NEW YORK – Upon learning of the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said:
“It is with great sadness that I learned today that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has passed away. He was a towering figure of the Roman Catholic Church, both as pope and before that as the cardinal who gave the Catholic-Jewish relationship solid theological underpinning and enhanced understanding. No pope before him visited as many synagogues, and he made a point of meeting with local Jewish community representatives whenever he visited foreign nations.
“I was honored to meet with Pope Benedict three times at the Vatican, and each time was deeply moved by his affection and friendship for the Jewish people, his commitment to remembrance of the Shoah, and his unambiguous condemnation of Holocaust denial in any form.
“It is in large part by building on the foundation laid by Pope Benedict that Pope Francis has strengthened the friendship and bond between Jews and Catholics and fostered the closeness and warmth that prevails today. On behalf of more than 100 Jewish communities across the globe, I extend our most heartfelt sympathies to Pope Francis and to all Catholics around the world mourning this loss. May the memory of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI be for a blessing.”
The World Jewish Congress has been at the forefront of dialogue with the Holy See for over 50 years. Most recently, the WJC Executive Committee was received in November 2023 in a private audience by Pope Francis after convening in the Vatican to launch the “Kishreinu” (Our Bond) initiative marking the next chapter of Jewish-Catholic relations.
About the World Jewish Congress