Popes who pushed interfaith dialogue to be made saints


(JTA) – Pope John Paul II  and Pope John XXIII, post-Holocaust pontiffs who played key roles in fostering Catholic-Jewish dialogue, will be declared saints.

The Vatican announced Friday that the Polish-born Pope John Paul II, who reigned from 1978 to 2005 and made bettering Catholic-Jewish relations a cornerstone of his papacy, will be made a saint after a second miracle was attributed to him in the years since his death.

Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958-1963, will be canonized even though only one miracle has been attributed to his intercession.

John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, which in 1965  issued the Nostra Aetate declaration that called for Jewish-Catholic dialogue and rejected the ancient Christian stigma against Jews as the killers of Jesus.

Two miracles usually are required for canonization, but Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said it was the will of the current pope, Francis, that John XXIII be made a saint without a second miracle.

Lombardi said no date had been set for the canonization ceremonies, but they probably would take place this year and could coincide.

In 1986, Pope John Paul became the first pontiff to visit a synagogue, and in his historic visit to the main synagogue in Rome, he embraced Rome’s then-chief rabbi and declared that Jews were Catholics’ “older brothers in faith.”

In April this year, an international conference was held in Jerusalem to honor Pope John XXIII and his positive relationship with Jews, Jewish memory and the Jewish world.

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