November 10, 2011. (Romereports.com)
The pope met with the Israeli Religious Council at the Vatican. The council is made up of the main religious communities from Israel. The meeting was the first of its kind in Israeli and Vatican relations.
The pope spoke with them about how cooperation between religions can lead to a longer lasting peace. Benedict XVI“In our troubled times, dialogue between different religions is becoming ever more important in the generation of an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect that can lead to friendship and solid trust in each other.”
Among those was the head Imam of Israel and the Chief Rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger. He described the meeting with the pope as an example of inter-religious peace that is a daily occurrence in his country of Israel. Yona Metzger
Chief Rabbi of Israel“We wanted to show him that the voices from Israel are also voices of peace. Because always in the media you hear something connected to terror, bombs, violence, and a very very bad impression. And today we did a historic event, a very important meeting with the pope to spread the idea that it's not true.”
Joining the religious leaders in their meeting was the Israeli Ambassador to the Vatican, Mordechay Lewy. Mordechay Lewy
Israel Ambassador to Vatican“So I think its good that we have a non-governmental body which is doing actually this kind of bringing peace and bridging between the communities who often live one next to the other.”
Ambassador Lewy also spoke about UNESCO's recent recognition of Palestine, saying the organization played no role in the governance of holy sites. Mordechay Lewy
Israel Ambassador to Vatican“UNESCO has no bearing to holy sites at all. Holy sites is a religious issue which is regulated by a national law, not only in Israel but also in other places. And UNESCO has no bearing, I don´t see any bearing of UNESCO in the question of Holy Sites.”
In many ways, this meeting served as a follow up to the Inter-religious meeting at Assisi in October, where many of these Israeli religious leaders were in attendance.