Rabbi Arthur Schneier Offers Condolences to His Holiness Pope Francis and the worldwide Catholic community on the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Rabbi Arthur Schneier (R) presents Pope Benedict XVI with a Seder Plate at the Park East Synagogue in New York, April 18, 2008. REUTERS/Gary Hershorn (UNITED STATES)

He applied his wisdom, intellect and heart, in pursuit of peace and inter-religious cooperation.

I was privileged to welcome him at Park East Synagogue, the first papal visit to a Synagogue in the United States on April 19, 2008. Symbolic of his outreach to the Jewish community.

Having a longstanding relationship with the Vatican as president of the interfaith Appeal of Conscience Foundation on behalf of religious freedom in the Soviet Union and communist Eastern Europe that dates back to Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II, this relationship continued with Pope Benedict.

Pope Benedict and I survived World War II. I was a holocaust survivor, he was drafted into the German army. Both of us experiencing man’s inhumanity to man. We were blessed with the privilege of working together in pursuit of peace, religious freedom and human rights while battling anti-antisemitism, xenophobia and all forms of hatred that continue to divide humanity.

We met on numerous occasions in Rome, Jerusalem, and Naples. As well as the Inter-Religious prayer for peace gathering in Assisi, commemorating 25 years since the first inter-religious gathering convened by Pope John Paul II promoting peace among the world’s religions. As well as a visiting with him at the The Mater Ecclesiae Monastery in the Vatican during his retirement.

He will be remembered for his humility and commitment to promoting peace and understanding among all people and all religions.

May Pope Benedict rest in peace, and may his memory be a blessing.

– Rabbi Arthur Schneier, President and Founder, Appeal of Conscience Foundation, Honored by Pope Francis with Papal Knighthood of St. Sylvester