Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
VATICAN CITY

No such thing as anti-Semite Christian, pope says

English
© ANSA

(By Christopher Livesay)
Vatican City, June 24 - Pope Francis on Monday
spoke out against anti-Semitism, calling Christians who are
prejudiced against Jews a contradiction in terms.
"Given our common roots, a Christian cannot be an
anti-Semite," he said at an audience with the International
Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC), a
broad-based coalition of Jewish organizations representing
Judaism to other religions.
Francis went on to stress the value of the 1965 Nostra
Aetate, which was the Declaration on the Relation of the Church
with Non-Christian Religions of the Second Vatican Council.
Part four of the declaration, which was promulgated by Pope
Paul VI, states that even though some Jews during the time of
Christ called for his death, all Jews then and now cannot be
held responsible for 'deicide', as had been commonly preached.
"(The Church) firmly condemns the hate, persecution, and
all manifestations of anti-Semitism," said Francis.
He also recalled the "push" towards dialogue by his
predecessors, with "gestures and documents".
In addition to Nostra Aetate, one such gesture came in the
form of Benedict XVI's historic visit to Israel in May 2009,
followed in 2011 when he repudiated blaming the Jewish people
for Christ's death in his book Jesus of Nazareth - Part II.
In it he also questioned the historical merit of a passage
found only in the Gospel of Matthew that was used for centuries
to justify the claim of 'deicide'.
"Let his blood be upon us and upon our children," says the
crowd of Jews after Pontius Pilate washes his hands before them
and asks for their judgement leading to Christ's crucifixion.
Benedict wrote he was skeptical that "the whole (Jewish)
people were present at this moment" and concluded it was the
"Temple aristocracy" and a few supporters of the figure Barabbas
who were ultimately to blame.
But ties with the Jewish community were strained in
December 2009 when Benedict, now retired in the Vatican, moved
controversial wartime pope Pius XII, accused by many of not
speaking out against the Holocaust, closer to sainthood.
Despite the controversy over Pius, whose record has split
experts for decades, Benedict recognised his predecessor's
"heroic virtues" and proclaimed him "venerable" in the second of
four stages on the path to sainthood.
In the same year Jewish groups were outraged when he lifted
the excommunication on four bishops from the traditionalist
Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX), one of whom was Richard
Williamson.
Only four days earlier, Williamson was shown in an
interview with Swedish television claiming that the facts were
"hugely against six million Jews being deliberately gassed"
during the Holocaust".
In 2011, just months after Benedict decried the concept of
Jewish culpability for Christ's death, Williamson argued that
the Crucifixion "was truly deicide".
"(It was) the killing of God," he added in his online
newsletter. "Only the Jews (leaders and people) were the prime
agents of the deicide...Until (the Jews) convert at the end of
the world, as the church has always taught they will do, they
seem bound to choose to go on acting, collectively, as enemies
of the true Messiah".
The Vatican has since told him that he will not be welcomed
back into the fold until he publicly apologizes and disavows the
remarks.
Since he became the first Latin American and first Jesuit
pope on March 13, Francis has reached out to the Jewish
community on several occasions.
A large delegation of rabbis attended his inaugural mass,
underscoring the ties between the two religions.
The president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities
(UCEI), Renzo Gattegna, said Francis' comments Monday
represented "the consolidation of a path started 50 years ago
with the publication of Nostra Aetate, with extremely meaningful
results, in a sign of dialogue and reciprocal understanding
between peoples".

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