John Paul II Condemns Racism and Anti-Semitism

Receives American Jewish Committee in Audience

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 5, 2004 ( John Paul II condemned racism and anti-Semitism, when he received a delegation of the American Jewish Committee in audience.

The Pope also repeated his contention that violence desecrates religion when it seeks justification in the latter.

As he received his guests, the Holy Father noted the forthcoming 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council declaration “Nostra Aetate,” which “has so significantly contributed to the strengthening of Jewish-Catholic relations.”

The Jewish committee visited the Pope in 1985 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Vatican II declaration.

Forty years later, “there is, regrettably, a great need to repeat our utter condemnation of racism and anti-Semitism,” John Paul II said in his brief English-language address.

“Violence in the name of religion is always a desecration of religion,” he said. “Countering this alarming trend requires that together we stress the importance of religious education which promotes respect and love towards others.”

The Pontiff referred to the present situation in the Holy Land, “which continues to be afflicted by violence and suffering.”

“It is my fervent prayer that a just solution will be found which respects the rights and security of both Israelis and Palestinians,” the Holy Father said before invoking peace in Hebrew: “Shalom aleichem.”

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