(Communicated by the President’s Media Adviser)

President Moshe Katsav expresses his deepest regret over the passing of Pope John Paul II and sends condolences – on behalf of both the State of Israel and himself – to the millions of mourners throughout the Christian world.

As a Christian leader and the head of the Roman Catholic Church, John Paul II will be remembered as someone who showed his believers new paths to interfaith reconciliation and brotherhood.  Karol Wojtyla will be remembered as a moral man who stood for human rights and whose heart was with the downtrodden and the oppressed.

The Jewish People will remember John Paul II as someone who courageously stood up and put an end to an historic injustice when he officially disavowed the prejudices and accusations – for which our people and our faith had suffered from venomous anti-Semitism, persecutions and bloodshed – against the Jews that had multiplied in Catholic church writings and amongst its believers.  He also initiated and fostered an enhanced and fruitful dialogue between Judaism and Christianity, and between Israel and the Vatican.