VATICAN CITY (RNS) In his first official meeting with a Jewish delegation, Pope Francis on Monday (June 24) reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s condemnation of anti-Semitism and vowed to further deepen Catholic-Jewish relations.

“Due to our common roots, a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!” he told a delegation of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations, the Vatican’s official partner for interfaith dialogue with the world’s Jews.

Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter's Square on Tuesday (March 19) at the Vatican. World leaders flew in for Pope Francis' inauguration Mass in St. Peter's Square on Tuesday where Latin America's first pontiff will receive the formal symbols of papal power.  RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini

Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday (March 19) at the Vatican. World leaders flew in for Pope Francis’ inauguration Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday where Latin America’s first pontiff will receive the formal symbols of papal power. RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini


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In his speech, Francis stated that the church condemns “hate, persecution, and all manifestations of antisemitism.”

He also reiterated that the Second Vatican Council’s 1965 declaration “Nostra Aetate” remains the key point of reference for Catholic-Jewish relations.

The document had received renewed attention in recent years as Pope Benedict XVI tried to reconcile the church with a traditionalist breakaway group that refused the modernizing reforms of Vatican II, including dialogue with the Jews.

Benedict’s relations with Jews had been also fraught with controversy over a revived Good Friday prayer that called for Jews’ conversion and the progress toward beatification of Pope Pius XII, whom Jews accuse of having remained silent during the Holocaust.

Francis himself is no stranger to Jewish-Catholic dialogue. In his native Argentina, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio had strong ties to the local Jewish community and wrote a book-length interview with Rabbi Abraham Skorka.

When terrorists killed 85 and wounded 300 in a 1994 bombing at a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Bergoglio expressed solidarity with the local Jewish community. On the day after his election, he personally invited Rome’s chief rabbi to his inauguration Mass at the Vatican.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld is executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the rabbinical arm of the Conservative Jewish movement. RNS photo courtesy Rabbi Julie Schonfeld

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld is executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly, the rabbinical arm of the Conservative Jewish movement. RNS photo courtesy Rabbi Julie Schonfeld


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“Pope Francis is a very good friend of the Jewish people and we rejoice in the fact that he will continue to advance the path of his predecessors in deepening the Catholic-Jewish relationship even further,” said Rabbi David Rosen, director of international interreligious affairs at the American Jewish Committee, after meeting with Francis.

Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly, described the meeting with the pope as “very positive” and “familiar.”

“You could see that he had ties with Jews back home,” she said.

In her brief conversation with Francis, Schonfeld said she praised the work of American nuns in combating human trafficking, and hoped for enhanced Catholic-Jewish cooperation on the issue.

8 Comments

  1. It is so obvious: Jesus was Jewish and most of His followers were Jewish (exceptions were Greeks like Luke but they were practicing the Jewish religion until 50 AD — the first council in Jerusalem — which is about circumcision). The last supper is the Passover Seder. St.Paul was a Pharisee before his conversion. The “Lamb” is the Passover Lamb (are you in the Lamb’s Book of Life??) Three of the gospel writers are Jewish (Matthew, Mark, John). How any Christian can miss that is a wonder (you cannot know enough to BELIEVE the gospels and hence BE a Christian ) so hating Jews is to hate Jesus and His followers .. and to hate the very basis of Christianity .. so it is absolutely true: IS IS INCOMPATIBLE. It is incongruent.. a contradiction in terms.

    • Hating itself .. I will add .. in antithetical with Christianity. Faith, hope and love.. and the greatest of these is love. It is antithetical to Christian doctrine (Jesus’s teaching) to hate, to seeth, to begrudge … he teaches us to love our neighbor, give a man your cloak, forgive the harlot, the golden rule .. when you say “I believe in Jesus Christ” .. it cannot be true unless you believe in His teaching and His commandments to you.. if you believe what He taught then you are not hating or hateful. [we have all known some and wondered HOW does that person consider themselves Christian?? Because they are no Christian)

  2. Religion student

    Old Dude, I just wanted to point out to you that Paul never converted. Christianity didn’t differentiate as a separate religion from Judaism until 100 CE. Paul is believed to have died around 67 CE. The talk of Paul converting to Christianity came about because of antisemitism. He did convert Gentiles to be followers of Christ, but the concept of Christianity never existed in his time.

    • Well not quite .. there was continuous transition from the periiod right after the ascenscion (Acts 1 .. 33 AD .. 40 days after the resurrection well into the 5th century). Paul was CHANGED on the Damascus road. He articulates a FAITH in Jesus and the Trinity (ah this is not Jewish it is new faith .. a different faith in a Triune God!!!) Paul articulates this 1 corinthians and throughout his Epistles. There is a meeting in 50 AD when the Apostles discuss circumcision and realize it is not part of their faith (any more) .. it was part of the Jewish religion. The “creed” or “Apostles Symbol” is well defined by 67 AD when Paul is beheaded and is clearly held by the other Apostles and followers. AFTER 100 AD the Apostles are all gone and THEN disputes arise and canons are formed (Irenaeus) and “Apostolic succession” and there are THEN rites (like mass) and a *religion* is emerging BASED on the faith (the belief) .. the creed and the new and everlasting covenant with many, the resurrection, the great commission (all of which was well defined in the Apostles Symbol or creed). As rites and canons emerged there were differences which broke out into *heresies* and ultimately DIFFERENT religions within the Christian faith and that was the second and third centuries leading to the council of Nicea .. (end of reply)

  3. There are more than 1100 Christian denominations (religious bodies). It’s embarrassing actually. There are a whole array of “eastern” denominations and then another array of denominations in Latin Christendom (mostly the consequence of the Reformation). It is a separate study .. so not to be unraveled here. All claim to believe the tenets of the Nicene Creed (Filioque omitted) and so there is ONE faith. Popular discussion lumps all denominations into a pigeon hole called “organized religion” but that is actually very sloppy. The distinction is, however, ONE faith (the creed) and many denominations. Each denomination is predicated on a variety of “isms” that are man-made (and void) .. Calvinism, Fundamentalism, Catholicism, Mormonism and so on .. and so each can argue that it alone walks the true path (none do, actually, but Jesus said “preach the gospel and whomever believes is Christian” .. believes the CREED. .. you CAN believe the CREED and be Amish or Roman Catholic or Greek Orthodox or Russian Orthodox of Reformed Church or Methodist or Baptist .. (the rest you will dig out for yourself)

  4. There must be an error in your headline, which does not even match the story. I have read all the press releases I can find on this and there is nothing in what Pope Francis said or even hinted that could be construed as a statement about the two faiths being “incompatible.”

  1. [...] says that he is going to work to deepen and improve the relationship between Catholics and Jews. (http://www.religionnews.com/2013/06/24/pope-francis-christianity-is-incompatible-with-anti-semitism/). He is not being a reticent prelate, and his determination to be amongst the people is not going [...]

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