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A senior Australian rabbi welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to Sydney. Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence of Sydney’s Great Synagogue on Friday commended the Catholic Church on four decades of rapprochement with the Jews while recalling that his grandparents had to flee Berlin 70 years ago. Some 40 interfaith leaders, including Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and Hindus, attended a meeting with the pope at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Speaking on behalf of the Jewish community, Lawrence said he was delighted to meet someone “who has devoted so much of his life to the spiritual enrichment of our world.” In his address Pope Benedict, in Australia for the World Youth Day festival, urged all religions to unite against terrorism.

“In a world threatened by sinister and indiscriminate forms of violence, the unified voice of religious people urges nations and communities to resolve conflict through peaceful means and with full regard for human dignity,” he said. Later the same day, the Stations of the Cross were re-enacted despite fears that it could spark anti-Semitism. But in a statement, New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said, “We commend the organizers and television commentators of the Stations of the Cross for their sensitive treatment of the story of Jesus’ Passion. We were especially moved by the reference in the commentary to the Church’s rejection of anti-Jewish teachings.” The Jewish delegation that met the Pope was comprised of Robert Goot, the president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry; David Knoll, the president of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies; Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins of Emanuel Synagogue; interfaith leader Josie Lacey; John Landerer, the president of the Sydney Jewish Museum; and youth representatives Judith Levitan and Josh Levin. World Youth Day ended Sunday with a closing Mass attended by more than 400,000 people.

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