Jewish groups congratulate Catholic Church on canonization of popes

Pope John Paul II at the old Yankee Stadium, New York City, in October 1979. Credit: Thomas J. O'Halloran.

( American Jewish Organizations congratulated the Catholic Church on the upcoming canonization of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, to take place at the Vatican on April 27.

“We rejoice with our Catholic friends at this unique recognition being given to the two Popes who were also the ones most responsible for the dramatic revolution in Catholic-Jewish relations in our times,” said American Jewish Committee International Director of Interreligious Affairs Rabbi David Rosen, who will attend the canonization ceremony.

Pope John Paul II was the first pope to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome since Saint Peter and also denounced anti-Semitism as a “sin against God and humanity.” John Paul II formally established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1993 and made a historic visit to Israel in 2000.

Pope John XXIII is noted for being the driving force behind the Second Vatican Council, including its landmark Nostra Aetate declaration, which ended centuries of anti-Semitic policies within the Catholic Church and paved the way for improved Catholic-Jewish relations.

“These two newly canonized popes transformed relations between Catholics and Jews. They reversed a tragic history that for centuries was characterized by enmity, by denigration of Jews, and by anti-Semitism, and set the tone for a new relationship built on mutual trust, friendship and understanding,” Anti-Defamation League leaders Barry Curtiss-Lusher and Abraham H. Foxman said.

Since becoming pontiff in March, Pope Francis has made Jewish-Christian relations a priority, continuing the legacy of his predecessors. In late May, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. 

Posted on April 27, 2014 .