The Pope Francis Effect and Catholic-Jewish Relations The_Pope_Francis_Effect - Page 10
which has grown between us makes us bitterly and of the State of Israel to exist and to flourish in peace and
sincerely regret the terrible persecutions which they security within internationally recognized borders.” 17
have endured, and continue to endure, especially He recognized the right of the Palestinian people to a
those that have involved Christians. 15 homeland and the Holy See’s support for a two-state
Rabbi David Rosen, my AJC colleague and the leading
solution. Francis followed the latter aspiration with an
assemblage at the Vatican to pray for peace that was
Jewish dialogue partner with the three most recent popes, attended by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religious
put Evangelii Gaudium in historic context. “His emphasis leaders, together with Israel’s President Shimon Peres and
on the ongoing Divine Presence in the life of the Jewish Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
People and on the importance of the ‘values of Judaism’ for
Christians is particularly significant in further advancing the Holocaust memorial and museum in Jerusalem, Francis
historic transformation in the Catholic Church’s approach “humbly bowed to kiss the hands of Holocaust
towards the Jewish people,” said Rosen.
Pope Francis wasted little time in affirming the
At a moving encounter at the Yad Vashem
survivors,” 18 and offered an elegiac homily concluding
with, “Adam, ‘where are you?’ Here we are, Lord, shamed
centrality of Holocaust commemoration and the by what man, created in your own image and likeness,
importance of the State of Israel to Jews, Catholics, and was capable of doing.” 19
Catholic-Jewish relations. Following in the footsteps of
his two predecessors but prioritizing it earlier in his papal at the grave of Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern
travel schedule, Francis made a pilgrimage to the Holy Zionism. 20 The drama of history was not lost upon
Francis was the first pontiff to visit and lay a wreath
Land with a state visit to Israel. Notwithstanding some
overstated controversy regarding an impromptu stop at
the security wall in Bethlehem, Francis clearly conveyed his
heartfelt appreciation for the Jewish story. Building upon
the historic establishment of Holy See-Israel diplomatic
relations with Israel in 1993, Francis articulated the “right
15. Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium of the Holy Father
Francis to the Bishops, Clergy, Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful of
the Proclamation of the Gospel in Today’s World, 185 http://w2.vatican.va/
esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html, accessed March 5, 2015.
16. “AJC Welcomes the Appeal by Pope Francis for Catholic-Jewish
Friendship,” (Nov 26, 2013), http://www.ajc.org/site/apps/nlnet/content3.
aspx?c=7oJILSPwFfJSG&b=8480439&ct=13423079, accessed March 5, 2015.
17. Pope Francis, Welcoming Ceremony: Address of Pope Francis, (May 25,
2014), 2, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/may/
aviv.html, accessed March 5, 2015.
18. Crispian Balmer and Philip Pullella, “As Mideast Trip Nears End, Pope
Navigates Minefield of Symbols,” Reuters, (May 26, 2014), http://www.reuters.
accessed March 5, 2015.
19. Pope Francis, Visit to the Yad Vashem Memorial: Address of Pope Francis,
(May 26, 2014), 2, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2014/
vashem.html, accessed March 5, 2015.
20. Jodi Rudoren, “Pope Lays Wreath at Tomb of Zionism’s Founder,” The
New York Times, (May 26, 2014), http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/27/
world/middleeast/pope-francis-jerusalem.html, accessed March 5, 2015.