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- VATICAN: Our Holy Father Benedict XVI received this Monday January 16th at 11 AM in Rome a large Jewish delegation, conducted by the new Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni. The pope's welcome was more that cordial: "Chief Supreme Rabbi, dear friends, Shalom!", were his first words. The pope expressed his concern about "new signs of anti-semitism and racism" (the ever growing anti-Christian and especially anti-baby racisms apparently don't interest anybody; yet precisely this is what ought to be amphatically explained to the Holy Father's illoustrous visitors, who are in a particularly good position to stop - or conribute to stopping - those barbaric behavious of so called 'modern man'). In these alarming circumstances, the pope reassured the Jewish community of Rome: "The Catholic Church is close to you and is a friend. Indeed, we love you and we are unable not to love you because of the Fathers: through them, you are to us our very dear and preferred brothers", these words sounding like an echo of those of John-Paul II's famous visit to the synagogue in Rome in 1986 and of his own when he visited the synagogue of Cologne at the time of the WYD in August 2005 where not only the Jews of Cologne had received him, but also cardinal Lustiger, bishop emeritus of Paris. The pope insisted on "the common mission of Jews and Christians: a mission of solidarity and of transmitting the Decalogue to the young generations", in order "to cooperate to the common good of all peoples". The pope pursued: "The emergencies and challenges are so numerous, in Rome and in the world, that they incite us to unite our hands and our hearts for initiatives of true solidarity, of tzedek (justice) and of tzedekah (charity)." - Then it was the Chief Rabbi's turn to speak, and he the invited the pope to come "when he wanted" to visit the large synagogue in Rome, the one that John-Paul II had visited in 1986. - In response, let us simply recall the words which Peter, the first pope of the Catholic Church, addressed to the Jews of Jerusalem: "Men of Israel, ... the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers has glorified his Son Jesus, whom you delivered up and disowned before the face of Pilatus, when he had decided that he should be released. But you disowned the Holy and the Just one, and asked that a murderer should be granted to you. But the Author of life you killed, has been raised up by God from the dead; whereof we are witnesses... And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But in this way God fulfilled what He had announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, namely that his Christ should suffer. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be slotted out, in order that the time of refreshment may come". (Act. 3.12-20). And on an earlier occasion: "repent and be baptized every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sind; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Act. 2.37). - Those were the words of the first pope to the Jews of Jerusalem. But there is no mention of it, not even an allusion, in the message of the 264th pope to the Jews of Rome, Cologne and the rest of the world. It is true that Benedict XVI, unlike John-Paul II who told thousands of young Moslems in Morocco: "You should become ever more Islamic!", didn't go as far as saying: "You should become ever more Jewish!" But has anyone the right to give those who are hungry, stones to eat? If conversion is unavoidable for the Jews, according to Saint Peter, it would appear necessary, that they should be told by someone? And who can tell them better than the pope, apostle among the apostles? - As for us common Christians, let's pray with our Holy Mother the Church, the way she does particularly on Good Friday, for the conversion of the Jews to O.L. Jesus Christ! We are not afraid to do so, on the contrary, it is our salvatory obligation. - (ru; cf. ZEN Aug.19, 2005, and Jan.16, 2006).

- AUSTRIA: In comparison, the auxiliary bishop Mgr Andreas Laun of Salzburg in Austria shows a lot more courage. He recently declared in an interview to the KURIER, in relation to the problem of the massive immigration in Austria, that the cathedral Saint Stephan in Vienna may be turned into a mosque some day. "It can occur quicker than one thinks", he added. "In Constantinople, no one could ever have imagined that the Hagia Sophia would be changed one day into a mosque." - The director of Caritas in Vienna, Mr. Michael Landau, immediately criticized what Mgr Laun had said: "I consider the fact of stirring up fears as a great mistake. We are in this case faced with an isolated and personal opinion from the auxiliary bishop of Salzburg which I cannot share at all. The ecclesiastic line is dialogue." - Comment from the bishop: "Michael Landau didn't listen well. In the first place, a warning is a service given to the common good, and as nothing to do with 'stirring up fears'. Next, it is not immigration which is the danger, but the self-destruction of the Austrians refusing to have children. My intervention is neither aimed against foreigners nor against a fair dialogue, but against our own behavior that one must call suicidal - and that somebody should at long last stigmatize as such. Because of this kind of behavior, immigration can become a peril - a peril which, in final analysis, comes from ourselves. Of course, this is not a danger for those who don't like Austria and who consider that the disappearance of Christianity would not be a pain. In which case, it's indeed not worthwhile to denounce this danger, but possible to be satisfied with observing with indifference what's going on... It is worth a mention that if Mr Landau wished to imply that I would be alone, without anyone wh'd share these considerations, he is mistaken. There are lots of people who are coming to me with expressions of gratitude: at long last, here is someone who speaks up in public and says what we are thinking and experiencing." - Bravo, Monseigneur! Let's hope that Mgr Laun doesn't receive a snub from Benedict XVI, like Radio-Maria in Poland, directed by Rev. Father Rydzyk defending similar ideas. - (ru; cf. SJN Jan. 11)

- - A.M.D.G. - -

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