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Pope Benedict’s road to Jerusalem
Can the German pope mend Jewish-Catholic ties on his Mideast trip, without stumbling?
 

For a public figure “with an exceptional propensity for slipping on banana skins,” said The Economist, Pope Benedict XVI has made a “sure-footed start” to one of the trickiest weeks of his papacy—an eight-day tour of the Holy Land. After his successful Jordan leg of the trip, the pope faces a “trickier time” in Jerusalem, where his “condemnation of anti-Semitism” upon landing wasn’t enough to convince Israeli skeptics that he comes in peace.

Between Pope Benedict’s Hitler Youth childhood and his recent flub with a Holocaust-denying bishop, said Aluf Benn in Britain’s The Guardian, a little “suspicion” is understandable. But despite some mild “nitpicking” of his speech at Jerusalem’s Holocaust Memorial, “Israel has welcomed Benedict with the reddest carpet”—the pope and Israel could both use a “PR success.”

The pope can use his trip to atone for the Holocaust-denier “fiasco,” said Rabbi Marvin Heir in the Los Angeles Times. But Israel should recognize that “the Catholic Church of 2009 is no longer the same institution it was” 50 years ago—when anti-Semitism was official Vatican policy—and Pope Benedict helped bring about that change.

 

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