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Israel’s PM Sends ‘Heartfelt Condolences’ to Christian World on Passing of Pope Benedict

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avatar by i24 News

Pope Benedict shakes hand with chief rabbi Riccardo Di Segni at Rome’s main synagogue January 17, 2010. Photo: REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (ITALY – Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY)

i24News – Former pope Benedict XVI, who in 2013 became the first pontiff to resign as head of the Catholic Church since the Middle Ages, died on Saturday aged 95, the Vatican announced.

“I send my heartfelt condolences on behalf of all the citizens of Israel to the Christian world on the passing of Pope Benedict XVI,” said Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“He was a great spiritual leader and committed with all his heart to the historic reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Jewish world, a tradition he continued during his historic visit to Israel in 2009,” he continued. “We will remember him as a true friend of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.”

“With sorrow, I inform you that the Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, passed away today at 9:34 in the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said in a statement.

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The first German pope of 1,000 years, Benedict visited his homeland three times and confronted his country’s dark past when he visited the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. Calling himself “a son of Germany,” he prayed and asked why God was silent when millions of Jews were murdered there during World War Two.

However, the Jewish world and many Catholics were outraged in 2009 after he lifted the ex-communication of four traditionalist bishops, one of whom was a notorious Holocaust denier. He later said the Vatican should have researched him better on the Internet.

Jews took offense again in December 2009 when he re-started the process of putting his wartime predecessor Pius XII, accused by some Jews of turning a blind eye to the Holocaust, back on the road to sainthood after a two-year pause for reflection. But he managed to overcome the tensions with Jews when, in 2011, he dismissed allegations Jews were responsible for Christ’s death, repudiating the concept of collective Jewish guilt that haunted Christian-Jewish relations for centuries.

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