Pope Says Jews and Catholics Share Common Determination to Reject Anti-semitism and Discrimination
Menu JTA Search

Pope Says Jews and Catholics Share Common Determination to Reject Anti-semitism and Discrimination

Download PDF for this date

Pope John Paul II declared today that Jews and Catholics throughout the world shared “a common determination to reject all forms of anti-Semitism and discrimination.” The Pope’s remarks came at the end of a speech before a rain-drenched but enthusiastic crowd of 50,000 persons at Battery Park at the southern tip of Manhattan in which he urged the United States to continue its tradition as the haven for the poor and the oppressed.

With the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the background, the Pope said that he had a special message for “leaders of the Jewish community,” including Mayor Edward Koch who accompanied the Pontiff throughout his two day visit to New York.

“As one who in my homeland has shared the suffering of your brethren, I greet you with the word taken from the Hebrew language: Shalom I Peace be with you.” The Pope, who recalled the meeting he had in the Vatican with world Jewish leaders, was interrupted several times by applause during his message to Jewish leaders.


The Pope’s full statement to Jewish leaders was:

“And I address a special word of greeting to the leaders of the Jewish community whose presence here honors me greatly. A few months ago I met with an international group of Jewish representatives in Rome. On that occasion, recalling the initiatives undertaken following the Second Vatican Council under my predecessor Paul VI, I stated that ‘our two communities are connected and closely related at the very level of their respective religious identities,’ and that on this basis ‘we recognized with utmost clarity that the path along which we should proceed is one of fraternal dialogue and fruitful collaboration.’

“I am glad to ascertain that this same path has been followed here, in the United States, by large sections of both communities and their respective authorities and representative bodies. Several common programs of study, mutual knowledge, a common determination to reject all forms of anti-Semitism and discrimination and various forms of collaboration for the human advancement expressed by our common Biblical heritage, have created deep and permanent links between Jews and Catholics. As one who in my homeland has shared the suffering of your brethren I greet you with the word taken from the Hebrew language. Shalom. Peace be with you.”


Meanwhile, the Pontiff’s remarks on the Middle East at the United Nations yesterday drew praise today from Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. “The Pope has issued a finely balanced statement recognizing every factor of the Middle East moral education.” Schindler said. “It is precisely the kind of statement which we would expect from a great religious leader and it echoes those sentiments which move our hearts.”

The Reform Judaism leader said he was “especially gratified that the Pope had broken the long silence of Christiandom on the agony of Lebanon. I pray that the troops of Syria and the terrorists of the PLO, who have in fact destroyed the tranquility, independence and territorial integrity of which the Pope spoke, will heed his moral summons.”

Schindler said the Pope’s remarks on Jerusalem, in which he called for a “special statute,” will be studied carefully. “The Vatican’s view on Jerusalem will surely take into account the fact that only since Jerusalem came under Israeli administration in 1967 have the members of all three faiths — Christians, Moslems and Jews — enjoyed full and complete freedom of worship in the City of David.”


In a related development, Rabbi Leonard Goldstein, of Temple Beth EI in Manhattan Beach in Brooklyn, delivered a letter to the Apostolic Delegate in the U.S., Archbishop Jean Jadot, addressed to the Pope, urging him to use “all the moral power that your Exalted office commands to persuade the leaders of the Soviet Union to abide by the terms. of the Helsinki agreement.”

Goldstein, who is chairman of the 1980 Committee for Human Rights, which seeks to use the Moscow Olympics to help free 10,000 dissidents, refusniks and Prisoners of Conscience from the Soviet Union, also stated in his letter: “It is especially fitting that in the year 1980, when the eyes of the world will focus upon the Olympic Games in Moscow, that the Soviet Union will indicate that it is worthy of having the torch of freedom carried from Athens to Moscow, by freeing the 10,000 dissidents who languish in Soviet Union jails. We implore you to add your powerful voice on behalf of the brave men and women who deserve your support.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund