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A visit to Rome’s synagogue

oday’s visit is meant to make a decisive contribution to the consolidation of the good relations between our two communities, in imitation of the example of so many men and women who have worked and who are still working today, on both sides, to overcome old prejudices and to secure ever wider and fuller recognition of that ”bond” and that ”common spiritual patrimony” that exists between Jews and Christians.

This is the hope expressed in the fourth paragraph of the council’s declaration ”Nostra Aetate,” which I have just mentioned, on the relationship of the church to non-Christian religions. The decisive turning-point in relations between the Catholic Church and Judaism, and with individual Jews, was occasioned by this brief but incisive paragraph.

We are all aware that, among the riches of this paragraph No. 4 of ”Nostra Aetate,” three points are especially relevant. I would like to underline them here before you in this truly unique circumstance.

The first is that the church of Christ discovers her ”bond” with Judaism by ”searching into her own mystery.” The Jewish religion is not ”extrinsic” to us, but in a certain way is ”intrinsic” to our own religion. With Judaism, therefore, we have a relationship which we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearly beloved brothers, and in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder brothers.” (April 13, 1986)