Chief Rabbi Calls It an "Important Gesture"
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 13, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will visit Rome's main synagogue this fall, confirms a Vatican spokesman.
Jesuit Father Jesuit Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, said Thursday that the visit is scheduled for the fall, but the exact date has yet to be determined.Benedict XVI will be the second Pope to visit that temple in the history of Vatican-Jewish relations.
Pope John Paul II visited Rome's synagogue in 1986.The current Pope has visited two other synagogues as Pope. The first was during the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, German, and the second was the synagogue of New York in 2008.
Rome's chief rabbi, Riccardo Di Segni, told Vatican Radio that the planned visit is "an important gesture that confirms the will to continue an attitude of respect and friendship."He said John Paul II's visit to the synagogue of Rome "opened a new era" of Vatican-Jewish relations.
The rabbi also spoke positively of Benedict XVI's scheduled trip to the Holy Land. He called it a gesture of "attention" and "respect."Di Segni admitted there are "many problems" in relation
s between Jews and Christians -- "theological, historical, delicate problems that separate us."
While admitting some differences will never be resolved, he acknowledged that the two traditions share many common values: "If the conflictive elements are taken away, everything that follows can be a great fruit and a great good for all."
The rabbi added that relations between Jews and the Vatican have calmed down this week: "Many of the clouds that had gathered have disappeared. A climate of good will prevails, and that is very important."