March 26, 2000
During his visit to the Western Wall, John Paul II observed the custom of inserting a short prayer into a nook in the wall. This is the text of that signed and stamped prayer, which has been preserved at Yad Vashem.
God of our fathers,
you chose Abraham and his descendants
to bring Your name to the nations:
we are deeply saddened
by the behavior of those
who in the course of history
have caused these children of Yours to suffer
and asking Your forgiveness
we wish to commit ourselves
to genuine brotherhood
with the people of the Covenant
Jerusalem, 26 March 2000.
Joannnes Paulus II
MINISTER MELCHIOR'S SPEECH TO POPE JOHN PAUL II AT WESTERN WALL This is Minister for Israeli Society and Jewish Communities, Rabbi Michael Melchior's speech welcoming Pope John Paul II to the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Sunday, March 26, 2000 :
Your Honor, the Pope :
Thousands of years of history are looking down on us from atop this sacred mount and from amidst the stones of this remnant of our holy Temple. And they see you here.
Thrice daily, for thousands of years, Jews have prayed toward this place from North, South, East and West-indeed from every corner of the globe. We have never stopped praying. We have never stopped yearning: "May our eyes behold God's merciful return to Zion".
In the torturous dungeons of the Inquisition, while awaiting the hangman's noose, when cramped in cattle cars bound for Auschwitz, Treblinka or Maidanek, and in the heat of battle defending our State, Jews have longed for and prayed toward this holy place.
According to our tradition, "God's presence has never budged from this Western Wall". This place demonstrates in the most concrete way the never-ending bond between the Creator of the World and the Jewish people. So it was then, so it is today when we - through His Grace - have returned to our eternal homeland and capital.
We welcome your coming here as the realization of a commitment of the Catholic Church to end the era of hatred, humiliation, and persecution of the Jewish people.
In the name of the Government of Israel and the Jewish People, we stand here today to call out in the loudest and clearest of voices: "No longer !!"
No longer may we pervert the sublime values of religion, to justify war. No longer may we call God's name, as we strike down those created in His image.
We say : "No longer !" For today begins a new era, in which we all lift our eyes to the heavens and commit ourselves to search every ancient path and to pave bold, new highways that will bring peace to all religions and to all believers-Jews, Christians, and Moslems, alike. A new era, in which Faith in God will be the symbol of: peace and brotherhood among nations, justice, and concern for the suffering of every one of His creatures.
No longer. For today we commit ourselves to end the manipulation of the sanctity of Jerusalem for political gain. Jerusalem must reject hatred, struggle, and bloodshed, and be again the "City of Peace" and a source of holiness.
In response to your call to advance the cause of a religious peace, I am honored to announce my intention to begin work immediately towards the establishment of an inter-religious forum to which will be invited representatives of the three great monotheistic faiths in order to promote peace among religions in this sacred land, in this region, and all over the world.
Let us do our utmost to realize the Prophet Isaiah's song of peace :
"And I shall bring them to my holy mountain, and cause them to rejoice in my house of prayer. Their offerings and sacrifices will be welcome on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all peoples." [Isaiah, 56:7]
The sanctity of Jerusalem is uplifting. It compels us to rise above what divides us, and provides us with the inspiration and vision to join in finding a way that will bring us all: "life, and not death; blessing, and not affliction".
We welcome your coming here in peace, and we wish you blessing and peace as you depart.
"May He who makes peace in the heavens, make peace on us and for all Israel. And let us say, 'Amen.'"
Following is the dedication on a Bible that Minister Rabbi Melchior presented to the Pope John Paul II :
"Pope John Paul II, From Jerusalem to Rome, accept this, the Jewish People's Book of Books, as a token of our admiration and respect for your efforts on behalf of peace and brotherhood among the peoples of the world.
May we all live to see the fulfillment of the prophetic vision that
"… many peoples shall go and shall say: "Come,
Let us go up to the Mount of the Lord,
To the House of the God of Jacob ;
That He may instruct us in His ways,
And that we may walk in His paths.
For instruction shall come forth from Zion,
The word of the Lord from Jerusalem." [Isaiah 2:3]