PAPA DIXIT: in Amman, Tel Aviv, Yad Vashem, interfaith meet

May 11, 2009

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(Photo: Pope arrives at Tel Aviv airport, 11 May 2009/Tony Gentile)

***Pope Benedict flew from Amman to Tel Aviv on Monday for the start of his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories. The main speech was his address at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, which some Israelis found too weak for the occasion. His speech at an interfaith meeting was a ringing endorsement of continued dialogue among different faiths, somthing he has not always seemed to be all that committed to. It was overshadowed by a rousing denunciation of Israel by the Muslim speaker, Sheikh Taysir al-Tamimi, who asked Benedict to help the Palestinians end what he called the crimes of the Jewish state.******FAREWELL ADDRESS IN AMMAN:******DIALOGUE WITH MUSLIMS: “One of the highlights of these days was my visit to the Mosque Al-Hussein Bin Talal, where I had the pleasure of meeting Muslim religious leaders together with members of the diplomatic***corps and University Rectors. I would like to encourage all Jordanians, whether Christian or Muslim, to build on the firm foundations of religious tolerance that enable the members of different communities to live together in peace and mutual respect. His Majesty the King has been notably active in fostering inter-religious dialogue, and I want to put on record how much his commitment in this regard is appreciated. I also gratefully acknowledge the particular consideration that he shows towards the Christian community in Jordan. This spirit of openness not only helps the members of different ethnic communities in this country to live together in peace and concord, but it has contributed to Jordan’s far-sighted political initiatives to build peace throughout the Middle East.”******ARRIVAL ADDRESS AT TEL AVIV AIRPORT:******COMES AS A PILGRIM: “I take my place in a long line of Christian pilgrims to these shores, a line that stretches back to the earliest centuries of the Church’s history and which, I am sure, will continue long into the future. I come, like so many others before me, to pray at the holy places, to pray especially for peace – peace here in the Holy Land and peace throughout the world.”******SHOAH: “Tragically, the Jewish people have experienced the terrible consequences of ideologies that deny the fundamental dignity of every human person. It is right and fitting that, during my stay in Israel, I will have the opportunity to honor the memory of the six million Jewish victims of the Shoah, and to pray that humanity will never again witness a crime of such magnitude. Sadly, anti-Semitism continues to rear its ugly head in many parts of the world. This totally unacceptable. Every effort must be made to combat anti-Semitism wherever it is found, and to promote respect and esteem for the members of every people, tribe, language and nation across the globe.”******INTERFAITH: “During my stay in Jerusalem, I will have the pleasure of meeting many of this country’s distinguished religious leaders. On thing that the three great monotheistic religions have in common is a special veneration for that holy city. It is my earnest hope that all pilgrims to the holy places will be able to access them freely and without restraint, to take part in religious ceremonies and to promote the worthy upkeep of places of worship on sacred sites.”******PALESTINIAN ISSUE: “Even though the name of Jerusalem means ‘city of peace,’ it is all too evident that, for decades, peace has tragically eluded the inhabitants of this holy land. The eyes of the world are upon the people of this region as they struggle to achieve a just and lasting solution to conflicts that have caused so much suffering. The hopes of countless men, women and children for a more secure and stable future depend on the outcome of negotiations for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. In union with people of good will everywhere, I plead with all those responsible to explore every possible avenue in the search for a just resolution of the outstanding difficulties, so that both peoples may live in peace in a homeland of their own, within secure and internationally recognized borders. In this regard, I hope and pray that a climate of greater trust can soon be created that will enable the parties to make real progress along the road to peace and stability.”******mon-yad-pope***

(Photo: Benedicat at Yad Vashem, 11 May 2009/Yannis Behrakis)

***AT YAD VASHEM;******See Popes at Yad Vashem: comparing John Paul and Benedict***

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INTERFAITH MEETING:

******GLOBALISATION: Today, nearly four thousand years after Abraham, the encounter of religions with culture occurs not simply on a geographical plane. Certain aspects of globalization and in particular the world of the internet have created a vast virtual culture, the worth of which is as varied as its countless manifestations. Undoubtedly much has been achieved to create a sense of closeness and unity within the world-wide human family. Yet, at the same time, the boundless array of portals through which people so readily access undifferentiated sources of information can easily become an instrument of increasing fragmentation: the unity of knowledge is shattered and the complex skills of critique, discernment and discrimination learned through academic and ethical traditions are at times bypassed or neglected.******The question naturally arises then as to what contribution religion makes to the cultures of the world against the backdrop of rapid globalization. Since many are quick to point out the readily apparent differences between religions, as believers or religious persons we are presented with the challenge to proclaim with clarity what we share in common.******UNITY WITHOUT UNIFORMITY: Abraham’s first step in faith, and our steps to or from the synagogue, church, mosque or temple, tread the path of our single human history, unfolding along the way, we might say, to the eternal Jerusalem (cf. Rev 21:23). Similarly, every culture with its inner capacity to give and receive gives expression to the one human nature. Yet, the individual is never fully expressed through his or her own culture, but transcends it in the constant search for something beyond. From this perspective, dear friends, we see the possibilityof a unity which is not dependent upon uniformity. While the differences we explore in inter-religious dialogue may at times appear as barriers, they need not overshadow the common sense of awe and respect for the universal, for the absolute and for truth, which impel religious peoples to converse with one another in the first place.******mon-interfaith***

(Photo: Benedict with leaders of other faiths, 11 May 2009/Ammar Awad)

***FAITH AND TRUTH: Religious belief presupposes truth. The one who believes is the one who seeks truth and lives by it. Although the medium by which we understand the discovery and communication of truth differs in part from religion to religion, we should not be deterred in our efforts to bear witness to truth’s power. Together we can proclaim that God exists and can be known, that the earth is his creation, that we are his creatures, and that he calls every man and woman to a way of life that respects his design for the world.******DIFFERENCES ENRICH BELIEVERS: Some would have us believe that our differences are necessarily a cause of division and thus at most to be tolerated. A few even maintain that our voices should simply be silenced. But we know that our differences need never be misrepresented as an inevitable source of friction or tension either between ourselves or in society at large. Rather, they provide a wonderful opportunity for people of different religions to live together in profound respect, esteem and appreciation, encouraging one another in the ways of God.***

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