ADL Delegation Urges Papal Intercession on Behalf of Soviet Jews

Seymour Graubard, national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, at an audience yesterday with Pope Paul VI, urged papal intercession on behalf of Jews in the Soviet Union. Graubard, with Benjamin R. Epstein, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, headed a delegation of 80 American Jewish leaders, members or the League’s Society of Fellows, returning from a mission to Israel. Graubard expressed his gratitude for the Vatican’s earlier intervention on behalf of the nine Leningrad Jews sentenced in Dec. Noting that new trials are scheduled and harassment of Soviet Jews is continuing, Graubard told the Pope: “We take the liberty of asking for your continued interest and help. The spiritual prestige and authority of the Holy See will be of tremendous help to these innocent victims.” In welcoming the ADL delegation, the Pope reiterated the view of the Vatican Council to foster and recommend mutual understanding, respect and “brotherly dialogue.” He noted that “we are especially sensitive to all forms of discrimination, which impede fraternal charity among men and offend human dignity.”

The Pope also reaffirmed his position against “all discrimination based on race, origin, color, culture, sex or religion,” and praised the ADL for its “efforts for creating that climate between Christians and Jews and among all men.” The Pope, however, refrained from making any statement on the problem of the Soviet Jews and made no reference to the issue of Jerusalem. Last March the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano endorsed a plan for the internationalization of Jerusalem which created great concern among many Jewish groups. Bringing greetings to Pope Paul from Jewish communities in America represented by the delegation, Graubard expressed gratification over the progress in the U.S. of the ecumenical efforts of Vatican II. “Interreligious cooperation,” he said, “has always held a high priority in the program of the Anti-Defamation League. In the common goal for the brother-hood of mankind, we work closely with our Catholic brothers in the United States. We are greatly heartened by the establishment of the Vatican Office for Catholic-Jewish Relations and by the establishment in our country of a similar office of Catholic bishops.” Graubard noted that, in the spirit of ecumenism, the delegation had visited a number of Christian Holy Places in Israel, and had observed that these shrines received special, respectful care from Israeli authorities.

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