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Reform Jewish Leader Meets with Pope Benedict XVI
In today’s meeting with leadership of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligous Consultation, the Pope’s first formal exchange with the Jewish community since becoming Pope, his personal warmth and profound commitment to dialogue between our communities were unmistakable.

Pelavin: We discussed the special challenges of this time in history, and the great potential possible when our two communities work together.

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2005 – This morning, Mark J. Pelavin, Director of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs of Reform Judaism, met at the Vatican with Pope Benedict XVI as part of a delegation of Jewish leaders organized by the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultation. Mr. Pelavin’s statement follows:

It was a special honor to be welcomed to the Vatican this morning by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. In today’s meeting with leadership of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligous Consultation, the Pope’s first formal exchange with the Jewish community since becoming Pope, his personal warmth and profound commitment to dialogue between our communities were unmistakable.

The importance of today’s meeting is clear, and, I am confident, will be long-lasting. Citing the work of his post-Vatican II predecessors, Pope Paul VI and “in a particular way, Pope John Paul II,” in “improving relations with the Jewish people,” Pope Benedict firmly told us, “it is my intention to continue on this path.”

It is significant, as well, that the meeting today took place so early in Benedict XVI’s tenure. As he told us this morning, “At the very beginning of my Pontificate, I wish to assure you that the Church remains firmly committed, in her catechesis and in every aspect of her life, to implementing [the teaching of Vatican II and Nostra Aetate].”

I was honored, on behalf of the Reform Jewish Movement, to offer our support and prayers to the Holy Father as he begins his Pontificate. In the few moments that we had to speak directly, we discussed the special challenges of this time in history, and the great potential possible when our two communities work together.

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The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union for Reform Judaism, whose more than 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, whose membership includes more than 1800 Reform rabbis.



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