World Jewish Congress President: Catholic-Jewish Relations Have Never Been So Good

Praises Francis, Leadership of Popes Over Last 50 Years

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The World Jewish Congress provided a summary of its president’s meeting Monday with Pope Francis, saying that the Holy Father reiterated that to be a good Christian, «it is necessary to understand Jewish history and traditions.»

A report from the WJC recounted that Francis wished Jews around the world a sweet and peaceful year 5774, when he met with Ronald S. Lauder to mark Jewish New Year.

The Pontiff used the Hebrew words for «Happy New Year,» wishing a «Shana Tova» to Jewish people worldwide. Lauder presented the Pope with a Kiddush cup and a honey cake.

According to the WJC report, Lauder and the Holy Father discussed Syria, as well as agreeing to speak out against attacks on religious minorities, such as Coptic Christians in Egypt, and against trends to restrict religious practices such as circumcision. 

The congress said the Pope has directed Cardinal Kurt Koch to investigate a ban on kosher slaughter in Poland.

Francis reiterated a statement made last June that “a Christian cannot be an anti-Semite” and said that “to be a good Christian it is necessary to understand Jewish history and traditions.” He added that Jews and Christians shared the same roots and that dialogue was the key to building a common future. Referring to the conflict in Syria, the Pope called the killing of human beings unacceptable and said “world leaders must do everything to avoid war.”

After the meeting, Lauder praised the Pope for his commitment to dialogue and said, “Pope Francis’ leadership has not only reinvigorated the Catholic Church but also given a new momentum to relations with Judaism. Never in the past 2,000 years have relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people been so good. The leadership of successive popes over the past five decades has helped to overcome a lot of prejudice. This allows us now to work together in defending religious freedom wherever it is under threat and whichever community is affected.”

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