VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI yesterday won praise from Jews and respect from some Muslims for his blunt warnings about the rise of anti-Semitism and terrorism during his first foreign trip as pontiff.
Commentators applauded Benedict for not hedging words during a four-day visit to Cologne, Germany, for World Youth Day, a tactic Germany's Handelsblatt daily said may make his job as a peacemaker more difficult but that in the end showed his priorities.
''Apparently, he wants to leave a lot untouched and concentrate in office on the essentials," the newspaper said.
The German-born Benedict became the second pontiff in history to enter a Jewish house of worship when he told Jewish leaders Friday at a synagogue in Cologne that he would continue the work of improving Catholic-Jewish relations set out by Pope John Paul II.
Benedict, who served in the Hitler Youth, also condemned the ''insane racist ideology, born of neo-paganism" that inspired the Holocaust and warned about the new rise of anti-Semitism -- comments that drew praise from Jewish leaders around the world.
''The very symbol of your presence on the pulpit of Northern Europe's oldest synagogue -- destroyed by some of your countrymen under the influence of a murderous and morally bankrupt regime, and rebuilt by the hopes of a saving remnant -- demonstrates to the world that we can look to the future without erasing the past," the head of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League, Abraham Foxman, wrote in a letter to the pope.
But Benedict didn't break any new ground with his synagogue comments, repeating previous church positions.
He did, however, seem to harden his stance on terrorism when he spoke to Germany's Muslim community a day later. He warned that terrorism risks exposing the world ''to the darkness of a new barbarism" and urged them to join Christians in fighting terrorism.
''Finally a pope who, before a Muslim delegation, condemns Islamic-rooted terrorism without exception," Italy's leading Islamic commentator, Magdi Allam, wrote in the Corriere della Sera daily, saying Benedict's speech amounted to a ''new season" in Christian-Muslim relations.
The pope had previously been cautious about making any links between terrorism and Islam, rejecting the idea that the world faced a ''clash of civilizations" and reportedly overruling an aide who wanted to brand the July 7 London bombings as anti-Christian.
John Paul, for his part, condemned terrorism but said that the underlying causes, such as social injustice that often drive terrorists, had to be addressed.
The head of Germany's Muslim Community, Nadeem Elyas, who met with Benedict, said the discussions were ''constructive." He welcomed Benedict's comments that terrorism was a common problem of all religions, and not specifically Islam.
Ayatollah Sheik Afif al-Nabulsi, head of Jabal Amel Council of Ulemas in southern Lebanon, praised Benedict's speech for calling attention ''to the importance of recourse to religion and using it as a tool for dialogue and knowledge."
In Damascus, Syria, Sheik Mahmoud Habash, head of the Islamic Studies Center and member of the National Assembly, agreed, but urged the United States and Britain to reconsider policies he said increased the threat of terror.
Hamza Mansour, secretary general of the Islamic Action Front, Jordan's largest Muslim opposition group, said it was ''unfortunate" the pope singled out Muslims ''as if terrorism is of Islamic origin."