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‘Attacks on Jews are anti-Semitism, as are attacks on Israel,’ Pope Francis tells Jewish leader

Pope Francis welcomed over a hundred leaders of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) on Wednesday and issued a strong condemnation of anti-Semitism. At a private audience with WJC President Ronald S. Lauder in the morning, the pontiff made it clear that outright attacks against Israel’s existence is a form of anti-Semitism.

“To attack Jews is anti-Semitism, but an outright attack on the State of Israel is also anti-Semitism. 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,” Pope Francis told Lauder and his delegation.

Jews and Catholics today marked the anniversary of the 1965 declaration Nostra Aetate, which condemned anti-Semitism and completely transformed and improved relations between Jews and Catholics.

Lauder praised the Pope for this powerful message and said relations between the two faiths were stronger than they had ever been before. The WJC president added: “Pope Francis does not simply make declarations. He inspires people with his warmth and his compassion. His clear and unequivocal support for the Jewish people is critical to us.”

Nearly 150 delegates and observers from the World Jewish Congress Governing Board took part in the public audience with the Pope in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday. The delegates were in Rome for the Board’s annual meeting.

Recalling Nostra Aetate, a declaration adopted on 28 October 1965 by the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis told the crowd in the square: “Indifference and opposition were transformed into


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