A relationship strengthened and lived
On Friday afternoon, 12 September , the Holy Father met
with representatives of the Jewish Community, some of whom
were introduced to him by Cardinal André
Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris, at the Apostolic
Nunciature. The following is the Holy Father's Address,
given in French.
Dear friends, it is with great pleasure that I meet with
you this evening. Our meeting auspiciously coincides with
the vigil of the weekly celebration of the shabbat,
the day which from time immemorial has occupied a
significant position in the religious and cultural life of
the people of Israel. Every pious Jew sanctifies the
shabbat with the reading of the Scriptures and the
reciting of the Psalms.
Dear friends, as you know, the prayer of Jesus also was
nourished by the Psalms. Regularly he went to the temple and
the synagogue. There he too listened to the word on the
Sabbath. There he wanted to underline the goodness with
which God cares for man, even in the arrangement of time.
Does not the Talmud Yoma (85b) say: the Sabbath is offered
to you, but you are not offered to the Sabbath? Christ has
asked the people of the Covenant to recognize always the
unprecedented greatness and love of the Creator for all
humanity. Dear friends, because of that which unites us and
that which separates us, we share a relationship that should
be strengthened and lived. And we know that these fraternal
bonds constitute a continual invitation to know and to
respect one another better.
By her very nature the Catholic Church feels obliged to
respect the Covenant made by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and
Jacob. Indeed, the Church herself is situated within the
eternal Covenant of the Almighty, whose plans are immutable,
and she respects the children of the Promise, the children
of the Covenant, as her beloved brothers and sisters in the
faith. She compellingly repeats, through my voice, the words
of the great Pope Pius XI, my beloved predecessor:
Spiritually, we are Semites (Allocution to the Belgian
Pilgrims, 16 September 1938).
The Church therefore is opposed to every form of
anti-Semitism, which can never be theologically justified.
The theologian Henri de Lubac, in a time of darkness, as
Pius XII (Summi Pontificatus, 10 October 1939)
described it, added that to be anti-Semitic also signifies
being anti-Christian (cf. Un nuovo fronte religioso
in: Israele e la Fede Cristiana ). Once again I
feel the duty to pay heartfelt recognition to those who have
died unjustly and to those that have dedicated themselves to
assure that the names of these victims may always be
remembered. God does not forget!
I cannot neglect, on an occasion such as this, to recall the
eminent role played by the Jews of France in the building up of
the whole nation and of their prestigious contribution to her
spiritual patrimony. They have given
— and continue to give
— great figures to the
spheres of politics, culture and the arts. To each one of them I
extend affectionate and respectful wishes and with fervour I
invoke upon all of your families and upon all of your
communities a special Blessing of the Lord of time and of
history. Shabbat shalom!