Pope Francis poses with a delegation of members of the World Jewish Congress.
Pope Francis poses with a delegation of members of the World Jewish Congress, including its President Ronald S.Lauder, fourth from right next to the pontiff, at the Vatican, Monday, Sept. 2, 2013. Photo by AP
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Reuters
A slaughterer handling beef carcasses at a kosher slaughterhouse. Photo by Reuters

The World Jewish Congress has said the Vatican is getting involved in a divisive issue in Poland over its ban on the ritual slaughter of animals, which has incensed Jews.

The group said Monday that Pope Francis instructed the Vatican office in charge of relations with Jews to host a meeting next week to discuss the ban, which Jews consider a violation of their religious freedom.

Poland made about 500 million euros ($650 million) per year exporting kosher and halal meat to Israel and Muslim countries. But the business practically stopped after ritual slaughter was banned in January under pressure from animals' rights groups, which say it causes unnecessary suffering because livestock aren't stunned before being killed.

In July, the Polish parliament voted down legislation that would have reversed the ban, causing a furor among Jewish communities around the world.

Francis met Monday with a WJC delegation and invited representatives to attend the meeting.