(JTA) — Pope Francis condemned anti-Semitism during a meeting with representatives of the international Jewish community at the Vatican.
“Because of our commons roots, a true Christian cannot be anti-Semitic,” Francis said Monday at a meeting with a delegation of the International Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations, or IJCIC.
He added that the Catholic Church “firmly condemns hatred, persecution and all manifestations of anti-Semitism.”
While Francis has met with several Jewish leaders since becoming pope, he said Monday’s meeting was the first time he has spoken with an official group of representatives of Jewish organizations and communities.
At the meeting, the pope reiterated that the 1965 declaration Nostra Aetate remained the key point of reference for Catholic relations with the Jewish people. The declaration stresses the religious bond shared by Jews and Catholics, reaffirms the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish people, and calls for a halt to attempts to convert Jews.
“Pope Francis is a very good friend of the Jewish people and we rejoice in the fact that he will continue to advance the path of his predecessors in deepening the Catholic-Jewish relationship even further,” said Rabbi David Rosen, the American Jewish Committee’s director of international interreligious affairs.
Representatives of the Rabbinical Assembly, the international association of Conservative rabbis, and the World Jewish Congress also were in attendance.
IJCIC is the Vatican’s dialogue partner with world Jewry.