To the Editor:
The Daily News editorial, "A New Pope but Old Doctrine" (April 20) is off base in suggesting that Jews have reason to be concerned about Pope Benedict XVI.
First, as a European and a German, he has keen sensitivities to the horrors committed against the Jews of Europe during the 20th century, particularly during the Holocaust. He has written that because of the Holocaust, "a new vision of the relationship between the Church and Israel has been born: a sincere willingness to overcome every kind of anti-Judaism and to initiate a constructive dialogue based on knowledge of each other and on reconciliation."
He has spoken about anti-Jewish attitudes that have been associated with Christianity which "throughout history have led to deplorable acts of violence." He has also recognized that many Christians were complicit in the Holocaust because of "an inherited anti-Judaism present in the hearts of not a few Christians."
The Daily News claims that in a 2000 document, then Cardinal Ratzinger asserted that Judaism is "gravely deficient." In fact, the new pontiff has written about the shared history between Catholicism and Judaism and the desire for a sustained connection between them in the future. He makes no mention of Judaism as a lesser faith and has explicitly stated that Judaism "is not merely another religion to us, but is the foundation of our own faith."
The pope was a member of Hitler Youth in Germany as a teen, but he has atoned for this fact all of his life. The Anti-Defamation League has had the opportunity to work with the new pope, and we look forward to continuing that relationship. As we do so, we have every reason to believe that he will sustain the reconciliation that was a hallmark of his predecessor. The challenge will be for him to not only build on the remarkable breakthroughs that have occurred in Catholic-Jewish relations over the past few years, but to broaden and deepen them.
Philadelphia Regional Director