cardinal and rosen 298.
(photo credit: AP [file])
A Jewish group on Sunday presented a candelabra symbolizing Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust to a Catholic cardinal, a way of underlining positive changes in Jewish-Catholic relations in recent decades.
The candelabra has six branches, in memory of the 6 million Jews killed by German Nazis and their collaborators during World War II.
Rabbi Jack Bemporad, of the Center for Interreligious Understanding, the New Jersey-based organization that facilitated the gift, presented the menorah to Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, head of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, a Catholic study center in Jerusalem. The purpose was "to offer a loving embrace to the Jewish people," Bemporad said,
The bronze menorah features six men, women and children wearing Jewish prayer shawls and standing on a broken star of David.
"The candle is a tragic symbol, because it consumes itself by giving light," Bemporad said.
Jewish leaders and historians have long charged that the Catholic church did not do all it could to stop the slaughter during the Holocaust, while Catholic scholars have countered that the church was severely limited in its abilities to influence the Nazis.
Bemporad said the turning point in Catholic-Jewish relations came in 1965 at the end of the Second Vatican Council, when Jews were absolved of the killing of Jesus and anti-Semitism was banned.
Martini thanked Bemporad for the gift and lit the first candle. Martini, who has written several books on the centrality of Jerusalem in the religious life of the Catholic church, called the city "the center of world history, the center of hope."
The menorah will remain on permanent display at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Jerusalem.
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