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The Catholic Church condemned anti-Zionism as a cover for anti-Semitism by means of a joint statement issued by a forum of Catholic-Jewish intellectuals this week.

The announcement was made at a gathering of religious, academic and other leading Jewish and Catholic figures in Buenos Aires.

"We oppose anti-Semitism in any way and form, including anti-Zionism that has become of late a manifestation of anti-Semitism," the statement said.

This is the first time that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism have been equated by the Catholic Church.

The statement also includes a stern condemnation of terrorism, particularly terror in the name of faith.

"Terror is a sin against man and against God. Fundamentalist terrorism in the name of God has no justification and cannot be justified."

Ilan Steinberg, director of the World Jewish Congress, one of the forum's organizers, described the joint statement as "an historic moment."

"For the first time, the Catholic Church recognizes in anti-Zionism an attack not only against Jews, but against the whole Jewish people."

Senior Jewish figures called the announcement a significant, public statement of support by the Catholic Church in the face of anti-Zionism.

"In the past, Zionism was equated with racism, and this statement turns anti-Zionism statements to a form of racism," a Jewish leader said in New York.

The statement joins a prior European Union announcement and UN declaration of war against anti-Semitism as part of a global front fighting the scourge.