04/19/2005, 00.00
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Benedict XVI, the clarity of faith, unity for Catholics and a basis for dialogue between Jews and Is

Fr Jaeger: "It is only by starting out from a firm knowledge of faith that inter-religious dialogue can be fruitful".

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The election of Benedict XVI is the biggest, indeed the only, consolation for the sorrow left in our heart following the death of John Paul II. This is what Fr David-Marie A. Jaeger, a Franciscan jurist in Israel, told AsiaNews about the appointment of the new pontiff. "This choice is fundamentally important especially for Catholicism," he said, "because no one has known more than Ratzinger how to express and proclaim with clarity the faith of the Church." According to Fr Jaeger, there is a focus on "a factor of recovered unity among all the faithful in Christ" all around this "clear" proclamation.  

The religious is convinced that the solidity of the new pope's faith will lend fundamental support to dialogue with other Christian denominations and with non-Christian religions, especially Judaism and Islam. The Franciscan, a legal expert covering relations between the Holy See and Israel, added that "it is only when starting out from a sure knowledge and acceptance of the same Christian and Catholic faith that we can hope for inter-religious dialogue which will bear fruit. Dialogue is not possible and it is not fruitful if participants do not have knowledge, awareness and a clear and complete conception of their own faith."

As regards negotiations between the Holy See and Israel, under way for 13 years now, Fr Jaeger, who is close to developments at the negotiating table, says he is optimistic. "John Paul II did not have the opportunity to see the fulfillment of this really great initiative of his; however I hope Benedict XVI will be able to do so shortly." Already years ago, the press had revealed that Cardinal Ratzinger was part of a select committee of cardinals with whom John Paul II would have consulted before deciding to sign the fundamental Agreement with the State of Israel in 1993. "I am confident because of this: Pope Benedict XVI will start to exercise his role already informed about the main problems and issues of relations with Israel, which I hope will be one of the matters which he will follow with attention with his curia."

Further negotiations between the Vatican and Israel are under way at the moment.
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