By Lisa Palmieri-Billig, Jpost correspondent in Nicosia
Religious leaders of the world have been invited to meet in Krakow and visit Auschwitz next year, on the 70th anniversary of outbreak of World War II.
The invitation was extended by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the former secretary and close confidant of Pope John Paul II, on the opening night of the 21st annual international, inter-religious meeting of the Italian Catholic Community of St. Egidio, organized in Cyprus this year.
Dziwisz recalled the first inter-religious prayer called by John Paul in Assisi in 1986, which started the tradition followed by St. Egidio, and invited the leaders to “come to Poland in the spirit of peace… in the name of John Paul II.”
“There is a place that more than any other represents the horrors of war, of racism and of evil – Auschwitz. For this I propose that our pilgrimage next year should go to this place. We cannot forget! We have the duty to remember and to create memory!” Dziwisz declared.
The Polish cardinal’s invitation was immediately followed by a call to meet in Jerusalem by Haifa’s Chief Rabbi She’ar-Yashuv Cohen, another keynote speaker at the inauguration.
Cohen said he had wanted to propose a Jerusalem meeting for 2009, but since Cardinal Dziwisz beat him to the mark he was inviting the leaders for 2010.
The Israeli delegation of speakers participating in the Cyprus meetings includes rabbis David Rosen (American Jewish Committee and the International Jewish Committee on Inter-religious Consultations) and David Bordman (Savyon), Chief Rabbinate Director-General Oded Wiener and Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit.
Diaspora rabbis Berl Lazar (Russian Federation), Israel Singer (US) and Jakov Ebert (Wuerzburg, Germany) are also speaking.
The numerous Muslim and Christian representatives of the Arab world participating include Melkite Catholic Archbishop Elias Chacour, Palestinian Legislative Council Member Bernard Sabella, and PA Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs Salah Zuheika, along with religious authorities from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Qatar, the Ivory Coast, Lebanon, Indonesia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Senegal and others.
Franciscan Father Pierbattista Pizzabella, custodian of the Holy Land, will also speak on a panel regarding “Israelis and Palestinians in Dialogue for Peace.”