ROME (Mar. 20)
Pope Paul VI told B’nai B’rith leaders he was gratified by cooperative relationships that have developed between Catholics and Jews. The mutuality in understanding, he added, “must continue.” The Pope conveyed his view to David M. Blumberg of Knoxville, Tenn., international president of B’nai B’rith, and four other officials of the Jewish service organization, whom the Pontiff warmly greeted during an audience at the Vatican last Wednesday.
Blumberg presented the Pope with a 3500-year-old clay bowl from the era of the Biblical Patriarchs which the B’nai B’rith group had brought from Israel as “a symbol of the common spiritual heritage and ancestry” of Catholics and Jews. The B’nai B’rith leader told the Pope that the antiquity from the Holy Land expressed “the deep sense of spiritual affinity that the Jews of the world have with the land and the people of Israel.”
In his response, the Pope said the spiritual meaning of the gift was “important” to him because it conveyed the tradition common to both faiths. He also recalled Vatican efforts to rescue Jews during the Hitler era. When Blumberg cited the development of closer Catholic-Jewish relationships in the United States and elsewhere, the Pope replied that such efforts must continue.
Others in the B’nai B’rith delegation were Rabbi Benjamin M. Kahn, its executive vice-president; Herman Edelsberg, director of international affairs, and Bernard Simon, director of public relations; all of Washington, D.C. They were accompanied at the Papal audience by Dr. Joseph Lichten, B’nai B’rith’s representative in Rome.