Benedict XVI's Address to B'nai B'rith Delegation
"Our Troubled World Needs the Witness of People of Good Will"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today to members of a delegation from B'nai B'rith International.

* * *

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet this delegation from B'nai B'rith International on the occasion of your visit to the Vatican. Following the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council's Declaration "Nostra Aetate" in 1965, leaders of B'nai B'rith have visited the Holy See on numerous occasions. Today, in the spirit of understanding, respect and mutual appreciation which is developing between our communities, I welcome you, and through you, all those whom you represent.

Much has been achieved in the past four decades of Jewish-Catholic relations, and we must be grateful to God for the remarkable transformation that has taken place on the basis of our common spiritual patrimony. It is this rich heritage of faith which enables our communities not only to enter into dialogue, but also to be partners in working together for the good of the human family. Our troubled world needs the witness of people of good will inspired by the truth, revealed on the first page of the Scriptures, that all men and women are created in the image of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27), and thus possess an inalienable dignity and worth.

Jews and Christians are called to work together for the healing of the world by promoting the spiritual and moral values grounded in our faith convictions. If we give a clear example of fruitful cooperation, our voice in responding to the needs of the human family will be all the more convincing.

On the occasion of your visit, I reiterate my unfailing hope and prayer for peace in the Holy Land. Peace can only come about if it is the concern of Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, expressed in genuine interreligious dialogue and concrete gestures of reconciliation. All believers are challenged to show that it is not hatred and violence, but understanding and peaceful cooperation which open the door to that future of justice and peace which is God's promise and gift.

During this holy season, I cordially invoke upon you and your families an abundance of divine blessings. Shalom alechem!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Papal Address to Group From Anti-Defamation League

"Jews, Christians and Muslims Share Many Common Convictions"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI gave today when he received a delegation from the Anti-Defamation League in audience.

* * *

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome to the Vatican the delegation of the Anti-Defamation League. On many occasions you visited my predecessor Pope John Paul II, and I am happy to continue to meet representative groups of the Jewish people.

In our world today, religious, political, academic and economic leaders are being seriously challenged to improve the level of dialogue between peoples and between cultures. To do this effectively requires a deepening of our mutual understanding and a shared dedication to building a society of ever greater justice and peace. We need to know each other better and, on the strength of that mutual discovery, to build relationships not just of tolerance but of authentic respect. Indeed, Jews, Christians and Muslims share many common convictions, and there are numerous areas of humanitarian and social engagement in which we can and must cooperate.

The Second Vatican Council's Declaration "Nostra Aetate" reminds us that the Jewish roots of Christianity oblige us to overcome the conflicts of the past and to create new bonds of friendship and collaboration. It affirms in particular that the Church deplores all forms of hatred or persecution directed against the Jews and all displays of anti-Semitism at any time and from any source (cf. No. 4). The four decades since the Declaration have brought many positive advances, and they have also witnessed some early steps, perhaps still too tentative, towards a more open conversation on religious themes. It is precisely at this level of frank exchange and dialogue that we will find the basis and the motivation for a solid and fruitful relationship.

May the Eternal One, our Father in heaven, bless every effort to eliminate from our world any misuse of religion as an excuse for hatred or violence. May He bless all of you, your families and your communities.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Papal Address to Delegation of American Jewish Committee
"All Three Monotheistic Religions Are Called to Cooperate With One Another"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI delivered today to a visiting delegation of the American Jewish Committee.

* * *

Distinguished members of the American Jewish Committee,

I gladly welcome you to the Vatican, and I trust that this meeting will further encourage your efforts to increase friendship between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church.

The recent celebration of the 40th anniversary of the declaration of the Second Vatican Council "Nostra Aetate" has increased our shared desire to know each other better and to develop a dialogue characterized by mutual respect and love. Indeed, Jews and Christians have a rich common patrimony. In many ways this distinguishes our relationship as unique among the religions of the world. The Church can never forget that chosen people with whom God entered into a holy covenant (cf. "Nostra Aetate," No. 4).

Judaism, Christianity and Islam believe in the one God, Creator of heaven and earth. It follows, therefore, that all three monotheistic religions are called to cooperate with one another for the common good of humanity, serving the cause of justice and peace in the world. This is especially important today when particular attention must be given to teaching respect for God, for religions and their symbols, and for holy sites and places of worship. Religious leaders have a responsibility to work for reconciliation through genuine dialogue and acts of human solidarity.

Dear friends, I pray that your visit today may confirm you in your endeavors to build bridges of understanding across all barriers. Upon all of you I invoke the divine gifts of strength and comfort.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Benedict XVI's Address to Chief Rabbi of Rome
"The Catholic Church Is Close to You and Is Your Friend"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at an audience attended by Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni of Rome and a delegation from the Jewish community.

* * *

Illustrious Chief Rabbi,
Dear Friends: "Shalom!"

"The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation" (Exodus 15:2): This was the song of Moses and of the children of Israel, when the Lord saved his people as they crossed the sea. Isaiah sang in the same way: "Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation" (12:2).

Your visit fills me with joy, and it motivates me to renew with you this song of thanksgiving for salvation. The people of Israel have been liberated many times from the hands of their enemies and, in times of anti-Semitism, in the dramatic moments of the Shoah, the hand of the Almighty guided and sustained them. The favor of the God of the Covenant has always accompanied them, giving them the strength to overcome trials. Your Jewish community, present in the city of Rome for more than 2,000 years, can also bear witness to this divine loving attention.

The Catholic Church is close to you and is your friend. Yes, we love you and cannot but love you, "through the Fathers": Because of them you are very dear to us and favorite brothers (cf. Romans 11:28b). Following the Second Vatican Council the reciprocal esteem and trust between us has increased. Ever more fraternal and cordial contacts have developed, becoming even more intense during the pontificate of my venerated predecessor, John Paul II.

In Christ we partake in your heritage of the Fathers, in order to serve the Almighty, "with one accord" (Zephaniah 3:9), grafted onto the one "holy tree" of the people of God. As Christians, this fact makes us aware that, with you, we share in the responsibility of cooperating for the good of all people, in justice and peace, in truth and freedom, in holiness and love.

Keeping in mind this shared mission, we cannot fail to denounce and fight firmly against the hatred and misunderstanding, the injustice and violence that continue to worry the soul of men and women of good will. In this context, how can we not be pained and concerned over the renewal of manifestations of anti-Semitism?

Esteemed Lord Chief Rabbi, a short time ago you were entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the Roman Jewish community; you have assumed this responsibility with the wealth of your experience as scholar and doctor, who have shared the joys and sorrows of so many people. To you I express my heartfelt best wishes for your mission and assure you of both my and my collaborators' esteem and cordial friendship. Many are the needs and challenges of Rome and the world, which invite us to unite our hands and hearts in concrete initiatives of solidarity, "tzedek" (justice) and "tzedekah" (charity). Together, we can work to transmit the torch of the Ten Commandments and of hope to the young generations."

May the Eternal watch over you and over the whole Jewish community of Rome! In this particular circumstance, I take up the prayer of Pope Clement I, invoking the blessings of Heaven upon all of you. "Give us and all who inhabit the earth concord and peace, as you gave our fathers when they invoked your name in faith and truth" ("To the Corinthians" 60,4). "Shalom!"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Pope's Address to Delegation From Wiesenthal Center
"Along the Path of Mutual Respect and Dialogue"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today to a delegation from the U.S.-based Simon Wiesenthal Center.

* * *

Dear Friends,

I welcome you, the representatives of the "Simon Wiesenthal Center," to the Vatican.

This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's Declaration "Nostra Aetate," which formulated the principles that have guided the Church's efforts to promote better understanding between Jews and Catholics. After a difficult and painful history, relations between our two communities are presently taking a new, more positive, direction. We must continue to advance along the path of mutual respect and dialogue, inspired by our shared spiritual heritage and committed to an ever more effective cooperation in the service of the human family.

Christians and Jews can do much to enable coming generations to live in harmony and respect for the dignity with which every human being has been endowed by the Creator. I express the hope, shared by men and women of good will everywhere, that this century will see our world emerge from the web of conflict and violence, and sow the seeds for a future of reconciliation, justice and peace. Upon all of you I invoke an abundance of divine blessings.


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pope's Address to Chief Rabbis of Jerusalem
"Religion and Peace Go Together"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 16, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered Thursday to Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar and Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, both of Jerusalem, when he received them in audience in the papal summer residence.

Distinguished Gentlemen,

With an open heart I welcome you here today, and express my appreciation of the fact that your visit intends to emphasize the positive results that have come from the Second Vatican Council's declaration "Nostra Aetate," the 40th anniversary of which we are commemorating this year. I see your visit as a further step forward in the process of building deeper religious relations between Catholics and Jews, a course which has received new impulse and energy from "Nostra Aetate" and from the many forms of contact, dialogue and cooperation that have their origin in the principles and spirit of that document. The Church continues to make every effort to implement the Council's vision of a new era of better mutual understanding, respect and solidarity between us.

"Nostra Aetate" has proven to be a milestone on the road towards reconciliation of Christians with the Jewish people. It makes clear that "God holds the Jews most dear for the sake of their Fathers; he does not repent of the gifts he makes or of the calls he issues" (No. 4).

Today, we must continue to seek ways to fulfill that responsibility of which I spoke during my recent visit to the Synagogue in Cologne: "of handing down to young people the torch of hope that God has given to Jews and to Christians, so that never again will the forces of evil come to power, and that future generations, with God's help, may be able to build a more just and peaceful world, in which all people have equal rights and are equally at home."

The eyes of the world constantly turn to the Holy Land, the Land that is considered holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Unfortunately our attention is too often drawn by acts of violence and terror, a cause of immense sorrow to everyone living there. We must continue to insist that religion and peace go together.

On this occasion my thoughts turn also to the Christian communities in the Holy Land , a living presence and witness there since the dawn of Christianity through all the vicissitudes of history. Today these brothers and sisters in the faith face new and increasing challenges. While we are pleased that diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel have led to more solid and stable forms of co-operation, we eagerly await the fulfillment of the Fundamental Agreement on issues still outstanding.

Dear Chief Rabbis, as religious leaders we stand before God with a serious responsibility for the teaching we give and the decisions we make. May the Lord sustain us in serving the great cause of promoting the sacredness of human life and defending the human dignity of every person, so that justice and peace may flourish in the world.