In an Op-Ed with the Los Angeles Times, Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein of the Simon Wiesenthal Center join their Catholic friends in praying that people of all faiths find inspiration in Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II.
These great men deserve admiration and respect, Cooper and Adlerstein say, due to their efforts towards breaking down the centuries old barrier between the Christian and Jewish people.
Of our beloved patron, they write:
As a young man in Poland under Hitler, Karol Wojtyla was witness to hell on Earth. He personally rescued a starving 13-year-old Jewish girl at a rail station, feeding and caring for her.
During the Middle Ages, Jews in Rome's Great Synagogue were forced to listen to harangues against their faith delivered by apostate Jews. John Paul II delivered a different message when he attended that synagogue, the first pope to visit a Jewish house of worship, embracing Rome's Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff and calling Jews the "elder brothers" of Christians.
He continued walking on new ground. He visited Jerusalem and the Western Wall, praying there for forgiveness for the way Christians had mistreated Jews for almost 2,000 years. He walked in pilgrimage to the blood-drenched killing grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau. He organized a papal concert in memory of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. He established full diplomatic relations with Israel, accepting a revivified Jewish nation.
Even before he was Pope, Blessed John Paul II was saintly in his recognition of the dignity of every human person. He carried that with him to the papacy, and now we the faithful ask for his intercession, that we may do the same.