During a private audience at the Vatican, the head of the Simon Wiesenthal Center urged Pope Benedict XVI this week to lead a "coalition of the good" against international terrorism and threats from Iran.
The pope did not respond directly to the plea by Rabbi Marvin Hier, the center's founding dean, but asserted that "Christians and Jews can do much to enable coming generations to live in harmony and respect."
He also expressed the hope that "this century will see our world emerge from the web of conflict and violence, and sow the seeds of for a future of reconciliation, justice and peace," according to the Vatican news service.
For his part, Hier said in a phone call from Rome, "It is my belief, that the pontiff will make his mark in standing up to terrorism. I am also certain that he wants to strengthen relations with the Jewish people."
The delegation included 40 trustees and other lay leaders of the Wiesenthal Center from across the United States, and the pope made a point to speak to each individually. He also blessed rosary beads brought by some delegates for Catholic friends back home.