Five Australian Jews have been invited to meet Pope Benedict XVI during his first visit to Sydney amid continuing concerns about a planned re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross.
They are among 40 interfaith leaders — including Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and others — who will meet the Pope at St Mary’s Cathedral on Friday.
Pope Benedict is in Sydney for World Youth Day, a six-day celebration with an estimated 500,000 people expected at the closing papal mass on July 20.
Jewish leaders are still concerned at how the Jews will be depicted in the re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross on July 18, the same day they will meet the Pope.
The Catholic Church has rejected requests by Jewish officials to cancel the third scene — Christ’s condemnation by the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court — despite fears that it could spark antisemitism.
A statement from the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies said although it expected the re-enactment “will be nothing like the recent Mel Gibson film”, they still have concerns.
“We have not seen the script, but the organisers have assured us that in the ongoing attention to the details of each station, every means is being undertaken to ensure that the production will be faithful to Nostra Aetate.”
The Jewish delegation comprises Robert Goot, president of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry; Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence, the chief rabbi of the Great Synagogue; Rabbi Jeffrey Kamins, the chief minister of Temple Emanuel; David Knoll, president of the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies; and Josie Lacey, the interfaith chair of the Board of Deputies.
World Youth Day was established by Pope John Paul II in Rome in 1986, and has been held every two or three years in a different country.