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Rome Reports

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The synagogue visited by two Popes...and that Pope Francis might visit as well

During his visit to the Sant'Egidio community in June, Pope Francis received a formal invitation to visit the synagogue of Rome. If he does, he will be the third Pope to visit this temple.  Built in 1904, the building has survived the tragedies of the past and has witinessed the first visit of a Pope to a synagogue since the time of St. Peter. It was St. John Paul II in 1986.  FABIO PERUGIA Synagogue of Rome "Thanks to John Paul II's visit to the synagogue, relations between the Jewish people and Christians are much better because there is a greater mutual understanding. The values and history of these two peoples that, as John Paul II said, are brothers is well known.â? John Paul II marked his presence there before and after relations with Judaism began. That is how this community remembers it, who suffered persecution firsthand. A step forward in this relationship was made when Benedict XVI visited in 2009.  FABIO PERUGIA Synagogue of Rome "I was sitting in one of these benches. The Pope was seated on the top left of the temple, on the platform next Chief Rabbi Di Segni. It was also a very important moment.â? Although there is no fixed date for the visit, preparations are excitedly underway. This is due in part to the special relationship of Jorge Mario Bergoglio with the Jewish community.  FABIO PERUGIA Synagogue of Rome "His history, until he was elected Pope, is very clear regarding his relationship with the Jewish people and he shows it with his great friendship with Argentinian Rabbi Skorka. Once he became Pope this sensitivity to dialogue has grown given the role he represents. The Pope has spoken over the phone with our Chief Rabbi Di Segni.â? For the Jewish community in Rome, the visit will be an occasion to convey a message of frienship and collaboration between Jews and Christians, two faiths that have lived together in the Eternal City for almost 2,000 years.  AC/JAE MG JM -PR Up: GRT