X-POP3-Rcpt: prewett@bigbyte X-Sender: stef@idcomm.com Mime-Version: 1.0 Date: Tue, 07 Jan 1997 22:20:25 -0700 To: "Stephanie O'Grady" <stef@idcomm.com> From: ejt@ncinter.net (ed) (by way of Stef O'Grady <stef@idcomm.com>) Subject: SEND: Pope And Israel

FROM ............. London Times

January 6, 1997

Pope will apologise to Jews for past errors


THE Vatican is to apologise formally for the "anti-Semitic errors" of Catholicism as part of an attempt to reconcile the three great monotheistic religions - Christianity, Judaism and Islam - in time for the millennium.

Vatican officials said yesterday that the Pope had instructed a new historical-theological commission to examine the persecution and torture of Jews by the Inquisition in 15th-century Spain and to tackle the issue of the sometimes ambivalent attitude of Catholics toward the Nazi elimination of Jewish populations in occupied Europe during the Second World War.

The 76-year-old Pope, who counted many Jews among his friends in wartime Poland, is increasingly preoccupied with the millennium, which he speaks of in almost apocalyptic terms. He has rehabilitated a number of famous "heretics", including Galileo and Darwin, as part of his pre-millennium "squaring accounts with history".

He has also said that despite his age and frail health, he hopes to retrace the travels of Abraham in the Holy Land and to climb Mount Sinai with Jewish and Muslim leaders.

Mgr Rino Fisichella, vice-chairman of the new commission, said it would hold two international symposiums on anti-Semitism in the autumn. The meetings, to be held in the Vatican, would involve clergy, lay people and academic experts, and would confront the often painful issues of Jewish-Catholic relations "without preconceptions". The aim was for the Church to seek pardon for past mistakes.

Mgr Fisichella said that the Commission would tackle the delicate question of the roots of anti-Semitism in the New Testament, where the Jews are represented as the enemies of Christ. The Second Vatican Council first broached the issue in the 1960s by declaring that Christians and Jews had a "common spiritual patrimony" and that "what happened in Christ's passion cannot be blamed on all the Jews then living, nor on Jews living today".

The present Pope knelt in prayer at Auschwitz in 1979 and at the Rome Synagogue in 1986, when he acknowledged the "discrimination and oppression suffered by Jews in Christian countries over the centuries". The Vatican established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1993.

But many Jewish leaders remain dissatisfied with Vatican statements on the Holocaust. They also want a clear Vatican condemnation of the failure of Pope Pius XII to denounce Nazi atrocities or to speak out against the deportation of Jews from Rome itself during the German wartime occupation.