Jewish leaders have warmly greeted Pope Francis' statement that, “to attack Jews is anti-Semitism, but an outright attack on the State of Israel is also anti-Semitism.”
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"Pope Francis does not simply make declarations. He inspires people with his warmth and his compassion,” said World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder yesterday. “His clear and unequivocal support for the Jewish people is critical to us." Lauder's words were quoted on the Catholic Culture website.
Lauder was one of the Jewish leaders present at a Vatican ceremony on Wednesday during which the pope made his statement about anti-Semitism. The event marked the 50th anniversary of the Nostra Aetate, a declaration promulgated by Pope Paul VI that led to improved relations between Jews and Catholics.
"A relation with Judaism is intrinsic to the very nature of the Church,” said Rabbi David Rosen, Director of the American Jewish Committee's Department of Interreligious Affairs, according to the Catholic website Crux. “In God’s mysterious wisdom, this revolution could only succeed with the Church addressing relations with all other religions.”
The message of Nostra Aetate, Rosen added, is that “there’s no relationship, no matter how bad and how poisonous, that cannot be transformed and made into a blessed one.”
"There may be political disagreements between governments and on political issues, but the State of Israel has every right to exist in safety and prosperity,” the Pope said on Wednesday.
Reviewing the progress in Jewish-Catholic relations over the past five decades, Pope Francis said that “Indifference and opposition were transformed into cooperation and benevolence. Enemies and strangers have become friends and brothers.”