Philly Jews Invite Pope Francis to 'Nostra Aetate' Commemorations

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Pope Francis leaves after the Divine Lithurgy at St George church, the principal Greek Orthodox cathedral, on November 30, 2014 in Istanbul as part of a three day visit in Turkey.Credit: AFP

Members of the Philadelphia Jewish community are hopeful that Pope Francis, who is slated to visit the city during his upcoming trip to the U.S., will join them in celebrating the 50th anniversary of a Vatican declaration seminal to the relations between Jews and the Catholic church.

Pope Francis will address a joint meeting of Congress on Sept. 24, a first for the leader of the world's Roman Catholics. The pope is slated to kick off his visit to the U.S. in Philadelphia, where he will hold a massive rally for families. Francis is also expected to visit the White House and speak at the United Nations.

Naomi Adler, the CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, confirmed to CBS that the pope had been invited to take part in a September 27 program at the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations at St. Joseph’s University.

“We, of course, won’t know until much closer whether or not there’s going to be any response,” she said.

The Nostra aetate (Which in Latin means 'In our Time'), was promulgated in 1965 by Pope Paul VI. Also known as the Declaration on the Relation of the Church with Non-Christian Religions, its first draft was titled "Decree on the Jews."

The decree was devoted to affirming the Catholic chuch's relations with the world's different faiths. Christianity's affinity to Islam and Judaism in particular were explored, with the decree notably repudiating an indiscriminate charge of Jewish deicide; 'the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God'.

The Declaration also decries any and all displays of antisemitism, made at any time.

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