Israeli leaders eulogize the pope

April 3, 2005 at 11:41 AM

JERUSALEM, April 3 (UPI) -- Israeli leaders Sunday praised the late Pope John Paul II's role in changing the Catholic Church's attitude towards Jews.

President Moshe Katsav said the pope, "Showed his believers new paths to interfaith reconciliation and brotherhood."

The Jews will remember him for having "put an end to an historic injustice when he officially disavowed the prejudices and accusations ... against the Jews that had multiplied in Catholic Church writings and amongst its believers," Katsav said. Those accusations caused Jews to suffer "from venomous anti-Semitism, persecutions and bloodshed."

Prime Minster Ariel Sharon said the pope "was familiar with the uniqueness of the Jewish People and ... worked for an historic reconciliation ... and for the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and the Vatican in late 1993."

The pope visited Israel in March 2000 and deposited a letter to God in the Western Wall, the remaining relic of the ancient Jewish Temple, apologizing for "the behavior of those (who) in the course of history have caused those children of yours to suffer."

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