The following tribute was published on the www.centrecomparis.com website by Raphy Marciano, Director of the Jewish Community Centre of Paris, on 4 April 2005. It has been translated from the original French by Andrew Sholl of Townsville, Queensland.
To our Christian brothers it is with emotion, mixed with infinite sadness, that the Jews of France learnt that God has recalled to Himself Pope John Paul II. Never was an affirmation more true than to say that the Christian people had the Pope that it merited: an exceptional man for a great people.
Pope John Paul II will remain in Jewish Memory as the "Pope of the Jews" ...
For the first time in history, the Jews no longer had fear: this Pope listened to them, under- stood them, comforted them, not by words, but by deeds.
With powerful gestures, he was the first one to break the invisible wall of hate, by visiting a Synagogue, to strengthen dialogue and Jewish Christ- ian rapprochement, with his unfailing determination to combat anti- semitism, to highlight the uniqueness of the Shoah, whilst listening to Jewish suffering.
He accomplished considerable objectives: the recognition of the Jewish State, and his visit not only to YadVaShem, but to the [Western] Wall, the symbolic High Place of the Jewish faith.
For Jews today, he will remain "the Righteous among the Nations".
This servant of God has honoured not only the Christian people, but mankind itself.
This Pope, immersed in holiness, was able to find the right words in addressing the Jewish soul. This Jewish soul weeps today for the shepherd of God, who was able to find the words of reconciliation.
With all of you, Christian brothers and sisters, your mourning is ours as well. We would like, perhaps for the first time in history, to accompany you in order to pray for the salvation of his soul, and also to pray for his successor.
Together with you, we raise our voices to say: We have heard his message, so that "men of faith will no longer be fearful".
We would like to express our heartfelt acknowledgment to John Paul II, and to bow with respect before the Memory of a Righteous man. If you have reason to say that he is a light unto the Christian people, we know, us Jews, that the light of a Righteous man is never extinguished.
Copies of the above photo, in colour, A4 size and on photographic paper suitable for framing, are available from AD2000 (tel (03) 9326-5757) for $5.00 each (including postage) or $2.00 each for quantities of ten or more (including postage).