Francis pays tribute to 'greater understanding' of post-Vatican II era

“A Christian cannot be anti-Semitic,” Pope Francis has said, due to “our common roots” with the Jewish people.

Addressing a 30 strong delegation from the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) who gathered in the Apostolic Palace’s Hall of the Popes for a private audience today, the Pope recalled the Second Vatican Council declaration Nostra Aetate, which he described as a “key point of reference for relations with the Jewish people.”

He said: “The fundamental principles expressed by the Declaration have marked the path of greater awareness and mutual understanding trodden these last decades by Jews and Catholics” – a path supported by his predecessors.

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Though he acknowledged he has met “important personalities of the Jewish world,” this was the first time the Holy Father had addressed an official group of representatives of Jewish organizations and communities.

Pope Francis recalled his own friendships with leaders of the Jewish world while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, saying these “friendly relations are in a way the basis for the development of a more official dialogue.” Recently a series of conversations between the then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio and Rabbi Abraham Skorka were published in English as On Heaven and Earth.

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