Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Pope Benedict XVI for his boosting Jewish-Christian ties during his tenure as pontiff.
“I want to thank you for all you have done as Pope to strengthen relations between Christians and Jews and between the Vatican and the Jewish State,” Netanyahu said in a letter he wrote to the Pope, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Pope Benedict XVI largely continued his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, outreach to both the Jewish community and the state of Israel. He became the first pontiff to declare a sweeping exoneration of the Jewish people for the death of Jesus Christ in his book Jesus of Nazareth-Part II.
Pope Benedict XVI’s tenure also included a celebrated 2009 trip to Israel where he visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum and the Western Wall.
“Your historic visit to Israel in 2009 offered a rare opportunity to give expression to the new relations between our faiths,” said Netanyahu.
Recently, Israel and the Vatican finalized a historic agreement that formalized relations between the two nations. It included agreements on the status of the Catholic Church in Israel, sovereignty over Catholic sites, taxation and expropriation.