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April 07, 2005 - Image 23

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2005-04-07

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Pope's Jewish Milestones

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Rome/JTA — During his papacy, Pope
John Paul 11 repeatedly condemned anti-
Semitism and met frequently with
Jewish religious and lay leaders. He also
took certain steps that Jews criticized.
May 18, 1920 — Karol Jozef Wojtyla is
born in Wadowice, Poland. As he grows
up, he has Jewish friends, neighbors
and classmates.
1940s — He works in a Nazi slave
labor camp, studies secretly for the
priesthood in Nazi-occupied Poland and
witnesses Nazi persecution of Jews.
January 1945 — He aids a starving
Jewish girl who had just been liberated
from a Nazi forced labor camp.
1950s - 1970s — He witnesses anti-
Zionist and anti-Semitic policy by the
Communist regime in Poland, including
the forced exodus of some 20,000 Jews
in 1968.
Oct. 16, 1978 — He is elected the first
non-Italian pope in more than 450
years.
June 1979 — During his first trip to
Communist Poland as pope, he prays at
Auschwitz and pays homage to
Holocaust victims.
April 13, 1986 — John Paul visits the
main synagogue in Rome. He embraces
Rome's chief rabbi, describes an "irrevo-
cable covenant" between God and the
Jews and declares that Jews are
Christians' older brothers.
June 25, 1987 — The pope angers
Jews by granting an audience to
Austrian President Kurt Waldheim,
sparking a crisis in Catholic-Jewish
relations.
Dec. 28, 1993 — The Vatican and
Israel establish full diplomatic ties.
Oct. 31, 1997 — In a major speech,
the pope says Christians failed during
the Holocaust.
March 16, 1998 — The Vatican issues
"We Remember: A Reflection on the
Shoah," a major document on the
Holocaust. Its aim was to promote "an
awareness of past injustices by
Christians to the Jewish people."
However, it disappointed many Jews by
defending the wartime behavior of Pope
Pius XII and for failing to "make the link-

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age between 1,000 years of the
Christian teaching of contempt of Jews
and Judaism with the anti-Jewish cli-
mate in Christian Europe, where the
Shoah took place."
1999 — A six-member team of Catholic
and Jewish historians is appointed to
review published Vatican documentation
on the role of the Holy See and Pope Pius
XII during the Holocaust.
March 12, 2000 — On what he
declares a "day of request for forgive-
ness" for Catholics, John Paul asks for-
giveness for the past sins of the Church,
including its treatment of Jews.
March 20 - 26, 2000 — Marking the
Christian millennium, the pope makes a
pilgrimage to Israel. He visits holy sites in
Israel and the Palestinian territories, visits
Yad Vashem and prays at the Western
Wall, where he slips a note into the
cracks.
Sept. 3, 2000 — The pope beatifies
Pope Pius IX, the 19th century pontiff
who was the last pope to keep Jews in
the ghetto and who was behind the
1858 kidnaping of a young Jewish boy
who had been secretly baptized as a
baby. On the same day, however, he
beatified Pope John XXIII, the much-
beloved pontiff who died in 1963 and
whose five-year reign marked a turning
point in church history and in Jewish-
Catholic relations.
July 2001 — The commission formed
to review published Vatican documenta-
tion on the role of the Holy See and
Pope Pius XII during the Shoah sus-
pends work. It has been denied the full
access to the Holy See's wartime
archives. Jews are unhappy at moves to
beatify Pius XII.
February 2003 — The Vatican opens a
number of documents relating to the
Vatican's relations with prewar Nazi
Germany to the public. These include
diplomatic documents from 1922 to
1939, held in the Vatican's Secret
Archives, when Eugenio Pacelli, who
became Pope Pius XII, served as Vatican
ambassador in Berlin and Vatican
Secretary of State.
Jan. 18, 2005 — John Paul holds an
audience with more than 100 rabbis and
cantors from the United States and other
countries.

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