In his latest column, Italian Vatican analyst Sandro Magister underscores the “double surprise” that Pope Benedict XVI caused on the first day of his trip to Israel by explaining two important issues: the conditions for peace and security, and the issue of the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.
In his column entitled, “The Pope in Israel. Day One, Two Surprises,” Magister points out that: “As soon as he landed in Israel on Monday, Benedict XVI immediately took up the most controversial questions: first peace and security, then the Holocaust and anti-Semitism.”
“On both fronts,” Magister says, “the ambush was set. He was subjected to constant pressure, not all of it above-board. For many of his critics, the script was already written, and they were simply waiting to judge whether and how the pope would stick to it.” However, “Benedict XVI acted with surprising originality, in both cases.”
“The advent of peace -continues- has been tied by him indisolubly to the ‘Search for God’ that has been the dominant theme of his memorable speech of Paris to the cultural world, one of the main speeches of his pontificate.
The Pope “asserted the unbreakable bond between the advent of peace” has been tied to the “Search for God.” This was “one of the dominant themes in his memorable speech to cultural figures in Paris, one of the main speeches of his pontificate. He developed the theme of security – which is crucial for Israel – on the basis of the biblical word ‘betah,’ which means security, but also trust: and the one cannot stand without the other.”
Likewise, Magister adds, “On his visit to Yad Vashem – the memorial for the victims of the Holocaust, where their names are inscribed by the millions – the pope illustrated the meaning of another biblical word: the ‘name’.”
The Pope explained that “the names of all ‘are indelibly inscribed in the memory of Almighty God.’ And therefore ‘one can never take away the name of another human being,’ not even when one intends to take away everything he has,” Magister writes.
“The cry of the slain rises from the ground as in the time of Abel, against any spilling of innocent blood, and God hears all of their cries, because ‘his mercies are not spent.’ The pope wrote these last words, taken from the book of Lamentations, in the guest book that he signed,” the Vatican analyst says.