises many questions. Historians,
sociologists, political philosophers, psychologists and theologians are
all trying to learn more about the reality of the Shoah and its causes.
Much scholarly study still remains to be done. But such an event cannot
be fully measured by the ordinary criteria of historical research
alone. It calls for a "moral and religious memory" and, particularly
among Christians, a very serious reflection on what gave rise to it.
The fact that the Shoah took place in Europe, that is, in countries of
long-standing Christian civilization, raises the question of the
relation between the Nazi persecution and the attitudes down the
centuries of Christians towards the Jews.
III. Relations between Jews and Christians
The history of relations between Jews and Christians is a tormented
one. His Holiness Pope John Paul II has recognized this fact in his
repeated appeals to Catholics to see where we stand with regard to our
relations with the Jewish people.(6) In effect, the balance of these
relations over two thousand years has been quite negative.(7)
At the dawn of Christianity, after the crucifixion of Jesus, there
arose disputes between the early Church and the Jewish leaders and
people who, in their devotion to the Law, on occasion violently opposed
the preachers of the Gospel and the first Christians. In the pagan
Roman Empire, Jews were legally protected by the privileges granted by
the Emperor and the authorities at first made no distinction between
Jewish and Christian communities. Soon however, Christians incurred the
persecution of the State. Later, when the Emperors themselves converted
to Christianity, they at first continued to guarantee Jewish
privileges. But Christian mobs who attacked pagan temples sometimes did
the same to synagogues, not without being influenced by certain
interpretations of the New Testament regarding the Jewish people as a
whole. "In the Christian world—I do not say on the part of the Church
as such—erroneous and unjust interpretations of the New Testament
regarding the Jewish people and their alleged culpability have
circulated for too long, engendering feelings of hostility towards this
people".(8) Such interpretations of the New Testament have been totally
and definitively rejected by the Second Vatican Council.(9)
Despite the Christian preaching of love for all, even for one's
enemies, the prevailing mentality down the centuries penalized
minorities and those who were in any way "different". Sentiments of
anti-Judaism in some Christian quarters, and the gap which existed
between the Church and the Jewish people, led to a generalized
discrimination, which ended at times in expulsions or attempts at
forced conversions. In a large part of the "Christian" world, until the
end of the 18th century, those who were not Christian did not always
enjoy a fully guaranteed juridical status. Despite that fact, Jews
throughout Christendom held on to their religious traditions and
communal customs. They were therefore looked upon with a certain
suspicion and mistrust. In times of crisis such as famine, war,
pestilence or social tensions, the Jewish minority was sometimes taken
as a scapegoat and became the victim of violence, looting, even
By the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century,
Jews generally had achieved an equal standing with other citizens in
most States and a certain number of them held influential positions in
society. But in that same historical context, notably in the 19th
century, a false and exacerbated nationalism took hold. In a climate of
eventful social change, Jews were often accused of exercising an
influence disproportionate to their numbers. Thus there began to spread
in varying degrees throughout most of Europe an anti-Judaism that was
essentially more sociological and political than religious.
At the same time, theories began to appear which denied the unity of
the human race, affirming an original diversity of races. In the 20th
century, National Socialism in Germany used these ideas as a
pseudo-scientific basis for a distinction between so called
Nordic-Aryan races and supposedly inferior races. Furthermore, an
extremist form of nationalism was heightened in Germany by the defeat
of 1918 and the demanding conditions imposed by the victors, with the
consequence that many saw in National Socialism a solution to their
country's problems and cooperated politically with this movement.
The Church in Germany replied by condemning racism. The condemnation
first appeared in the preaching of some of the clergy, in the public
teaching of the Catholic Bishops, and in the writings of lay Catholic
journalists. Already in February and March 1931, Cardinal Bertram of
Breslau, Cardinal Faulhaber and the Bishops of Bavaria, the Bishops of
the Province of Cologne and those of the Province of Freiburg published
pastoral letters condemning National Socialism, with its idolatry of
race and of the State.(10) The well-known Advent sermons of Cardinal
Faulhaber in 1933, the very year in which National Socialism came to
power, at which not just Catholics but also Protestants and Jews were
present, clearly expressed rejection of the Nazi anti-semitic
propaganda.(11) In the wake of the Kristallnacht, Bernhard Lichtenberg,
Provost of Berlin Cathedral, offered public prayers for the Jews. He
was later to die at Dachau and has been declared Blessed.
Pope Pius XI too condemned Nazi racism in a solemn way in his
Encyclical Letter Mit brennender Sorge,(12) which was read in German
churches on Passion Sunday 1937, a step which resulted in attacks and
sanctions against members of the clergy. Addressing a group of Belgian
pilgrims on 6 September 1938, Pius XI asserted: "Anti-Semitism is
unacceptable. Spiritually, we are all Semites".(13) Pius XII, in his
very first Encyclical, Summi Pontificatus,(14) of 20 October 1939,
warned against theories which denied the unity of the human race and
against the deification of the State, all of which he saw as leading to
a real "hour of darkness".(15)
IV. Nazi anti-Semitism and the Shoah
Thus we cannot ignore the difference which exists between
anti-Semitism, based on theories contrary to the constant teaching of
the Church on the unity of the human race and on the equal dignity of
all races and peoples, and the long-standing sentiments of mistrust and
hostility that we call anti-Judaism, of which, unfortunately,
Christians also have been guilty.
The National Socialist ideology went even further, in the sense that it
refused to acknowledge any transcendent reality as the source of life
and the criterion of moral good. Consequently, a human group, and the
State with which it was identified, arrogated to itself an absolute
status and determined to remove the very existence of the Jewish
people, a people called to witness to the one God and the Law of the
Covenant. At the level of theological reflection we cannot ignore the
fact that not a few in the Nazi Party not only showed aversion to the
idea of divine Providence at work in human affairs, but gave proof of a
definite hatred directed at God himself. Logically, such an attitude
also led to a rejection of Christianity, and a desire to see the Church
destroyed or at least subjected to the interests of the Nazi State.
It was this extreme ideology which became the basis of the measures
taken, first to drive the Jews from their homes and then to exterminate
them. The Shoah was the work of a thoroughly modern neo-pagan regime.
Its anti-Semitism had its roots outside of Christianity and, in
pursuing its aims, it did not hesitate to oppose the Church and
persecute her members also.
But it may be asked whether the Nazi persecution of the Jews was not
made easier by the anti-Jewish prejudices imbedded in some Christian
minds and hearts. Did anti-Jewish sentiment among Christians make them
less sensitive, or even indifferent, to the persecutions launched
against the Jews by National Socialism when it reached power?
Any response to this question must take into account that we are
dealing with the history of people's attitudes and ways of thinking,
subject to multiple influences. Moreover, many people were altogether
unaware of the "final solution" that was being put into effect against
a whole people; others were afraid for themselves and those near to
them; some took advantage of the situation; and still others were moved
by envy. A response would need to be given case by case. To do this,
however, it is necessary to know what precisely motivated people in a
At first the leaders of the Third Reich sought to expel the Jews.
Unfortunately, the governments of some Western countries of Christian
tradition, including some in North and South America, were more than
hesitant to open their borders to the persecuted Jews. Although they
could not foresee how far the Nazi hierarchs would go in their criminal
intentions, the leaders of those nations were aware of the hardships
and dangers to which Jews living in the territories of the Third Reich
were exposed. The closing of borders to Jewish emigration in those
circumstances, whether due to anti-Jewish hostility or suspicion,
political cowardice or shortsightedness, or national selfishness, lays
a heavy burden of conscience on the authorities in question.
In the lands where the Nazis undertook mass deportations, the brutality
which surrounded these forced movements of helpless people should have
led to suspect the worst. Did Christians give every possible assistance
to those being persecuted, and in particular to the persecuted Jews?
Many did, but others did not. Those who did help to save Jewish lives
as much as was in their power, even to the point of placing their own
lives in danger, must not be forgotten. During and after the war,
Jewish communities and Jewish leaders expressed their thanks for all
that had been done for them, including what Pope Pius XII did
personally or through his representatives to save hundreds of thousands
of Jewish lives.(16) Many Catholic bishops, priests, religious and
laity have been honoured for this reason by the State of Israel.
Nevertheless, as Pope John Paul II has recognized, alongside such
courageous men and women, the spiritual resistance and concrete action
of other Christians was not that which might have been expected from
Christ's followers. We cannot know how many Christians in countries
occupied or ruled by the Nazi powers or their allies were horrified at
the disappearance of their Jewish neighbours and yet were not strong
enough to raise their voices in protest. For Christians, this heavy
burden of conscience of their brothers and sisters during the Second
World War must be a call to penitence.(17)
We deeply regret the errors and failures of those sons and daughters of
the Church. We make our own what is said in the Second Vatican
Council's Declaration Nostra Aetate, which unequivocally affirms: "The
Church ... mindful of her common patrimony with the Jews, and motivated
by the Gospel's spiritual love and by no political considerations,
deplores the hatred, persecutions and displays of anti-Semitism
directed against the Jews at any time and from any source".(18)
We recall and abide by what Pope John Paul II, addressing the leaders
of the Jewish community in Strasbourg in 1988,stated: "I repeat again
with you the strongest condemnation of anti-Semitism and racism, which
are opposed to the principles of Christianity".(19) The Catholic Church
therefore repudiates every persecution against a people or human group
anywhere, at any time. She absolutely condemns all forms of genocide,
as well as the racist ideologies which give rise to them. Looking back
over this century, we are deeply saddened by the violence that has
enveloped whole groups of peoples and nations. We recall in particular
the massacre of the Armenians, the countless victims in Ukraine in the
1930s, the genocide of the Gypsies, which was also the result of racist
ideas, and similar tragedies which have occurred in America, Africa and
the Balkans. Nor do we forget the millions of victims of totalitarian
ideology in the Soviet Union, in China, Cambodia and elsewhere. Nor can
we forget the drama of the Middle East, the elements of which are well
known. Even as we make this reflection, "many human beings are still
their brothers' victims".(20)
V. Looking together to a common future
Looking to the future of relations between Jews and Christians, in the
first place we appeal to our Catholic brothers and sisters to renew the
awareness of the Hebrew roots of their faith. We ask them to keep in
mind that Jesus was a descendant of David; that the Virgin Mary and the
Apostles belonged to the Jewish people; that the Church draws
sustenance from the root of that good olive tree on to which have been
grafted the wild olive branches of the Gentiles (cf. Rom 11:17-24);
that the Jews are our dearly beloved brothers, indeed in a certain
sense they are "our elder brothers".(21)
At the end of this Millennium the Catholic Church desires to express
her deep sorrow for the failures of her sons and daughters in every
age. This is an act of repentance (teshuva), since, as members of the
Church, we are linked to the sins as well as the merits of all her
children. The Church approaches with deep respect and great compassion
the experience of extermination, the Shoah, suffered by the Jewish
people during World War II. It is not a matter of mere words, but
indeed of binding commitment. "We would risk causing the victims of the
most atrocious deaths to die again if we do not have an ardent desire
for justice, if we do not commit ourselves to ensure that evil does not
prevail over good as it did for millions of the children of the Jewish
people ... Humanity cannot permit all that to happen again".(22)
We pray that our sorrow for the tragedy which the Jewish people has
suffered in our century will lead to a new relationship with the Jewish
people. We wish to turn awareness of past sins into a firm resolve to
build a new future in which there will be no more anti-Judaism among
Christians or anti-Christian sentiment among Jews, but rather a shared
mutual respect, as befits those who adore the one Creator and Lord and
have a common father in faith, Abraham.
Finally, we invite all men and women of good will to reflect deeply on
the significance of the Shoah. The victims from their graves, and the
survivors through the vivid testimony of what they have suffered, have
become a loud voice calling the attention of all of humanity. To
remember this terrible experience is to become fully conscious of the
salutary warning it entails: the spoiled seeds of anti-Judaism and
anti-Semitism must never again be allowed to take root in any human
16 March 1998.
Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy
The Most Reverend Pierre Duprey
The Reverend Remi Hoeckman, O.P.
TYPIS VATICANIS MCMXCVIII
(1) Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente, 10
November 1994, 33: AAS 87 (1995), 25.
(2) Cf. Pope John Paul II, Speech at the Synagogue of Rome, 13 April
1986, 4: AAS 78 (1986), 1120.
(3) Pope John Paul II, Angelus Prayer, 11 June 1995: Insegnamenti 181,
(4) Cf. Pope John Paul II, Address to Jewish Leaders in Budapest, 18
August 1991, 4: Insegnamenti 142, 1991, 349.
(5) Pope John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 1 May 1991,
17: AAS 83 (1991), 814-815.
(6) Cf. Pope John Paul II, Address to Delegates of Episcopal
Conferences for Catholic-Jewish relations, 6 March 1982: Insegnamenti,
51, 1982, 743-747.
(7) Cf. Holy See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews,
Notes on the correct way to present the Jews and Judaism in preaching
and catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church, 24 June 1985, VI, 1: Ench.
Vat. 9, 1656.
(8) Cf. Pope John Paul II, Speech to Symposium on the roots of
anti-Judaism, 31 October 1997, 1: L'Osservatore Romano, 1 November
1997, p. 6.
(9) Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Nostra Aetate, 4.
(10) Cf. B. Statiewski (Ed.), Akten deutscher Bischöfe über
die Lage der Kirche, 1933-1945, vol. I, 1933-1934 (Mainz 1968),
(11) Cf. L. Volk, Der Bayerische Episkopat und der Nationalsozialismus
1930-1934 (Mainz 1966), pp. 170-174.
(12) The Encyclical is dated 14 March 1937: AAS 29 (1937), 145-167.
(13) La Documentation Catholique, 29 (1938), col. 1460.
(14) AAS 31 (1939), 413-453.
(15) Ibid., 449.
(16) The wisdom of Pope Pius XII's diplomacy was publicly acknowledged
on a number of occasions by representative Jewish Organizations and
personalities. For example, on 7 September 1945, Dr. Joseph Nathan, who
represented the Italian Hebrew Commission, stated: "Above all, we
acknowledge the Supreme Pontiff and the religious men and women who,
executing the directives of the Holy Father, recognized the persecuted
as their brothers and, with effort and abnegation, hastened to help us,
disregarding the terrible dangers to which they were exposed"
(L'Osservatore Romano, 8 September 1945, p. 2). On 21 September of that
same year, Pius XII received in audience Dr. A. Leo Kubowitzki,
Secretary General of the World Jewish Congress who came to present "to
the Holy Father, in the name of the Union of Israelitic Communities,
warmest thanks for the efforts of the Catholic Church on behalf of Jews
throughout Europe during the War" (L'Osservatore Romano, 23 September
1945, p. 1). On Thursday, 29 November 1945, the Pope met about 80
representatives of Jewish refugees from various concentration camps in
Germany, who expressed "their great honour at being able to thank the
Holy Father personally for his generosity towards those persecuted
during the Nazi-Fascist period" (L'Osservatore Romano, 30 November
1945, p. 1). In 1958, at the death of Pope Pius XII, Golda Meir sent an
eloquent message: "We share in the grief of humanity. When fearful
martyrdom came to our people, the voice of the Pope was raised for its
victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out
about great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict. We mourn a
great servant of peace".
(17) Cf. Pope John Paul II, Address to the New Ambassador of the
Federal Republic of Germany to the Holy See, 8 November 1990, 2: AAS 83
(18) Loc. cit., no. 4.
(19) Address to Jewish Leaders, Strasbourg, 9 October 1988, no. 8:
Insegnamenti 113, 1988, 1134.
(20) Pope John Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps, 15 January
1994, 9: AAS 86 (1994), 816.
(21) Pope John Paul II, Speech at the Synagogue of Rome, 13 April 1986,
4: AAS 78 (1986), 1120.
(22) Pope John Paul II, Address on the occasion of a commemoration of
the Shoah, 7 April 1994, 3: Insegnamenti 171, 1994, 897 and 893.
LETTER OF JOHN PAUL II
TO THE LATIN-RITE DIOCESE OF JERUSALEM
The Holy Father wrote a Letter to the Latin-rite Diocese of Jerusalem
to mark the 150th anniversary of Pope Pius IX's reorganization of that
see. The Pope called on Catholics to prepare in every way to celebrate
the coming Holy Year. Here is a translation of those paragraphs of his
letter pertaining to relations with the Jews.
É By its presence in the same territory as the Islamic and
Jewish communities and through the exchanges it has with them, the
Latin community has been prepared over time to understand the
importance of interreligious dialogue in the spirit desired and
recommended by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. Daily life
presupposes continuous contact with believers of other religious
traditions, for the human, spiritual and moral development of peoples.
It is obvious that respectful dialogue and joint, fraternal
collaboration among all society's members can be a vigorous appeal for
this same understanding to be achieved in other countries.
É Regarding the ties with those who belong to the Jewish
religion, it should be recalled that Jews and Christians have a common
heritage which links them spiritually (cf. Nostra aetate, n. 4). Both
are a blessing for the world (cf. Gn 12:2-3), to the extent that they
work together so that peace and justice prevail among all people and
all individuals and do so in fullness and in depth, according to the
divine plan and in the spirit of sacrifice which this noble project can
They are all called to be conscious of this sacred duty and to fulfil
it, through honest and friendly dialogue and by collaboration for the
benefit of man and society; I am certain that this readiness to do
God's will for the world will also be a blessing for our different
communities and enable us to cry out with the psalmist: "Steadfast love
and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each
other. Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness
will look down from the sky" (Ps 85 : 10-11).
November 28, 1997
January 14, 1998
To the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors the Holy Father said:
I welcome the members of the Bsnai Bsrith Anti-Defamation League, and I
express the hope that your visit will help to strengthen the
co-operation of recent years.
Pastoral visit to Cuba
January 21-26, 1998
Address OF JOHN PAUL II
to the Jewish Community
January 25, 1998
On the morning of Sunday, January 25, the Holy Father met
representatives of the Cuban Council of Churches at the Apostolic
Nunciature in Havana. During the course of his address, the Pope also
specifically spoke to the Jewish community.
1. On this memorable day, I am very pleased to meet you, the
representatives of the Cuban Council of Churches and of various other
Christian communities, accompanied by members of the Jewish community
in Cuba, which participates in the Council as an observer. I greet all
of you with great affection and I assure you of my happiness at this
meeting with those with whom we share faith in the living and true God.
This auspicious occasion prompts us to say before all else: "How good
and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity" (Ps 132:1).
4. I also wish to address a particular greeting to the Jewish community
represented here. Your presence is an eloquent expression of the
fraternal dialogue aimed at a better understanding between Jews and
Catholics, and which, promoted by the Second Vatican Council, continues
to be ever more widespread. With you we share a common spiritual
patrimony, firmly rooted in the Sacred Scriptures. May God, the Creator
and Saviour, sustain our efforts to walk together and, encouraged by
the divine word, may we grow in worship and fervent love of him. May
all of this ever find expression in effective action for the benefit of
each and every person.
5. To conclude, I wish to thank each one of you for your presence at
this meeting, and I ask God to bless you and your communities and to
keep you in his ways so that you may proclaim his name to the brethren.
May he show you his face in the midst of the society which you serve,
and may he grant you peace in all your undertakings.
Havana, 25 January 1998
Feast of the Conversion of St Paul