10/27/2005, 00.00
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May Christians and Jews make their friendship stronger, says Pope

In his message for the 40 years of Nostra Aetate, Benedict XVI reiterates his commitment to improve relations between the Church and the People of the Covenant.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In their theological dialogue, in their daily contacts and every time they work together, Christians and Jews should offer a clear witness for the sanctity of life, the rights of the family and all that is needed to build a world of justice, reconciliation and peace for future generations.

Such are the hopes Pope Benedict XVI expressed in a message he sent to Card Walter Kasper, chairman of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, on the 40th anniversary of the promulgation of the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate.

Reiterating what he said at the beginning of his pontificate, which he confirmed when he visited Cologne's synagogue, Benedict XVI reaffirmed his commitment to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor John Paul II and continue enriching the dialogue between Catholics and Jews.

Benedict XVI writes in his message (in English) that 40 years have passed since Paul VI promulgated Nostra Aetate on the relations between the Church and non Christian religions, 40 years "which opened up a new era of relations with the Jewish People and offered the basis for a sincere theological dialogue."

"This anniversary," he noted, "gives us abundant reason to express gratitude to Almighty God for the witness of all those who, despite a complex and often painful history, and especially after the tragic experience of the Shoah, which was inspired by a neo-pagan racist ideology, worked courageously to foster reconciliation and improved understanding between Christians and Jews".

"In laying the foundations for a renewed relationship between the Jewish People and the Church," he went on to say, "Nostra Aetate stressed the need to overcome past prejudices, misunderstandings, indifference, and the language of contempt and hostility."

The Declaration, in the Pontiff's words, "has been the occasion of greater mutual understanding and respect, cooperation and, often, friendship between Catholics and Jews. It has also challenged them to recognize their shared spiritual roots and to appreciate their rich heritage of faith in the One God".

Looking back over four decades of "fruitful contacts between the Church and the Jewish People, we need to renew our commitment to the work that yet remains to be done.

Finally, "[a]s we look to the future, I express my hope that both in theological dialogue and in everyday contacts and collaboration, Christians and Jews will offer an ever more compelling shared witness to the One God and his commandments". (FP)

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