This evening as Pope Benedict headed to the Collège des Bernardins to speak with cultural leaders, he met with a group of Jewish leaders and stressed the need for a closer relationship between the two faiths, while also condemning anti-Semitism as theologically unjustifiable.
With sunset approaching, the Pope noted that they were meeting on the vigil of the Sabbath, “a day which from time immemorial has occupied a significant position in the religious and cultural life of the people of Israel.”
“Dear friends,” said Benedict, “because of that which unites us and that which separates us, we share a relationship that should be strengthened and lived. And we know that these fraternal bonds constitute a continual invitation to know and to respect one another better.”
The Holy Father underscored the fact that both Christians and Jews respect the Covenants of God and that “the Church herself is situated within the eternal Covenant of the Almighty.”
Pope Benedict also touched on anti-Semitism and invoked the words of Pope Pius XI to condemn it.
The Church “compellingly repeats, through my voice, the words of the great Pope Pius XI, my beloved predecessor: Spiritually, we are Semites. The Church therefore is opposed to every form of anti-Semitism, which can never be theologically justified. The French theologian Henri de Lubac, added that to be anti-Semitic also signifies being anti-Christian.”
As the meeting drew to a close, the Pope took the opportunity to thank the Jewish community for its contributions to French society’s spiritual, political, cultural and artistic patrimony.
Benedict XVI left the gathering of Jewish leaders with the blessing of God: with “fervor I invoke upon all of your families and upon all of your communities a special Blessing of the Lord of time and of history. Shabbat shalom!”