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German Jewish Community Leader Expresses Criticism of the Pope

The chairman of the West German Jewish community, Werner Nochmann, has criticized Pope John Paul II for not giving enough support to the Egyptian-Israeli peace talks.

In an interview published in “Die Welt,” a few days after he led a delegation of 30 prominent West German Jews in a meeting with the Pope in Mainz, Nochmann also regretted that the Vatican has failed to officially recognize the State of Israel or to send a top-ranking envoy to Jerusalem.

Asked about the Pope’s remarks to the Jewish delegation that there was a need for all people to be reconciled in Jerusalem, Nochmann said: “I hope that what the Pope meant was that Jerusalem with its holy places is today accessible to all religions. I hope that the Pope meant he wishes peace will come and prays for it, that the present situation will be kept untouched.”

In its meeting with the Pope, the Jewish delegation had asked the Pontiff to support the present situation in Jerusalem, noting that never in its history was access to the holy places by people of all faiths more free than it is now. During the meeting, the Pope refrained from mentioning Israel.

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