The Pope on Monday received members of the Amitié Judéo-Chrétienne, a group of French Christians and Jews dedicated to dialogue and collaboration between the two religious traditions.
In his address to the group, the Pope discussed the example given by the organisation’s founder, the importance of its work, and the “worrying resurgence” of anti-Semitism.
Legacy of Jules Isaac
The Holy Father began his address by discussing Jules Isaac, the Jewish historian who founded the Amitié Judéo-Chrétienne, and, he said, “played a leading role in the rapprochement between Jews and Christians after the tragedy of the Second World War.”
In particular, the Pope mentioned his work on the Seeligsberg Conference, a post-war council on anti-Semitism. Some of the work of this conference – which involved both Christian and Jewish theologians – was, Pope Francis said, taken up in Nostra Aetate, the Second Vatican Council’s document on the relationship between the Church and other religions.
Isaac, who was received in audience by Popes Pius XII and John XXIII, “had called for the drafting of that prophetic text”, Pope Francis said.
The work of the Amitié
Next, the Pope spoke of the work of the Amitié Judéo-Chrétienne, saying that it had “worked tirelessly” for seventy years to “help Jews and Christians grow in mutual knowledge, understanding, respect and friendship.”
This work, he said, “greatly contributed to helping Jews and Christians rediscover themselves as brothers, children of the same Father”, who “await the day, known to God alone, when all peoples will call upon the Lord with one voice.”
Pope Francis then went on to stress that this work is still of great importance today: “the task is not completed.”
“I encourage you to persevere on this path of dialogue, fraternity and joint initiatives. This beautiful work, which consists of creating bonds, is fragile, and always needs to be continued and consolidated.”
This is especially true, he said, “in these hostile times, in which attitudes of closure and rejection of the other are becoming more numerous, not least with the worrying resurgence of anti-Semitism, particularly in Europe.”