Sunday, January 17, 2010

The pope in Rome's synagogue: Praise the Lord for the gift of coming together

» 01/17/2010 19:35

In an emotionally charged atmosphere of brotherhood, Benedict XVI met with the Jewish community of Rome. A tribute to the victims of the Shoah and terrorism. Only a slight hint of controversy about Pius XII. The urgent need to work and witness together the Ten Commandments, "a 'great code' of ethics for all humanity.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI's visit to the Jewish community of Rome was held in an atmosphere of brotherhood and emotion. In his speech before the community gathered in the synagogue, the pope emphasized that "the most authentic spiritual attitude to experience this special and happy moment of grace [is] to praise the Lord .... for granting us this opportunity to come together to strengthen the bonds which unite us. "

In the days preceding the visit, there was strong debate within the Italian Jewish community on whether or not attend the meeting with the pope. The controversy is linked to the figure of Pius XII, for whom Benedict XVI has approved the "heroic virtues" opening the door to his beatification. For many Jews, Pacelli is accused of remaining "silent" in front of the Nazi extermination. The Vatican at the time stated that recognizing the heroic virtues of Pope does not include historical analysis on the life of Pius XII, which will only become possible with increased historical acquisitions. Because of differences in opinion, some Italian rabbis decided not to attend today's meeting with the pontiff.

This controversy was given some evidence in the speeches today, mostly in that of Riccardo Pacifici, president of the Jewish community of Rome, who, while thanking the many Catholics who helped Jews during the murder, described the silence of Pius XII as "too painful".

Riccardo di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome, was more discreet and remembering the victims of the Holocaust, said that "the silence of God" is an incomprehensible mystery", but "the silence of men" is something that must be judged.

Benedict XVI’s speech did not give way to controversy, he spoke of "many remained indifferent, but many, including Italian Catholics, sustained by their faith and by Christian teaching, reacted with courage, often at risk of their lives, opening their arms to assist the Jewish fugitives who were being hunted down, and earning perennial gratitude". He added: "Even the Apostolic See itself provided assistance, often in a hidden and discreet way”. The Pope arrived around 16.30 (Rome time) in the area which once the Jewish ghetto was located and where today the synagogue stands, known as the Great Temple. First he honoured the plaque, near the Octavian Portico, that commemorates the deportation of 16 October 1943, placing a wreath in tribute to victims of the Holocaust.

See also:

From CNS Blog, "Pope at Rome synagogue: ‘May these wounds be healed forever!’"

From NPR, "Pope: Vatican Helped Jews During World War II"

From CNA, "Pope's synagogue visit marked by mutual respect"

From Zenit, "Papal Address at Synagogue of Rome"

From Boston Herald, "Pope defends Pius against Jewish critics"

From Times Online, "Anger over wartime pontiff Pius XII overshadows Pope’s synagogue visit"

And also from Yahoo! News:

Associated Press Sun Jan 17, 3:02 PM ET
Enlarge photo...

In this photo released by the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano newspaper, Pope Benedict XVI is seen during his visit to Rome's synagogue Sunday, Jan. 17, 2010. (AP Photo/ Osservatore Romano, Ho)


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