by Viviane Hewitt in Rome
POPE John Paul 11 must work to establish diplomatic relations with Israel before he can accept an Israeli invitation to Jerusalem, a delegation of the Committee of American Jewry said last weekend in Rome after a special papal audience.
The committee said "full and formal" relations with Israel would be a major historic contribution to the Middle East peace process and added that American Jews were dismayed by "Vatican reluctance" to take such a step.
The committee, which met with the Pope five years ago, urged him to make his spiritual authority felt more in the ArabIsraeli conflict and said John Paul should not play a merely "technical" role in mediation.
The delegation also appealed to the Pope to intensify what it called his mission against heightening anti-semitism in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.
In Rome to mark the 25th
anniversary of the declaration, Nostra Aetate, in which the Second Vatican Council discussed Catholic-Jewish relations, the Committee of American Jewry met with the Pope in the first audience of a strictly formal nature with representatives of Judaism since the Auschwitz Carmelite convent controversy.
The committee welcomed the Church's solution to the question of removing the convent, set up within the World War II concentration camp, to just outside the compound.