European chief rabbis meet Pope Francis to discuss anti-Semitism


(JTA) — A delegation of chief rabbis from Europe met with Pope Francis at the Vatican to discuss rising anti-Semitism.

After meeting Monday with the delegation of 10 rabbis representing the Conference of European Rabbis, the pope was scheduled to meet privately with the chief rabbi of France, Haim Korsia, who is a prominent promoter of interfaith ties.

The meeting will be the first time that a Conference of European Rabbis delegation is received at the Vatican, Korsia’s office wrote in a statement that was sent Friday but authorized for publication only Monday for security reasons.

Noting the meeting came 50 years after the Nostra Aetate — the declaration on the relation of the Catholic Church with non-Christian religions – Conference of European Rabbis President Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt told JTA that the event is “vitally important and gives us a chance to further strengthen the relationship between the two communities.”

The rise in recent years in anti-Semitic violence and hate speech will feature prominently in the talk, added Goldschmidt, the chief rabbi of Moscow.

Interfaith work, Goldschmidt said, “is particularly relevant in the wake of recent attacks on the Jewish communities of Europe and the Catholic communities in Africa and the Middle East.”

Korsia, whose community has been among the most affected by violent anti-Semitism, last year compared the persecution of Christians in the Middle East to the Holocaust-era persecution of Jews.

“The situation of religious minorities all over the world and especially in the Middle East resonates, unfortunately, with our commemoration today,” Korsia said in September during a commemoration ceremony in Paris for Holocaust victims. “As our parents wore the yellow star, Christians are made to wear the scarlet letter.”

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