WJC leaders meet with the Pope

November 1, 2015 Agencies
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Pope Francis has welcomed more than 100 leaders of the World Jewish CongresS to the Vatican and issued a strong condemnation of anti-Semitism.

 

Pope Francis meets with World Jewish Congress leaders at the Vatican on October 28, 2015. From left: WJC Governing Board Chairman David de Rothschild, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, Pope Francis, WJC Treasurer Chella Safra, WJC Vice President and President of Latin American Jewish Congress Jack Terpins, CEO Robert Singer and Executive Director of Latin American Jewish Congress Claudio Epelman.

Pope Francis meets with World Jewish Congress leaders at the Vatican. From left: WJC Governing Board Chairman David de Rothschild, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder, Pope Francis, WJC Treasurer Chella Safra, WJC Vice President and President of Latin American Jewish Congress Jack Terpins, CEO Robert Singer and Executive Director of Latin American Jewish Congress Claudio Epelman.

At a private audience with WJC President Ronald S. Lauder in the morning, the pontiff made it clear that outright attacks against Israel’s existence are a form of anti-Semitism. 

“To attack Jews is anti-Semitism, but an outright attack on the State of Israel is also anti-Semitism. There may be political disagreements between governments and on political issues, but the State of Israel has every right to exist in safety and prosperity,” Pope Francis told Lauder and his delegation.

Jews and Catholics today marked the anniversary of the 1965 declaration Nostra Aetate, which condemned anti-Semitism and completely transformed and improved relations between Jews and Catholics.

Lauder praised the Pope for this powerful message and said relations between the two faiths were stronger than they had ever been before. The WJC president added: “Pope Francis does not simply make declarations. He inspires people with his warmth and his compassion. His clear and unequivocal support for the Jewish people is critical to us.”

Nearly 150 delegates and observers from the World Jewish Congress Governing Board took part in the public audience with the Pope in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday. The delegates were in Rome for the Board’s annual meeting. 

Recalling Nostra Aetate, a declaration adopted on 28 October 1965 by the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis told the crowd in the square: “Indifference and opposition were transformed into cooperation and benevolence. Enemies and strangers have become friends and brothers. The Council, with the declaration Nostra Aetate, paved the way. It said yes to the rediscovery of the Jewish roots of Christianity, and no to any form of anti-Semitism and condemnation of any insult, discrimination and persecution derived from that.”

On Tuesday, the WJC Governing Board, representing more than 100 Jewish communities around the world, held discussions which focused on the implications facing Jewish communities in light of the various conflicts in the Middle East, including the threat of jihadist terrorism. 

The Governing Board reaffirmed its continued support of a two State solution and urged Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume peace talks without preconditions as soon as possible. 

The Board also called on the international community to maintain and, if necessary, expand sanctions on Iran until there is verification and international acceptance of Iran’s compliance with all the conditions of the nuclear deal.

Concerning the refugee crisis, the delegates passed a resolution calling on the international community to provide refugees with sanctuary irrespective of origin or religion, recalling the Talmudic maxim that says, “He who saves a single life saves the whole world.”

Sydney-based member of the WJC Robert Goot told J-Wire: “The papal audience at St Peter’s Square was a most  significant occasion. His Holiness recognised that Nostra Aetate not only represented  a  profound break with centuries of Roman Catholic practices concerning the Jewish people, including  the removal of  the description from prayers, of Jews as ‘perfidious’, but  also ushered in a remarkable period of understanding and endeavour between the Roman Catholic church and  the  Jewish people. His comments concerning anti-Semitism, which echoed sentiments he had expressed during  a WJC private audience in 2014, were especially gratifying.”

Comments

One Response to “WJC leaders meet with the Pope”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    Why doesn’t he call a spade a spade and name the Palestinian radicals terrorists.

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