Pope Benedict XVI, Child of Abraham

The new pope will continue crucial outreach to the Jewish people.

In electing Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the successor of Pope John Paul II, the College of Cardinals demonstrated a commitment to continue the important work of bridge-building to the Jewish people.



Pope Benedict XVI is likely to reaffirm all the positions of his predecessor unequivocally. Many of these will not meet with favor in some circles, but one of the few issues on which virtually the whole Catholic Church from left to right is in accord is the importance of the Catholic-Jewish relationship, which Pope John Paul II described as "unique and incomparable to any other because the Jewish People and its Faith are the very roots of Christianity."



Is there any good reason for the Jewish community to expect the new pope who as the official guardian of Catholic orthodoxy during the last pontificate declared the theological supremacy of the Roman Catholic faith and belonged to Hitler Youth as a boy in Nazi Germany would be particularly positively disposed to the Jewish people and our religion? There is a good deal of strong evidence for reaching precisely this conclusion.



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As Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI confirmed this view in an important article titled "Abraham Our Father" that appeared in the Vatican publication Osservatore Romano. He wrote it in the wake of widespread Jewish discomfort over his declaration "Dominus Iesus" affirming the theological supremacy of the Catholic Church. In the article, Cardinal Ratzinger sought to emphasize the unique relationship that the Church has with Judaism, and in a private conversation with me in Jerusalem some 15 years ago he told me, "Everything that has religious significance for you must have religious significance for me because you are our roots."



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