Washington D.C., Mar 8, 2019 / 01:30 pm (CNA).- Pope Francis condemned Friday anti-Semitism as a fundamental contradiction to Christianity. The pope spoke during an audience with the American Jewish Committee held in Rome, during which he called for renewed commitment to dialogue between the two faiths.
The pope’s statements came amid a rise in overt anti-semitism in many Western countries, and just one day after the U.S. House of Representatives passed a motion condemning the trend.
Francis told the March 8 assembly that recent anti-Semitic incidents are a “source of great concern,” and that an “excessive and depraved hatred is taking root.”
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.
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.
The resolution was initially drafted as a condemnation specifically of anti-Semitism and a rebuke of Omar’s comments, but was amended to include numerous other forms of discrimination. The resolution did not specifically name Omar.
While it passed by a wide margin, twenty-three members of the House of Representatives voted against the resolution, saying that a more explicit denunciation of overtly anti-Semitic rhetoric is needed.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), who voted for the resolution, said on Twitter that the revised text was a “deceitful” attempt “to give cover” to specific statements made by Omar.
Several Republicans have called for Omar to be removed from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, on which she sits.
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