VATICAN CITY (RNS) Underscoring the close ties between Christianity and Judaism and calling Holocaust denial “madness,” Pope Francis told an interviewer that “inside every Christian is a Jew.”

Pope Francis recently decried anti-Semitism as “madness” and made waves for his controversial "inside every Christian is a Jew" statement.

Pope Francis recently decried anti-Semitism as “madness” and made waves with his controversial “inside every Christian is a Jew” statement.Creative Commons image by the Catholic Church (England and Wales)

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In a wide-ranging interview published Friday (June 13) in Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper, the pope said dialogue between the two faiths can sometimes be a “hot potato.”

“I believe that interreligious dialogue must investigate the Jewish roots of Christianity and the Christian flowering of Judaism,” Francis said. “I understand it is a challenge, a hot potato, but it is possible to live as brothers.”

Francis’ statement seems to go further than his predecessor, St. John Paul II, who made headlines in 1986 as the first pope to visit Rome’s main synagogue and declared Jews to be the “elder brothers” of the Christian faith.

“Every day, I pray with the Psalms of David. My prayer is Jewish, then I have the Eucharist, which is Christian,” the Argentine pontiff added.

The pope also took the opportunity to criticize Holocaust denial as “madness” while defending the record of Pope Pius XII, who led the Roman Catholic Church during World War II.

Francis will soon have to decide whether to advance the sainthood cause for the controversial wartime pope, who is accused of failing to speak out publicly against the mass murder of Jews. For years, Jewish leaders and Nazi hunters have demanded the Vatican open up its secret wartime files.

Francis said he was concerned about “everything which has been thrown at poor Pius XII,” while stressing that he sheltered Jews in the convents of Rome and other Italian cities, as well as the popes’ summer residence in Castel Gadolfo.

“I do not mean to say that Pius XII did not make mistakes — I make many mistakes myself — but his role must be read in the context of the time,” Pope Francis said.

Francis added that he breaks out in an “existential rash” when he hears people speak against Pius and the church’s wartime record while ignoring inaction by the Allies fighting against Nazi Germany.

“Did you know that they knew perfectly well the rail network used by the Nazis to take the Jews to the concentration camps? They had photographs,” he said. “But they did not bomb these rail lines. Why? It would be nice if we spoke a little bit about everything.”

During Friday’s interview with the Barcelona daily, Francis was also asked about his own security, saying he refused to travel in a bulletproof “sardine can” vehicle because he wants to mingle with ordinary people.

“It is true that anything can happen, but let’s face it, at my age I have nothing to lose,” the 77-year-old pontiff said.

The former archbishop of Buenos Aires was also asked how he would like to be remembered as a pope.

“I have not thought about that,” Francis said. “But I like it when you remember someone and say ‘He was a good guy, he did what he could, and he was not that bad.’ I would be happy with that.”



  1. You wrote: “Pope Francis told an interviewer that ‘inside every Christian is a Jew’.”

    No, he did NOT tell the interviewer that. The conversation actually went like this, which I’m sure you know:

    The interviewer asked: “You told me a year ago that ‘within every Christian there is a Jew’.”

    To which Francis responded thusly: “Perhaps it would be more correct to say ‘you cannot live your Christianity, you cannot be a real Christian, if you do not recognize your Jewish roots.’ I don’t speak of Jewish in the sense of the Semitic race but rather in the religious sense. I think that inter-religious dialogue needs to deepen in this, in Christianity’s Jewish root and in the Christian flowering of Judaism…”

    I get that you are looking for catchy headlines, but really, try to be a bit more accurate in your reporting.

    • @Marie,

      Unfortunately, your clarification points out why religion only leads to divisions, tribalism and misery.

      Religion is the needless divider of people. It pretends there is one true god for each man-made tribe we create.

      One person can arbitrarily decide that the god will unify us. And ten minutes later someone like you can decide that the God actually divides us.
      The futility of religion is just unbearable. It is all nonsense.

      We are one race.
      Humans are all ONE species; Homo Sapiens.
      We ALL evolved from a large tribe in Africa a million years ago.

      There is no evidence of any God. Peace is only possible if we all throw away this religion nonsense.

      • Rabbi Saul of Tarsus

        For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on him;
        – Romans 10:12

        For by one spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one spirit.
        – 1 Corinthians 12:13

        There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
        – Galatians 3:28

        a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all.
        – Colossians 3:11

        • @Rabbi Saul of Tarsus,

          NONSENSE SIR!
          You make my argument for me!

          “bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their king and execute them in front of me.” – Jesus (Luke 19:27)

          • Max, quoting a verse from a parable out of context to make a false point is certainly what someone would expect from someone interested in peace. Right? Peaceful humanist max? Trying to stir up trouble Max?

            But you know what, it is ironic that you picked that verse. As a fool, or hater of God, you may find yourself hearing something quite similar said about you only moments after your current body dies.

            And that would be very sad. Jesus loves you Max, but he will not force you to love him back. You condemn yourself.

“The only true faith in God’s sight is Islam.” (Surah 3:19)
“Fighting is obligatory for you, much as you dislike it.” (Surah 2:216)
“Believers, take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends.” (Surah 5:51)


          “Cursed be he who does the Lords work remissly, cursed he who holds back his sword from blood.” (Jeremiah 48:10
“Seize all the non-believers and execute them before the LORD in broad daylight…” (Numbers 25:1-9) 

          “bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their king and EXECUTE THEM in front of me” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

          “The Master shall cut him to pieces” – Jesus (Luke 12)

          Peace comes from Humanism. Not religion.
          Religion is trash.

    • Lynne Newington

      Well either way, he’s imititating only what John XX111 has said [no plagerism restrictions there], the difference being his successors beginning with JP11, had long distance agendas apart from any peace deal.
      This latest fanfare with Shimon Peres is about his plans in 2009 to give up sovereignty over Holy sites which was squashed by the Israeli government. The Palestinians still have one or two the Vatican are yearning to have authority over too and their chances increased since being accepted as a member of UNESCO.

  2. It’s pretty important to realise when reading quotes of Luke 19.27 that Jesus was telling a parable about nobleman, and that’s who was calling for the execution. In the New Testament “nobleman” can usually be used interchangeably with “oppressor of the poor”. Just thought it worth a mention.

    • @Dave,

      Jesus is playing the part of nobleman in Luke 19:27 – the lesson of the parable is to be fearful and obedient to one’s master.

      It is the most immoral of Jesus’ parables.
      Furthermore, if Jesus was a god he would have to know that this parable would be used to argue in favor of killing sinners for the next 2000 years.
      As it was.

      • Excuse me, Max, but what authority do you have to judge someone else’s morals, considering your worldview does not allow objective morals, and the only basis you have to make that judgment is borrowed from the Bible anyway.

        Do you really believe you don’t have to bow to a higher authority? I’ll ask again when you’re in hospice.

  3. Melanie Pollock

    Get to know Jesus, he is real. One touch from Him and hatred crumbles, it doesn’t matter about religion anymore, governments fade into the background as you start to become aware of Him, as heaven opens up and glimpses of the truth start to dawn in your heart and understanding. One touch from Him and you want to love your human brother, to help him……. Greed slips away as you realise that everything you need is truly supplied. Just one touch and erroneous preaching, teaching and skew understanding dissolves. He comes alive in your heart and this supercedes all human understanding.

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