Report: Pope Francis Told Visiting Jewish Delegation Joke About Antisemitic Priest
Pope Francis cracked a joke about an antisemitic Catholic priest to a group of Latin American Jews visiting the Vatican last week, the UK’s Jewish Chronicle reported on Thursday.
Claudio Epelman, executive director of the Latin American Jewish Congress (LAJC), recounted the pontiff’s attempt at humor in his own words: “One day during his sermon, the priest found a way to attack Jews as usual, in a vicious way. During a pause, Jesus got down from his cross, looked at the Virgin Mary and said, ‘Let’s get out of here, Mum, they don’t seem to like us.'”
The group, which also included World Jewish Congress officials, reportedly responded positively to the joke and Epelman later told the Argentinian newspaper La Nación, “It’s incredible that the Pope would tell a joke like this. It says so much about the wonderful relationship he has with Jews.”
Epelman said the Pope then prayed that God would “bring us closer together as brothers and make us better at serving those in need.”
He also noted that he had known the pontiff when he was Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, and that the spiritual leader always had an informal style of getting to know people, which helped him connect with them.
The Pope, said Epelman, always dealt “directly with the leaders of the Argentine Jewish community and then [when he was elected Pope] we all felt we were [his] best friend.”