Pope Benedict to visit New York synagogue led by Holocaust survivor

During his first papal trip to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI will visit a synagogue led by a rabbi who survived the Holocaust, US bishops said Thursday. Benedict will make a brief stop April 18 at Manhattan's Park Street Synagogue, whose leader, Rabbi Arthur Schneier, lived under Nazi occupation in Budapest and emigrated to the US in 1947. The pontiff, 80, is a native of Germany whose father was anti-Nazi. Benedict was enrolled in the Hitler Youth as a teenager against his will and then was drafted into the German army in the last months of the war. He wrote in his memoirs that he deserted in the war's last days. It will be the pope's second visit to a synagogue as pontiff. On his first papal trip abroad in 2005, Benedict visited a synagogue in Cologne, Germany, that had been rebuilt after it was destroyed by the Nazis. "By this personal and informal visit, which is not part of his official program, His Holiness wishes to express his good will toward the local Jewish community as they prepare for Passover," said Monsignor David Malloy, general secretary of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Passover begins at sundown on April 19. Separately, the pope has scheduled a meeting with Jewish leaders and representatives of other faiths for April 17 in Washington.