Pope Benedict XVI today urged Catholics and Jews to “stand together” in facing some of the greatest challenges facing mankind today.
“There are many ways in which Jews and Christians can cooperate for the betterment of the world in accordance with the will of the Almighty for the good of mankind. Our thoughts turn immediately to practical works of charity and service to the poor and those in need,” the Pope told a delegation from the Jewish humanitarian society B’nai B’rith International at the Vatican May 12.
“One of the most important things that we can do together is bear common witness to our deeply-held belief that every man and woman is created in the divine image and thus possessed of inviolable dignity. This conviction remains the most secure basis for every effort to defend and promote the inalienable rights of each human being.”
B’nai B’rith is one of the oldest Jewish humanitarian, advocacy and human rights groups in the world.
It was founded by German-Jewish immigrants in New York’s Lower East Side back in 1843. Its aim then was to alleviate the poverty which afflicted many Jewish immigrants to the city. It now operates in more than 50 countries around the globe.
The Pope commended their work as helping to promote “a sound understanding of the role of religion in the life of our present-day societies.”
“The life and work of all believers should bear constant witness to the transcendent, point to the invisible realities which lie beyond us, and embody the conviction that a loving, compassionate Providence guides the final outcome of history, no matter how difficult and threatening the journey along the way may sometimes appear.”
Since becoming pontiff in 2005, Pope Benedict has largely enjoyed good relations with the worldwide Jewish community. In fact, at the time of his election he was praised by the U.S.-based Anti-Defamation League for “his great sensitivity to Jewish history and the Holocaust.”
Speaking today, the Pope also applauded the work of the International Catholic-Jewish Liaison Committee now in its 40th year of existence.
“What has happened in these forty years must be seen as a great gift from the Lord and a reason for heartfelt gratitude towards the One who guides our steps with his infinite and eternal wisdom.”