The pope said it is important to be “vigilant” against anti-Semitic attitudes, to prevent another event like the Holocaust.
“I stress that for a Christian any form of anti-Semitism is a rejection of one’s own origins, a complete contradiction,” said Pope Francis.
He called interfaith dialogue an “important tool” in increasing understanding between Judaism and Christianity, stressing the importance of forming new generation of young people who are committed to interreligious dialogue.
Citing the “rich spiritual heritage” shared by Christians and Jews, the pope said that members of both faiths should seek each other out during this time of “depersonalizing secularism” in the Western world.
“It falls to believers to seek out each other and to cooperate in making divine love more visible for humanity; and to carry out concrete gestures of closeness to counter the growth of indifference,” he said.
American Jewish Committee President John Shapiro thanked Pope Francis for agreeing to open Vatican archival files related to World War II and the papacy of Pope Pius XII. Pope Pius XII was pope from March 1939 until his death in October 1958. The archived files will be open in March 2020.
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The pope’s comments on anti-Semitism come one day after the U.S. House of Representatives voted to condemn various forms of hate speech, especially anti-Semitism.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution that condemned bigotry against “African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and other people of color, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, and others.”
The resolution was widely seen as a response to a series of comments from freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) which have been broadly condemned as anti-Semitic.