Pope Francis Praises Jews for Having ‘Kept Their Faith in God’

September 12, 2013 5:20 pm 24 comments

Pope Francis. Photo: Casa Rosada/Wikimedia Commons

JNS.org - In an open letter appearing in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica, Pope Francis I praises the Jewish people for having “kept their faith in God” despite centuries of persecution.

The message about the Jewish people was part of a larger letter written in response to prominent Italian atheist Eugenio Scalfari, who wrote a series of editorials addressed to Pope Francis over issues of religion.

The pontiff responded to a question posed by Scalfari about whether the Jewish people had been forgotten by God. “Believe me,” Francis replied, “this is a question that radically involves us as Christians because, with the help of God, starting from the Second Vatican Council, we have discovered that the Jewish people are still, for us, the holy root from which Jesus originated.”

Francis went on to say that he has also questioned this in conversations he has had with Jewish friends in his native Argentina and as well through prayer that he has “asked God, especially when I remember the terrible experience of the Shoah.”

“What I can say, with the Apostle Paul, is that God has never stopped believing in the alliance made with Israel and that, through the terrible trials of these past centuries, the Jews have kept their faith in God. And for this, we will never be grateful enough to them, as the Church, but also as humanity at large,” Pope Francis wrote.

Francis added that by Jews “persevering in their faith in God,” they “remind everyone, even us as Christians that we are always awaiting, the return of the Lord and that therefore we must remain open to Him and never take refuge in what we have already achieved.”

Since becoming pontiff in March, Pope Francis has made Jewish-Christian relations a priority, continuing the legacy of his predecessors. Last week, in a meeting with global Jewish leaders at the Vatican, Pope Francis wished Jews around the world a sweet and peaceful new year ahead of the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

Pope Francis has also met several times with Jewish leaders and has announced tentative plans to visit Israel next year.

24 Comments

  • Its all a front. The end is near. The “abomination that causes desolation”……….

  • O Pope! Rend the veils asunder. He Who is the Lord of Lords is come overshadowed with clouds, and the decree hath been fulfilled by God, the Almighty, the Unrestrained. Dispel the mists through the power of thy Lord, and ascend unto the Kingdom of His names and attributes. Thus hath the Pen of the Most High commanded thee at the behest of thy Lord, the Almighty, the All-Compelling. He, verily, hath again come down from Heaven even as He came down from it the first time. Beware that thou dispute not with Him even as the Pharisees disputed with Him without a clear token or proof. On His right hand flow the living waters of grace, and on His left the choice Wine of justice, whilst before Him march the angels of Paradise, bearing the banners of His signs. Beware lest any name debar thee from God, the Creator of earth and heaven. Leave thou the world behind thee, and turn towards thy Lord, through Whom the whole earth hath been illumined.

    1.103
    We have adorned the Kingdom with the ornament of Our name, the All-Glorious. Thus hath it been decreed by God, the Fashioner of all things. Take heed lest thy vain imaginings withhold thee, when once the Sun of Certitude hath shone forth above the horizon of the Utterance of thy Lord, the Mighty, the Beneficent. Dwellest thou in palaces whilst He Who is the King of Revelation liveth in the most desolate of abodes? Leave them unto such as desire them, and set thy face with joy and delight towards the Kingdom.

    1.104
    Say: O peoples of the earth! Destroy the abodes of negligence with the hands of power and assurance, and raise up the mansions of true knowledge within your hearts, that the All-Merciful may shed the radiance of His light upon them. Better is this for you than all whereon the sun shineth, and unto this beareth witness He Who holdeth within His grasp the ultimate decree. The Breeze of God hath been wafted over the world at the advent of the Desired One in His great glory, whereupon every stone and clod of earth hath cried out: “The Promised One is come! The Kingdom is God’s, the Mighty, the Gracious, the Forgiving.”

    1.105
    Beware lest human learning debar thee from Him Who is the Supreme Object of all knowledge, or lest the world deter thee from the One Who created it and set it upon its course. Arise in the name of thy Lord, the God of Mercy, amidst the peoples of the earth, and seize thou the Cup of Life with the hands of confidence. First drink thou therefrom, and proffer it then to such as turn towards it amongst the peoples of all faiths. Thus hath the Moon of Utterance risen above the horizon of wisdom and understanding.

    1.106
    Tear asunder the veils of human learning lest they hinder thee from Him Who is My name, the Self-Subsisting. Call thou to remembrance Him Who was the Spirit, Who, when He came, the most learned of His age pronounced judgement against Him in His own country, whilst he who was only a fisherman believed in Him. Take heed, then, ye men of understanding heart! Thou, in truth, art one of the suns of the heaven of His names. Guard thyself, lest darkness spread its veils over thee, and fold thee away from His light. Ponder, then, that which hath been sent down in the Book by thy Lord, the Almighty, the All-Bountiful.

    1.107
    Say: Still your pens, O concourse of divines, for lo, the shrill voice of the Pen of Glory hath been lifted up between earth and heaven. Cast away all that ye possess and take fast hold of that which We have revealed unto you with power and authority. The Hour that was concealed within the knowledge of God hath struck, whereupon all the atoms of the earth have proclaimed: “The Ancient of Days is come in His great glory! Hasten unto Him, O peoples of the earth, with humble and contrite hearts.” Say: We, in truth, have given Ourself as a ransom for your own lives. Alas, when We came once again, We beheld you fleeing from Us, whereat the eye of My loving-kindness wept sore over My people. Fear God, O ye that perceive.

  • Let the pope visit Israel and hear what he will say.

  • Good that he said that. If you have suffered terribly then you might find it hard to believe in God. I know what that feels like when you have lost the ones that you love.

  • Pope Francis has remembered
    G_d’s promise to the Jews:
    “I will bless those that bless thee
    and curse those that curse thee.”

    And he has kept his promise,
    Just as he has kept ALL his promises.

  • May G_d Bless the Work of
    Pope Francis, and
    May his attitude towards Jews
    Spread to All Christians.

    Remember, G

  • A Pope with the most: love, P.R. savvy or cunning? I prefer to believe in the first. I don’t deny any past sins of the Church, I just like what I’ve seen so far from this man. And his partial answer, to the question of homosexuality as sin: “Who am I to judge?” Who, indeed. So far, so good…

  • Pope Francis has shown himself to be an exceptionally fine human being. His comments, as reported here, are a further testamenet to his excellent character. He will be known as one of the greatest Popes of all time.

  • It is so good to hear these words from the pope. I have met evangelicals who have great love for Israel and the Jewish people. I am glad to know the new Pope Francis feels the same. G-d bless him.

  • HASHEM made the alliance with the JEWS, not esauv.not rome, not edom and not xtians. The poops in vatican deceive ALL JEWs with their zionist baloney. The xtian doctrine is that they the xtians must bring all JEWS to ISRAEL and accpet their dead mangod in order for him to come again.
    They to this day go door to door pretending to be jews handing out literature deceptive propaganda they build churches to look like synagogues with missinaories standing in front dressed like rabbis enticing young yeshiva students to enter for free lunch. 2 OF THEIR BUILDINGS IN BROOKLYN NY. THEY ARE SCATTERED OTHERS THROUGHOUT USA AND ,,AND ISRAEL.

    Beware of these ”friends of Israel” beware of their tainted money gifts, beware of their tears for you. There worst work is in hosipitals to JEWS that are suffering where they convert the weak the poor JEWS.
    BEWARE. JEWS HAVE NOTHING, I REPEAT,,NOTHING IN COMMON WITH XTIANS.

    • Christianity and Judaism have a lot in common…and a lot of differences.

      What they have in common is a belief in a loving and merciful God that we should emulate in that respect. They have in common the belief that the whole world will one day be unified in love and compassion for fellow humans.

      Where they differ is that Christians believe they can go to heaven based upon belief, alone, whereas Jews believe that good deeds are required.

      Where they also differ is that normative, traditional Christianity has long insisted that only a Christian can go to heaven and that all others will go to hell, whereas Judaism insists that all people who perform good deeds and avoid bad deeds can go to heaven, regardless of their religion, if they keep the seven Noachite laws.

      Judaism and Christianity also differ in that Christianity believes that God assumed human form, whereas Judaism views that idea as classically pagan.

      Jesus’ teachings were actually much closer to Pharasaic (i.e. Orthodox) Judaism than to Catholicism or Protestantism in all of the above aspects. Jesus appeared to be a Pharasaic rabbi. The Pharases were most differentiated from the other competing sects of Judaism at that time in their liberal and humanist interpretations of Jewish law. Jesus’ arguing with Pharaisaic rabbis is something that the Pharases did together with each other daily as their main practice.

      Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s book, Kosher Jesus, is excellent in explaining much more along these lines.

      • JUDAISM AND xtian have NOTHING IN COMMON.
        Its time to realize this.

        if you dont and call me bigotted and racist and anything then you certainly dont know your JUDAISM
        and you certainly dont know your xtianity.
        Your church split from connections to Judaism to form their own separate identity.
        You do not circumsize.
        You eat intentionally forbidden animals
        You do not abide by Rabbis
        You do not follow SATURDAY BY your own xtian wishes.
        You make idols
        You created a 3mangod human process.
        You changed everything in TORAH.
        JUDAISM AND xtian have nothing in common.
        YOU VIOLATE EVERY TORAH LAW THAT ”ONE G-D HANDED TO MOSES TO GIVE TO OUR ELDERS TO GIVE TO OUR RABBIS TO GIVE TO israel.

        JUDAISM and xtians have nothing in common.

        • Judaism and Islam currently have more in common indeed.

          Which is probably why the dislike for one another is stronger.

          On the other hand, don’t forget it were ‘xtians’ that made Israel’s recreation possible. Both Christians and Jews are waiting until the dome of the rock gets lost and the rebuilding of the temple can commence.

          Also, the Christians consider the old laws moot, since the messiah fulfilled them (however, most do still refer to the prohibition on homosexuality hypocritical as it is).

          The Jews are still waiting for ‘their’ messiah, but when he arrives supposedly the old laws will be moot/fulfilled for the Jews all the same, so it isn’t such an absurd concept, is it?

      • You left out a massive difference: The torah has no concept of hell, which the new testament introduces.

        Also:

        ‘Pope Francis I praises the Jewish people for having “kept their faith in God” despite centuries of persecution.’

        It would be nice if it weren’t the Catholic Church that persecuted them in the first place, by order of one of his predecessors. Hitler could just take the papal decree as a blueprint, it invented the yellow identification patch and the jewish ghettos.

        See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cum_nimis_absurdum#Text

        • I so agree; too many people are trying to gloss over what the church did to the Jews. I even heard someone on a Catholic radio station say, in effect, the Inquisition wasn’t all that bad.

          Really? Too bad the Jews who died because of it aren’t here to tell us about their experiences with the Holy Mother Church.

    • By your logic, the Jews shouldn’t have bought into the deceptions of the ‘xtians’ and declined their help in recreating Israel.

  • Hey, that’s really nice of the new Pope! He failed to mention, however, that the centuries of persecution the Jews have survived while maintaining their faith was mostly at the hands of Christians, Protestants and Catholics alike.

    • This is so true… that would be an important step in closing the gap from the past. Afterwards, we will see how the Church responds when more frequent persecution arise again in Europe, a forgone conclusion.

    • Elliot J. Stamler

      We all know that and so does the Pope and the Church which has acknowledged this historic fact many times since Vatican Council II. We can’t forget the past but the Catholic Church is now, thanks be to God, our good and supportive friend and we should embrace this wonderful and very important development.

      • He can acknowledge all he wants, however the papal bull that mandates the persecutions of Jews (Cum Nimis Absurdum) has never been revoked.

        Actions speak louder than words, and the Catholic Church is all words on this issue.

        Currently, this papal bull may be old, but it is still Catholic law and in full effect.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cum_nimis_absurdum

        You want to embrace this ‘supportive friend’ that heads an organisation which currently mandates and requires persecution of all Jews just because he makes a nice remark and acknowledges (and not apologizes for) the persecution in the past? There must be a picture of you next to ‘gullible’ in the dictionary…

        To the Catholic Church keeping the ridiculous idea and appearance of an infallible Pope is much more important than Jews and whether their persecution is officially mandated and required by their laws or not.

        Sure, they can’t enforce it currently, but when times change and anti-Semitism becomes acceptable again or the church gains its previous political power (in which case they will just *make* anti-Semitism acceptable again), they will dust it off and continue where they left off. The same goes for the inquisition. It’s inherent in the ideology.

        They don’t do this now, but that is not because the Catholic Church changed for the better or something. It is because they are now restrained from doing whatever the hell they want as it was in the past, so they play nice for the time being.

        Watch your back. Catholics are hypocrites of the highest order.

    • Indeed:

      Our Israelitish Brethren
      By James Parton
      OCTOBER 1870 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE (excerpt concerning Jews of Rome under Papal State rule)

      “Without troubling the reader with a catalogue of similar facts, I can convey some idea of the scorn in which Jews were once held in a more convenient manner by showing how they are now treated in the city of Rome,—Rome being a fragment of the Past preserved, like an Elgin marble, for the inspection of the moderns.

      In 1860, when there was talk of a congress of European powers for the settlement of international questions, the Jews of Rome prepared a petition for presentation to it, in which some of their grievances were stated.

      From this paper we learn that no Jew in Rome can be an artist, nor be a pupil in a school of art, nor frequent a public gallery for practice in art. No college, medical school, law school, or scientific institution can receive a Jewish student. No Jew can exercise a mechanical trade, except cobbling shoes.

      Cruellest and absurdest of all, no Jew, fond as he is of music, and gifted as his race is in music, can sing in public or play on an instrument. “Woe to the Hebrew,” says the petition, “who dares sing or play in public; for the police and the Holy Office immediately pounce upon him and punish the offence with severe penalties.”

      This is the more abominable, because nature has signalized this people, not so touch by superiority of understanding, as by talent. The gifted among them are formed to sing, to play, to compose, to carve, to paint, to personate, to excel in all those arts by which human nature is enchanted and exalted by being exhibited to itself.

      Edmond About’s report of the condition of the Jews in Rome is fresh in the recollection of many. He glances backward at the time, not remote, when every evening at the hour Christians go to the theatre the gates of the Jews’ quarter were locked for the night; when on days of holy festival Jews were made to run races for the amusement of Christians; when every year a city official gave them a representative kick, an honor for which they had to pay four thousand francs; when they were compelled to present publicly to every new Pope a Bible; when they were obliged to pay the salary of a Christian priest employed to preach a sermon to them every Saturday, and they could only avoid attending this service by paying a fine; when their Ghetto bred such deadly pestilence, that some of them almost lost the semblance of humanity, and “they might have been mistaken for beasts, if one had not known them to be intelligent beings, apt for business, resigned to their lot, simple in their requirements, kind-hearted, devoted to their families, and irreproachable in their conduct.”

      Such was their condition in Rome. M. About tells us what it is. The present Pope, he reminds us, has indeed taken away the gates of the Ghetto, so that Jews can go about the city after dark; he has dispensed them from the annual kick and its annual price, and he has closed the church to which they were required to go on Saturdays to be converted.

      But the author adds; “I secretly questioned two well-known inhabitants of the Ghetto. When they understood why I concerned myself with their affairs, the poor men exclaimed; ‘For Heaven’s sake, do not publish that we are wretched; that the Pope actively regrets his concessions of 1847; that doors invisible, but impassable, close the Ghetto, and that our condition is worse than ever.

      All that you might say in our behalf would be visited upon us, and instead of benefiting you would injure us.”‘ The inquirer visited the Ghetto, in the low ground near the Tiber, and found it “the most horrible and neglected quarter of the town,” in which not the humblest of the thousand prelates about Rome would set his foot, any more than as Indian Brahmin would cross the threshold of a Pariah’s hovel.

      “I learned,” says this author, “that the most humble employment in the most humble office would as soon be given to a beast as to a Jew; that for a child of Israel to ask in Rome to be employed as a commissary, would he more absurd than for the giraffe of the Jardin des Plantes to ask for an under-prefectship in Paris.”

      No Jew can own a foot of land in the papal dominions, nor cultivate one, unless in the name of a Christian; and if a Jew, using this artifice, ventures to cultivate a garden or a farm, his harvest is safe from pillage only so long as the legal device remains a secret. Let but the Christians around learn that the harvest is the property of an Israelite, and “a rage for plunder” seizes them, which leaves the hapless proprietor with desolated fields.

      This is the testimony of a witness who is prejudiced, as all modernized minds are prejudiced, against government by priests. Let me summon another witness, a Christian who writes to L’Ami d’Israel an account of his visit to the Roman Ghetto; “It is situated on the borders of the Tiber, in a place subject to inundations; the population is confined in narrow, dirty streets; and although the Jews are much too numerous for this small quarter, they are not allowed to take up their abode beyond the limits of the Ghetto.

      The closing of the gates is discontinued, but the prohibition as to residence remains the same. I was struck with the activity and industry of the Jews; for while one sees a great many idlers and crowds of beggars in Rome itself, in the Ghetto every one is at work, and there is not a beggar visible.” The struggle for life, this writer remarks, is so severe, that out of a population of more than four thousand, two thousand five hundred are extremely poor, and in part dependent upon the charity of their neighbors”.

      The Pope is like a thug that throws a kitten in a bathtub and then pauses to realize he admires that the kitten doesn’t give up trying to get out until it drowns.

  • As a Jew boy who suffered thru 70 years of antisemitism the new Pope’s feelings are as exciting as my first visit to Israel. I thank God!

  • This is a “mensch.”

  • A Pope who is a Mensch!

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