Early this afternoon, Pope Francis met with a delegation from the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish organization that promotes human rights. The meeting was scheduled previously by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who, the Holy Father said, “remains in our affectionate thoughts and prayers.
The Holy Father began his address expressing his gratitude for the center’s respect and esteem for him and his predecessors. Their meetings, he said, “are likewise an expression of the appreciation of the Pope for the task to which you have dedicated yourselves: to combat every form of racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism, to keep alive the memory of the Shoah, and to promote mutual understanding through education and commitment to the good of society.”
Emphasizing the Church’s condemnation on all forms of anti-Semitism, Pope Francis called for the confrontation against intolerance. Minorities persecute because of their faith or ethnicity, he stressed, endangers the well-being of society.
“With particular sadness I think of the sufferings, the marginalization and the very real persecutions which not a few Christians are undergoing in various countries,” the Pope said. “Let us combine our efforts in promoting a culture of encounter, respect, understanding and mutual forgiveness.”
Highlighting the importance of education as a means to transmit a living witness, Pope Francis told the delegation conveyed the importance of educating youth of not only the past difficulties in the history of Jewish-Catholic dialogue, “but also an awareness of the progress made in recent decades.”
Concluding his address, the Holy Father encouraged the Simon Wiesenthal Center to continue their work in passing onto youth ” the importance of working together to reject walls and build bridges between our cultures and our faith traditions.”