Pope: Anti-Semitism ‘Contrary to Christian principles’

“Anti-Semitism, which I again denounce in all its forms as completely contrary to Christian principles and every vision worthy of the human person, is still widespread today,” Pope Francis stated.

A delegation of 35 leaders from the US-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL) met on Thursday with Pope Francis at the Vatican, where they voiced support for the pontiff’s “ongoing efforts to denounce anti-Semitism and praised his advocacy on behalf of refugees, as well as his efforts to encourage greater understanding among Christians, Muslims and Jews,” the ADL stated.

“We know you understand and share our concern about the resurgence of anti-Semitism, especially in Europe,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO, in an address to the pope in a private audience at the Vatican. “And we share your concern about the horrendous persecution of ethnic and cultural minorities, many of them Christians. Indeed, we are troubled that the world seems not to pay enough attention to this tragic situation.”

Founded in 1913, the ADL’s stated mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Now the ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.

This latest meeting continues a long and historic relationship between the ADL and the Catholic Church that goes back decades and includes interfaith dialogue and educational efforts against anti-Semitism held in cooperation with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. ADL leaders in the past have held numerous audiences with Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II. This was the ADL’s first private audience with Pope Francis.

“Sadly, anti-Semitism, which I again denounce in all its forms as completely contrary to Christian principles and every vision worthy of the human person, is still widespread today,” said Pope Francis, in his remarks to the ADL leaders. “I reaffirm that ‘the Catholic Church feels particularly obliged to do all that is possible with our Jewish friends to repel anti-Semitic tendencies.’”

‘Deeply Troubled by the Rise of Violent Extremism’

Francis also commended ADL for “combining efforts to counter defamation with education, promotion of respect for all, and protection of the weakest,” and expressed gratitude for the ADL maintaining dialogue and close relations with the Catholic Church.

Greenblatt thanked the pontiff for the Holy See’s commitment to carrying out the ideals of Nostra Aetate, the seminal Vatican II Council document that declared anti-Semitism a sin and reversed 2,000-years of church teachings about Jews.

He presented the pope with a gift of a traditional Jewish tzedakah (charity) box and a photographic portrait of the pope with his good friend and associate, Rabbi Avraham Skorka of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

“We are deeply troubled by the rise of violent extremism and of reactionary nationalism, including in the United States,” Greenblatt said. “The love of neighbor, enshrined the book of Leviticus and considered the greatest commandment by both Jesus in the Gospels and Rabbi Akiva, seems to be in short supply.”

ADL’s leadership mission to Rome and the Vatican has also included meetings with Italian elected officials, leaders of the Jewish community in Rome, various high-ranking Vatican officials, and Israeli and American ambassadors to the Holy See.

By: World Israel News Staff