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A pope's compassion for Jews is on display

Beliefs

A Skirball exhibit highlights John Paul II's effort to reconcile two faiths.

October 04, 2008|Duke Helfand | Times Staff Writer

The council said that "Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ," but it added that his death "cannot be charged against all Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today." And it said the Church decried anti-Semitism and persecution of Jews. Theologians and religious scholars say that John Paul II acted on those tenets, noting his visit to the Great Synagogue of Rome in 1986 and his remarks before Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff.

"With Judaism we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion," the pope said. "You are our dearly beloved brothers, and in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers."

The exhibit's creators also note John Paul II's expressions of sorrow over the Holocaust and his bridge-building efforts, including one on the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. In a letter written upon the occasion, he pointed out the similarities between the two faiths -- using words that would provide the name for the Skirball exhibit.

"As Christians and Jews, following the example of the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing for the world," he wrote. "This is the common task awaiting us. It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews, to be first a blessing to one another."

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duke.helfand@latimes.com

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"A Blessing to One Another" will be at the Skirball Cultural Center, 2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles, through Jan. 4.

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