The Pope Benedict I knew: A keeper of his faith with a deep respect for Judaism

Rabbi David Rosen, meets with Pope Benedict XVI

Rabbi David Rosen is the former chief rabbi of Ireland, and is American Jewish Committee’s International Director of Interreligious Affairs. He is an International Co-President of Religions for Peace, and has participated in many interfaith events, including the Day of Prayer for World Peace at Assisi 2011, alongside Pope Benedict XVI.

(JTA) — I was first introduced to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later to become Pope Benedict XVI, in the late 1980s when he was visiting Jerusalem. Teddy Kollek, mayor of Jerusalem, was eager for me to meet with the cardinal, telling me that I would discover a very different person from the image portrayed in the general media. He was so correct.

That image was in no small part the result of Pope John Paul II having made him the head of the Vatican Office for Doctrine and Faith, to enforce orthodox Catholic teaching. In addition, the fact that Ratzinger was a shy man with a professorial background and attitude often led people to see him as aloof and even cold.

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