“We rejoice with our Catholic friends at this unique recognition being given to the two Popes who were also the ones most responsible for the dramatic revolution in Catholic-Jewish relations in our times,” said International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee, Rabbi David Rosen, who will attend the canonization of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II on Sunday, April 27, in Rome. Vatican and Italian authorities are expecting as many as 1 million pilgrims to the ceremony, which will be a singular event in the history of the Catholic Church. Both Pope Francis and Pope emeritus Benedict XVI will be present to canonize two of their predecessors.
Both John XXII and Pope John Paul II are especially well-regarded for their efforts at reconciliation with the Jewish people, the elder brothers of the Catholic faith. "Good" Pope John called for the Second Vatican Council that in turn promulgated the landmark 'Nostra Aetate' declaration that clarified the Catholic Church's teaching as to the Jewish people. Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome since Saint Peter. A native of Poland, where much of the Holocaust took place, Pope John Paul also denounced anti-Semitism as a “sin against God and humanity.” He also formally established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1993 and made a historic visit to Israel in 2000.
Coincidentally, the canonizations take place on the day before the noting of Yom ha-Shoah, when Jews throughout the world commemorate the victims of the Holocaust.
Since becoming pontiff in March 2013, Pope Francis has made relations with the Jewish people a priority, continuing the legacy of his predecessors. In late May, Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian-controlled territories. While serving as the cardinal of Buenos Aires, Argentina, the former Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio was notable for his good relations with the Jewish community of that South American country.
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