A day of dialogue between Jews and Christians scheduled to take place this month at Rome's Pontifical University has been called off by the Jewish participants.
The decision follows the Vatican's beatification of the anti-Semitic Pope Pius XII and the publication of a Vatican document, Dominus Jesus, affirming that Catholicism is the only path to salvation and that all other religions are "objectively and gravely deficient".
The main Jewish participants, Rome's chief rabbi, Elio Toaff, and rabbi Alberto Piattelli, who teaches biblical studies at the Vatican's Lateran University, pulled out in protest.
Leone Paserman, president of Rome's Jewish community, said: "These pronouncements are surprising and in contrast with the brave steps taken by John Paul II, who visited Rome's synagogue, calling the Jews 'our elder brothers'. I fear that in the Vatican hierarchy the most reactionary elements are prevailing."