Pope: Peace Depends on Jews, Christians and
Receives Delegation From B'nai B'rith
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 18, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Peace in the Middle East
will come about thanks to the commitment of Christians, Jews and Muslims
alike, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope expressed this today with the words "Shalom alechem," on receiving
representatives of B'nai B'rith International. The group's stated objective
is to keep Jewish traditions and culture alive, as well as to offer humanitarian
aid to the needy.
In his address in English to his guests, the Holy Father reiterated his "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," assured the Holy Father.
"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," he added.
Since the promulgation of the Second Vatican Council's declaration "Nostra
Aetate" in 1965, which brought a change in relations between Jews and Catholics,
leaders of B'nai B'rith visited Popes John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II and
today, for the first time, Benedict XVI.
Heritage of faith
The German Pope invited the delegation to thank God "for the remarkable transformation
that has taken place" in this relationship.
"It is the 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," he said. "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,
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."
The Holy Father was greeted on behalf of B'nai B'rith by Moishe Smith, its
new president, who emphasized the cooperation and shared values that unite
Jews and Catholics.
"We have come here -- from several continents -- above all to fulfill the
Jewish imperative for expressing gratitude and appreciation," said Smith,
Call to reason
"You have not only set upon fulfilling your pledge to continue in the path
of your predecessor, but even set an example of a religious call to reason,
and against extremism," the Canadian said. "In so doing, you have helped
to strengthen our hope in mankind, and with it, our hope in our common Creator."
The Jewish representative explained that, despite the terrorism and anti-Semitism
evident in some parts of the world, "we do maintain our hopefulness, because
we've already seen the potential for ultimately building bridges between
peoples -- and we at B'nai B'rith have tried to contribute to this effort
with significant humanitarian work, and advocacy for human rights around
On the occasion of Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights, the Jewish representatives
gave the Pope an artistic depiction, in the design of a menorah, of the words
"B'nai B'rith," children of the Covenant.
Smith said: "We hope that your Church -- particularly as it focuses, in a
new era, on Latin America, Africa and Asia -- will only continue to engage
with us to address poverty and disease, as well as injustice and ignorance,
in light of the timeless vision and sacred values that we share."
ZENIT is an International News Agency.