Pope Francis today addressed members of the delegation of the Conference of European Rabbis, as the organization made its first-ever visit to a pope.
The Holy Father noted that in October, the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate will mark 50 years and thus “for almost 50 years, the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Jewish community has progressed in a systematic way.”
“With gratitude to the Lord, may we recall these years, rejoicing in our progress and in the friendship which has grown between us,” he said.
The Pontiff said that Jews and Christians in Europe share a common mission of emphasizing the “spiritual and religious dimension of human life.”
“In a society increasingly marked by secularism and threatened by atheism, we run the risk of living as if God did not exist,” he observed. “People are often tempted to take the place of God, to consider themselves the criterion of all things, to control them, to use everything according to their own will. It is so important to remember, however, that our life is a gift from God, and that we must depend on him, confide in him, and turn towards him always. Jews and Christians have the blessing but also the responsibility to help preserve the religious sense of the men and women of today, and that of our society, by our witness to the sanctity of God and human life. God is holy, and the life he has given is holy and inviolable.”
The Pope also said that anti-Semitic trends in Europe today are “troubling,” as are “certain acts of hatred and violence.”
Citing Nostra Aetate, he said, “Every Christian must be firm in deploring all forms of anti-Semitism, and in showing their solidarity with the Jewish people.”
Recalling the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, he said the memory of that concentration camp is a warning. “Acts of hatred and violence against Christians and the faithful of other religions must likewise be condemned everywhere,” he said.
The Pope concluded assuring his prayers and asking the rabbis: “Please, do not forget to pray for me.” (K.N.)
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