POPE JOHN Paul made friendly overtures to Jewish believers when he spoke to bishops and other Christian leaders in Rome this month on the Church's relations with Judaism.
The Pope called CatholicJewish links part of God's design and likened the religions to shoots from the same stock. His words may go some way to allaying fears of some active in Catholic and Jewish reconciliation that Vatican conversations with Arab militants might signal a turning away from sympathy with Jewish aspirations.
Quoting from Vatican II's declaration on relations with nonChristians, the Pope said: "The Church cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through this people. She ever keeps in mind the words of the apostle Paul about his kinsmen, who have the adoption as sons, and the glory, and the covenant and the legislation and the worship and the promises: who have the fathers, and from whom is Christ according to the flesh', the son of the Virgin Mary.' "This is as much as to say that the links between the church and the Jewish people are grounded in the design of the God of the covenant and that as such they have necessarily left traces in certain aspects of the church's institutions, especially in the liturgy.
"Certainly since a new bough appeared from the common root 2,000 years ago, we know that relations between our two communities have been marked by resentments and a tack of understanding. If there have been misunderstandings, errors and even insults since the day of separation, it now is a question of overcoming them with understanding, peace and mutual esteem. The terrible persecutions suffered by the Jews in various periods of history have finally opened many eyes and disturbed many hearts. Thus Christians are on the right path, that of justice and brotherhood when they seek, with respect and perseverance to gather with the Semitic brethren around the common heritage which is a wealth to us all.