And during that visit the Pope said:. I renew the appeal I made Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform.
And the Pope included the death penalty in the pro-life issues raised at his meeting with President George W Bush in July He did this without any compromise of Roman Catholic doctrine. In a speech in Athens in John Paul II re-emphasised the importance that he gave to friendship between the churches:. Division between Christians is a sin before God and a scandal before the world.
It is a hindrance to the spread of the Gospel, because it makes our proclamation less credible. The Catholic Church is convinced that she must do all in her power to prepare the way of the Lord and to make straight his paths Mt ; and she understands that this must be done in company with other Christians — in fraternal dialogue, in cooperation and in prayer.
Hopes of reunion with the Orthodox churches - estranged from Rome for a thousand years - remained remote, despite papal visits to Romania and Georgia, Greece and Ukraine. In , in Athens, the Pope made the first apology to the Orthodox world for Catholic sins of the past, saying:. For the occasions past and present, when sons and daughters of the Catholic Church have sinned by action or omission against their Orthodox brothers and sisters, may the Lord grant us the forgiveness we beg of him.
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And he particularly mentioned the sacking of the Orthodox city of Constantinople by Catholic Crusaders in , an act still unforgiven. The Pope went on to praise the Greek Orthodox Church:. The universal Church can never forget what Greek Christianity has given her, nor cease to give thanks for the enduring influence of the Greek tradition. The Pope's visit to Ukraine was marked by great hostility from the Orthodox. The Pope's success in re-establishing one of the Catholic Eastern rite churches, the Ukrainian Catholic Church, which had been dissolved by Stalin, had not endeared him to the Russian Orthodox church.
The head of that church, Alexy II, complained that the Pope had entered Russian territory to poach for converts and refused to meet him until he expressed regret for alleged violence carried out by his followers against Orthodox communities in Ukraine, including beating Orthodox priests, harassing believers and demolishing churches. The head of the Orthodox in Ukraine, Metropolitan Volodimyr, failed to attend a meeting of reconciliation in Kiev to which he was invited, preferring to attend the consecration of a new church in another country.
But in things became more hopeful. The Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church agreed to set up a joint working group to try to improve relations. The image, an 18th-Century copy of one of Russia's most sacred images, the Virgin of Kazan, was bought in the West by Roman Catholics in , and had been hanging above the Pope's desk in the Vatican. Also that year the Pope returned the relics of two early Christian saints to Bartholomew I, Patriarch of Constantinople and spiritual leader of some million Orthodox Christians.
The relics had been kept in St Peter's in Rome for more than years. The Patriarch responded generously, saying, "this brotherly gesture by the church of Ancient Rome confirms that in the church of Christ there are no problems which are insurmountable, when love, justice and peace meet. We believe in the same God, the one God, the living God, the God who created the world and brings his creatures to their perfection. John Paul II made significant moves towards closer relationships with Muslims. In he spoke to a gathering of 50, young Muslims in Morocco, at the invitation of the King.
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His visit to the Umayyad mosque in Damascus in broke new ground as a symbol of harmony between Christianity and Islam. During the visit the Pope said that Muslims and Christians should be in "respectful dialogue, nevermore as communities in conflict". And he added, "for all the times that Muslims and Christians have offended one another, we need to seek forgiveness from the Almighty and offer each other forgiveness".
During the visit to Syria the Pope also called for greater understanding and respect between the followers of the "three Abrahamic religions" Judaism, Islam, Christianity. However, one should not take this call for harmony as suggesting anything other than a way of coexisting in the face of profound differences. In his book On the Threshold of Hope , John Paul showed his conviction that Islam had discarded much that was essential, by making God exist outside of the world: "a God who is only Majesty, never Emmanuel, God-with-us," and by not being "a religion of redemption".
John Paul was clear that "not only the theology but also the anthropology of Islam is very distant from Christianity". We Christians recognize that the Jewish religious heritage is intrinsic to our own faith: you are our elder brothers. John Paul II had known Jewish people from an early age.
He had been brought up as a child playing with Jews in Poland. No other pope had had such a close experience of Jewish culture so it was not surprising that he went further than any other pope to restore friendship between the Vatican and the Jewish people.
I remember I can vividly remember the Jews who gathered every Saturday at the synagogue behind our school. Both religious groups, Catholics and Jews, were united, I presume, by the awareness that they prayed to the same God. Despite their different languages, prayers in the church and in the synagogue were based to a considerable degree on the same texts.
John Paul lost many people he knew during the Holocaust, so anti-Semitism was a reality that he had experienced.
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Furthermore he had experienced the anti-semitism of the Church, having heard the viciously anti-Jewish remarks made by an earlier Polish Cardinal. For more than 20 years John Paul II pursued a consistent policy of moving the Church towards a historic reconciliation with the Jewish people. He was the first Pope to visit a Jewish synagogue and Auschwitz.
He made a dramatic apology for a history of Christian anti-Semitism, and throughout his papacy spoke strongly against any form of anti-Jewish sentiment. In spring he went to Israel as a pilgrim. The document Nostra Aetate had gone some way to recognise the vast spiritual heritage that Christians and Jews had in common, and John Paul capitalised on this.
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He believed that he should work for a new era of reconciliation and peace between Jews and Christians, and he pledged March that the Catholic Church would do everything possible to ensure that it was not just a dream but a reality. One of John Paul's first acts of reconciliation was to pay a visit to the synagogue in Rome in His predecessor, John XXIII had stopped his car outside the synagogue once to bless people leaving the sabbath service. In , the Vatican gave diplomatic recognition to Israel, and in he formally apologised for the failure of Catholics to help Jews during the Holocaust.
The apology in March also acknowledged that Christian anti-semitism might have made Nazi persecution of the Jews easier. The Pope described the Holocaust as "an indelible stain on the 20th century. In March he apologised for wrongs inflicted on Jews down the ages, although he did not explicitly mention the Holocaust. We hope that the Jewish people will acknowledge that the Church utterly condemns anti-Semitism and every form of racism as being altogether opposed to the principles of Christianity.
We must work together to build a future in which there will be no more anti-Judaism among Christians or anti-Christian sentiment among Jews. As Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter, I assure the Jewish people that the Catholic Church, motivated by the Gospel law of truth, and love, and by no political considerations, is deeply saddened by the hatred, acts of persecution and displays of anti-Semitism directed against the Jews by Christians at any time and in any place.
But although the Pope called for a new relationship between the Christian and Jewish faiths based on their common roots, he stopped short of the apology many Israelis had sought for the silence of the Catholic Church during the Holocaust. Nor did he condemn explicitly the Nazi persecution of the Jews.
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For many, Jew and Catholic alike, the longed-for apology was acted out, even if not spoken, when the Pope walked in the footsteps of uncounted millions of Jews to the Western Wall in Jerusalem, and put a prayer for forgiveness and togetherness into the wall We are deeply saddened by the behavior of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer. And asking your forgiveness, we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the covenant. He did not shun the Austrian president, Kurt Waldheim, despite much public disquiet about his role in war crimes.
Many commentators thought that John Paul's apology in Israel did not go far enough, but any stronger apology would have implied criticism of the wartime Pope, Pius XII, and popes do not criticise other popes. Pius XII is on the road to sainthood, despite much criticism of his failure to take strong enough action against Nazi anti-semitism. Nor was Pius XII the only controversial papal candidate for canonisation. Pius IX, pope between and , was notoriously anti-Semitic: he had forced the Jews of Rome into a ghetto, baptised their children by force, and restricted their rights.
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He is also accused of kidnapping a Jewish child and raising him as his own son. Another controversial candidate for sainthood whom John Paul II beatified was the Croatian wartime Archbishop, Cardinal Stepinac, whom Jewish groups accuse of collaborating with the Nazi regime in Croatia. Jews were also offended by the canonisation of Edith Stein, a Jewish convert to Catholicism who became a nun and died in Auschwitz.
It was the first occasion since Bible times that a Jewish-born person had been made a saint, but Jewish groups claimed that she had been killed for her Jewish origins, and not as a martyr to her Catholic faith - the reason for her canonisation. Another controversial saint was Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Franciscan monk who died at Auschwitz in the place of another prisoner who had been condemned to death. Kolbe had edited an anti-semitic magazine in Poland before the war. In the Pope was involved in controversy when his new book controversially compared abortion and the Holocaust.
In his fifth book, Memory and Identity , he said both were the result of governments clashing with divine law. The Pope wrote that both abortion and the mass murder of six million Jews came about as a result of people usurping the "law of God" beneath the guise of democracy. It was a legally elected parliament which allowed for the election of Hitler in Germany in the s We have to question the legal regulations that have been decided in the parliaments of present day democracies.
The most direct association which comes to mind is the abortion laws Parliaments which create and promulgate such laws must be aware that they are transgressing their powers and remain in open conflict with the law of God and the law of nature. This added new energy to the ongoing debate about who the next pope might be. The official ceremony in which the cardinals were given their red hats took place in the same week as the 25th anniversary of John Paul's election as Pope.
The appointments were the Pope's last chance to affect the papal succession. The new cardinals joined the elite group who chose the next Pope. When a Pope dies, around cardinals travel to the Vatican for his funeral and for the election of his successor. Although there are more than cardinals worldwide, those over the age of 80 are not eligible to vote.
Observers thought the national mix of the new cardinals made a European pope very likely, since 18 of the new electors came from Europe. Nonetheless there was a strong group hoping for a pope from the Third World, the area where Catholicism is strongest. High quality candidates from Latin America and Nigeria were put forward. The BBC's correspondent in Rome describes the scenes as mourners arrived to see the Pope's lying-in-state.
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