NEW YORK (Aug. 27)
An American who was the only rabbi to be present at Vatican Il presided over by the last two Popes, said today that their successor, Pope John Paul I, “will be good for the Jews.”
Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, national inter-religious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee, explained his remark by saying that the former Cardinal Albino Luciani “possesses the warm touch of Pope John XXIII and the practical wisdom of Pope Paul VI.” The 65-year-old Luciani, who was Patriarch of Venice until his surprise election yesterday by his fellow Cardinals as the 263rd Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church, selected a name that was apparently intended to signify he intended to continue the work of his two predecessors.
“In recent years as Cardinal of Venice, Pope John Paul made several statements in which he expressed his great respect for the Jewish people and the Jewish religion,” Tanenbaum said. “It remains to be seen as to how he will translate his positive attitudes toward the Jewish community into policies toward Israel and, in particular, toward Jerusalem.”
Tanenbaum noted that the AJCommittee looks forward to “an early opportunity for establishing a dialogue on all questions and particularly to promoting peace between Israel and her Arab neighbors.”
AJCommittee president Richard Maass issued a statement today in which his organization extended “its cordial and fraternal greetings” to the new Pope. “In a world that is threatened by potential nuclear destruction and haunted by vast human needs of the poor and deprived, we pledge to cooperate with Pope John Paul, not only in promoting improved understanding between Catholics and Jews, but as well in advancing the cause of world peace, human rights and social justice,” Maass said.
ISRAELI DELEGATION AT CORONATION
Meanwhile, it was announced in Jerusalem today that the director general of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and the Israeli Ambassador to Italy will be part of the Israeli delegation attending the coronation ceremony of the new Pope next Sunday. Israeli government officials said the delegation will be larger than previously because of the improved relations with the Vatican. Catholic officials in Jerusalem said they expected the new Pope to attempt to broaden the Jewish-Catholic dialogue.
Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren said last night that he hopes Pope John Paul will recognize the State of Israel and put an end to the slaughter in Lebanon. “I hope the first step of the new Pope will be to deal justly with the Jewish nation by recognizing the State of Israel,” Goren added.
The Pontiff, in an appearance before a crowd of 150,000 at St. Peter’s Square today, in which he said he never expected to be elected Pope, stated he was thinking of strife-form Lebanon. Pope John Paul, who has never been out of Italy, is expected to be a pastoral Pope rather than concentrate on ideological matters as did his two predecessors. He was born in the village of Forno di Canale, in northeast Italy, where his father, a Socialist, was for years a migrant worker before he got a job as a glassblower in Venice.
He worked as a parish priest and then as a teacher on the local level and in a seminary. Pope John made him a Bishop and Pope Paul named him Patriarch of Venice in 1969. In Venice, he allowed the churches to sell their jewels and precious stones to help the poor. He refused to wear the customary precious ring that went with his office. But he a also recommended disciplining priests who spoke out in favor of the Communist Party or other leftist groups.