CASTELGANDOLFO, ITALY, SEPT. 1 -- Pope John Paul II today held an unprecedented peace-making meeting with Jewish leaders and ordered the preparation of an official church document on the Holocaust as well as expanded Jewish-Roman Catholic dialogue on sensitive issues.

Representatives of the Vatican and Jewish delegations in the talks, which one participant termed "friendly, timely, positive and fruitful," expressed satisfaction that significant progress had been made toward easing the Jewish-Catholic tensions that emerged when the pontiff met with Austrian President Kurt Waldheim in June.

The controversy had threatened to mar the pope's visit to the United States later this month. The pontiff begins a nine-city tour through the south and west on Sept. 10, including a scheduled meeting in Miami with Jewish leaders who earlier had threatened to boycott the session.

"This was a very important meeting," said Rabbi Mordecai Waxman, chairman of the nine-person delegation of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations.

"It raises the Catholic-Jewish relationship to a new plateau and makes possible a better relationship in the future," he said.

But there was no agreement on the two key issues raised by the mostly American delegation: why the pope met with Austria's Waldheim and why the Vatican continues to refuse to recognize the state of Israel. "We respectfully have different views," said committee member Rabbi Gilbert Klaperman, president of the Synagogue Council of America, after his delegation concluded the 75-minute meeting with the pope. "We agreed in our discussions to disagree agreeably."

The Jewish delegation that held talks with senior Vatican officials in Rome yesterday and earlier today met with the pontiff at noon in a fourth-floor reception room of the papal summer palace here in the Alban hills. John Paul was described by participants as warm and open, joking with the Jewish leaders as he shook each one's hand, then sitting on his throne before the seated semicircle of representatives. Delegation members said that everyone got a chance to talk and express his views and concerns.

John Paul listened rather than debated during the session, participants said, telling the delegates of his memories of living near the now-destroyed Jewish community of Poland, according to a joint communique. He recalled an address to the Warsaw Jewish community in June, in which he spoke of the Jewish people as "a force of conscience in the world today."

The delegation had been invited here because of the storm of international protest that followed the pontiff's June 25 meeting with Waldheim. The former United Nations secretary general has been accused of participation in or knowledge of Nazi war crimes in the Balkans when he served there as a lieutenant in the German Army during World War II. He has been placed on a "watch list" barring him from entering the United States because of the questions over his war record.

The Vatican does not maintain diplomatic relations with Israel on the grounds that its borders are not internationally recognized, although Vatican and Israeli officials have met in the past. The church has also stated that it favors international status for Jerusalem, which the Israeli government rejects.

Despite the fact that the pope did not apologize for meeting Waldheim or offer to recognize Israel, the Jewish representatives said they were heartened by other signs that the pope was sensitive to Jewish concerns and that he would therefore be well received by the Jewish community of America.

The Jewish delegation was encouraged by the Vatican's promise to issue a church document on the Holocaust and the "historical background of anti-Semitism and its historical manifestations," as well as an agreement to improve Jewish-Catholic dialogue on sensitive issues.

The document, which will be prepared by the Vatican's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews in consultation with Jewish leaders, is to be written after a meeting of the International Catholic Jewish Liaison Committee in Washington in December that will discuss the Holocaust, or Shoah as it is called by Jews, "in all its religious and historical perspectives."

As the communique stated tonight: "The Jewish delegation warmly welcomed this initiative and expressed the conviction that such a document will contribute significantly to combating attempts to revise and to deny the reality of the Shoah and to trivialize its religious significance for Christians, Jews and humanity." More than 6 million Jews died during the Nazi Holocaust.

Another measure of the improved relationship was the promise of Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, the Vatican secretary of state, to meet more often with members of the Jewish community.

On the subject of Waldheim, the communique said: "The Jewish delegation expressed its dismay and concern over the moral problems raised for the Jewish people by the {Waldheim} audience. The Catholic delegation acknowledged the seriousness of and the church's sensitivity to those Jewish concerns, and set forth the serious reasons behind the judgment of the Holy See."

While most of the Jewish delegation sought to emphasize the positive tenor of the meeting today by insisting that the document on the Holocaust was a response to their concerns, Rabbi Klaperman said he was not satisfied.

"I want to make perfectly clear that we don't in any way agree to the validity of the response we got," he said during a press conference this evening, although he said he did not want to detract from the "warm spirit" of the talks.

Nevertheless, the fact that the pope met with them in a "give-and-take" conversation, rather than a formal audience where prepared statements are usually exchanged, was considered significant and historic by the Jewish leaders.

The leaders declared that the meeting unprecedented on the basis that Jewish leaders had not attended such a meeting with a pope.

{In New York, the American Jewish Congress said "it is far too early to describe our conversations in Rome as historic." Nevertheless, it said, the developments "hold the promise of significant progress."}