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In a September 30 letter to Jewish community leaders, Archbishop Seán P. O’Malley offered his prayers and best wishes during their celebration of Rosh Hashana and pledged to work together “so that anti-Semitism and any hatred for others may be uprooted from every human heart.”
“On behalf of the archdiocese and the Church I pledge to work with you to teach the lessons learned at such a terrible cost during the Shoah,” he wrote.
In his letter Archbishop O’Malley acknowledged the work that Pope John Paul II did to advance understanding between Catholics and Jews.
“The Catholic community was touched deeply by the outpouring of affection from the Jewish community for John Paul during his pontificate and, especially, at the time of his death. May his memory continue to be for us a blessing,” he wrote.
On Sept. 18 the archbishop attended the 10th anniversary and rededication of the New England Holocaust Memorial, the “beacon of memory and hope.” This year is the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, and the archbishop expressed his sadness for the Shoah, Hebrew for Holocaust. “May God grant that our work together may also be called ‘a beacon of hope,’” he wrote.
The Jewish New Year is also the beginning of Ramadan and the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of the archbishop’s religious order.
“St. Francis shared his love of God and His creation with all people and is esteemed as an exemplar of peace in the name of God. For this reason, Pope John Paul II chose Assisi as the place to invite religious leaders from around the world to gather together to pray for peace. In that spirit, let us continue to reach out to one another and to pray and work together for peace in the world, especially in the Holy Land of Israel and throughout the Middle East,” he wrote.
This October is the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council document, Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. Pope Benedict XVI called the document “a milestone on the road towards reconciliation of Christians with the Jewish people” when he met with the Chief Rabbis of Israel recently, the archbishop continued.
“The past 40 years of Christian-Jewish relations, while not without misunderstandings and disagreements, have, on the whole, yielded great benefits for which, above all, we must give thanks to God,” he said.