Saturday, October 12, 2013
Francis: "It's a contradiction for a Christian to be anti-Semitic"
Andrea Tornielli Vatican Insider October 11, 2013 “It’s a contradiction that a Christian is anti-Semitic: His roots are Jewish,” said the Pope. “A Christian cannot be anti-Semitic! Let Anti-Semitism be banished from the heart and life of every man and every woman!” Pope Francis said this to members of Rome’s Jewish community, whom he met today, to mark the 70th anniversary of the deportation of the city’s Jewish population during the Nazi occupation. The Pope recalled that “for many centuries … the Jewish community and the Church of Rome have lived in our city, with a history - as we well know - which was often transversed by misunderstandings and even true grievances,” Pope Francis said. “However, it is a story, that with the help of God, has for many decades experienced the development of friendly and fraternal relations.” “Naturally the Second Vatican Council reflections on the Catholic side have contributed” to this change in mentality “but the life and actions of wise and generous individuals on both sides have also had an important part to play with their “courageous efforts in creating new paths for understanding and dialogue”. “Paradoxically, the shared tragedy of the war taught us to walk alongside each other. In a few days we will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Rome’s Jewish population,” Francis added. It will be a chance to remember and pray for the victims and their families. “It will also be an opportunity to keep vigilant so that, under any pretext, any forms of intolerance and anti-Semitism in Rome and the rest of the world not come back to life. I've said it other times and I would like to repeat it now: It’s a contradiction that a Christian is anti-Semitic: His roots are Jewish,” said the Pope. “A Christian cannot be anti-Semitic! Let Anti-Semitism be banished from the heart and life of every man and every woman!” Francis also reminded his audience of the efforts made by Christians and the clergy, with Pius XII’s blessing, to help the Jewish population. The Pope also said that “the anniversary offers a chance to remember how the Christian community responded during this “hour of darkness” to the needs of his brother in difficulty. We know how many religious institutions, monasteries and Papal Basilicas, interpreting the will of the Pope, opened their doors in a brotherly welcome , and how many ordinary Christians offered what help they could give, however big or small.” “The vast majority” of these Christians, Francis said, “were not aware of the need to update the Christian understanding of Judaism, and perhaps knew very little about the life of the Jewish community, But they had the courage to do what at that time was the right thing: to protect their brother, who was in danger. I would like to emphasize this aspect, because if it is true that it is important, on both sides, to study, in depth, theological reflections through dialogue, it is also true that there is a dialogue of life, that of everyday experience, which is no less important. Indeed, without this, without a real and concrete culture of encounter, which leads to authentic relationships, which exist without prejudice and suspicion, the engagement in the intellectual field would serve little purpose.” Finally, Francis pointed to some among the “many things” that the two communities have in common: the Decalogue as a solid foundation and source of life for our society which has become disoriented as a result of an extreme pluralism of choices and orientations. The Pope also sent the community a written message to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the deportation of Rome’s Jews. The message contained an appeal to the new generations not to let their existence become flat, not to let themselves be influenced by ideologies, never to justify the evils they come across, not let their guard down and continue fighting against anti-Semitism and racism, whatever their background. In his opening greeting to the Pope, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, Riccardo Di Segni, alluded to the Biblical story of Noah’s Arc and the global flood, saying: “there is still something about that story that torments us: out of the whole of humanity only one family survives inside a boat, while everything else is destroyed by the flood.” “But in the past few days we have seen the exact opposite happening: we’ve seen people in a boat dying while the rest of humanity survives, helpless and indifferent.” “Our history and our faith rebel against this and with your strong presence which shares in this rebellion, you have proven that we have common values to pass on to humanity,” the Chief Rabbi continued. “It was a positive meeting,” Chief Rabbi Di Segni told Vatican Insider. The Pope showed a “great willingness to listen and a propositional attitude. In both our private and public meetings we spoke about biblical exegesis, history and solidarity.”