A papal trip to Israel and the Palestinian territories would follow in the footsteps of Pope Francis’s predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II. Both sought to promote Christian reconciliation with Judaism as emphasized in the key 1962-65 Second Vatican Council and do away with any vestiges of anti-Semitism after centuries of ambiguity within the church.
Pope Francis met Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas also known as Abu Mazen, during a private audience at the Vatican on Thursday. Poll Press
A visit by Pope Francis, who has so far made only one overseas trip since his appointment, could advance that dialogue. “We can see the steady and ongoing commitment of the Catholic Church on improving Catholic-Jewish relations,” said Chad Pecknold, assistant professor of theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington DC.
During his young papacy, Pope Francis has reached out to the Jewish community on several fronts. Last week, he met with members of Rome’s Jewish community to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of deportations of Italian Jews from Rome to Nazi concentration camps during the German occupation of Italy. On Oct. 16, 1943, more than 1,000 Roman Jews were deported. Only 16 returned home.
“For many centuries…the Jewish community and the Church of Rome have lived in our city, with a history—as we well know—that was often traversed by misunderstandings and even true grievances,” Pope Francis said at the meeting.
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