Pope Praises German Jewish Contribution to German Culture; Criticizes, by Implication, Role of Churc
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Pope Praises German Jewish Contribution to German Culture; Criticizes, by Implication, Role of Churc

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Pope John Paul II conferred with representatives of the Central Organization of German Jews in Mainz yesterday, the ancient, Rhineland city where Jews have lived continuously for more than 900 years.

He spoke in praise of German Jews who contributed to German culture and of the declarations by Catholic bodies in West Germany in recent years calling for a broader base of understanding with the Jewish community. He criticized, by implication, the dormant role of the Church in Germany during the era of Nazi persecution.

The Pontiff refrained from mentioning Israel in the course of his dialogue with 30 prominent West German Jews representing a total Jewish population of 40,000 in the Federal Republic.


According to participants in the meeting, comments made no reference to the Arab Israeli conflict and all of his references were to the, “Holy Land.” He expressed hope that Jerusalem will enjoy peace and prosperity and that all parties involved would cooperate low and those goals.

Last week, however, the Pope said that any Middle East solution that did not recognize Palestinian rights and the religious uniqueness of Jerusalem would be only a partial solution and he rejected it.

Much of the dialogue yesterday was devoted to the persecution of Jews by the Third Reich. Werner Nochmann, chairman of the Central Council of Jews in Germany told the Pontiff that “the land of Israel has become a symbol of our survival after the Holocaust”.

He departed from his prepared text to urge the Vatican to support the Middle East peace process based on the Camp David accords. Referring to Jerusalem, he said that never in its history was access to the holy places by people of all faiths more free than it is today.

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