Editor's note: Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome Jan. 17. It will be only the second such occasion after the groundbreaking visit by Pope John Paul II in 1986. The visit coincides with the Italian Catholic church's celebration each Jan. 17 of a day for Catholic-Jewish dialogue. The visit is being watched especially close after a year of tension relations between Catholics and Jews.
The recent decree by Pope Benedict XVI advancing the sainthood of Pope Pius XII is another serious blow to Catholic-Jewish relations. Pius’ record during the Shoah remains a legitimate historical question and is, as well, the subject of a long-time emotional disagreement between some in the Vatican and Jewish leaders.