BY STAFF REPORTER
THE LATIN Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, will accompany Benedict XVI this Sunday when the Pontiff visits Rome’s Great Synagogue.
The archbishop told the Italian news agency SIR that he and other Catholics of the Holy Land would accompany the Pope in the hope that the gesture would strengthen interreligious relations, as well as express the Church’s re spect for Israelis. Others who will accompany the Holy Father include Archbishop Antonio Franco, apostolic nuncio in Israel and the apostolic delegate for Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories, and Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, vicar of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem for Israel.
“I will go with the Pope to the synagogue,” said Archbishop Twal. “My hope is that this visit might help our interreligious relations. It is a gesture we make with the heart, to demonstrate our respect also to the Israeli community. We hope it will have a positive impact on Israeli public opinion and on Jerusalem.” Fr David Neuhaus, Latin Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrewspeaking Catholics in Israel, told SIR that “although this visit does not represent a novelty, it has a high symbolic value. Jews and Catholics perhaps are not yet accustomed to seeing the Catholic Church going with respect to Jewish brethren.” Rabbi David Rosen, director of the American Jewish Committee’s interreligious affairs department, said: “With the visit to the synagogue, Pope Benedict is institutionalising revolutions. By visiting the Roman synagogue Benedict XVI is making it very difficult for a subsequent Pope not to pay such a visit.
“John Paul II’s visit could have been a one-off, but now with Benedict XVI’s visit there is a sense of continuity,” he said.