"On Feb. 9, 1916, my predecessor, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Gasparri, wrote a letter to the American Jewish Committee of New York, where he states: 'The Supreme Pontiff […], head of the Catholic Church, which -- faithful to its divine doctrine and to its most glorious traditions -- considers all men as brethren and teaches to love one another, he will not cease to inculcate the observance among individuals, as among nations, of the principles of natural right, and to reprove any violation of them. This right should be observed and respected in relation to the children of Israel as it should be as for all men, for it would not conform to justice and to religion itself to derogate there from solely because of a difference of religious faith.'"
The letter was written in response to the American Jewish Committee's request on Dec. 30, 1915, asking Pope Benedict XV to make an official statement "on behalf of the horror, cruelties and hardships visited upon the Jews in the belligerent countries since the outbreak of World War I."
Parolin recalled that the American Jewish Committee welcomed this answer, writing in the American Hebrew and Jewish Messenger that it was "virtually an encyclical" and "among all the papal bulls ever issued with regard to Jews throughout the history of the Vatican, there is no statement that equals this direct, unmistakable plea for equality for the Jews, and against prejudice upon religious grounds. […] It is gratifying that so powerful a voice, so influential a force, particularly in the regions where the Jewish tragedy is now being enacted, has been raised, calling for equality and for the law of love. It is bound to have a far-reaching, beneficent effect."
Parolin said that this correspondence was just "a small example … a little drop into an ocean of murky waters -- showing how there is no basis for discriminating someone because of faith."
The cardinal added that the Holy See considered interreligious dialogue an important means of countering anti-Semitism today.
More than 1,700 anti-Semitic hate crimes took place in Europe in 2019, according to data released earlier this week by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Incidents included murder, attempted arson, graffiti on synagogues, assaults on persons wearing religious garments, and the desecration of graves.