Francis Calls Mainstream Jewish Leaders to Join Him to Seek Peace

Pope Francis calls mainstream Jewish leaders to join with and accept him as a peacemaker and moral authority. Jewish / Muslim / Catholic religious  leaders to join in quest for peace.

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis on Monday told the two Chief Rabbis of Israel that Christians and Jews together “can make a great contribution to the cause of peace and firmly oppose every form of anti-Semitism and all other forms of discrimination”.

During his meeting with leaders of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel which consists of two Chief Rabbis – the Ashkenazi rabbi, David Lau, and the Sephardi rabbi, Shlomo Amar – the Pope reflected on the significance of the Jewish roots the Christian faith and on the spiritual bonds that unite Jews and Christians, and he called for a common committment to work together for peace and understanding “in a rapidly changing world”.

Please find below the full text of the Pope’s discourse:

Address of Pope Francis
To the Two Chief Rabbis of Israel Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

Distinguished Chief Rabbis of Israel,

I am particularly pleased to be here with you today.  I am grateful for your warm reception and your kind words of welcome.

As you know, from the time I was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, I have counted many Jews among my friends.  Together we organized rewarding occasions of encounter and dialogue; with them I also experienced significant moments of sharing on a spiritual level.  In the first months of my pontificate, I was able to receive various organizations and representatives from the Jewish community worldwide.  As was the case with my predecessors, there have been many requests for such meetings.  Together with the numerous initiatives taking place on national and local levels, these testify to our mutual desire to know one another better, to listen to each other and to build bonds of true fraternity.

This journey of friendship represents one of the fruits of the Second Vatican Council, and particularly of the Declaration Nostra Aetate, which proved so influential and whose fiftieth anniversary we will celebrate next year.  I am convinced that the progress which has been made in recent decades in the relationship between Jews and Catholics has been a genuine gift of God, one of those great works for which we are called to bless his holy name: “Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his love endures forever; who alone has wrought marvellous works, for his love endures forever” (Ps 135/136:3-4).

A gift of God, yes, but one which would not have come about without the efforts of so many courageous and generous people, Jews and Christians alike. Here I would like to mention in particular the growing importance of the dialogue between the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and the Holy See’s Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.  Inspired by the visit of Pope John Paul II to the Holy Land, this dialogue was inaugurated in 2002 and is already in its twelfth year.  I would like to think that, in terms of the Jewish tradition of the Bar Mitzvah, it is just coming of age.  I am confident that it will continue and have a bright future in years to come.

We need to do more than simply establish reciprocal and respectful relations on a human level: we are also called, as Christians and Jews, to reflect deeply on the spiritual significance of the bond existing between us.  It is a bond whose origins are from on high, one which transcends our own plans and projects, and one which remains intact despite all the difficulties which, sadly, have marked our relationship in the past.

On the part of Catholics, there is a clear intention to reflect deeply on the significance of the Jewish roots of our own faith.  I trust that, with your help, on the part of Jews too, there will be a continued and even growing interest in knowledge of Christianity, also in this holy land to which Christians trace their origins. This is especially to be hoped for among young people.

Mutual understanding of our spiritual heritage, appreciation for what we have in common and respect in matters on which we disagree: all these can help to guide us to a closer relationship, an intention which we put in God’s hands.  Together, we can make a great contribution to the cause of peace; together, we can bear witness, in this rapidly changing world, to the perennial importance of the divine plan of creation; together, we can firmly oppose every form of anti-Semitism and all other forms of discrimination.  May the Lord help us to walk with confidence and strength in his ways.  Shalom!

 

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis paid a visit to Israeli President Shimon Peres on the last day of his three day pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  In an encounter with the press ahead of a private meeting, Mr. Peres told the Holy Father peace requires “creativity and inspiration” and observed that Pope Francis possessed both.  For his part, Pope Francis thanked the President for his warm words of welcome and said their encounter had inspired him to create “a new Beatitude: ‘Blessed is he who enters the home of a wise and good man.’  And I feel blessed,” he added.

At the entrance of the Presidential Palace, Mr. Peres introduced the Pope to a number of terminally ill children suffering from cancer who had expressed the desire to meet the Holy Father before they died.  The Pope and Mr. Peres later planted an olive tree in the gardens of the Presidential Palace.  The Israeli President and Pope Francis also delivered speeches in the presence of religious, political and civic leaders and several hundred children of different faiths and were treated to a brief musical interlude.

In his discourse, the Pope condemned antisemitism, encouraged peace efforts to resolve Israeli-Palestinian and interfaith tensions, rejected all forms of intolerance and urged respect for the rights of the Christian community as well as the “rights of all other religious groups and all minorities” in Israel. Pope Francis expressed his hope that Jerusalem “may truly be the City of Peace,” and that its Holy Places not be “monuments or museums for tourists, but places where communities of believers daily express their faith and culture and carry out their works of charity.”  He urged that their “sacred character must be perpetually maintained” for those who wish to pray in them today and in future.  He added, “How good it is when pilgrims and residents enjoy free access to the Holy Places and can freely take part in religious celebrations.”

Below, please find the full English text of Pope Francis’ address to Israeli President Shimon Peres:

Address of  Pope Francis
Visit to the President of Israel Jerusalem, 26 May 2014

Mr President,
Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

            I am grateful to you, Mr President, for your kind greeting and your words of welcome.  I am happy to be able to meet you once again, this time in Jerusalem, the city which preserves the Holy Places dear to the three great religions which worship the God who called Abraham.  The Holy Places are not monuments or museums for tourists, but places where communities of believers daily express their faith and culture, and carry out their works of charity.  Precisely for this reason, their sacred character must be perpetually maintained and protection given not only to the legacy of the past but also to all those who visit these sites today and to those who will visit them in the future.  May Jerusalem be truly the City of Peace!  May her identity and her sacred character, her universal religious and cultural significance shine forth as a treasure for all mankind!  How good it is when pilgrims and residents enjoy free access to the Holy Places and can freely take part in religious celebrations.

            Mr President, you are known as a man of peace and a peacemaker.  I appreciate and admire the approach you have taken.  Peacemaking demands first and foremost respect for the dignity and freedom of every human person, which Jews, Christians and Muslims alike believe to be created by God and destined to eternal life.  This shared conviction enables us resolutely to pursue peaceful solutions to every controversy and conflict.  Here I renew my plea that all parties avoid initiatives and actions which contradict their stated determination to reach a true agreement and that they tirelessly work for peace, with decisiveness and tenacity.

            There is likewise need for a firm rejection of all that is opposed to the cultivation of peace and respectful relations between Jews, Christians and Muslims.  We think, for example, of recourse to violence and terrorism, all forms of discrimination on the basis of race or religion, attempts to impose one’s own point of view at the expense of the rights of others, anti-Semitism in all its possible expressions, and signs of intolerance directed against individuals or places of worship, be they Jewish, Christian or Muslim.

            A variety of Christian communities live and work in the State of Israel.  They are an integral part of society and participate fully in its civic, political and cultural affairs.  Christians wish, as such, to contribute to the common good and the growth of peace; they wish to do so as full-fledged citizens who reject extremism in all its forms and are committed to fostering reconciliation and harmony.

            The presence of these communities and respect for their rights – as for the rights of all other religious groups and all minorities – are the guarantee of a healthy pluralism and proof of the vitality of democratic values as they are authentically embodied in the daily life and workings of the State.

            Mr President, you know that I pray for you and I know that you pray for me, and I assure you of my prayers for the institutions and the citizens of the State of Israel.  I likewise assure you of my constant prayer for the attainment of peace and all the inestimable goods which accompany it: security, tranquillity, prosperity – and that which is most beautiful – fraternity.  Finally, my thoughts turn to all those afflicted by the continuing crises in the Middle East.  I pray that their sufferings may soon be alleviated by an honourable resolution of hostilities.  Peace be upon Israel and the entire Middle East!  Shalom!

 

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