Israeli PM thanks Pope Benedict XVI for improving Jewish-Christian relations

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in Nazareth, May 14, 2009. Photo: REUTERS/Osservatore Roman

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meeting with Pope Benedict XVI in Nazareth, May 14, 2009. Photo: REUTERS/Osservatore Roman

“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thanked outgoing Pope Benedict on Monday for his efforts to shore up often troubled relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Jews, including with his 2009 visit to the Holy Land,” reports Reuters and The Jerusalem Post. “That trip, in which the German-born Benedict paid respects at Israel’s main Holocaust memorial, was seen by many Jews as atoning for his lifting of the excommunication of a bishop who questioned the scale of the Nazi genocide.

“On other occasions he visited the Auschwitz death camp and the Cologne synagogue,” reports Reuters. “The pontiff, who will abdicate on February 28, also changed a Latin prayer for Good Friday services by traditionalist Catholics in 2008, deleting a reference to Jews and their ‘blindness’ but still calling for them to accept Jesus.”

Netanyahu sent the following letter to Pope Benedict XVI:

“Your Holiness,

On behalf of the people of Israel, I want to thank you for all you have done as Pope to strengthen relations between Christians and Jews and between the Vatican and the Jewish State. I thank you also for courageously defending Judeo-Christian values and the roots of our common civilization during your time as pontiff. I have no doubt that these values, which were so essential to building the modern world, are no less critical to securing a future of security, prosperity and peace.

Your historic visit to Israel in 2009 offered a rare opportunity to give expression to the new relations between our faiths. I remember fondly our meeting, in which you referred to Judaism as Christianity’s elder brother and in which you reaffirmed your commitment to a cooperative future between Christians and Jews.

I thank you for your leadership during these very turbulent times, and wish you long life, health and happiness.”

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