Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A visit from the 'Jewish' president

JERUSALEM, NOV. 15, 2005 ( This Thursday, Benedict XVI is scheduled to receive Israeli President Moshe Katsav in audience in the Vatican.

For perspective on the implications of this meeting, ZENIT interviewed Jean-Marie Allafort, correspondent in Jerusalem for the French broadcasting station Radio Esperance.

Read the complete article On the Israeli President's Upcoming Visit to Pope from Zenit News Agency.

One news agency interviews a correspondent from another news agency... You get the idea. It's a rather bland interview, nothing truly earth-shattering. Two observations, one near the beginning and one towards the end, are worth noting:

Although President Katsav represents the state of Israel, he is also perceived as a top representative of the Jewish people. For Israel, this visit will be special, because of the past, including the recent past, of relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, as well as between the Vatican and the state of Israel.

Allafort: I think the future of relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people passes today also through Israel. It is a fundamental evolution.

Until now, the Judeo-Catholic dialogue was promoted by the Jewish communities of the Diaspora, especially the American. Today, it is moving toward Jerusalem.

For Rome, Israel is not only a state, but also a legitimate representative of the Jewish people. Since John Paul II's visit to the Holy Land, in March 2000, one sees an evolution in this sense. A commission has been created between the Vatican and the Rabbis of Israel, which meets every six months, either in Rome or in Jerusalem.

To accommodate itself with reality, the dialogue between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church must take the state of Israel into account. The Jewish people is not only that of the Diaspora.

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