Jewish National Fund - We Only Have ONE ISRAEL

Meeting Between Vatican Leaders and Israel Humanitarian Foundation

During the Israel Humanitarian Foundation's (IHF) recent mission to Rome and Israel, 25 IHF delegates met privately with Cardinal Edward Cassidy, the President of the Holy See's Commission on Religious Relations with the Jews and Aharon Lopez, Israel's Ambassador to the Holy See. The purpose of these meetings was to discuss the progress of the recent Vatican initiatives towards reconciliation between the Catholic church and the Jews. Both Ambassador Lopez and Cardinal Cassidy accompanied Pope John Paul II on his historic trip to Israel, which was considered to be one of the most significant gestures in recent history towards promoting understanding between the Jewish People and the Catholic Church.

In his Vatican City office, Cardinal Cassidy spoke optimistically about the "real possibility of having a relationship based not upon prejudice and differences, but on the spirit of mutual respect and understanding between the two religions - a radical change from the past 2000 years." A key concern expressed by the delegates was whether the Vatican policy of reconciliation would continue after the spiritual reign of Pope John Paul II. The gist of Cardinal Cassidy's response was that education will be the key towards combating much of the ignorance that still exists between both religions. IHF National heartened by and fully share the view that education is the best strategy to enlighten and inform, and the best hope for Jews and Catholics to achieve true mutual understanding."

Another private reception for IHF delegates was held at the home of Israel's Ambassador to the Holy See, Aharon Lopez, where he reinforced much of Cardinal Cassidy's sentiments. This time, the message from the Vatican was from the Jewish perspective. Ambassador Lopez pointed out the historical significance of the Pope's recent visit to Israel and Yad Vashem, Israel's memorial to the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust, as a testimony to the Pope's, "sincere and unceasing efforts to express his deep sorrow for the suffering of the Jewish people." The ambassador also discussed the implications of reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people to Israel and to Jews throughout the world, by exploring some of the political, economic and social benefits that would occur as a result of this understanding.

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