The Pope Francis Effect and Catholic-Jewish Relations The_Pope_Francis_Effect - Page 8
representatives of the international Jewish community,
when Pope Francis greeted an International Jewish Jewish holiday experience at Francis’ Vatican was reported
More dramatically, the now legendary September 2013
Committee on Interreligious Consultations (IJCIC) in depth by his good friend, Rabbi Skorka. Skorka visited
delegation, he has repeatedly characterized Christian with Pope Francis during Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah,
anti-Semitism as both sinful and absurd. In the official and Shabbat, and described the scene:
Vatican English translation of his June 24, 2013 address
in Italian to the IJCIC delegation, an exclamation point I eat with him at breakfast, lunch and dinner every
accentuates the salient sentence: “Due to our common day. He cares for me, and controls everything
Christian regarding my food to make sure it is all kosher, and
anti-Semitism is self-denial or self-hate, argues Pope according to my religious tradition. These are festive
Francis, because there is no Christianity without Judaism days, and I have to say certain prayers at meals and,
first. The pope recently reiterated this teaching during an I expand the last prayer and translate it. He
interview with the Israeli newspaper, Yediot Achronot. He accompanies me together with the others at the
said, “Anti-Semitism is a sin…Our roots are in Judaism.” 13 table—his secretaries and a bishop—and they all say
“Amen” at the end. 14
roots, a Christian cannot be anti-Semitic!”
It was at the IJCIC meeting that we were introduced
up close to the relative informality of Francis encounters.
This is indicative of his style, and perhaps even more so in Can we safely presume that this scene is unprecedented in
his Jewish meetings. Veterans of papal encounters were papal history?
expecting an announcement or signal of the pope’s arrival,
but Francis caught us off guard, entering an intimate formal teaching of the Magisterium that will have the most
room from the rear and taking his seat on an unelevated lasting effect beyond his tenure. His first Apostolic
and understated chair. He is a warm, unassuming, and Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”),
unscripted pope who has a remarkable ability to engage a 224-page document, briefly but powerfully addresses
each individual fully even as his guests work their way interreligious dialogue. In a section entitled “Relations
through the long receiving lines. with Judaism,” Francis writes,
12. Pope Francis, Address of His Holiness Pope Francis to Members of the
In ternational Jewish Committee on Interreligious Consultations (June 24,
2013), 1, http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2013/june/
accessed March 5, 2015.
13. Henrique Cymerman, “It’s hard to build peace; but living without peace
is an absolute nightmare,” ynetnews, (Nov. 28, 2014), http://www.ynetnews.
com/articles/0,7340,L-4597267,00.html, accessed March 5, 2015.
Although Francis’ gestures are important, it is the
Dialogue and friendship with the children of Israel
are part of the life of Jesus’ disciples. The friendship
14. Gerard O’Connell, “Pope Francis and Rabbi Skorka make history
in the Vatican,” Vatican Insider: La Stampa, (Sept. 29, 2013), http://
francisco-28206/, accessed March 5, 2015.