New York, NY, October 1, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed the announcement by the Vatican of the canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, saying that “for us in the Jewish community, they’ve already been saints for a long time.” In announcing the move toward sainthood, which will be formalized on April 27, Pope Francis cited his predecessors’ holiness and achievements, including their fostering of more positive relations with the Jewish people by advancing the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director and a Holocaust survivor from Poland who had multiple audiences with Pope John Paul II over the years of his papacy, issued the following statement:
The canonization of Pope John XXIII, the father of Vatican II, and Pope John Paul II, who denounced anti-Semitism as “sin against God and humanity” and who was the first pope to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome since the time of Peter, formalizes and celebrates the courageous leadership of these two holy men who were determined to set the church on the right path toward better relations with other faiths.
For us in the Jewish community, Popes John Paul II and John XXIII have already been saints for a long time. They are towering men whose visionary leadership and groundbreaking reforms transformed Jewish-Catholic relations and reversed two thousand painful years of church-based anti-Semitism.
John XXIII was the driving force behind the Vatican II Council, out of which came the historic Nostre Aetate document which revolutionized the Catholic Church’s approach to Jews and Judaism and repudiated the centuries-old “deicide” charge against all Jews. And we will never forget the many meaningful historic gestures by John Paul II, including his pilgrimage to the Great Synagogue in Rome and the Western Wall in Jerusalem and his decision to establish formal diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel. In his exceptional writings and pronouncements, John Paul II shared his understanding of Judaism as a living heritage and denounced the “sin” of anti-Semitism.