(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday said Jews and Christians can continue to cooperate together “for the good of the peoples of our time” and work for peace together – especially in the Holy Land and the Middle East. Speaking to representatives of B’nai B’rith International, a Jewish organization that sponsors cultural programs and promotes religious tolerance and international cooperation, the Pope recalled the landmark Vatican II declaration, Nostra Aetate which laid the groundwork for the Catholic Church’s relations with Jews. Founded in 1843, B’nai B’rith, which also provides humanitarian aid and community service in needy areas, has a presence in more than 50 countries across the globe.
Pope Francis met on June 25 with a delegation from B’nai B’rith International, and expressed his gratitude to predecessors who had advanced friendly ties between Catholics and Jews.
The Pope mentioned especially St. John XXIII, who “save many Jews during the Second World War” and sought a document from the Second Vatican Council on inter-faith relations. That document, Nostra Aetate, was “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,” the Pontiff said.
Next Pope Francis cited the work of St. John Paul II, his dramatic gestures toward Jews, and particularly his visits to the death camp at Auschwitz and the synagogue in Rome.
“Respect for life and creation, human dignity, justice and solidarity” is the firm basis for alliance between Catholics and Jews, the Pope said. He observed that the two faiths should also “pray and work together for peace.” In parts of the world—particularly the Middle East—that requires a “courageous commitment to peace,” the Pope said.
You may read the full address by Pope Francis to B’nai-B’rith International here.
Pope Francis with representatives of B’nai B’rith International