Paul VI.-Rom Und Jerusalem. Konzil, Pilgerfahrt, Dialog der Religionen

Article excerpt

Paul VI -Rom and Jerusalem. Konzil, Pilgerfahrt, Dialog der Religionen. By Thomas Brechenmacher and Hardy Ostry. (Trier: Paulinus Verlag. 2000. Pp. 303. EUR18.90.)

With Pope John Paul II's journeys outside Italy approaching the one hundred mark, it is difficult to appreciate the astonishment caused by Pope Paul VI's announcement at the end of his address on December 4, 1963, the closing day of Vatican Council II's second session, that he would undertake a pilgrimage to Jerusalem exactly one month later. In preparation since the previous September (prior to the opening of the Council's second session on October 11), the trip was a personal initiative of the Pope. Though two of his aides had flown to Jerusalem in November to plan the itinerary, and though the number of others informed was not small, there was not even a rumor of the Pope's intention until he exploded his bombshell. This secrecy, almost unprecedented for Rome, was a tribute to the care with which Paul had selected those charged with the planning.

Speculation about the Pope's intention in making the trip approached that which had greeted his predecessor's announcement of the Council five years earlier. Though the Holy See had no diplomatic relations with either Jordan (then in control of east Jerusalem) or Israel, the Pope would meet with officials of both governments, and with Orthodox prelates, including the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras. There were also possible implications for the Council's proposed declaration on the Jews, already the cause of sharp controversy at the second session. In this fraught situation people had difficulty accepting the Pope's repeated assurance that he was going as a simple pilgrim.

In the first hundred pages of this book Thomas Brechenmacher describes in great detail the preparation for the journey, the widespread advance speculation about its significance, the crowded and sometimes tumultuous events of its three-day duration, and the Pope's triumphal return to Rome, where he was received at the airport at nightfall by the Italian President and his government. …

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