Vatican City, 25 June 2015 (VIS) – A delegation from B'nai B'rith International (“Children of the Covenant”), a Jewish non-governmental organisation of a philanthropic nature founded in 1843, which opposes anti-Semitism in all its forms and promotes human rights, was received in audience by Pope Francis this morning. B'nai B'rith established contacts with the Holy See following the promulgation of the conciliar declaration Nostra Aetate which, as the Holy Father mentioned, “constituted a milestone on the path of mutual knowledge and esteem between Jews and Catholics, based on the great spiritual patrimony that, thanks be to God, we share in common”.
During the last fifty years of regular dialogue between the Catholic Church and Judaism, great steps have been taken in fostering mutual trust and appreciation. “Respect for life and creation, human dignity, justice and solidarity unite us for the development of society and for securing a future rich in hope for generations to come. In a particular way, we are called to pray and work together for peace. Unfortunately, there are many countries and regions of the world that live in situations of conflict – I think in particular of the Holy Land and the Middle East – and that require a courageous commitment to peace, which is not only to be longed for, but sought after and built up patiently and tenaciously by everyone, especially believers”.
Francis recalled with profound gratitude all those who have worked to promote friendship between Jews and Catholics, and mentioned St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II in particular. “The first saved many Jews during the Second World War, he met with them numerous times, and greatly desired a conciliar document on this theme. Regarding St. John Paul II, his various historical gestures remain very much alive in our memories, such as his visit to Auschwitz and to the Great Synagogue of Rome. With the help of God, I wish to walk in their footsteps, encouraged too by the many beautiful encounters and friendships I enjoyed in Buenos Aires”, the Pope concluded.