Wiesenthal Center Awards Pope for Efforts in Judeo-Christian Dialogue

John Paul II Calls on Nations to Promote Peace and Reconciliation

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- At an audience with representatives of the Jewish community, John Paul II appealed to nations to reinforce the "commitment of mutual understanding, reconciliation and peace."



His words were addressed to the European Section of the Simon Wiesenthal Center of Paris, an institution founded in 1977 to preserve the memory of the Holocaust, while promoting tolerance and understanding.

During today's audience, the delegation awarded the Pope a prize in recognition of his work to foster Judeo-Christian dialogue. Past recipients of the award were the Dalai Lama and King Hussein of Jordan.

"I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican today and I thank you for your good wishes and for the gift that you have presented to me on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of my election to the See of Peter," the Pope said in English.

"In these difficult times let us pray that all peoples everywhere will be strengthened in their commitment to mutual understanding, reconciliation and peace," he added.

In a statement issued before the audience, Rabbi Marvin Hier, who headed the delegation, said he hoped to address with the Pope the topic of the "proliferation of anti-Semitism and international terrorism in the world."

The rabbi also he would ask the Holy Father to support a campaign to have the international community declare suicide attacks a "crime against humanity."