In a meeting earlier today with Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Sengi and members of Rome’s Jewish community, Pope Benedict stressed the need for Jews and Catholics to spread together what he called, “the torch of the Ten Commandments.”
The Pope also expressed Christian solidarity with the Jews, noting the two faith’s common “heritage of the Fathers.”
He began his brief address by referring to Moses' song of thanksgiving after the Israelites had passed safely through the Red Sea. "Your visit”, he told the delegation, “fills me with joy and it motivates me to renew with you this song of thanks for salvation.
He pointed out that “The people of Israel have been liberated many times from the hands of their enemies and, in times of anti-Semitism, in the dramatic moments of the Shoah, the hand of the Almighty guided and sustained them.”
In this light, he said that “The favor of the God of the Covenant has always accompanied them, giving them the strength to overcome trials. Your Jewish community, present in the city of Rome for more than two thousand years, can also bear witness to this divine loving attention."
The Pope went on to say that "The Catholic Church is close to you and is your friend,” noting that “Following Vatican Council II the reciprocal esteem and trust between us has increased.”
He added that “Ever more fraternal and cordial contacts have developed, becoming even more intense during the pontificate of my venerated predecessor, John Paul II."
"In Christ”, the Holy Father told the Jewish community, “we partake in your heritage of the Fathers, in order to serve the Almighty ... grafted onto the one 'holy tree' of the people of God.”
“As Christians,” he said, “this fact makes us aware that, with you, we share in the responsibility of cooperating for the good of all people, in justice and peace, in truth and freedom, in holiness and love.”
Keeping in mind this shared mission we cannot fail to denounce and fight firmly against the hatred and misunderstanding, the injustice and violence that continue to worry the soul of men and women of good will.”
“In this context,” he asked, “how can we not be pained and concerned over the renewal of manifestations of anti-Semitism?"
Pope Benedict concluded his words by expressing his personal best wishes to the rabbi, stressing that "the many challenges and needs of Rome and the world demand that we unite our hands and hearts in concrete initiatives of solidarity, justice and charity.”
“Together,” he said, “we can work to transmit the torch of the Ten Commandments and of hope to the young generation."